The Friday Fillip: Binaural

Here’s a pair for your ears.

I enjoy injecting sound into the stream of fillips from time to time, because sound has no intrinsic meaning — unlike the words we wield every day — and despite or because of that it can be beautiful and intriguing.

Today you get to compose, or at least to set free a small program that will run its musical course and either fall into repetition or modulate into endless variation, rather like the Game of Life I pointed to a great many years back and that demonstrates how complexity can emerge from a very simple set of initial “rules.”Batuhan Bozkurt’s website, Earslap, offers up a number of interesting musical things, but the feature for today is his simple program Otomata, which consists of a 9 x 9 grid, some few variables (pitch, tempo), and a set of simple regulations for each cell you choose to activate. If you like the result, you get to save it and use it on your iOS device. If you really like it, you can post it to a subreddit on Reddit for the world to hear.

In case you think this is too primitive to be productive of anything interesting, you might go to that subreddit and listen to some of the better compositions to see if that will change your mind.

I did say “binaural,” so we’ll need another source of sound to fulfill the fillip promise, and that’s going to be an even easier app to work. The site is and it’s all about “noise” and the manipulation of it, frequency by frequency. The main thrust here seems to be the creation of sounds that will assist you in other activities — concentrating, relaxing, sleeping… And the advantage of this particular set of noise generators is your ability to determine and compensate for your hearing loss — you know, the one that began when you started going to rock concerts. Your personal calibration can then be applied to whichever noise you choose to use as a background.

There’s a large selection of ready-made background sounds on the site, as you’d imagine, from nature sounds to industrial sounds and on to drones and human babble. (Not all noise generators are free to “guest” users, but there is still a very large selection; and you can sign up for the lot, if you choose.)

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