TASK #2 (8 steps): Make a really unpulsed rhythm.
Rhythms are called “unpulsed” in this software when their timespans form no periodic/repetitive patterns that listeners are likely to detect. (“Likely” is the important word here.) By first choosing a preset complexity hypothesis (or choosing one that you made in “Task #1” above), you will let the software know what kinds of ratios an “unpulsed” rhythm needs to avoid. “Really-unpulsed” grammars eliminate a wide variety of simple ratios. “Moderately unpulsed” grammars avoid only the ones that are extremely simple or extremely complex. “Pulsed” grammars avoid…well, you get the idea. Let’s get started:
1. Open Unpulser and choose File -> Open Project. Choose the project called “Sample_Composition”.
2. Double click on the capital “S” next to the file marked “first-compositions” in the bottom of the project window.
3. Click the ”+” sign in the lower left corner of the “Series View” window, to add one more track.
4. Use Command-6, or “Window - -> String Generator”, which will open the String Generation window.
5. In the String Generator’s Grammar menu, choose the “really-unpulsed” grammar, and click the button “Precalculate.”
6. The generator is set to produce a string that lasts about 100 units at a given tempo, with no restrictions on the number of notes. Click “Best of Randoms” to generate a string. (You can continue clicking until you get a rhythm that you want to hear.)
7. In the bottom of the window, choose the composition (“First_compositions”), track (i.e. “Series 1”), pitch (60 = middle C) and start-time (i.e. “1”) to which you want to write the rhythm. Then click the “Append Rhythm” button.
8. Click the space bar to play your rhythm. Use the arrow tool to move notes up or down in pitch, or right or left in time. To change instrument settings, double-click the leftmost region of a track to see the “Track Info” palette. (A list of MIDI instruments is at the bottom of the palette.) Choose Command-5 or Window —> Note Attributes to set Velocity (i.e. loudness) and other features of individual notes or groups of notes.
In the two tasks above, you created an image of ratios arranged from pulsed to unpulsed, and you created a composition based on a grammar that restricted ratios to one part (the remote, unpulsed part) of the image. From here, you can explore the rest on your own, or read below for more basic concepts. If you choose to explore, try using the “L1, L2, and L3 Complexity Sliders” to constrain the ratios in a string by setting their minimum and maximum complexity on your own. Keep the “Ratio Pairs” window open while you do it: if the window gets too sparse (or goes blank), then your constraints are too steep. If the window fills with thousands of ratios, your constraints aren’t steep enough. (And it will take Unpulser forever to calculate your rhythms.)
In the next section, you can get a slightly more detailed sense of what’s possible, and what concepts are available, in using this tool.