Endlessly repeating...

Sonified particle system

10 January 2010

I was digging through some of my old Processing sketches to find something to generate the background for this page when I stumbled across an experiment in particle systems that I'd been working on. The sketch generates a crude approximation of a gravitational field and then drops a load of particles on that change velocity according to their location. As you can see in the video this can lead to some nicely chaotic behaviour.

If you're anything like me, when you've got a source of chaotic data your first reaction is to hook it up to a synthesiser so I did exactly that. The sketch sends out an OSC message for every particle once per frame with a note number for the particle and a the distance from that particle to each of the gravity hills (hills produced more interesting behaviour than wells as it turned out). SuperCollider picks up the messages and generates four sound grains with different timbres (sine, pulse and saw) which have an amplitude that increases depending on the distance from the particle to the associated hill.

The results have a lot of movement to them which is what I was going for. You could of course do all sorts of things with the data stream, the sounds I chose were quick to code rather than especially pleasing.

Code for the processing sketch is available. It depends on the oscP5 library for Processing.