Saturday, December 27, 2008

HighC – Let’s paint music

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Do you want to compose your own music but don’t know the saxophone from the gramophone? Here is an application for such uninitiated that allows one to draw their music. Absolutely no knowledge on music is required. You don’t even have to know how to draw.

HighC is a graphical music creation tool that allows users to “draw sounds” on a continuous time-frequency diagram. I have experimented with graphical music creators earlier, where you create music by placing musical symbols (♫ ♪) on a music sheet. It requires you to have a good knowledge on music theory, but it was possible to create music of high quality with these tools. HighC has a different approach.

highc 

In HighC, you use a paint brush or a pen to draw waveforms on a sheet. Add peaks and valleys, add straight lines, add slopes, add dots. You can pick different waveforms from the box on right and make more strokes on the sheet. Finally, click the play button to hear the resulting music. My first try sounded like a wolf howling and an old radio tuning in between stations, combined. Successive tries didn’t show much improvement. There is a detailed tutorial that I will have to read, I guess, if I want to create any decent music out of it.

After making strokes on the music canvas, you can select the waveforms and modify it or cut/copy/paste. The tone of the music can be changed by selecting different waveforms and envelopes from the box on the right and applying it to the waveform through Edit>Apply Waveform or Edit>Apply Envelope.

You don’t have to download this application right now, for there is a Java Applet based demo on their site. There are also some sample waveforms that you can play. Try it.

The entry-level version of HighC is free and targeted at educational uses, but the playback is limited to 22 KHz. The pro version, which comes at a price of 29.99 Euros, allows professionals to use higher quality playback rates and to export their production to standard file formats for editing and remixing using their tools of choice.

HighC is pure fun. Though with skill, you can even compose beautiful music, at least according to the publisher.

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