November 26, 2014

Movin' Right Along...

by Chris Randall

I won't lie to you. The main point of this post is to roll that Doctorow photo below the fold so I don't have to see his stupid face when I check the site. However, I will use this opportunity to provide a general update as to the State Of Things here at the Audio Damage Logistics And Research Facility. In no particular order.

1) My personal experiment time of late has largely revolved around C. Elegans, pictured above. This lowly nematode is unique inasmuch as it is the only living creature to have its brain entirely mapped, neuron-for-neuron. This intrigued me for a number of reasons, and I've spent the last few weeks tinkering with the brain model, trying to come up with musically useful applications of a fully functioning nematode brain. Believe me when I say this isn't as easy as it sounds. (And since it doesn't sound easy at all, well, you get the idea.) I've been using a Python script developed by this fellow running on a Raspberry Pi, but that's mainly served to teach me two things: first, that Python is stupid for this sort of thing, and second, the Raspberry Pi might be a fun piece of equipment to tinker with, but for the kind of shit we do, it is retarded. Especially when it is weighted down by Raspbian. So I've moved my experiments back to C++11 (via Cinder) and a real computer, and we shall see what we shall see.

2) We are currently out-of-stock of DubJr, and are running low on Sequencer 1. I re-ordered panels for DubJr some time ago, but due to a communication error on Metalphoto's part, they weren't actually ordered until today. I have two units left currently, and they are in our Amazon store. If you want a DubJr, long story short, either get it at Amazon, or via one of our retail partners. Vis-a-vis Sequencer 1, we're not going to do a second run of these for a while, so if you want one, best get on it, either direct or via one of the retailers that stock it. We'll have the first major software update for it here in a week or thereabouts, which will add the most-requested features.

3) Not next week, but the following week, we will have an addition to the small modules line, ADM07. For this, we're not announcing anything until we have units here shipping, but suffice to say you didn't know you needed it, but once you see it, you'll wonder how you ever managed without it. Yeah, one of those.

4) And finally, I've been asked to give a seminar/talk at UC Santa Barbara on March 2nd of next year. Other than "music tech" I have a pretty broad palette to choose from for the subject matter. I was thinking of a brief overview of what it is I do and have done, then a talk about massive design failures and why failing matters and is useful (both my own and other peoples'.) Unless I'm still interested in nematodes by then, of course.


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Nov.26.2014 @ 1:39 PM
That Nematode brain thing has had me so excited this week. I really hope you do find a musical use for it because it would basically be the first living (electronic) instrument.

Nov.26.2014 @ 2:07 PM
Since failure is a rich vein for discovery, I wish I could witness your Santa Barbara talk. I am going to guess you have a similar opinion of the idea of "failure", from your comment. And despite the dubious origin of tomorrow's holiday, I want to give thanks for this site. I get a huge kick out of reading it daily. Plus, you like arch top guitars. Big plus.

Nov.26.2014 @ 4:21 PM
Chris Randall
They put all the talks from this series online, here:

link [www.mat.ucsb]

So you'll be able to witness it after the fact. (There's some cool shit in there, too.) It's funny, because he was all "hey, do you want to give a seminar at UCSB on music tech?" And I was all "Absolutely! Sign me up! What's a seminar?" That said, I can extemporize for hours on techNerd shit, so I don't expect much difficulty.

Regarding the Wormbrain 5000, I'm in the process of breaking down the barriers between nematode and artist. I think I might have something to show off in a bit.


Nov.26.2014 @ 4:24 PM
Chris Randall
(When I present Wormbrain to NIME, I'm totally going to title the paper "Breaking Down The Barriers Between Nematode And Artist." There's no possible way that's not going to happen.)


Nov.26.2014 @ 7:17 PM
Duke Fame
I thought I was being experimental by trying to integrate an old Drumfire I picked up off The Bay for $80 many moons ago into my modern ITB studio rig, then I read this post about CR trying to turn the brain of a living creature into a music app. Sigh

Nov.26.2014 @ 7:35 PM
drumfire.. was just talking to someone about one of those today.

CR: your talk.. i think you should save the recording and play it really loud at NAMM on a loop and perhaps use Paul Stretch or similar to create background pads from same recording. seems appropriate for some reason.

curious about the next in the small module series. i tend to patch those things into each other in various series chains so having another to put in there is an entertaining thought.

Nov.26.2014 @ 8:01 PM
Chris Randall
The next one is not an effect, I'll say that much. Although it will certainly be very happy being patched in to and through the others.

@Duke: I'll admit that there are some moral and philosophical questions that shall remain unanswered. The interesting thing about the C. Elegans model is that when you first instance it, all the neurons are... idle, I guess? Then you poke it and it springs to life. And there's the rub: when it's working, it feels very "alive," much more so than my other less sophisticated ANN and related experiments. 100% of the time, I feel a little twinge when I end the simulation (or, Elder Gods forbid, it crashes) as if I'm killing a living thing.

I mean, at some point you have to ask yourself: if it's a 1:1 model of the critter's brain, and it responds to stimuli identically, is it, in fact, an entity that is "living"? We kill bajillions of simple organisms every day just by existing, so relatively speaking, no big whoop, but it's a question that will merit some consideration once Moore's Law and neuroscience progress to the point where there are 1:1 maps of more complex organisms.

All that said, hopefully it can make some dope beats once I re-write it.


Nov.26.2014 @ 8:18 PM
Thanks for pushing CD off the top of the page.

I have nothing to add other than you are too smart for my addled drummer brain.

Also, boobs.

Nov.30.2014 @ 12:43 PM
beauty pill
Whatever. I mapped a Nematode's brain seven years ago. I just never *released* it.

- c

Dec.01.2014 @ 5:43 PM
Nematodes know how to groove, that's for sure. I'd rather just use live Nematodes though instead a soul-less computer simulation. It's just not the same.

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