Fourier Analysis With A 100-year-old Mechanical Computer

‘Engineer Guy’ Bill Hammack is the professor you wish you had. He’s a member of the faculty at the University of Illinois and the creator of a series of videos that explain technology.

This set of videos take a look at Albert Michelson’s Harmonic Analyzer – a nineteenth century mechanical computer that performed Fourier analysis by using gears, springs and levers to calculate with sines and cosines—an astonishing feat in an age before electronic computers.

Fourier analysis is the study of how complex functions can be broken down into simple ones. In the area of sound and synthesis, Fourier analysis can be used to break down any periodic sound into component sine (and cosine) waves. And, going in the opposite direction, sine waves can be combined to create complex sounds.

This is now done with computers, but 100 years ago, it was done with machines.  Continue reading

New App, ScaleGen, For Musicians That Want To Explore New Ways Of Thinking About Music

scalegen

Developer Jesper Nordin has introduced ScaleGen for iPad, described as ‘the ultimate tool for musicians who want to explore new ways of thinking about music.’

ScaleGen is a tool for organizing pitches into custom scales and tunings. It lets you create and audition scales within the app, and then export it as a MIDI file or to their gestural music app Gestrument.

It goes far beyond mainstream types of scales, letting you experiment with up to 24 notes per octave, use historical and experimental microtonal tuning and even scales that are different in each octave, like the overtone series.

Continue reading

Two Decades Of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II

This video captures a hour+ discussion at CCRMA by author Marc Weidenbaum on Two Decades of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II.

Weidenbaum’s discussion focuses on the “cultural afterlife” that the album has experienced in the two decades since its initial release on the Warp and Sire labels in 1994.

The discussion is based on Weidenbaum’s book in the 33 1/3 series, Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Continue reading

New App, YouCompose, Is Like A Virtual Assistant For Composition

bach-iphoneElstar has introduced YouCompose – a music composition application that turns your mobile device into a virtual composition assistant.

Using the rules from the ‘common practice period’, YouCompose helps you compose in classical 4-part harmony.

YouCompose Is Like A Virtual Assistant For Composition

YouCompose comes with a built-in assistant composer. This assistant can help you compose your music in many ways.

You can enter melodies using the built-in virtual keyboard (with metronome) or enter single notes in a grid editor. Your assistant composer will then harmonize your melodies.

You can influence the way the assistant harmonizes your melodies, by setting harmonization points and other options, or you can also leave that completely to your assistant.

You can also ask your assistant to compose a melody or even a complete composition.

A composition can be edited in many ways. YouCompose allows you to copy, paste, move, repeat and discard movements, segments and individual notes, enter lyrics, transpose, change gain etc.

YouCompose can play your composition with its built-in instruments and, since YouCompose is Core MIDI compatible, you can also utilize a MIDI keyboard or a MIDI sound module.

Youcompose-sheet-musicYou can view your composition’s full score or the individual parts and print them directly from YouCompose to an AirPrint compatible printer.

You can save compositions to your device and load them again later. Additionally, YouCompose allows you to send and receive them from other devices running YouCompose via an AirDrop connection.

You can share your composition with others by sending an email containing MIDI files and a PDF document with the full score and the individual parts.

A complete user manual is included in the App and you can print it to an AirPrint compatible printer.

Several sample compositions containing well known melodies are also included in the package.

YouCompose is available for iOS in the App Store.