Sun 3/280, DEC Microvax II/Ultrix
This was released as "music from the Winham Laboratory" on the
CD (Centaur CRC 2076, part of the CDCM Computer Music Series). I started
working on it while still a graduate student at Princeton back in 1986,
but then interrupted work on it while I finished my dissertation. I completed
the final section on our Sun at Columbia after I joined the faculty.
The original two sections were done at a sampling rate of 28k, and the
final SR used was 30k. We upsampled it for the CD. Computers just
didn't go all that fast back then!
I sampled a bunch of percussion instruments that I had collected through
the years that were combined with instruments from my grandfather's
collection. The 'beat-coalescing' section that starts the piece (and
recurs later) uses
the idea behind the Karplus-Strong algorithm -- cycle through an
array and average between successive numbers on each cycle -- and applies
it in the 'macro' time domain to a randomly-generated set of hits.
It's nifty because each group of hits will collapse to a different
point. The calypso-like rhythm that results was an artifact of this
There are three main sections, the first uses 'skin' drums, the second
draws upon 'wooden' instruments, and the third is from 'metal' instruments.
There's that subtext for ya! The "helicopter break" in and the final
helicopter sound are from recordings I was using for my dissertation.
I had been sampling the ambient sounds around our house throughout
the year (my "Four Seasons"...) and that helicopter flew right overhead
during one of my recordings. Yikes!
This was a real breakthrough piece for me in that I really hit the
use of compositional algorithms. This was made possible by the
MINC parser interface to the cmix language, and I still use it
all the time today. It is a very powerful tool for doing computer