After the Trackers: John Cage Bukkake

Trackers have remediated plenty of Western ideas of music. Typical time signatures (4/4) and tonality (12-TET) are the most obvious. Less apparent is the distinct separation between instruments and notation; sound and code. Most trackers force the users to make strictly defined instruments which sound basically the same every time it’s triggered. As such, trackers are essentially the opposite to modular synthesis, where anything can modulate anything (ideally).

Perhaps that’s why trackers never seem to go mainstream. They are too deterministic and controlling. Too manual. The contemporary way is to have fun with stuff you can’t understand: nothing is a mistake á la Cage. It’s okay too be lazy, 2 cool 4 skool. So trackers like Renoise are going that way too, and seems to be getting pretty bloated in the process.

In a similar way, some of the most talked-about chipmusic tools are not trackers. New physical interfaces like Gatari and C64 keytar are obvious examples, but sometimes software also gets some attention. Nanoloop, of course, can be seen as a precursor to the now popular grid interfaces. Viznut’s Ibniz is more of a mathematics tool, but it got a lot of attention earlier this year. It’s been designed to make text-based generative works with a tiny filesize (sometimes called ?bytebeat). Since Ibniz works with both visuals and sounds, it also blurs the boundaries between visual interface and content, like little-scale also demonstrated a few days ago.

For me it seems clear that visuals and music will melt together in new forms of interfaces in the future. Let’s look at two experiments that can give some pointers for the future of low-tekk composing: Gijs Gieskes’ TVCV-sequencer and Chantal Goret’s mouse-controlled Crazy Box!

4 Responses to “After the Trackers: John Cage Bukkake”

  1. Omri Suleiman Says:

    this is my 11 month old daughters favorite app. It would be a very difficult instrument to master, though I can see someone managing something like it, one day.

    http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/music-ball/id459376759?mt=8

  2. goto80 Says:

    Yeah, there seems to be loads of sound stuff for smartphones. Herrmutt Lobby’s Beatsurfing app seems like more than a toy, for example. But I only have a stupid-phone so I’ll stay out of that discussion. :)

  3. Omri Suleiman Says:

    ahh it’s an ipad app, so the tilting aspect comes into play, and it should be possible to do Mozart… must be great when the device is half your size (as it must be for my little one) and is providing the only light source in the room. I’m with you on the dumb phones thing though – 11 euro special here – stays charged for nearly 2 weeks, makes calls and even has an alarm !

  4. A Tracker From the 1960s? | CHIPFLIP Says:

    […] you could see this as an analogue step sequencer, combined with the ideas of John Cage (who Hiller worked with). It’s only the print out that makes it seem like a tracker. Makes […]

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