Blog

25 years of Generative Music

10th October 2015 by Tim Cole

SSEYO

Our first 25 years of Generative Music

It just so happens that today, the 9th October 2015, means we have now been working in generative music for 25 years (our 26th year starts tomorrow!). Woo hoo!

It's a big milestone for us and we want to thank all of you who have, in one way or another, supported, helped or followed us over the years (and that most definitely includes our long suffering wives and families)!

We do hope that our apps and tools, if you have ever used them, have brought you much creative pleasure and many ideas - we make them for you.

Our nature is to look forward rather than back (there is always too much to do), we are not natural curators and over the years we have simply just forgotten way, way, way more than we can ever remember (some of the links below will let you find out more, if you are interested).

That said, let's take a very short trip into the annals of history. After all, why not, as today we are celebrating the last 25 years - which is actually not that long when you consider that generative music can play for ever!

It all began with SSEYO ...

Ever since the founding of SSEYO in 1990 (SSEYO was incorporated on the 9th October 1990), Pete and I have been working on Generative Music technology, tools and apps.

Way back in 1992, after an initial period of development, we placed beta versions of SSEYO Koan in the hands of a select group of people. Rather naturally, we described the system's output as "Koan Music" for lack of something better or more original to call it. We referred to it like that all the way through SSEYO Koan Plus (1994) and into the first versions of SSEYO Koan Pro (1995).

All that changed with the release of Brian Eno's "Generative Music 1 with SSEYO Koan Software" (1996). Eno thankfully coined and used the term "Generative Music" instead. Being "brand free", and frankly a much better descriptive term, has meant it has stood the test of time and so it is still in widespread use today. We remain grateful to him for many reasons, including how his collaboration with us has helped give our work a greater profile; today that profile still helps people discover us at Intermorphic and allows us to continue pushing back the frontiers in generative music and its applications.

We did a lot more at SSEYO, of course, including releasing the "drag 'n' mix" Koan X, two fabulous content titles called Float by Timothy Didymus and Niskala by David Muddyman (Jamuud), Koan Essentials Morphing Drum n' Bass and even SSEYO miniMIXA (after Tao Group acquired SSEYO in 2002 and which then sadly passed away in 2007). There was much, much more, too, but all that is now long gone history, so let's move on from SSEYO to what happened next.

It then continued with Intermorphic

Over the last 7+ years at Intermorphic (co-founded in 2007) we've created a generative music engine we call the Noatikl Music Engine (NME) and tighly integrated sound engine we call the Partikl Sound Engine (PSE). The NME is the "evolution of Koan" and it can even play SSEYO Koan SKD files created right back to 1992! Over the years these engines have gone from strength to strength.

We've also created a number of generative music apps/tools that feature the NME and PSE, namely: Noatikl, Mixtikl, Wotja and Tiklbox; the engines are even in Liptikl (but they don't currently do anything in that).

We appreciate that some of our tools may be a little bit too "deep" and opaque, but that is just reflective of how life is not really that simple and is full of decisions and challenges - and we like to keep it real (it is actually because we are severely time and resource constrained, but we are always striving to improve things!).

So, what's next for Intermorphic?

Although we have been active in this space for almost 25 years now, as we said above, we really only have time to push ahead ... and there is an absolute ton of stuff we want to do there, that's for sure, so we are going to continue doing just that. So...

We tend not to pre-announce things and we are not big talkers; we try to leave that space free for creators and communicators using our tools. And, besides, that would be saying, wouldn't it? :).

However, as this is such a special day for us we will break with tradition and (uncharacteristically) give some clues as to where we are heading. :)

We have been beavering away for a while now on some things that we hope might unlock the beginnings of a new and personalised "wotja" artform - a generative / inmo "communication" which anyone can quickly and easily make and share/publish.

A joined up tool chain that facilitates the deep customisation of the generative music and sounds used in Wotja (via "round-tripping" to Noatikl) will provide a new outlet for sound designers and composers and let them bring something very creative, unique and special to this new artform.

So, to kick all this off you should soon see new Noatikl and Mixtikl apps that feature significant updates to the Partikl Sound Engine (PSE). We will then follow those releases with an update to Wotja that will let allow wotjas to be customised with Noatikl pieces.

Our thanks

Our reaching this anniversary is in no small measure down to the early efforts and contributions made by all those who worked for SSEYO and the Tao Group Audio team, and we thank them deeply. We give especial and deep thanks to Timothy Didymus and Mark Harrop who both work closely with us at Intermorphic, and also to all our customers and "communicators". The road of survival in our niche area has most often been a bumpy and difficult one, to say the least, and we know we would not be here today were it not for that help from all those wonderful people (see our Noatikl Credits page for more thanks and links).

Finally, we greatly appreciate your interest in our efforts so far and we hope you continue to follow our journey over the next 25 years, too - there is lot's more to come from us yet!

Tim and Pete

P.S. We always look forward to receiving feedback or suggestions on how we can improve our apps and tools for you. If you wish to provide that, we simply ask that you do that via our contact form.