Author Topic: Amazing Maze: Infinite and Interactive Realtime Composition for Sound Particles  (Read 4007 times)

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Amazing Maze is Infinite and Interactive Realtime Composition for Sampled Sound Particles for Mac OS X 10.3.9 or later.


    Amazing Maze is a work-in-progress that started in 1993 when I was working at IRCAM (Paris). In this realtime composition I attempted to realize ideas that have been haunting me for many years, and which I first accomplished in Lexikon-Sonate (1992-2007) for computer-controlled piano. Both pieces envisage a new type of music

        * which composes itself at the moment of its sounding
        * which is not merely a reproduction of a pre-fabricated notation
        * which is capable of reacting on exterior influences
        * which exhibits infinite temporal expansion
        * which never repeats itself.

    Amazing Maze is represented by a computer program which generates music by manipulating sampled instrumental sounds according to certain compositional strategies that are carried out in different structure generators. Each generator synthesizes its own characteristic sound world.

    The compositional algorithms are currently programmed in MaxMSP by taking advantage of my Real Time Composition Library (RTC-lib). This collection of software modules offers the possibility to experiment with a number of compositional techniques, such as serial procedures, permutations and controlled randomness.

    The sound material used in Amazing Maze is based on instrumental interpretations of three different types of sounds: points, grids, and planes which have been worked out for different instruments exploring sound qualities beyond the normal playing. This was done in collaboration with the following musicians:

bass clarinet:    Donna Wagner (Vienna)
flute:    Sylvie Lacroix (Vienna)
prepared piano:    Florian Müller, Karlheinz Essl (Vienna)
percussion    Elisabeth Flunger (Vienna)
vocals:    Trevor Wishart (UK), Karlheinz Essl (Vienna)
saxophone:    Jeremy Ruthrauff (Chicago)
accordeon:    Ute Völker (Wuppertal)
electric guitar:    Bruno Reininger (Vienna)

    Additional samples have been extracted from Karlheinz Essl's instrumental compositions met him pike trousers (1987) for large orchestra, et consumimur igni (1990) for three ensemble groups and à trois / seul (1998) for string trio. In total, the piece includes more than 300 tiny sound particles which are used as the sonic material for various algorithmic composition procedures.

    NB: Please note that this freeware represents a composition by Karlheinz Essl that you might use for your private recreation. The included sounds are an integral part of the composition which cannot (and must not) be changed.


    Originally, this piece was conceived as a hermetic sound installation (implemented on IRCAM's Signal Processing Workstation ISPW and running on a NeXT machine) which generates music on-the-fly in a completely unforeseeable manner without repeating itself. In 1996, this version (called "Realtime Composer") was ported to the Apple Macintosh computer using Max as the programming language.

    During an extensive E-mail contact with the Chicago-based composer R. Albert Falesch Amazing Maze transformed itself into a computer-based electronic instrument. In this form Mr. Falesch premiered the piece at the Chicago International NEMO'96 Festival on the computer together with the bass clarinetist Gene Coleman.

    An E-mail based contact with the electronic cellist Jeffrey Krieger led to a new phase in the development of Amazing Maze. Thanks to his demands and suggestions the piece was modified into an improvisation environment for live performers, where the soloist also takes control over the behavior of the structure generators by the means of different control devices suchs as MIDI pedals and buttons:

        Amazing Maze, an interactive computer environment by Karlheinz ESSL (Austria) is a computer program written in Max that allows the performer a great deal of interaction. The performer uses MIDI pedals and the computer keyboard to ‘steer’ the improvisation. But the fingerboard of the e-cello can also trigger events as well. Through the use of the pitch-to-MIDI converter the performer is able to trigger sound files within the computer or tell the computer to compose a motivic idea. The computer acts like a ‘virtual’ partner composing music according to a set of compositional algorithms. The instrument takes on a new feature of being an actual controller as well as a sound generator. The work is for the advanced e-cellist. (Jeffrey Krieger)

    Due to the collaboration with the oboe player and composer Joseph Celli (New York), I customized a version for him and his Yamaha WX7 MIDI horn. Afterwards, a version of the piece was done for the British percussionist Paul Peterson (Les Mans) and his drumKAT percussion controller.

    In 1998 I started to developed an extended solo computer version for my own performances which is called m@ze°2 (Modular Algorithmic Zound Environment). Here I use an Apple Macintosh Laptop with all its control facilities (keyboard, mouse) and attached MIDI controllers as an electronic instrument for live performances and improvisation. It also incorporates realtime sound synthesis and processing routines.

    In 2000, the piece was again completely rewritten in MaxMSP for an interactive sound installation that was presented at the new museum of the Essl Collection (Klosterneuburg/Vienna) and at DEADTECH in Chicago.

    Seven years later I rewrote the piece again and released it as freeware which runs on all newer Apple Macintosh machines, including those with Intel processors.

User interaction at DEADTECH User interaction at DEADTECH

Presentation at the DEADTECH Gallery in Chicago:
user interaction / duo performance with Boris Sinclair Hauf


    Amazing Maze is a composition of Karlheinz Essl. It is distributed as freeware and protected by copyright. As far as the entire content of the original distribution is not changed and no money is charged, this program may be spread freely and can also be included in CD-ROMS and Internet archives.

    The work provided here for download is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License. You are free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work under the following conditions:

        * Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor.
        * Noncommercial: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
        * No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. Any of these conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.

    Your fair use and other rights are in no way affected by the above.

What's new in version 2.0?

    * completely rewritten and extended
    * contains more than 300 sound particles
    * compiled as Universal Binary

System Requirements

    * Apple Macintosh computer with PPC or Intel processor
    * MacOS X: min. 10.3.9 / 10.4 recommended
    * Quicktime 6.x or higher


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