self-directing feedback


The Self-karaoke Machine is a generative system for collaborative improvisation which has been used for both live performances (with cello) and as an installation for public consumption. The project is placed squarely at the intersection of the generative arts and improvised interactive computer music and aims to show how aspects of the two practices can be mutually complimentary. As a performance system, the investigative aim was to explore whether the simple adaptive systems previously explored can stand up in a live performance situation: whether despite their complete lack of musical 'knowledge', their formal behaviours can be implemented in such a way as to provide inspiration to the performer and engage the au- dience with a convincing man-machine collaboration. The artistic aim was to unite the artificial and the acoustic and explore the meeting point of digital generative practice and instrumental improvisation.

Fond Puntions


Fond Punctions is a performance which uses the Self-karaoke Machine. The performance aimed to present a sense of collaboration between me, the cellist, and the digital system. The program was designed to explore the potential of simple adaptive systems in live performance and by extension to examine what forms of interaction are engendered. The desire to be able to perform solo electro-acoustic gigs (i.e. with no-one at the helm of the laptop) laid down a number of additional practical constraints which influenced the system design.

As I play the cello, the software needed to be able to run with no intervention. When sitting or standing behind a cello, bass, or any instrument with both hands fully de- ployed, it is physically awkward and invariably musically disruptive to turn to the track pad and keyboard of a laptop, so the system needed to be robust and rich enough to run unmanned.

Self-Karaoke Pond

Algorithmically the system is based on two distinct but interacting systems: an Ashbian homeostat and a simple physics simulator which describes the motion and collision of floating particles. Both of these models act to parameterise a granular synthesis engine which operates on samples taken by the player during a performance and determine the movement of objects in the video display.

Structurally the systems function at different levels: the homeostat operates at a rhythmic and phrasal level, the physics simulator determines longer term structure. Finally a broad performance structure is implemented by specifying a set of rules in the form of conditions such that generated events in the system come to a natural close.

Full details can be found in chapter viii of my thesis.

Examples from performances and studies are given below:

listen It Didn't Happen at Lan Franchis

listen Picket Fence study 1 the hatching larvaes ear view

listen Picket Fence study 2 the ants ear view

listen Picket Fence study 3 the black beetle's ear view

Self-Karaoke Pond


Self-karaoke pond is an installation which is based on a modified version of the system which is used in fond punctions performances. Visitors use a microphone and games controller to record samples which are spliced and remixed by a generative system comprising a homeostatic network and some simple collision-motion equations to control a granular synthesis engine. These models also control the projected graphics, abstract cellular formations which appear as samples are recorded.

listen ... example recording using a harmonica and comedy horn

Comments from visitors to bigblip05:

very nice, you could lose yourself for hours

this is amazing, me and my friend made beautiful music together

very interactive lovely and fun art

my son said it was brilliant, I did not know I was so musically gifted

couldnt get my three kids off this

Full details can be found in chapter viii of my thesis.

Shorter versions were presented at Generative Arts Practice, Sydney 2005 and Third Iteration, Melbourne 2005 I performed with the Self-karaoke Machines 2005 - 2009 in the UK, Europe and Australia.

Recordings of live performances are featured on the disc accompanying Biles and Miranda's Evolutionary Computer Music available at amazon.

The Self Karaoke Pond was shown at The Big Blip 2005

Made at Creative Systems Lab and CCNR, Sussex University.

© ecila. 2010