Much has been made of the potential of the Internet as a terrific medium for distributing information on a global scale. But what about the Internet as a musical medium? In keeping with spnm's commitment to all forms of new music, we are attempting to look at ways of using the Internet as a musical tool by creating an online playground for musical experiments. In this playground we will try to provide toys for the visitors to the web site to create and experience music in new ways.
spnm shortlisted composer Rob Wright has produced a series of internet experiments.
These require the latest version of the Flash Player plug-in in order to function correctly. This can be downloaded here.
For more information on the experiments click here. You can read this article and listen to the experiments at the same time.
Rob Wright's internet experiments:
A playable internet instrument based upon the Theremin. Use the mouse
to test the instrument - control the on-screen hands, (left hand controls
volume, right hand controls pitch). The hand movement can be recorded
and replayed. The instrument has a 3 octave range.
2. FLASH PLAYER PIANO
An infinite aleatoric music composition for the internet. Each of the
inner sides of the cube represent the different pitches from a six note
piano chord. Piano samples (or occasional bass samples) are triggered
by the moving spheres which are contained within the 3D space. A leading
sample is played and the chord alternates if a sphere collides with another
sphere. Amplitude and pan are derived from the X and Y position of each
collision. The arrow buttons in the top right corner rotate the cube,
whilst playing the composition in real time.
3. PATTERN CHAIN
A playable instrument which generates musical patterns based upon the
physical movements of a chain of objects which together simulate the properties
of either spring or elastic . The user can initiate a pattern by dragging
and releasing an on screen ‘beater’ which is free to perpetually
oscillate over the keys of a virtual xylophone. The instrument has a 3
octave range and the resulting patterns can be notated in real time.
4. VIRTUAL DRUM SKIN
A succession of ‘grains’ are dropped upon virtual drum skins
of differing tunings to form rhythmic patterns. Parameters such as gravity/attraction,
skin tension, number of grains etc. can be user defined. The user can
interact with the program exploring the effect upon the musical output.
5. WIND CHIME MARIMBA
An aleatoric music composition for the internet. Notes are triggered
when any Note-Object collides with the ‘Trigger-Object’. Amplitude
and pan are derived from the X and Y position of each collision. When
the collision occurs within the ‘Roll-Area’, a roll sound is
activated. ‘Repeat-Object’ is toggled upon contact with the
Trigger-Object and creates the effect of an echo. ‘Accel.’ and
‘Rit.’, alter the velocity of the Trigger-Object upon contact
and can dramatically affect the
Michael has offered his own thoughts on Rob Wright's article, and described his own work in this field. Click here for details.
Of course the software needed to produce your own internet experiments can prove very expensive.
Experimental composer Richard Cooke has put together a package of Java applets which composers can use to build 'interactive' pieces (wherein changes in the music are triggered by movement of the mouse). No experience of Java is required, and only a rudimentary knowledge of HTML. To obtain a copy, archived in ZIP format and free of charge, email Richard Cooke at .
Richard Cooke's site at http://rcooke.free.fr/ looks at the range of technologies available to composers of interactive music, including Java, Jsyn, Zel, Beatnik, Koan, Flash and Director.
Since publishing Rob Wright's article on internet experiments, spnm has received many emails pointing out other experiments in this area. Here is a selection of sites to visit:
Intercontinental spontaneous jam session (by Pall Thayer):
Marius Watz: sound and vision
For the launch of the web site Norwegian multimedia artist Marius Watz specially created an interactive sound and vision installation that takes sound from the live performers and visualises it in realtime. Using simple maths to convert sound into graphics, it uses a Silicon Graphics computer to create images that change instantly in response to the music – setting up an interaction between the performer and the picture he or she creates through the computer.
At the launch party at the Warehouse in 1998, this installation took input from piano and saxophones, showing what the different instruments "look" like.
In the future spnm hope to encourage composers and performers to move into the medium of the Internet to explore the new possibilities it offers.
If you would like to submit any of your own work for inclusion on this page then we would love to hear from you. Please email