I’m gonna do some idea-blogging over the next few days, trying to get some ideas out there for some feedback (or at least so I don’t forget them).
I’ve had this “games as musical interface” idea for a couple years. A number of “generative” and “fractal” music programs out there (check out this listing). Mostly the interfaces consist of typing in numbers, moving sliders around, or dragging something around the screen randomly. These don’t seem like engaging interfaces.
The idea of using games for an interface isn’t new: this guy has a 3D fractal music game: however, I’ve never been able to get it to run on my computer, and now I can’t even find the download on his web site. My idea is to use a series of constantly changing classic games clones – Pacman, Space Invaders, Tetris, etc. The position of different game objects act as the random data for a music and graphics generator, making it easy for almost anyone to create music and visual compositions; even if they’re not good with music or at playing games. It also creates a game in which the goal is not to “win” but to create interesting music. This could also work as a multi-player game, with the data being split between the two players.
One important aspect is that the “voices” should be configurable. Output to MIDI, or to a set of samples (a la MOD tracking programs) .
A bit of a head-trip feature I’d like to see in the game: the games constantly morph into each other. One minute you’re playing Tetris, moving a block around, and then suddenly the blocks you’ve stack start to look like a maze and your block is pac-man. Then ghosts show up and eventually the whole game is Pac-Man. You play this for a while, then it starts to turn into Space Invaders. Which then turns into Astroids. The changes are random, Tetris sometimes turns into Astroids or Space Invaders instead of Pac-Man.
Jeremy Winters doesn’t think Max/MSP is powerful enough to create something like this. I would like to see it done in Flash, but I kind of doubt that’s possible either.
Einsturzende Neubauten had a subscription program through their web site through which subscribers could watch and listen to the band’s studio sessions and then leave comments in a forum. So essentially they were letting their fans have a say in the album before it was completed. This wouldn’t work for a lot of bands, but it makes sense for Neabauten. Pigface should do this as well.
Some things Pigface have done: let audience members call up and leave messages on the office answering machine for use in an album (Feels Like Heaven, Smells Like Shit) and more recently let fans send in tapes and CD-Rs of them saying “fuck [something]” to be collaged on a Pigface record (not sure if that stuff ever got used). Also, they let fans vote online for which songs they wanted to hear on the “best of” album.
I was thinking, someone could setup an audblog and have people upload sounds form their cell phone to be used in collage or glitch projects. Or, mixed live at a laptop gig. I don’t know how modern programs like Buzz or Fruity Loops work, but it would be pretty simple to use an old tracking program (like Impulse Tracker or Mod Plug Tracker) and create some “patterns” in advance and then download samples using a venue’s wifi connection during the show and then plug them into the song. A soundtrack of the world in almost real time.