Karlheinz Essl

Portrait KHE

Music Software

This page provides information about some computer programs developed by Karlheinz Essl as tools for composition, live performance and sound design. Based on the concepts of real-time and algorithmic composition - a field of research Essl has been working in since 1985 - they are tailored to the needs of musicians and media artists interested in generative music, randomness and indeterminacy.

FontanaMixer FontanaMixer
generative sound environment based on John Cage's Fontana Mix (1958)
vs. 5.0 (ARM/Intel) for macOS 11 or higher (released: 13 Apr 2024) NEW

The original concept of Cage's piece uses a graphical random generator that is supplied with the score. This new version, however, uses realtime sound generation and produces completely unpredictable sonic results which are reflecting Cage's ideas of indeterminacy, chance, and silence.

ambient soundscape generator
vs. 6.0 (ARM/Intel) for macOS 11 or higher (released: 27 Mar 2023) NEW

An audio program that runs on Apple Macintosh computers. It generates an ever-changing and never-repeating soundscape in real time, filling the room with a flood of sounds that metaphorically resemble the timbres of water, fire, earth and air. This ambient soundscape generator is self-adjusting through various parameters and controllers that are displayed in real time on your screen. Feed your own sounds into the system and listen to what the algorithms compose. The system's parameters can be accessed using either the mouse or a connected MIDI controller. Use your own VST or AU plug-ins for advanced sound processing. Finally, you can record the result as a sound file.

RP REplay PLAYer
generative sound file shredder
vs. 6.1 (ARM/Intel) for macOS 11 or higher (released: 10 Mar 2023) NEW

A computer program that deconstructs a given sound file and recomposes it using real-time composition algorithms. It can be used as a tool to generate an infinite and ever-changing stream of sound from a single sound file for artistic, compositional or recreational purposes. It can also be used as a computer-based instrument for live performance, as an interactive sound installation, or as an ambient music generator.

RTC Real Time Composition Library (RTC-lib)
software library for algorithmic composition - open source
vs. 8.3 (64bit, Universal Binary) for macOS and Windows (released: 16 May 2022) NEW

A collection of patches ("abstractions" and "externals") for Max/MSP/Jitter and Pd which offer the possibility to experiment with compositional techniques including serial procedures, permutations and controlled randomness.

LS Lexikon-Sonate
algorithmic music generator
vs. 6.0.1 (64bit) for macOS and Windows (released: 28 May 2020)

An interactive real-time composition environment for musical composition and live performance. It takes advantage of composition algorithms developed by Karlheinz Essl since 1985. With this algorithmic music generator, you can easily create fascinating and complex musical structures on the fly. Lexikon-Sonate is an infinite music installation that can run on a computer for years without repeating itself. It can also be used as a computer instrument for live performances.

generative sound environment
vs. 4.0 (64bit) for macOS (released: 23 May 2020)

A generative sound environment originally composed by Karlheinz Essl for an outdoor light installation by German artist Rainer Gottemeier. Using the sound of a single bell strike as its starting material, the piece unfolds a rich sonic cosmos through a computer program. Using compositional algorithms developed by Karlheinz Essl since the early 1980s, the piece is generated in real time. It can be perceived as a sonic organism that can serve as a source of inspiration and meditation, running forever and ever...

WUW WebernUhrWerk
generative music generator
vs. 5.0 (64bit) for macOS and Windows (released: 28 Apr 2020)

A computer program that automatically composes generative carillon music based on the twelve-tone row of Anton Webern's last composition, which he was unable to complete due to his sudden and unexpected death on 15 September 1945, when he was accidentally shot by an American GI. The programme simulates a carillon that plays a short musical phrase every 15 minutes, which is never repeated.

AM Amazing Maze
interactive realtime composition for sampled sound particles
vs. 4.0 for macOS and Windows (released: 2 Aug 2018)

An infinite real-time composition that creates an astonishing sonic cosmos by manipulating instrumental sound particles in time and space. It uses composition algorithms developed by Karlheinz Essl since 1985. The generation process can be performed automatically or by user interaction.

more or less more or less
random-generated playing instructions for musical improvisation
  • vs. 1.6 (64bit) for macOS 10.14 or higher (released: 28 May 2020)
  • vs. 1.1.3 (JavaScript) for any web browser (released: 11 Nov 2008)

A computer-controlled real-time composition in which the musicians do not reproduce parts of a fixed score. Instead of performing a prefabricated text from sheets of music, they look at computer monitors displaying randomly generated playing instructions. During the performance of the piece, the musicians can query the computer for playing instructions whenever they feel the need. In addition, each time a musician receives a new instruction from the computer, a randomly generated haiku is generated. The haiku is a three-line poem that provides a puzzle for the musicians to 'solve', and will have a major influence on the interpretation of the required structure.

playing-strategies_64 Playing Strategies
random-generated text oracle
vs. 2.2 (JavaScript) for any web browser (released: 16 Sep 2001)

This is a text oracle that generates playing instructions for musical improvisation. They can help to overcome overused clichés when improvising alone or with other musicians. These sometimes bizarre but always thought-provoking sentences should be interpreted according to your own taste, intellect and skill.

Home Works Records Texts Concerts

Updated: 13 Apr 2024