Topic: Nodal : Great MIDI tool

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  • #2956

    Nodal ❗ ❗ ❗

    You’ll need a virtual MIDI mapper, e.g. loopMIDI, to connect it to Podium.


    Cool, thanks for the heads up. I’m always a sucker for anything generative—

    The Telenator

    I suppose that if I had this on a pad PC, a very long wait at the dentist’s office and absolutely no good magazines to read while waiting … I wouldn’t mind playing with a gadget like this.

    Otherwise, I sort of worry about putting this and some many others like it I keep seeing into the hands of younger musicians who have almost no knowledge or skills in music theory or composition. For one, this is really the ‘machine’ that is actually playing the music. I would personally feel dishonest or ashamed to throw a bunch of those little circles together within that grid, record and score the results, and then claim authorship and claim it as intellectual property.

    Back to the younger musicians themselves (and older chaps new to music!), I see the pathetic questions on forums all too often — How do I harmonise a note or phrase? How to I end a phrase? What makes up a chord? and on and on … These eager ones are coming into music without a clue and many turn to easy noisemakers like this one to give the illusion of mastery. The WOW effect — a series of notes flying by at 210BPM. If you analyse what’s going on in the demo videos on that website, it reveals only a boring sequence in nauseating repetition. That’s all what’s under the WOW.

    Obviously, all of this is my personal opinion on these sorts of inventions, but I am not alone in this assessment. As much as I love science and acoustical experimentation, I see these sorts of inventions as further contributing to the current dumbing down of today’s music. Musicians today, just like the trend of the human population in general, insist upon a quick fix for every problem that presents. Well, here is another one — an easy pill you can swallow and go on blissfully never learning how to actually compose — much less acquire the skills — through hard practice — to perform any of these phrases.

    Fortunately, the public is seldom fooled by these bits of computer gimmickry. The ears and brain are quick to understand that no human is truly playing here. I’ll stop short of making a case for limited and judicious use of arpeggiators and loop sequencers, but they would be the logical next part of any discussion.


    I know what you’re saying…as for me though, I only use bits o’ phrases and such as a launching pad for my own ideas. Kind of a musical “found art”. I’ve messed with all manners of these generative softwares, some more inspirational than others. But no, I don’t make whole songs with these, or even parts, just bits which I twist to my hearts content. And I’m 39, not so young! It’s fun to find a flash of an idea and go with it, take your brain in a different direction.
    Nodal’s nice, offering much more control than others. That said, it’s stable until I start Podium then it freezes.

    The Telenator

    And that’s why I didn’t completely tear into it or outright call it cheating or something similar. For experimentation alone it justifies itself. In the demo (can’t recall which of them) I heard a glimmer of the sort of intricate sound King Krimson came out with when they added Adrian Belew and regrouped in the early ’80s. Of course, those chaps were playing all those tricky parts on instruments, but there’s no knowing how much of that was punch ins or spliced segments.

    In any case, my only real concern is that more and more musician/composer newbies will latch onto this one and a few others and substitute them for basic composition skills. I guess I’m saying that these gadgets don’t really teach anything much. It’s all ‘do’ and little ‘show’. Mindless little phrase-playing robots.


    loopBe and Bome’s Mouse Keyboard two of my favorite tools …


    Art is not a quality inherent in something; rather in how that thing is perceived.

    Others are welcome to study classic forms/strictures. I’m impatient and rather dive into composing with my own sensibilities. For better or worse, harmonic theory, audio technology, production techniques and listening, are skills in concurrent development. I rarely approach writing with a tonal concept (pop artist’s musical idea). More a case of ‘I wonder where this path leads?’

    Nodal doesn’t automatically yield usable material. It requires human intervention. A session with it feels very much like a partnership. Configure… audit… configure… audit…
    And yes, the machine logic can be discerned. Mostly a product of the rigid timing. Snap can be toggled off but a network’s recursion will always have the same timings. Ultimately it only plays what you tell it to play. ‘Generative’ is probably a misleading term.

    The demos, on Nodal’s site, are simplistic but some users have made rich, complex and moving music. It is possible to create networks which play sectional and instrumental changes. It can be a headache to construct though.

    I’d love to have had years of developing muscle memory, or the mental database to write music on paper, but life had other plans. It tainted me with the notion that music can simply be manipulated sound.

    Someone’s always bemoaning the depth of proper understanding found in successive generations. Yet somehow humanity progresses.

    p.s. @4mica: MIDI i/o can be tricky but I assure you that reliable playback with Podium is possible. If you’d like a walkthrough, I’m happy to elaborate.

    The Telenator

    Levendis: ‘… somehow humanity progresses.’

    You know, you might have a hard time defending that statement in view of a careful look at the conditions of both humanity and our only home, this planet. I won’t go into a lengthy discourse, but its easily seen the many conditions that have got much worse — from climate change to the fact that more children go to bed hungry every night in the US than ever before in history, and the number is still increasing.

    Let me, instead, take a look at facts about modern music to see this progress you suggest.
    According to a study by Scientific Reports, have a gander at progress in music:

    Modern music has ‘… become intrinsically louder and more bland in terms of the chords, melodies and types of sound used.

    “We found evidence of a progressive homogenization of the musical discourse,” Serra told Reuters. “In particular, we obtained numerical indicators that the diversity of transitions between note combinations – roughly speaking chords plus melodies – has consistently diminished in the last 50 years.”

    They also found the so-called timbre palette has become poorer. The same note played at the same volume on, say, a piano and a guitar is said to have a different timbre, so the researchers found modern pop has a more limited variety of sounds.’

    Rather than go on quoting the dozens of other good studies and sources that mention much more about the decline of recent pop, perhaps you could find a couple that insist how much better music has become? I think you’d be hard-put to find any.

    You see, technology, like the toy of this thread, has leveled the playing field. Now, any hack can record an album with almost no knowledge or talent required.

    In the case of those who actually DO know what they are doing, we still have a Loudness War ongoing, among other idiot actions in professional music. The commercial music you do hear on radios or players is ultimtely squashed to a dynamic range of sometimes less than 3 dB!

    But let’s end this post with a word about learning and acquiring skills. Some of our greatest musicians throughout history were able to learn and study their music and instruments despite the greatest hardships. Some of our greatest blues players worked menial labour jobs. Some picked cotton, stooped over 10 to 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, then went off to play their music in the honky tonks at night.

    And many musicians were extremely poor, coming from poor families and all manner of difficult situations. Yet they learned, strived and worked hard to get their music mature, heard, and to the top.

    I realise it is so much easier to fool with some software noisemaking gadget than it is to put in two hours a night on an instrument. I know clicking on software is easier than grabbing a good text about music theory and sitting down and READING it. But, in the end, the choice is yours. So is the excuse. Many of us have had to work two low-paying jobs at the same time to advance ourselves, but there is always enough time left over to practice an instrument and learn music. No one works 24/7 — no one.

    What I see today is what I will repeat in part from earlier — everyone wants a quick fix for every problem today. Instant gratification. And very, very few are willing anymore to put in the hard work that is always needed to improve their talents.

    I set aside a block of time for listening to new music this week, and I heard some good tunes during. But I have to say that at the same time I heard more rubbish being passed off as music, which reminds me again of the generally sorry state of current popular music and musicianship.


    It’s good to know, that empirically, your musicianship is more valid.
    Instruments don’t have to be material objects. 2 hours a night can be used to hone skills on a virtual instrument.

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