AntiTheory, plugin for Ableton Live

I’ve just finished an early version of a side project I’ve had on my list for a while – AntiTheory for Ableton Live. This is a plugin which changes the notes that you play, freeing you from your own musical knowledge.

Download the AntiTheory Max 4 Live Plugin Here

I grew up playing piano, and as part of my education I did a lot of classical music theory. I always really loved it, but I do often find it difficult to separate myself from patterns, chords, and scales. I catch myself sticking very rigidly to arbitrary rules, and I often wonder what it would be like to play an instrument without any preconceived theoretical ideas.

In an attempt at making this happen, I’ve made a plugin for Ableton Live which jumbles up the notes being sent from a MIDI keyboard. There is only one parameter, a dial which controls how jumbled up the notes are. When this is set to “1” there is no change and everything is familiar. Changing this to “2” means that some notes will be swapped – maybe a middle C will be a C#, and vice versa. If you turn it up to 12 then a note could be moved anywhere within an octave.

Crucially, no matter what value you choose, only once instance of each note is available. It’s as if you took all the notes, shuffled them around and put them back together again.

The result is surprisingly fun to play. I started stumbling upon combinations of notes I never would have imagined – it’s incredibly freeing to just play around.

This is a very early version. If you have Ableton Live you can have a play and maybe even open it up and improve it if you’re so inclined. Drop me a line if you have any suggestions, ideas, or if you’ve used it for anything fun.

(warning: it is incredibly buggy. it shouldn’t crash your machine but it may well make some really uncontrollable noises, as you can hear at the end of the video. also you can’t save any of the settings.)

A short list of things.

This accurately represents my mind over the past six months.

A brief list (in no particular order) of things I have been up to over the past six months since the One Pig Scotland tour:

  • Lucky Frame (aka my awesome company) won a ‘Best Game’ BAFTA for Bad Hotel.
  • I performed a live set on BBC Radio 3 with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Matthew Herbert at the Roundhouse. I made some custom software and hacked a harpsichord. It was super fun.
  • Lucky Frame released Wave Trip, a music creation game, for iPad and iPhone, to much critical acclaim. You can see giant posters of it in an Apple Store near you.
  • The Seznec Bros performed seven shows in a tour of Scotland, including trips to the Highlands and Islands.
  • I performed Terry Riley’s “In C” at the Kölner Philharmonie with Stargaze, Matthew Herbert, and André de Ridder.
  • As part of the ‘Matthew Herbert Quartet’ I was part of the recording of the new album “The End of Silence“, made entirely out of the sound of a bomb. This is getting released in June, and we have started playing live shows, starting in Italy, Germany, and Australia.
  • Which reminds me, I went to Australia with Mr Herbert + co. to perform One Pig, The End of Silence, and a one-off piece called “One Room” at the Melbourne Recital Hall. Some interesting reviews here.
  • On a similar theme, I was in the group to perform “One Day” at the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg.
  • I spent four days in Aldeburgh and Snape as part of a Faster Than Sound residency with Peter Gregson, Pekka Kuusisto, and Reactify. I wrote a piece for Violin, Cello, and Electronics which was performed at Aldeburgh Music.
  • Our game “Bad Hotel” was nominated for an Independent Game Festival award in San Francisco, so the whole Lucky Frame crew went out there for a week to shmooze. We didn’t win, but it was great.
  • We’ve been working on a super fun project with Dundee Contemporary Arts, making generative data visualisations.
  • I have been teaching at Napier University and Glasgow School of Art.
  • I am very honored to have been selected for a PRS New Music Biennial award. I’ll be working on a new piece for Edinburgh Art Festival 2014.
  • Finally, I’m heading to Montreal tomorrow for a couple of shows with the Herbert band at Mutek. One Pig on May 29th and The End of Silence on June 1st.

So, it’s been quite an amazing first half of the year. Writing this post has been an interesting exercise for me in terms of looking back on what I’ve done. More soon!

Pug Synth from Lucky Frame

Today my company Lucky Frame launched our follow up to Pugs Luv Beats: Pug Synth!

It features the same adorable and hilarious Pug characters from Pugs Luv Beats, this time doing nothing but singing to their hearts content. In other words: it’s a super fun synthesizer and drum machine – changing their costumes and hats changes the sounds and drums.

Best of all – it’s free to download! So you have no excuse. Go to iTunes and download it now.

Pugs Luv Beats

Category : Lucky Frame, Software

Pugs Luv Beats, a music composition game for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, is now available on the App Store!

My company, Lucky Frame, has been working on this project for a while, it’s very exciting to have it out! We’ve even made a great promo video for it:

Focusing on musical creativity, Pugs Luv Beats offers a refreshing change from the standard karaoke-style music games currently on the market. Instead of forcing a player to accurately recreate an existing song, the game encourages exploration and musical composition – playing the game will create original music, different for every user.

In the game, the player controls an alien breed of pugs. Once the masters of a wondrous and highly advanced civilization, these pugs are the victims of their own greed. They loved nothing more than to collect beats, which they cultivated with their special brand of “luv”. But an ill-advised scheme to grow the biggest beat of all time spun wildly out of control, and their home planet was destroyed. The player must help the pugs to grow more beats so they can rediscover new planets, build houses, and recover their lost technology.

Head over to the Pugs Luv Beats website to see lots of videos, screenshots, and information. Give it a download and let me know what you think!

Secret Sounds of Spores, opening today!

I’m posting this from the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens, where I’m busy installing my latest installation, The Secret Sounds of Spores. Followers of this blog and my twitter feed will no doubt be aware of this project, as I can’t seem to stop talking about it! In a nutshell, I’m working with mycologist Patrick Hickey to make a musical installation using mushrooms.
I’ve made yet another video about it all, this time going into more detail about how the software works:

The installation is part of a whole show about mushrooms – From Another Kingdom: The Amazing World of Fungi. It is opening tonight at the John Hope Gateway of the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens.

Maybe I will see you there! Don’t worry if you can’t make it, the installation will be up for a few weeks at least, and it’s free. Let me know if you happen to find any mushrooms that you want to stick in the installation, we’re going to need a lot of them in the coming weeks!

Spores at the Apple Store

Secret Sounds of SporesFor the past few weeks Patrick Hickey and I have been working more and more on our Secret Sounds of Spores project, which is coming together nicely. For those of you just joining us, we are building an installation for the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh which will create music from falling mushroom spores. You can see these spores if you shine a laser underneath a live (or recently deceased) mushroom, and I’m building custom software that will analyze them and trigger a series of strange musical instruments that Patrick and I are building. My previous post explains the concept a bit more, and here’s a new video that shows some of the instruments in action:

Patrick and I will be giving a demonstration and explanation tomorrow night, the 15th of July, at the Apple Store in Glasgow. The event is free and begins at 6pm. We will be showing off a few of the instruments, I’ll be explaining how I’ve approached the software, and if this rain continues we shouldn’t have any trouble finding some mushrooms!

You can RSVP on the New Media Scotland Facebook Group or Eventbrite page.

Hope to see you there!

edit: as I’ve said in the comments, thanks to all who came by! I’ll post photos as soon as I get them from the Apple Store, in the mean time here is one of the mushrooms set up with the laser:Mushrooms + Laser

TEI Conference at MIT

TEI conference
A few weeks ago I got to attend the astounding TEI Conference at the equally astounding MIT Media Lab. It was awesome for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which was because I got to present some great work. I was working on a project by Sarah Kettley and Martha Glazzard of Nottingham Trent University, who have been developing custom built knitted stretch sensors which can be embedded into clothing, a project they call “Aeolia”. It’s pretty sweet.

Working with Sarah and Peter Gregson, cellist extraordinaire, I developed some custom software (using Arduino, Max/MSP, and Ableton Live) which allowed Peter to manipulate his own playing through his movements in real time. Here’s a video we made during rehearsals:

I don’t have a video of us showing it off at the conference, unfortunately…it was just too busy! But I think it went really well and if all goes well we’ll be developing this project further.

This trip was possible thanks to support from the Scottish Arts Council and New Media Scotland.

The rest of the conference was absolutely fantastic, the highlight for me being an incredible “bodyhack” studio workshop with Daito Manabe + company. The TEI folk made a great little end-of-conference video about the studio workshops (featuring music by yours truly!):

Mujik Classik out now! Free!

Category : iPhone, Mujik, Software

Mujik Classik
Hooray! Mujik Classik, the free version of our critically acclaimed (and very popular in Germany) musical iPhone app Mujik, is now available on the iTunes Store!

Mujik Classik is a free introduction into the wonderful world of Mujik, where fireflies inhabit a musical library full of books and balloons…a curious world which you can explore to make your own music in a fun and lovely way! Mujik is brought to you by Lucky Frame, which is made up of myself, Jonathan Brodsky, and Mike Greer.

Go and download now! It’s free! And lovely!

Mujik 1.1 released!

MujikHooray! After weeks of waiting, I’m happy to announce the release of Mujik 1.1. This update has all sorts of awesome new things, such as three brand new loop packs by the wonderful Nick Janaway, Surachai, and Dave Meckin (aka Dave the Machine). Other new features include the ability to save your creations, and the appropriately named AutoMujik function!

This update is once again the result of lots of hard work by the Lucky Frame team – myself, Jon Brodsky, and Mike Greer. If you already own Mujik the update should be available in your iTunes account now…if you don’t already own it you can go now and get it for yourself!

Czech out the Mujik

Category : Mujik, Software

The other day I got a lovely email from Mack Si, a Czech producer, musician, and sound guru based in Prague. His band “Je Chante” used Mujik as the basis for their latest track, entitled Hvězdička. It’s absolutely epic and awesome, have a listen!


For those of you who don’t know, Mujik is an iPhone app that company recently released. We are now working on an update that should be available in a couple of weeks. Thanks to Mack for sending this in!


Wow, yesterday was an epic day. I just wanted to put a quick post up to mention three projects that all came together yesterday.
mujik floats away
1. The iPhone app that I have been working on has been released! Click here to go to the official Mujik website to learn more. The response was absolutely overwhelming and amazing. Extra special thanks the the lovely reviews…Create Digital Music has described it as Interactive Musical Whimsy With Lightning Bugs (couldn’t have said it better myself!) and TUAW said “Every so often something hits the App Store that is interesting but difficult to explain. At the same time, it is enjoyable to use, and you tip your hat to the people who thought it up, even if it has no real practical use.” (who needs practical things anyhow?).

2. I had the final sound check with Gol, my Iranian electronic jazzfunk band, for our show today at the MELA Festival right here in Edinburgh. We’ve prepared a brand new specially commissioned set, full of awesome live audio/visual triggering and sampling and Santurs and percussion and other amazing stuff.

3. I went to the opening of Rough Cut Nation at the National Portrait Gallery. I was lucky enough to be a part of the show, having built some fun little UV LED contraptions that allowed people to interact with the artwork…the opening was absolutely phenomenal, and was a testament to the amazing work by all of the artists. I was extremely proud to be involved, I can’t say enough positive things about the whole experience.

I have tons more to say about all three of these projects (and even a few more coming up next week), so I will expand on them very soon. I’m now off to Pilrig Park for the Gol festivities. Wish me luck!