Best of windows


Best of Windows

Jan de Weille

3.14 MB
1.79 MB
Fractale binaire
4.96 MB
Curved air
4.51 MB
Ode to Terry Riley
4.40 MB
2.68 MB
2.58 MB
6.88 MB


The musical pieces listed above have been created by computer. The principle that I've used is extremely simple:
A program that I've called 'Soundmaps' repetitively sends data contained in bitmaps to the PC's soundcard. The bitmaps can be static (e.g. a photo) or dynamic (a rectangle on the desktop). In the latter case, the image contained inside the rectangle will change when manipulations are carried out in a drawing program. Hence, the sound changes while drawing, typing or surfing, thus allowing for interactivity. The bitmap pixels can be sent to the soundcard without any data manipulation, which results in a rather high-pitched noisy sound (as in 'Pond'). In a second mode, each scan line of the bitmap is interpreted as a frequency spectrum, bass on the left, soprano on the right. Fourier transformation (i.e. transformation from the frequency- to the time-domain) of each scanline, before sending the data to the soundcard, results in a sound that may give the impression of rising bubbles or tinkling bells. In the third mode, each scan line is interpreted as a keyboard, each pixel on the scan line being a white or black key. As with MIDI, the keyboard may be associated with an instrument. In that case the bitmap fulfils more or less the same role as piano rolls in former times.
Bitmap data is sent to the soundcard in an indefinite loop. The duration of the loop determines the rhythm of the sound, at least if the loop is not too long (<3 sec). Usually, multiple rectangles and bitmaps are active simultaneously (as in the figure on top of this page that has five of equal dimensions). Simultaneously playing bitmaps of not quite equal sizes gives interesting effects (as in 'Curved air') perhaps reminiscent of pieces by Steve Reich, who employed the idea of phase changes several times in his works.
Some pieces like 'Papillon' use neither metrum nor a particular musical scale. Others, like 'Ode to Terry Riley' use a major heptatonic scale, try to prevent dissonants and respect metrum. Harmonic rules limit the number of notes that can be played, giving some impression of melody.
'Fractale binaire' has been created by playing a movie on the computer screen over which about six 'sound windows' were laid. As the movie in question was showing a portion of the Mandelbrot set that was slowly zoomed into, 'fractale binaire' only slowly evolves in consequence. 'Sounds from a square' and 'Eight chicks in concert' have also been created by videos. The videos show only movement. The background becomes invisible. A breeze sets the tree leaves in motion every now and then. Two persons can be seen when they walk about the square but disappear when they stand still.
Viral has been created on occasion of the CoViD-2 coronavirus pandemic. A video made with the recreational simulation program 'viral.exe' was the source for the soundwindow inputs.
'Ja-nee' has been created initially for Annie Abrahams.

A user friendly version of soundmaps is available for download.