Tag Archives: algorithmic composition

Control Click

Here’s my new piece called Control Click. The first video is an excerpt that demonstrates the aesthetics and how-tos of the piece.  The second video is a documentation of the 12-minute version installed in an outdoor. 


Control Click is a piece for a site with multiple computers, such as computer lab or a game room. With a simple installation of a freeware, a typical computer lab will turn into a multichannel audio-visual instrument playing algorithmically generated parts. The piece has two subsections: the first section is an ambient soundscape to be played while the audience gathers in the site. Once enough audience is gathered in the lab, the main section will start. The main section is about 12 minutes long, and it sounds like a dream sequence at an arcade.


Technical Needs:
1. A site with iMac computers. 
      • A computer lab is the easiest place to realize this piece, but any spaces that can host multiple computers would work
      • The current version works best with 8 to17 computers
      • 8 to16 computers are Performers. See instructions in Performer.scd file for hardware/software setup instructions.
      • 1 computer is Conductor. See instructions in Conductor-8Macs.scd or Conductor-16Macs.scd for hardware/software setup instructions.

2. SuperCollider

3. Control Click files for SuperCollider

4. Computer Setup and Maintenance

      • All iMacs should not go to sleep mode or turn on screen saver
      • All iMacs should use their internal speakers
      • All iMacs often play the sound at its maximum volume
      • The technician or the installation manager should have an admin access to adjust the network setup
      • The piece runs in automation mode once the technician setups and runs the Conductor and Performer files at the beginning of the installation


    • If you need a version for a different number of computers, please feel free to contact me.
    • If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.


I’ll be teaching a course in algorithmic composition in Fall 2014. To prepare for this course and other projects, I decided to reread books on the subject during the summer. The first book I am revisiting is Form+Code in Design, Art, and Architecture by Reas, McWilliams, and LUST.

I learned about the aesthetics of generative and code-based art from this book. I enjoyed applying the ideas and concepts I have learned to my music. The book taught me how to think about composition in numbers and codes.

I am thinking about requiring students to read at least the first chapter of the book. The summary of the chapter includes some great sentences:

“Learning to program and to engage the computer more directly with code opens the possibility of not only creating tools, but also systems, environments, and entirely new modes of expression. It is here that the computer ceases to be a tool and instead becomes a medium.” (p25)

The chapter also mentions that using a computer in art reduces the production time, so the artists can use the extra time and energy to explore the procedure and structure. Coding in art also enables a person to customize and “hack” the tool. These ideas are easily applied to computer music.

I also like the chapter because it gives succinct definitions on algorithm and code. Algorithm is a specific instruction to do a task (p13). Code is an algorithm written in a programming language (p15). Thus, an algorithmic composition is a process of making music with specific instructions written for computer.

Here’s a simple example of such algorithmic compositions. Introvert has algorithmically generated computer accompaniment for live melodica player.  The computer part generates same chord progression, but the timing, volume, and octave position of each notes are chosen by the computer. This makes the computer part somewhat unpredictable, and makes the part unique for each performance.