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Homework #6: "Generative Clouds"

In this assignment, you are to create a generative musical system in ChucK, defining its parameters and creating a piece of music using the system (either automatically, or via real-time high-level input).


Tools at your disposal

  • ChucK
  • Audacity/Ardour (for intermediate + final recording/assembly)
  • optional: keyboard, mouse, joystick, and/or other sensors as input device


What to do:

  • create one or more ChucK programs that generates music "automatically" (i.e., with minimal or no human intervention) or "semi-automatically" (i.e., with limited "high-level" human interaction)
  • here are some example ideas (you can use, combine, extend these, or go with something else altogether)
    • modeling playing style of a particular instrument, or a group of instruments ("real" and/or imagined)
    • model a particular compositional style (e.g., "classic" Musique Concrete, a certain approach to minimalism)
    • leverage or musically sonify a mathematical model or a computer algorithm
    • a system that somehow evolves over time, giving a set of starting parameters
    • invent something new/crazy!
  • figure out what parameters you want to expose/export from your system, these parameters might serve as "seeds" or starting points, or guidelines/rules for your music generator to follow
  • it might be helpful to design/partition your system into modules that you can exert independent control over, or that take care of different types of tasks/sounds in the system
  • create a composition using your system, paying attention to overall form, density, and texture throughout (think "sonic clouds"...)


  • Graham Coleman's most excellent tutorial on ChucK for Music
  • ChucK unit generator reference (check out the section on STK instruments, as potential starting points for ready-to-go instruments)
  • ChucK examples
  • In particular, look at the examples under "STK". These might serve as ideas or starting points.
    • mand-o-matic2 : caffeinated virtual mandolin player (note: by itself, this example probably isn't very interesting (for example, it doesn't come from or go anywhere). However, by figuring out the parameters, and varying those over time somehow, and/or by arranging it with other "band members", one can use this as a building block.)
    • shake-o-matic : virtual shaker player, again a potential building block.
    • karp-o-matic : virtual stif karp player.
    • wurley : virtual wurlitzer player.


As usual, turn in all files by putting them in your Library/Web/220a/ directory.

  • 1) hw6.wav should go into the 220a directory
  • 2) create a hw6/ directory, and put all the stuff below in there:
  • 3) all related source/sound files (.wav/.ck)
  • 4) a short README text (readme.txt) file that:
    • specifies instructions on running your programs
    • describes your process/adventure, and perhaps the ideas (technical/aesthetic) behind the composition
    • gives credit, if needed, for the sounds you are using
    • describe any difficulties you encountered in the process

Have fun with it!