Cascade / research phase

The cascade sequencer is another experiment in generative music composition. Using the Cantor set as inspiration the sequencer allows high levels of complexity to develop from a very small amount of input.

This project differs from my previous sequencer experiments in that it involves no random numbers. In a similar way to the tape experiments of Eno and Steve Reich the resulting patterns are entirely deterministic, but the complexity of the iterative process ensures that any input will produce an unpredictable result.

The Input layer

The cascade is actually made up of 15 step sequencers, each of these controls 2 channels of sound. The long top sequencer acts as the master, the red dots are “hits” in its 108 step sequence. This sequencer is stepped through at a tempo set by the user, on “hits” a sound is triggered AND the next corresponding sequencer in the cascade is advanced 1 step. This video should make things clearer….

Cascade Example 1 from Visual Display Unit on Vimeo.

In this next video you can see the whole cascade in action. The top row advances the step of the next sequencer below and to the left, while the bottom row advances bellow and right. I have entered a very basic beat into the sequencer here to make it easy to follow the sequencers path.

Cascade Example 2 from Visual Display Unit on Vimeo.

Towards the end of the above video you can see the mixer section of the software. Each layer of the the sequencer has its own group, and individual volume and pan controls. Each group as a whole has its own delay, filter, and pitch effects, plus a send to a global reverb effect. The buttons under each channel (labeled 108A etc…) are for loading in that channels sample.

The mixer layer

Heres a little example using the effects and with a slightly more organic soundset

CascadeTester by visualdisplayunit

As it stands the application is built entirely in Max/Msp. In the future i would like to develop a front end for the sequencer outside of Max, possibly exchanging data via OSC. This should allow the creation of complex visual patterns via the same input method.

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