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Cellular Automata MUsic generator

Camus main screen


Cellular Automata MUSic generator
By Eduardo Reck Miranda
Released as FREEWARE MARCH 2001

In my web searches, I came across Eduardo Reck Miranda Web Site (see below) where he described his CAMUS software now developed for WINDOWS. He mentioned CAMUS was first developed for Atari. I contacted him regarding the availablity of the Atari version, and in his efforts to revive the source code, he found it was damaged. However he found his "prototype", which was an early version of CAMUS that he wrote as a part of his MSc thesis. He has given permission to have this version available with an understanding to those that download it that this is a "prototype". It is still a very usable version. You can create some very interesting "soundscapes" as I would call them that are quite facinating to hear as well as watching the program generate the midi events.


What is CAMUS? ( from the HELP files of the WINDOWS version)

CAMUS is an algorithmic composition system, which uses cellular automata to drive the music generating process.

A cellular automaton is an array of cells, which can exist in one of a number of discrete states. Periodically, an evolution rule, which determines the subsequent state of the automaton’s cells, is applied to each cell simultaneously.

CAMUS uses two types of cellular automata to generate compositions: the Game of Life, and the Demon Cyclic Space.

When the system is running, CAMUS scans the cells of the Game of Life for live cells. These are the basic building blocks of the algorithmic composition

The Game of Life is an array of cells which can exist in 2 states, alive (shaded) or dead (blank). The default evolution rule that is applied on each timestep is that a live cell will continue to live on the next stage if it has either 3 or 4 live neighbours (including itself), and a dead cell will come alive if it has precisely 3 live neighbours. All other cells will die or remain dead.

The Demon Cyclic Space is an array of cells that can exist in n states, where n is an integer specified by the user. The evolution rule that is applied at each timestep is that each cell will dominate any neighbouring cells whose state is 1 less than the present one, so that these neighbouring cells increase their state by 1 at the next stage. The space is also cyclic, which means that cells in state 0 dominate cells in state n – 1.


CAMUS 2 screen


Cellular Automata MUSic generator
By Eduardo Reck Miranda

Tutorial by Tim Conrardy


1. Open CAMUS by double clicking on CAMUS.PRG. Program loads

2.Set first screen parameters

A. Life rules/Death rules: for now leave these alone.
B. Orchestration: decides how many tracks will be generated.Selection is from 1 to 9. For this tutorial:Select 4 by using the - and + buttons.
C. Loop Limit: set at 40.
D. Articulation: set to 20
E. Distribution:Click in the small box by the word "distribution" to view the different choices:Uniform,linear,and triangular. Select Triangular.

3.Click into SETUP. The main screen turns black.

Next screen parameters can now be set:

A.Start step: leave at 1
B. End step: set to 10 (using the - and + buttons )
C. Speed: keep at 9999, with Variation at 20.
D.Dynamics: set to 30 with Variation set to 30 as well.
E. Pitches:click into one of the numbers. Change it with the - and + buttons. Then RIGHT CLICK into the same box. It is released.Chose another number, left click into box, change the value with the - and + buttons , Right click into the same box, and so on.
F.When completed, click into OK

4.Click into SETUP again.A grid appears.Using the mouse, draw into the grid any shape or lines you want.

5.When completed, click into START.The screens change and starts to play the image you have just drawn into the grid.Listen to the "soundscape" for a while. It will play indefinitly until stopped.

6.Click on STOP, to stop the music from generating.You now see two new buttons: BREAK and GO ON. To continue playing the music, select GO ON. To start again, select BREAK by RIGHT CLICKING into the button.

7.You now see two new buttons: SAVE and SKIP.Left click into SAVE, and at the top of the screen, it asks for a file name. Give it one and add .cam as an extension. For example: "stars.cam". If you do not add the extension it will not save the file.Then press RETURN. It saves the file.

8.Select SKIP. You are back to the drawing grid.Change the Screen One parameters again. Then select SETUP again, and you are back to the black screen for you to enter the second screen parameters.Selecting SETUP again will present the grid ready for drawing into.Select START again and listen for variations. STOP, then BREAK, then SKIP as above. You now see the QUIT Button. A Right Click into this button will end your session with CAMUS, the Cellular Automata MUSic Generator.

At present, the only way to record the session is to use an external sequencer or computer sequencer to record CAMUS's Output.



Download CAMUS Here

THE ORIGINAL CAMUS Tutorial by Eduardo Miranda in HTML format

This is derived from the original Documentation from Eduardos' MSc Thesis, with scans of the original screen drawings. The original was done on 1RST WORD, an early Atari word processor, and converted to TXT by Simon Kunath of Unstable Sounds, an Atari-Midi list member. From there, I converted it to HTML using this page as a template.

Home Page of Eduardo Reck Miranda

Find out more about Eduaro and his publications as well.