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Whole-Play: Milestone 1


I've finally completed milestone 1, which brings a feeling of progress, acomplishment and excitement about what's to come. At the same time it's been a bit frustrating, because the results were much better in my mind than what they've actually turned out to be. But then, that makes sense, Whole-Play development is still in its very early stages, so there's no reson to worry and many to be positive and excited!

Milestone 1 is based on the previous drumGenerator2. Essentially, it generates a drum part, based on the input of a vibraphone improvisation. The beat is random, and the time signature fixed (3/4 - 6/8). Beat and time signature detection are scheduled for the very end of the development process, so the first milestones will all have fixed beat and time signature. The actual drum sounds are home-recorded, Gonzalo-generated, either by hitting various parts of my body or producing vocal sounds. Which is a kind of personal-circular-joke: I'm improvising with my computer, but the computer responds not only with my programmed behaviour, but also with my own sounds. The end result is not that exciting in my opinion, but this is only a milestone, and I didn't want to put too much time on the actual sounds.

In relation to the generated response: well, it's still quite limited. It responds basically to the amount and volumes of the notes played during a certain interval. In fact it depends on two different intervals: the last four bars, and the last bar. This way the computer can take into consideration a more general time frame (the last four bars), and also what has just happened (the last bar), and make decisions based on those two factors.

There's two new features, what I call coordinated sounds and standByMode. Mmmh, I suppose there's not much point in talking about these things without sound samples. Anyway, they're still a bit rough, but once polished they will be very useful to provide more interesting responses.

Several things have come out as a result of working on this milestone:

  • I won't be uploading any samples yet, I don't think the project is ready to be made public at this stage. Maybe milestone 2, maybe further on. My original intention was to upload samples of all milestones, but now I think it might not be a very good idea, and in fact could be frustrating both for me and the listener. But if you're very keen to listen to it, well, send me an email and convince me. ;)
  • My timeline wasn't very realistic, so I've redefined it, and now the expected completion date jumps from end of August to end of November. But I feel more relaxed now, things need time to develop at their own rhythm.
  • Whole-Play is already challenging me and triggering my buttons! Well done! :) Finishing milestone 1 has proven longer and more complicated than I expected, and partly it has been because of me worrying about the end result. But that's not allowed! Whole-Play is about commiting to the moment 100%. The milestones are about commiting 100% to the status of the project at a given time. Thoughts like: "it's still too early", or "I wish I could have implemented X", etc. are escaping mechanisms, and they popped up. Well, there you go, my first chance to face them. :) Also, the actual playing with milestone 1 has been rather challenging as well. Similar 'forbidden' thoughts keep coming to me: "I need to work on my technique" (which is true, but irrelevant!), "this milestone requires more speed or it doesn't work very well" (yeah, sure). Don't get me wrong, this is not a critizism, this is to realize how positive Whole-Play already is.

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