The quantified self, the sonified self

The idea of the quantified self is not a new one at all. Capturing data on steps, heart rate, weight etc is something that a lot of people do on a regular basis. I’ve been slowly taking this on board for over a year. It started with just step counting but now extends to all manner of data. However, in the last few months I’ve began to extend this into a new concept which I call ‘the sonified self’, that might be something that already exists, but if it does I’m not aware of it. This involved the capture of data, again like steps, motion, heart rate etc and turning that data into sound, or in fact music when that’s possible

I’ve been experimenting with this idea for a few months now, and more recently I think some of my experiments have got to the point where I might even share them. Not in this post, but perhaps in the coming weeks.

Before I do share some of the experimental output I plan to go into more detail about how the process works for me, or at least the component parts of the process and the technologies involved in it. As you might imagine the process involves a number of different devices and apps. However, in the centre of all of this is an app called Holonist. Holonist is in many ways the operating system for my ‘sonified self’ concept. Without it the whole process would not hang together at all.

Holonist really deserves a post all on its own. It’s a complex piece of software and I have barely scratched the surface of it. There’s a lot more to learn and experiment with, and I’m very aware that I am at the start of what could be a long journey.

The next post on this topic will probably focus entirely on the Holonist app itself, after that I’ll cover the process, and, hopefully by then I’ll be able to share some output.

Endlesss, collaborative music making on iOS

I’ve been playing with Endlesss for a little while now. A few weeks anyway. To begin with I wasn’t sure quite what to make of it. Now I’m beginning to realise that I’ve only just scratched the surface and that there is a huge amount more that I can do with it, and also that I can do with others, after all, it is collaborative.

The idea of Endlesss is really simple. You create what Endlesss calls ‘Jams’. Each jam is like a track, except it isn’t. It is much more than that. A jam consists of ‘riffs’ (or it may be ‘rifffs’, I’m not sure). Each of these is like a moment in time when you add something to the jam, and as you build these up, adding instruments etc, you get a journal of sorts showing how this track (I use that term simply for ease) has developed and changed.

Here’s what the journal looks like

In isolation that’s pretty interesting in itself. But the more impressive feature is that you can take any point in the journal and then take your jam in a different direction. For me this is probably the most interesting aspect of Endlesss.

Endlesss Journal view

As you can see there are a number of different iterations of this jam and they’re grouped by date. This makes taking ideas in different directions very easy.

Original Pebble revived

I backed the original Pebble on Kickstarter, and used the original Pebble device for quite some time. It was great and very useful indeed, but I replaced it with the Pebble Time when that came out.

I had experimented with using the original with an old iPhone, and effectively converting the Pebble to be used as a keychain accessory. This is fairly easy to do with a 3D printed part.

However, on reflection, there was really no point to this, so I gave up this idea. It’s a shame, but if it serves no purpose, then there’s no real point in doing it.

So, whilst it still works just fine, it’s probably time to say goodbye to Pebble 1. Maybe someone else will have a good use for it.

The wonderful world of Griff

The excellent Griff application for Windows Mobile

This is a little journey back in time to before there were iPhones, and when PDAs were big. Ok, not big perhaps, but prevalent to a degree. Back then there were a few applications (we didn’t call them apps back then), that were for music, but, to be honest, they were few and far between. Also there was no standard architecture for things like plug ins on mobile. So it was an interesting time.

One of the most interesting and advanced was Griff. It was a Windows Mobile application, and it had a unique architecture, at least in terms of mobile applications. Griff was essentially a sequencer with a plug in architecture allowing it to be highly extensible.

There was also a reasonable number of these plug ins too. Mainly synths, but also samplers and drum machines. It was very cool in a world before iOS music making.

Whilst it’s not completely abandoned, the web site is still there. It isn’t what it quite was, but you can still find things, you can still download things I think.

Whilst it’s understandable that Griff is no longer a going concern I still feel a little wistful about it. I remember first discovering it, although I was late to the party. It was a real revelation, and I actually bought a more powerful Windows Mobile PDA to be able to use it.

This is a good project for these times. Especially if you have an old Windows Mobile PDA hanging around. As I do!

I am annoyed that Blocks Smartwatch will never see the light of day

I know that you can’t guarantee that a Kickstarter project will come about. But when a project raises $1.5m+ and ends up with less than £20k in the bank you have to ask about why and how that happened. This is the case with the Blocks Smartwatch. It did really well on kickstarter and now is in receivership. I’m annoyed about this.

No one is going to get what they ordered. No one is going to get their money back. How do you turn all that cash into a complete failure? I just don’t know.

It makes me, and I’m guessing the other 500 odd backers, a lot more cautious about putting down money for Kickstarter campaigns that may never see the light of day. I’ve still got a couple that are now years behind schedule and fairly doubtful about. These days I find myself resisting most interesting ideas on Kickstarter simply because of being burnt once already.

I would have liked to have seen this device come to life. I think the idea of modular things, but perhaps it was just never to be.

Some random music

Randomly generated music created using Processing Code

I actually made this quite a while ago, but decided to revisit it as I thought that I might do a little more in Processing this year. I know I’ve said that before. There’s no guarantee that I will in 2020, but I might.

I was always quite pleased with this sketch though. It was fun and interesting to play with. Above is just a video of the sketch in action as I can’t work out how to embed the sketch here so it can be played. I’d like to be able to do that too, but it might take me a little while for me to figure it out.

Anyway, if I managed to do anything else with Processing then I’ll share it too. That is, if it’s good enough.

And so that was Mixtape Alpha

I had one of these for a fair old time, and did, on occasion play with it a little. In 2019, along with lots of other bits of technology, I decided that I didn’t really need it anymore. Don’t get me wrong. It was fun to play with. I enjoyed it, but at times you just need to move on.

So now it’s gone to someone else who will hopefully find it useful, fun or whatever. I hope that they enjoy it.

Mute Synth 4.0

I’ve been a fan of the Mute Synth from Dirty Electronics since the very first one. I’ve got 3 now, Mute Synth 1, Mute Synth 2.0, and now the 4.0. It’s certainly the most complex of the Mute range, and, after a very brief play I think it has some very interesting possibilities.

I’m also interested to see how it can work with Mute Synth 2.0. Hopefully I’ll get to experiment with that in the not too distant future.