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/// Reader Mail! The Readers Speak!
Subject: AR 1.20
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 93 15:53:56 PDT
August 9, 1993
Hello Robert and the gang at Amiga Report,
I would just like to comment on your article in Amiga Report 1.20
regarding the uploading of files to BBS's. I am the sysop of FileWorks
and I have been doing the descriptions of files on my BBS like you
suggested since I started it back in April of 1991. I don't necessarily
follow the naming conventions, I usually give it the most descriptive
filename I can in 8.3 characters without a version number but I always
give the version number in the description along with the full name of the
I encourage you and anyone else to give my BBS a call and be able
to determine if you want a file or not at a glance. Files are available
for downloading on first call.
Phone numbers are:
(716) 377-0719 14.4 DS HST
(716) 377-3695 12-2400 BPS
Thank you for the great work on Amiga Report. I enjoy reading each
and every article. Its always a popular download on my BBS.
SysOp of FileWorks
Subj: a program you should see/hear
I am attempting to proliferate a freeware program for the Amiga that
implements an entirely new color-organ algorithm, which causes music and
colors to sympathize better than any previous system. This program for the
Amiga is currently the only decent implementation of this new system. The
program is at the various aminet archive sites, but the most recent version
isn't yet. I will append the archive access info and the docfile for the
program. I urge you to see to it that some member of your staff reviews the
program. Any assistance I can offer will be of the utmost priority.
I'd like to inform you of a freebie you haven't seen before.
The archive cycluphonics.lzh contains a program called mcf
that takes midi coming into an Amiga and converts pitches
into changes in the color palette of a screen. The program
uses a new algorithm that causes the colors to sympathize
noticeably with the music. It's very pleasant and very
different. I am now in a position to provide e-mail support
for the program at
or voice (202) 364-4424 USA anytime.
The archive may be obtained at midi ug dc (local bbs) or
FILE -r--rw-r-- 17969 Aug 27 1992 CycLuPhonics.LZH
....or contact me and I'll do my best to get you a fresh copy.
Rick Hohensee (202)364-4424
p.o. box 11340 washington d.c. 20008
may 1 1993
Midi Cycluphonics Documentation
CONTENTS ( but read the whole file first )
Contents .................... line 10
what ........................ line 18
how to ..................... line 61
get started ............ line 135
cycluphonics the concept ..... line 144
coming attractions ......... line 206
The archive cycluph.lzh contains a freeware program for the Amiga called
`midi cycluphonics'. The most recent version as of this writing is the
file mcf3.( mcf4) The archive also contains a variety of gizmos to go with
the program including some pictures I did, an amiga midi library by
Pregnant Badger, and the pic viewer `sho'.
`Midi Cycluphonics' is an implementation of a system I have devised which I
call `cycluphonics'. Cycluphonics generally is a way to correlate musical
pitches to colors or vice versa which is not specific to computers. Midi
cycluphonics was written by Jim Vacarro ph.D. after much begging by me and
after he saw my attempt to do cycluphonics in 16 colors on a c64, i.e. out
of pity(The c64 program is called `colorg', and isn't that bad, actually).
Cycluphonics differs from previous color-organ-like systems I am aware of
in that it maps a color wheel to a cycle-of-fifths instead of a chromatic
or other scale. This method causes the music and the visuals to be somewhat
`sympathetic', as Jim Willis so aptly put it. Because the spacial and har-
monic reationships between the notes on a cycle-of-fifths are quite similar
to the relationships between points on a color wheel, a direct mapping be-
tween the two will result in similar feelings being implied by visuals and
music that are linked cycluphonically. The existence of such a relationship
has been suspected since antiquity.
Mcf3 accepts midi note events, converts them to colors , blends
them if appropriate, and changes the color palette of a screen to the
in-coming music. It is still in the experimental stage and we are learning
as we go, but it does work. The environment it works in is still rather
restricted, but it works well enough for someone to decide what they think
of cycluphonics, and it works well enough for an amigan with midi gear to
do some rather unusual stuff.
The environment mcf3 prefers is an Amiga with an installed midi library,
some external device putting midi note events at the serial port, and a 32
color screen to process the colors of. Mcf3 was written and tested ini-
tially with another Amiga running Deluxe Music as the midi source, or a
cheap midi keyboard, or Miracle keyboard sequences. We have not come up with
a way to run mcf3 on a single Amiga and get visuals and sound simultaneously.
Another problem , which may be solved soon, is that mcf3 expects every
note-on event to have an accompanying note-off event. This is crucial to
note/color blending, but this is not as bad as the single platform challenge.
So ya wanna see some music, eh kid? Turn on your source of midi to the
Amiga. Put a 32 color image such as the enclosed `pics/barsdots' up on the
screen. The enclosed image viewer `sho' doesn't cycle colors, which would
conflict with mcf3, so if you want to use an image that cycles by itself
use sho. Using the mouse, drag the picture down close to the bottom of the
screen. Run mcf3. Mcf3 will put up it's window ( You might also want to run
an editor window of this file initially.) It's a standard ados window
titled MidiCycluphonics with the basic window gadgets. In the window are a
variety of program-specific gadgets. The first row of almost-square gadgets
CYCLO Don't click this one yet. It activates cycluphonics but it
requires some setup. This one will be hi-lited if it's on.
SCREEN GRAB This is the one you have to click before CYCLO. This one
grabs the color palette of the top-most screen for the
use of mcf3. This is a bit of a hack, since it violates
ados protocols. This means you have to quit mcf3 before
removing your image screen or you'll guru. Be careful
dragging your image screen when you've hit this gadget.
RESTORE PALETTE which puts your image's original coloration back.
USE C-Y-M stands for cyan, magenta and yellow. these are the primary
colors when dealing with pigments, i.e. subtractive
synthesis. This is complementary to RGB which is add-
itive synthesis. Jim and I prefer CYM. This one will also
be hi-lited to indicate it's state.
FLUSH COLORS Mcf3 keeps a running average of all notes currently active.
If you don't get a note-off for every note-on, notes will
stay in the average forever and the resulting colors will
get monotonous. This gadget clears the average. Right now
the actual solution to this problem is to use midi info
with balanced note-ons and offs, like organ music. sigh.
REDO COLORS This gadget causes a recompute of the table mcf3 uses to
assign colors to notes. That is, it recalculates the
formula (in the window) hue=blahblahblah. You can get
started without worrying about this one.
That's the top row. The ones you need to get started are SCREEN GRAB and
CYCLO, in that time order.
Then there's a line of text in the window, `cycle on event', it says.
This means that the next line of gadgets determines when and how often mcf3
computes a new color and cycles it (fifos it?) into the image. If you click
em all off nothing will happen. If only `note on' is on a new color will be
computed and added whenever mcf3 gets a note-on event. These are additive.
The two clock based ones require non-zero values to be meaningful. A jiffy
is one sixtieth of a second (ntsc). By using note events the cycling will
be faster when the music is busier. By using one of the clocks you get a
constant-rate cycling. The clock counter numbers let you vary the rate.
These guys are also hi-lited when active.
Then there's that zany formula. It's there mostly to compare cycluphonics
to other transforms. It lets you change the basic algorithm of mcf3 so you
can see what you think of cycluphonics compared to some arbitrary mapping
of notes to colors. This is included for the scientifically rigorous, but
the `offset' value, which is initially 0, can be changed without violating
cycluphonics. In fact, it's rather important to cycluphonics. By varying
this value between 0 and 360 you can control the overal color of a piece of
music. If the offset variable is 0, then the note C gets mapped to red. The
rest of the color wheel is then mapped to the cycle of fifths accordingly.
Change the offset to 120 and C becomes green. In other words, this is how
you rotate the two wheels relative to each other. I'll explain the rest of
the formula in some obscure journal someday. Promise.
The lower-most semantic object in the mcf3 window ( pretentious much?) is
the `saturation' variable. It defaults to 12%. Saturation represents purity
of hue. Thats all I know. Play with it. Think of it as art.
So, to get started you put up a 32 color screen image, drag it down so you
can leave it as the topmost screen while you do some other stuff, run mcf3,
click on SCREEN GRAB which steals the color palette of that picture you've
got dragged `down' in terms of screen x,y coordinates but which is still the
topmost screen in terms of ados screens, send your Amiga some midi with
plenty of note-offs, cross your fingers and click CYCLO. Carefully drag the
pic up so you can enjoy cycluphonics. *Something* should happen if you leave
all the other gadgets and variables at the defaults.
CYCLUPHONICS THE CONCEPT
For ages musicians and visual artists have tried to correlate sounds and
colors. Some famous composers have been convinced that middle C is a
particular hue. The artist Kandinski, who was perhaps THE father of
abstract art, was seeking in the visual realm the self-meaningfulness of
music, i.e. the way that music affects the listener without necessarily
relying on audio likenesses of the real world. Aristotle compared the
combination of pitches to the blending of pigments. He noted that a pure
harmonious interval is a distict sound from it's two component pitches,
much as a blend of two pigments results in a distinct new color. Sharp
cookie, that Aristotle. Cycluphonics doesn't care what color middle C is,
as long as it stays a particular color for a while. The choice of what color
middle C is is arbitrary. The choice is yours with the mcf3 `offset'
variable. Rather, cycluphonics is based on a `same difference' mechanism.
A certain type of difference between two notes can be systematically held
to be analagous to a certain type of difference between two colors.
Cycluphonics considers the musical interval known as a perfect fifth to be
analagous to the difference/similarity between two adjacent hues on a 12
hue color wheel, regardless of the note names of the notes or the exact
colors in question. A musical fifth is analagous to a 30 degree interval
on a color wheel. It doesn't have to be more specific than that. By extending
the analogy to say that a cycle of fifths is analagous to a color wheel we
have cycluphonics, a system which can be implemented on a variety of
The cycle of fifths is taught early on in any formal music course. It is
usually used in stepwise fashion to allow changing the key of a piece of
music in pleasing smooth steps rather than abruptly. It is also useful
in other ways, but it is usually thought of as something you traverse in
steps. It is when you look at the geometry of the cycle of fifths as a
whole, and by interval name from some arbitrary starting point rather than
by note name, that you see it's remarkable `analagousness' to a color
The cycle of fifths, starting at C, is......
C G D A E B G flat D flat A flat E flat B flat F and C again.
B flat D CYCLE OF FIFTHS BY NOTE NAMES
E flat A
A flat E
D flat B
If this sequence is clockwise around a ring then counter-clockwise is
the cycle of fourths. Any two adjacent notes on this ring are seven
semitones apart, which is the most harmonious interval between two notes
of different names. This interval is called the perfect fifth. This
construct has a number of fascinating properties. Notice that if this is a
ring,then C is opposite G flat. Nearly opposite C on either side of G flat
are D flat and B. These three notes all clash harshly with C, much as colors
opposite each other on a color wheel clash. This similarity of harmonic
geometry is consistent, albeit approximate, all the way around the wheels.
Also, these relationships work with any keynote.
This section constitutes predicting the future, which is a tricky business,
but here goes. The note-on note-off problem is a bug, but it may be squashed
soon, I hope. I am eager to see an AGA version of mcf. 256 colors would make
a big difference. A friend of Jim's and mine has threatened to do a version
of cycluphonics on his intel-based machine. Controls for mcf could be
included in with the music by dedicating a sliver of the midi info to mcf.
I don't know if there's an anim player that works with mcf. I imagine that
at some point there will be. Jim Willis has strongly suggested that mcf be
made aware of `general midi'. Mcf could recieve features derived from my
investigations into cycluphonic motion. I'd like to see, and may write, a
simpler more demo-like implementation of cycluphonics that loads and runs
on a single stock Amiga without external gear. I'd like to know how to make
mcf as useful as possible to Toaster mechanics. Rather than a color
palette, mcf could control a red green and blue spotlight for live music,
where one musician is producing midi. I've done some work on a stringed
instrument that could do cycluphonics by analog means, sort of a guitar
that plugs into a tv. And on and on. Suggestions are nice, and I appreciate
the spirit in which they are given, but please keep in mind that I've been
thinking about this and related stuff for a long time. What I really need,
and what would be best for the Amiga community, is for people to try mcf3,
make thier own assessment of the potential of cycluphonics, do stuff with
it, preferably for public consumption, and spread the word, i.e. the
archive. As of this writing there has been no public use of cycluphonics.