Notes about a Procedural Audio Forum
My recent guest post at Designing Sound, What's the Deal with Procedural Game Audio?, made a call for a forum for designers to discuss and trade information about creating procedural (reactive, interactive, generative, etc.) sound and music. @kcmyoung asked what I meant by that, so here goes.
An Online Forum
Like all of us thinking about this topic, I love music and sound. Given my training as a software developer, my way of contributing to the field isn't by making sound, but rather by making tools for people to make sound with. One step removed, but close enough. As a developer I take a lot of inspiration from the developer-oriented forums such as musicdsp or Stackoverflow.
Ideally I'd like to see a forum where I can go to ask "How do I make this sound?", "How can I make this sound fast?", or "How can I make this sound more interactive?" in the same way that I can go to programmer forums and ask "How can I make a fast floating-point random number generator?" or "How is infinity represented as a double?" I'd like to be able to add recordings to the posts (perhaps via Soundcloud widgets) and I should be able to attach code samples. This is easy for written languages such as Supercollider, but requires some more infrastructure for graphical languages like Pd. Max/MSP's Base-64 format is a concise solution but is obviously not human readable. In a perfect world, I would even be able to execute those code samples directly in the browser!
Perhaps @tsugistudio's Procedural Audio Interest Group (PAIG) could be the home of such a place? Or maybe we could take over some part of an existing music forum such as Future Producers? The Max/MSP forums already go in this direction, but it's specific to one tool. On Stackoverflow I can ask any question about Java, C, Lisp, or whatever. There isn't one way to express procedural audio, nor should it be limited to one tool.
But barring an online forum, there is so much to be said for meatspace meetups like Procedural Audio Now! in London organised by Graham Gatheral. This is a great community, and Graham deserves a lot of credit for putting it together! Pimpin' ain't easy. Unfortunately this is the only such meetup that I am aware of in the whole entire world. (Not that I'm fully up-to-speed on the subject.)
Oh Martin, You Talk a Big Game
From the peanut gallery I hear a lone voice, "Well Martin, this is all well and good. If you're so excited about a procedural audio forum, why don't you make it?"
From my soapbox I retort, "Cut me some slack guys. I'm already busting my ass trying to get Heavy off of the ground. I'm trying to solve the technical performance problem! I can't do it all by myself :-/"
Find me @supersg559 if you want to hear more of my opinions.