Consemble Project


Quite some time ago, I wrote some entries about the fascinating concept of Generative Music: music that is different every time you play it – the missing link between recorded and live music.
SSeyo Music introduced their fascinating concept as KOAN software – a brilliant package that was released about fifteen years ahead of it’s time.
Brian Eno was on of the first to pick up on this concepts, because it fitted perfectly to his multi-CD installations.
Read more about this here and here, but be sure to get back to read on.

(Side Note: this software still exists: it’s called Noatikl now. )

So the concept of Generative Music is as fascinating as ever. Enter Parallel Music, or PMusic – (as opposed to RMusic: Recorded Music).

“Imagine buying a new album, and everytime you play this album the music will be different. There will be no definitive version. The music will change and grow with you. This is Parallel Music: a new musical system that generates original performances from pre-recorded material.”
The concept is not new: this is Generative Music in the original definition. But the system created to generate the music is a new one, and in fact constructed very ingenuously.

Among other projects, Paul Ramsay is the curator of the “Consemble” project – which features compositions based on the ‘open source’ concept.
In this case, contributors contribute sound snippets as part of a thematic compositions. The snippets are organised and played randomly through the Son-Net system:

Sons are sounds (or sound sources) which are gathered, worked and preselected by the composer; they are represented visually by a red circle.
Nets are a skein of rules which determine, by random methods, choice of Son, its volume, number of simultaneous Sons etc. as well as aspects such as panning and overall duration; they are represented visually by a green square.”

Small Son Net

Sounds difficult? Then head to the website immediately and start playing around with some of the Consemble Pieces. It’s really worth investigating.

There are Open and Closed Consembles. The open consembles are works in progress – you can still contribute to them if you have some interesting sound ideas.
The closed Consembles are finished pieces that can be played and listened to.
Paul has given a great deal of attention to the details of presenting the pieces. Clicking a label leads to the details of the composition – clicking the label again opens a (shockwave) player page to start the composition.
You can listen to this Consemble a few times to hear the differences in every instance. But by clicking the right button you can remix the composition yourself using only the samples you like and entering any duration you wish.

Consemble Mixer

It’s probably because of the thematic descriptions (the ‘brief’) that all compositions sound remarkably coherent.
Due to web restrictions, the samples have to be compressed to be enjopyed this way. This makes me hope there will be a Consemble (software, not sound only) CD-release some times, presenting the same compositions with uncompressed audio.
I’ve said it before about Koan, and I can repeat it about Consemble: this is a revolutionary way of presenting music and collaborational music projects – a new interface to the musical ‘chain letter’

Well, if this doesn’t get you interested, I guess you’re stuck to your dull record/CD collection for the rest of your life. But remember they sound the same every time you hit the replay button 

By the Way: there’s much more interesting projects found this website:
Apart from the Consemble ‘Open Music’ compositions, Paul Ramsay’s own Singles (started in 2006) are very much worth playing too.
In fact, the sample track below is “Our Devonian Lagoon” as composed by Paul Ramsay.


And there’s more: be sure to read “Motile – A Mini Essay in Three Rollovers” while you’re listening to the music.

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