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Atari-MIDI programs!

Charming Chaos

A certain Danny McAleer formed a company called Electronic Cow which produced many fine MIDI programs for the Atari ST/030 computers. Recently, he has decided to make them freeware so they can be continued to be used by the Atari-MIDI community.(see link section)

We are going to be looking at a very interesting application in the Electronic Cow collection called Charming Chaos. Charming Chaos (or CC for short) started life as a two track algorithmic generator which has now grown to a full blown 4 part generator capable of exotic rhythms and patterns. The algorithms are also editable in a module called the DNA Seed Construction tool. CC can also be used as a Desk Accessory (ACC) so you can run it at the same time as your favorite sequencer. CC also works well on 030 machines such as a Falcon and TT030. The high color modes can be used with it as well and CC is very striking in full color and a joy to use. However ST HI is fine and completely operable at this resolution. ST Medium and Low are not supported.

The other neat factor about CC is that you can change the algorithms while it is playing with special parameters for modulation change. This will be explained in the tutorial. Also, you can create MIDI files for exportation to your sequencer of choice, which can be used in a larger composition or a generated background for live work.

Electronic Cow has also made the manual available, which is well written, and explains the functions. (see link section) However, experimentation is the key to using CC, so here is a tutorial on getting started with your own explorations of the program.


Charming Chaos Tutorial
By Tim Conrardy

1. Double click on CHAOS.PRG. Program opens up to a VST style module.

2. To get some immediate action from CC (Charming Chaos) select the PLAY button in the transport area. You should now hear the "chaos " portion of CC as many of it's algorithms play against each other. . When you have had enough, select the Square STOP button.

3. Now lets make some "tonal" or even pleasant music to generate. In the main view, you will see four sections or modules. Each is a different generator, but identical to each other.On the far right of each module is a set of increment buttons. This is to adjust the algorithm used for the module. For this experiment, adjust all 4 modules to algorithm 9 (the end one)

4. When ready, select the Play button on the transport bar. You should hear a pleasant sounding Chaos this time around. However, it is going a bit too fast. You can adjust the tempo while it is playing with the Tempo increment buttons below the transport. Slow down the tempo to 70 bpm. Much nicer!

5. Now lets have a bit of fun. You will see some funny labeled "LED's' with each module: TM, AM, PM, CM. These are for the Modulation of the algorithm. You will notice CM (controller modulation) is already selected. You should also hear (if using a stereo module) that the output is panning back and forth. This is caused by modulation of Controller no 10 (panning)

6. Now select PM (pitch modulation) for each module so it is highlighted. Play your MIDI keyboard. Your playing will modulate the notes to what you are playing on your MIDI keyboard. This is an excellent real-time element that is not present on most algorithmic generators. This feature alone makes this application a blast to use. You can also change keys using this function so CC is not so monotonous. You have to experiment and adapt your playing to create changes.

7. Here is another real-time element: try moving your pitch bend wheel. You will see that it adjusts the TEMPO of CC while it is playing! A bit tricky to work with but can be very useful.

Charming Chaos DNA screen

8. Now lets try changing an algorithm. On the transport bar is an icon that looks like DNA. Select this and you are brought into the DNA Seed Construction module. Here you can create your own algorithms

9. To the far bottom left is the 'seed select' section. This tells you what algorithm you are editing. There is also a copy function that lets you copy one algorithm parameters to another location. Lets try this. The default algorithm to copy to is # 0. Change it to 9. Now change the EDIT algorithm to 1. Select the Big Button by the arrow. This copies algorithm 9's parameters to algorithm 1.

10. At this point, try changing some of the parameters, such as the icons in the Velocity Mapper, the Seed Mode (from mono to poly) Change the "beat Template". Also the Note Values (8th notes, quarter Notes and sixteenth notes) Also try changing the Depth and Rate controls of the Key Mapper. You could change the scale as well by clicking into the keyboard graphic. But for now, lets keep it the same. When you are ready, select the Check Mark Icon.

11. You are brought back to the main module. At the present time, all the modules are set for algorithm # 9. On one of the modules, decrease the algorithm to no 1, which is the one you just edited. Now PLAY.You will hear some more variations created by the other parameters you have set in your edited version of the algorithm.

12. The trick to working with the DNA Seed construction module is to select what algorithm you want to work on, have a module display that algorithm, and then go into the edit mode. Make sure the "Seed Select" area is set to the correct algorithm, and have at it. Experimentation is the key here. You can also save your algorithms with the Disc Icon.(from within the DNA Seed construction module.)

13. When you feel you have created a good set of algorithms, you can save the whole thing by selecting the In-Arrow Disc Icon, or Save AS from the Menu items.

14. To record the performance as a MIDI file, simply select the RED button on the transport bar.A dialog comes up asking: RECORD MIDI FILE TO DISC? Select START. The item selector appears. Put in a good file name with the MIDI extension and go OK. CC starts recording and saving the generated piece AS IT IS PLAYING. You can also tweak things while it is doing so, and it will record your actions. When you feel you are done, select STOP and rest be assured your performance was recorded (in real-time)

15. There are also a lot of HOT KEYS you can use while it is generating. A good one is CNTRL-1 through 4. These are the mute/unmute hotkeys for the 4 modules. Also for each module, you can change its Patch, and Midi channel by selecting the appropriate areas of the module. There is also an area where you can input controller messages , the defaults being Volume and Panning. Refer to the Controller messages Chart.

16. This should get you started on your exploration of Charming Chaos! There are probably details not covered here, but refer to the manual. Now lets go ahead and make some CHAOS that is very charming!

Here is a list of controller messages that you can use for use in CC's ( Charming Chaos) Controller fields. You can send two controller messages at once and adjust them with the virtual knobs! The default is Volume and Panning.

To put in a new one, enter the number in the field, then hit the "button" right below it. This 'sets' it to send that controller message.

You can also set controller messages as part of a DNA seed in the DNA edit section.


Controller Name Number Range

Modulation Wheel 1 0-127
Breath Controller 2 0-127
Early DX7 Aftertouch 3 0-127
Foot Controller 4 0-127
Portamento Time 5 0-127
Data Slider 6 0-127
Main Volume 7 0-127
Balance 8 0-127
Pan 10 0-127
Expression 11 0-127
General Purpose #1 16 0-127
General Purpose #2 17 0-127
General Purpose #3 18 0-127
General Purpose #4 19 0-127
LSB's for #'s 0-31 32-63 0-127
Sustain Pedal 64 0 or 127
Soft Pedal 67 0 or 127
Hold 2 69 0 or 127
filter & harmonic content 71-74 0-127
General Purpose #5 80 0 or 127
General Purpose #6 81 0 or 127
General Purpose #7 82 0 or 127
General Purpose #8 83 0 or 127
Tremolo Depth 92 0-127
Chorus Depth 93 0-127
Celeste Depth 94 0-127
Phase Depth 95 0-127
Data Increment 96 0 or 127
Data Increment 97 0 or 127
Non Reg. Parameter MSB 98 0-127
Non Reg. Parameter LSB 99 0-127
Reg. Parameter MSB 100 0-127
Reg. Parameter LSB 101 0-127
reset all controllers 121 127
Local Control On/Off 122 0 or 127
All Notes Off 123 0
Omni Off 124 0
Omni On 125 0
Mono On (0=omni off) 126 0-16
Poly On 127 0


Charming Chaos is a unique application as well as very modern looking. Danny has done a great service is making this program available and has greatly enriched the Atari-MIDI community with his other programs as well in which we are very thankful indeed.


Helpful Links

Charming Chaos File Section at the Atari-MIDI Yahoo site. Includes a text only version of the manual.

Charming Chaos File Section

Web page at Electronic Cow:

Charming Chaos Page at ECow


Download Charming Chaos

The manual:

Charming Chaos Manual

MIDI Arpegiator


Recently Electronic Cows excellent midi applications went freeware. Among these little jewels was an application called MIDI ARPEGGIATOR. While it's main function was to offer a step time analog sequencer type environment, it also has a real-time arpeggiation function which is what we will be looking at.

After opening the application and the excellent graphics appears, you will notice a small 'car' icon to the right of the graphic keyboard display. Clicking on this icon will activate the real-time apeggiator. Now start playing your midi keyboard, but in this case, you will be holding down chords to achieve the arpeggiation effect. There are actually very few parameters you can change on this real-time feature. There is the [A] and [B] buttons under the car icon which changes the types of arpeggiation. Also the large numerical [8] and [16] icons (in the tool bar above the keyboard display) changes the quantize value from eighth notes to sixteenth notes. Also, on the SCALE section is a tempo parameter which can be changed by selecting the up and down arrow icons. However with these few parameter settings, wonderful effects can be achieved. Try setting up your synthesizer with a mellow bell like timbre with a slow echo delay and start using this appeggiator with those types of voices. There is something built into this application that is very 'musical' even with the limited parameter settings. Just a few minutes of playing with this will bring you into another realm of magical musical beauty. Then again, change the patch to a percussive type analog sound, and you got dance hog heaven!

Currently there is no way to record the real-time arpeggiator function of MIDI Arpeggiator's output except by way of another computer with sequencing software set up, or hardware sequencer. However, most Atarian musicians have a PC/Mac that is used for digital audio/internet or a spare Atari computer, so this should not present a problem.

Electronic Cow also has many other Sound utilities including SQUASH IT, a sound editor, EC909, a drum machine, Snippit, a chip editor and more. Check out the main Electronic Cow site with downloads and also the manual in HTML format.

Electronic Cow Main Site