PDCON:Workshops/DIY electronic music using Visual Tracker

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DIY electronic music using Visual Tracker

Instructor: Bérenger Recoules

VisualTracker and pdLive – Music Creation Workshop

Screenshot Visual Tracker

VisualTracker is a prototype of modular time based pd environment exploring the possibilities of sharing data and functionalities across dynamically created external patches (abstractions). The main goal of VisualTracker is to allow anyone who uses pd to build complex scores for multimedia use, for instance producing a track of electronic music, with a variety of tools to ease that process. VisualTracker will lean on the strenghts of pd to evolve, its community, its modularity and its connectivity to other softwares.

Main part of VisualTracker is linear sequencer which triggers events i.e. basic time based objects such as [bang], [toggle], [line] or even complex patches such as audio or video players built as structured abstractions independent from main program (modules).

Each module can be loaded into VisualTracker in (theoretically) infinite number of instances and each instance is handled as independent program (e.g. each sample player can play different sample). Modules are connected with main program through “connector abstraction” which delivers essential VisualTracker features such as event duration changes, looping, time stretching, fit in tempo or output management according module placement on “VisualTracker Timeline”.

Once module instance is loaded into VisualTracker, “connector abstraction” automatically creates its graphical representation ([cnv]) and places it on GUI timeline divided vertically to tracks and horizontally to bars (measures). Shifting canvases over bars and tracks by mouse (in CTRL+E mode) defines the placement of module event in time and provides very intuitive and user friendly way to create module compositions and control output routing. Module canvases (representations) are of course “time sensitive” i.e. duration of module event has its interpretation in size of canvas.

Another essential feature of VisualTracker is fully integrated storage system which allows to save main program state (such as BPM, track names and outputs) together with all loaded modules including their position on timeline and current module instance values into external text file and load them back (recreate whole composition)

For now there are only a few modules available:

  • a bang module, that will output a bang at the time it’s placed.
  • a toggle module, which turns a toggle on at the start of the event and off at the end. It features time stretching possibilities to fit a predefined number of bars for instance.
  • a line module, which will count from zero to a defined value.
  • an audio-track module, which will load a soundfile and play it back at original tempo or fitted into VisualTracker timeline.

These modules already allow a great deal of possible use, but VisualTracker also aims at developping instrument-modules with sequencing and dsp possibilities, such as a piano roll controlling an FM synth. For this purpose we will rely on the pdlive project (http://code.google.com/p/pdlive/) which is a big collection of patches found on the web and port patches proven to be efficient and easy to use to release a comprehensive and extensive set of tools to compose and produce sound for VisuaTracker.

VisualTracker is regularly developed and tested for more than a year (after several ALPHA versions comes already into BETA phase) with the idea of cooperation and open source evolution (focus on readable code, comments, documentation etc). The aim of potential presentation at PDCon2011 is to introduce the concept to pd fans and enthusiastic and tempt them to use VisualTracker as platform for their experiments, extend the library of modules and come with new ideas. Then maybe we will be able to get people that do not use pd on a daily basis for music production to integrate pd in their workflow. The basic functions featured are of course already known from proprietary software such as Ableton Live or ACID, but only in open source and 100% readable environment of pd they can be really explored and used the way they were never used before.

In this way we would like to suggest a worksop activity leaning towards music creation for any level of experience with pd (from complete new-commers to experienced users). This workshop could be a milestone in the developpment of our project, as it will lead to the creation of an mini-album of pd-music freely available on the web (as patches, and as audio tracks) to promote our development and it may also lead to the release of a pack of new modules.

Until the time of the convention, we will focus on developping a few more modules, and we will be releasing a demo track featuring VisualTracker as a composition tool, as an example. The future paper will present key points of VisualTracker as presented in this draft and a discussion on the composition features based on the demo track case study.

Complete documentation, screenshots and download : http://code.google.com/p/visualtracker

Kreativfonds Bauhaus-Univeristät WeimarElectronic Arts Blog für digitale SpielkulturThe Mozilla FoundationAllied Vision TechnologiesFreistaat ThüringenBauhaus-Universität WeimarHochschule für Musik Franz Liszt WeimarFraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMTStadt WeimarKlassik Stiftung WeimarNKFaculty of MediaStudio for electro-acoustic MusicKulturTragWerk e.V.Elektronisches Studio der TU BerlinMaschinenraum Hackerspace WeimarRadio Lotte WeimarSponsors and partners of the 4th internationals Pure Data Convention in Weimar 2011

4th international Pure Data Convention 2011 Weimar ~ Berlin