Programming Etude #1: "Poets of Sound and Time"

Max Jardetzky
MUSIC 356 (Winter 2023)
assignment instructions
⟵ back to my portfolio


Poem 1: "The Anti-Compass™"

The non-automated version was the first poem I made, inspired by the time-old analogy of human navigation applied to the new (vector) spaces into which artificial intelligence brings us.
Since I was working with a two-dimensional dataset, I thought to apply the conceit of the player starting at a random location with a compass, a way to navigate.
I focused quite hard on sonifying the words in the dataset, applying metrics outside of just the xy-position, which influences the starting MIDI notes and the effect chains.
Metrics include the average weight of the letters in the word from A to Z (influencing note length), the number of consonants (influencing arp pitch changes), among others.
A rough heuristic with some rules applied to the number of vowels approximates the syllables in the word, so words can almost be sounded out. The result is that each word has
its own unique sound signature, influenced partially by its position in the 2D vector space and equally by its own intrinsic characteristics. Upon this, I added a system that
casts discretized rays from the player's position through the vector space at a cardinal direction, using ChucK's new Word2Vec object to retreive similar words.
This allows the player to traverse across space, remain near to the last word, or venture very far away. An interesting negotiation process emerges for the player;
try to build word phrases with continuity, or pick cool-sounding words? I generally tend towards the latter, as it is cool to sonify words like hyperpolarization.

The second poem is an automated version; the players decisions are made based on random chance with a 15% chance at any turn to make a new phrase and a 5% chance to exit the program.
This version is more interesting to explore rapid-fire sonifications of words that range from similar to dissimilar based on the random number generator, but interesting patterns emerge.
I find that in playing this version I am more likely to hear the connections between similar words in how they are sounded out, as I am less focused on progression like in the first poem.
I have made the code available in, but please do not download it because there is a chance the ChucK DAC will blow up on you at 120 dB. I am still figuring out why.

Poem 2: "The Anti-Compass™ (Automated)"