Perdition

Composed: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 (Download)

Him the Almighty Power/Hurl’d headlong . . . /To bottomless perdition, there to dwell — John Milton

(Although it wasn’t inspired by that quotation, it fits well with the track, in my opinion.)

This is an orchestral piece in loose ternary form (you could argue for a loose rondo form, too). There are lots of time signatures all mixed together, and often layered on top of each other. It’s scored for a Romantic-sized string section, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, french horn, trumpet, timpani, tam tam, cymbals, snare, bass drum, and harp.

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Hold me close

Composed: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 (Download)

A very simple waltz which crescendoes throughout.

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Drifting

Composed: Sunday, May 11, 2008 (Download)

Dawn. Another day at sea. He’s lost count how many days it’s been. Fifteen? Sixteen? Not much water left now.

He lies on his back in the lifeboat, listening to the rhythm of the boat: the splash of the waves, the idle flapping of the hastily rigged sail, the ropes on the mast.

The sun climbs higher.

His vacant eyes stare up at the harsh blue sky, the angry white of the sun burning his pupils unnoticed. An albatross hangs in the air in the distance, turns towards him, circles his boat.

The hours pass, and the albatross is gone. Just him, the sun, and the rhythm of the boat.

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Heart and soul

Composed: Saturday, July 5, 2008 (Download)

I decided to take a break from my more serious musical projects (and my studies) and write a piece based around the very first duet I learnt on the piano. I wanted to make something fairly cheesy, but still fun to listen to. It kinda morphs from cheesy chip into cheesy fifties jazz.

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Standing on the brink of forever

Composed: Friday, June 13, 2008 (Download)

Reflections on what’s going on in my life at the moment. I feel as though I’m on the threshold of not only a new chapter, but a whole new book. I’m finishing uni this year and getting married soon after – I can see the landmarks up ahead, and I feel as though I’m on the brink of forever. Whilst everything ahead is positive, there’s always some sadness in losing a lot of what I have at the moment. But part of living is making sacrifices and moving on.

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Mobile phone drum machine

This is my first project using Mobile Processing. It’s essentially a MIDI drum machine, with five preset drums: kick, snare, open/closed hihat, and cowbell. Each row represents a ‘tick’, and when you press play, each tick is played in turn. It has been tested on a Sony Ericsson K800i.

Note that at the moment, you can’t change the tempo, can’t load or save patterns, can’t have more than one pattern, and can’t choose which drums to use. I might include those features in a later release. For the moment, though, it’s a fun way to waste a few minutes.

View the applet in your browser (and source)

Download the applet for your phone

Grass

This is based on the leaves from “Droplets”. Essentially, the leaves are turned on their sides, and become blades of grass, pushed (or, if you’re poetic, ‘caressed’) by the wind. Each blade is made up of up to 17 particles: a root particle, which anchors the entire blade, and then a series of particle pairs describing its position. Each pair has a fixed particle which is the ‘preferred’ point for that node, and a flexible particle, which can move freely. These pairs are connected with springs, and each flexible particle is also connected to the flexible particle before it with a spring. This keeps everything together but moving fairly organically.

View the applet (and source)

Droplets

This was an attempt at getting to grips with the Traer Physics library. Basically, droplets of water fall from the top of the screen, land on a couple of leaves, join up to form larger droplets, and then, when they’re too heavy, fall off again. The collision detection used isn’t fantastic, so you’ll notice some strange droplet behaviour every now and then.

View the applet (and source)

Energy

A musical project.

The first thing you’ll notice is that this is atonal. I did initially work with a fixed key (E minor, in fact), and experimented with a variety of other keys, too; everything from simple triads to pentatonics, seventeen tone equal temperaments, and even a completely random set of frequencies, but overall, I think that a three octave span of twelve tone equal temperament frequencies is the most effective.

The sounds are generated on-the-fly; they are simple sine waves with a decay. Internally, the x-coordinates of the particles are broken into a series of ‘frequency bars’. Particles move along, building up energy, and eventually release this energy as a musical tone; the frequency is determined by the bar they are in. The frequencies are randomised.

Left clicking will create a ‘beat-particle’ for the frequency bar under the cursor. These particles will emit a tone every 2, 4, or 8 quantisations. Right clicking creates a ‘pulse-particle’, which emits a tone every x quantisations, where x is randomly determined.

Also in the code, but not enabled in the applet, are ‘orbit particles’ – these are the same as normal particles, but they choose a normal particle to follow as quickly as their current energy level will allow them to. They have a 5% chance of changing their target every tick.

If you run the applet, you will probably notice that the audio and the visuals are not perfectly in sync; unfortunately, this is a drawback of the Java sound API in conjunction with all of the maths and rendering going on every drawing cycle (at around 60 frames per second).

Download a post-processed MP3 created using this applet

View the minimal atonal applet (and source)

View the full applet (in E minor, no source)