plugdata: Drawing Sound

For about six months I’ve been working with the plugdata graphical audio programming project to help develop the language for not only my personal sonic experimentation, but also to come to understand it well enough that I can use it as a tool for all sorts of digital experimentation and exploration.

This video is a … do we call this kind of thing an “instrument”? It has its own opinions about what it should sound like from moment to moment… and yet, you can collaborate with it. It’s not intelligent, but it makes patterns that you can somehow understand.

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A Sonic Adventure

Let’s have some fun adventures with music! These pieces are part of me figuring out how to design an RPG I’m calling Oscillator all about interdimensional experimental musicians.

The question in Oscillator is: what if you got to hang out with your favorite artists, and you’re all as cool las you feel when you’re in creative flow? It’s a question that allows us a lot of freedom to be silly. We’re all feeling a lot of pain and we very seriously need to feel hope, to laugh, and to enjoy things for being beautiful. I want these stories and the game they’re intended to inspire to inspire all those feelings.

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A Big Giraffe

The Sivatherium went extinct sometime in the last couple million years here on Earth, though some paleontologists have interpreted some cave paintings as representing them. But in the World of Names it survived the Flood. Or maybe it won’t survive the Flood, if it hasn’t happened yet.

So, naturally, Earthen-Beings gonna Earthen Be. They strap bundles of cloth and grain to them to carry it long distances so they can trade for glass and fruit.

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Zjamoti Shows Off

I feel a bubbling of Human Contact. Maybe it’s because I feel like I can muster some home for change.

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More Moiu

I love these guys. Eyes Wide to the Stars is deliberately human-centric, looking around from humanity at its self-satisfied worst while seeing what it could be if it were driven by curiosity.

But I can’t help but think about the inevitable “All Moiu” campaign would look like.

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Setting Up the Easel

The Computation Easel (perhaps to be known as the Oblique Easel? We’ll see where this goes) is something I’d like to get at least to being a functional prototype. So I’ve been doing the nitty gritty of building something that works right, even if it’s a little inelegant.

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Computation Easel

I’ve been working on ideas for computers from an alternate present — one that I think we still have time to get in contact with. In the alternate history that produces that alternated present, the idealists and utopians kept control of their creations, spreading them into creative hands rather than investors seeking a business market, and choking the designs down to useful appliances that are not, themselves, a creative medium.

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This story is thinly veiled personal experience, pointing toward my desire to make an adventure roleplaying game about being an interdimensional experimental musician with a cool warehouse studio who gets to hang out with your favorite real world musicians. Are there enough experimental music enthusiasts to get a group together? Who knows! There are a couple of my Discord, so when this game starts to gel I should make sure that the kind of experience I’m describing here works well remotely.

But also, this story is as personal as it is silly.

(The image at the top is a cover of Savage Henry, a comic about just such weirdo musicians. The series and its creator, Matt Howarth, have been an inspiration to me for thirty years.)

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Temu Decides

On the xenophilia Discord (where my Patreonfolk hang out), I had to give an example, and spontaneously mentioned

an idol of Temu, with her hair of reeds and four horns, made from clay from the river. Carrying a seed pod in one hand and a strangled ibis in the other. You know the story.

…and then I could exactly see her, and had to start drawing right away.

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