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A Real Time Pitch and Rhythm Generator by Clarence Barlow

Autobusk main screen


A Real Time Pitch and Rhythm Generator
By Clarence Barlow
Released as Freeware

While viewing P-Arts algorithmic music page (see links section)I came across an interesting program called Autobusk by german composer Clarence Barlow. I tried for months to contact him to no avail. Then a member of the Algorithmic Music mailing list informed me of it's availability at the Johannes Gutenberg University web site. To my surprise, they even had instructions for using it in Steem (the Atari Emulator for PC). I also emailed the director ( Dr. Albert Graef) and expressed my thanks in releasing the program.This is a very unique algorithmic system that deserves the attention of electronic musicians and composers alike.

Autobusk: 1rst impressions

Copied the disc to my Falcons Hard drive and ran Autobusk.Prg. It first asks you to autoload a file called INVENTIO.You can also click into the [clck/spurn] field to start from scratch which may be more desirable.The main screen comes up.Instructions in the bottom inform you to hit RETURN to start the generation process and ESC to stop. Once you do that, you hear an interesting piece coming out.(or you may hear nothing at all.see below on Eventfulness) Hitting esc stops it. Then when you hit RETURN again, it says PRMS (parameters) are alterable. Then you can go around and edit with the mouse, by first going into the parameter screen box(s) above where it is labeled OBSTINATO and changing the parameters. You will also notice that by positioning the "curser" over a parameter, there is another feld which reveals it's Hot key! I have found if it says, [Kk] selecting k (small) will bring the number DOWN, while Shift K will bring up the number. Excellent method. You can also use the hot keys while it is playing for realtime control of the parameters.

Things to change are (for example ) Pitch center,tonic pitch, melody scope,event length,dynamics,attenuation,sound/controller/ midi channel,eventfulness and others.To get any type of output from the program you need to enter numbers into the EVENTFULNESS colomns.

After you change parameters, hit return and it generates MIDI music based on what you have inputed.Going in this fashion, you can generate all different types of variations.

Here is what Dennis Báthory-Kitsz (new music Composer) has to say about Autobusk:

Barlow created a computer program, Autobusk, as a compositional assistant; it is a parametric note- sequencer and variation generator.

Autobusk is not unique, but it has deeper features than similar commercial software. First of all, it contains a harmonicity section. Harmonicity is a concept of intervallic pleasantness, one might say, in which the purity of intervals may be determined for any set of octave divisions. For a tempered chromatic scale, the harmonicity of all notes is consistent because the divisions are even. However, in an infinitely retunable instrument, it would be possible to examine the tonal direction of a piece of music and adjust the intervals for a greater level of purity to the ear. Barlow’s harmonicity theory can be applied to a complex 17-tone scale (which he used for his automatic piano piece Otoblu), or to something as simple as a pentatonic scale. Autobusk will calculate the detailed pitch relationships of greatest harmonicity for any scale pattern.

Other features of Autobusk are a note-sequence generator in several simultaneous voices with independent parameters for each one. This can be completely original (i.e., from a random-number source), or in the form of variations on a melodic/harmonic Midi input. Autobusk presently uses an Atari system with a 40-megabyte hard drive.

The most interesting parameters include rhythmicity (how a rhythmic stream will vary with respect to an original); tonicality (how close to a tonality it will remain); eventfulness (how often a note will occur). There are also range; distance from a central pitch; the interval limit the melody may leap; tempo; note duration and embouchure; chromaticism; voice assignments and usual Midi parameters; and a number of specialized controls.


To do any serious work with the program you really need the documentation.It is available in an attractive publication from Johannes Gutenberg University (in Germany). Here is the information:

Clarence Barlow's AUTOBUSK user manual ("AUTOBUSK: A real-time pitch and rhythm generator") for the Atari ST version (54 pages) is available as report no. 43 (2001) in the series "Musikinformatik & Medientechnik" (ISSN 0941-0309). You can order the manual for Euro 8 + shipping costs from your local bookstore (make sure to supply the correct ISSN number) or directly from the Dept. of Music Informatics at:

Dept. of Music Informatics
Johannes Gutenberg University
D-55099 Mainz
E-mail: muwiinf@muwiinfa.geschichte.uni-mainz.de


Go here for the download and info at the Johannes Gutenberg University web site
Download Site for Autobusk

Clarence Barlow's Home page (German)
Clarence Barlow's Home Page

Dr. Albert Graef
Dept. of Musicinformatics
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, 55099 Mainz, Germany
Dr Albert Graef's home page

Dennis Bathory-Kitsz

Dennis's Homepage

Dennis's Paper on Autobusk

P=Art Autobusk Page
P-Art Autobusk Page

Page on film music and Autobusk.
Film Music and Autobusk

German paper on Autobusk.
Autobusk (german)