Please Stand By… CDP rising

Radio Silence Immanent
Radio Silence Immanent

I have a sizeable academic workload this semester – three of the subjects are about experimental and electronic music though which is great!  I fear that due to the resultant work radio silence may descend on this blog for the next couple of months.

It is possible there will be a performance sometime in March and i’ll blog about that when it is confirmed.  For now I wanted to mention something old that is new again… after the jump…

This is one of the first pieces I constructed with Composers Desktop Project.  Despite its complete failure to keep the Mad Abbott from becoming our PM and ruining this countries environment and reputation overseas it is a workable example of Drunken Walk / Zigzag and a few other generative manipulation processes.  CDP is a powerful set of computer sound manipulation tools with a long history stretching back to the Atari ST.  Version 7 has now been released under a GNU Lesser General Public License for free.  You can download the source-code, Windows and Mac versions here.

My introduction to CDP was via the work of Trevor Wishart, an amazing composer who manages to combine a somewhat working-class socialist aesthetic with GRM style electroacoustic mayhem.  For some reason he reminds me of the R.I.O. crew like Chris Cutler.  He also writes the Sound Loom front end for CDP which looks like an DOS spreadsheet program.


There is a different logic at work to the usual sound editor programs (like Sound Forge) focusing more on meticulous versioning of individual processes building to a larger composition.  Those who have spent time editing batch files and hunting through dos prompts will find more comfort here.  Though i’ve managed to get some sense out of it I find there is a depth that isn’t immediately apparent and it isn’t always clear to a newbie why something does or does not work.  There is an excess of documentation however if you look in the “Docs” directory.

Docs folder
Docs folder

“Index” selects an HTML guide with module descriptions, demos, tutorials and more with Archer Endrich’s 12 Step Guide to CDP standing out as one of the best first ports of call. One thing I noticed however is Trevor Wisharts guide to Sound Loom wouldn’t load from the main contents so I had to look for “twsoundloomguide.pdf”.


I found the Windows only Soundshaper program (runs OK in VMWare) a marginally easier program to experiment with CDP as it functions closer to regular (if old) Windows audio program.  The pro-version costs a small amount of money and could be worth it if you get into using the program more.

SoundShaper Pro
SoundShaper Pro

Also highly recommended are the extensive free workshops which used to cost $$$ as well.  Finally there is a forum now which will hopefully serve as a useful place to learn and discuss.  It’s a rather unusual way of working – rendered not realtime – and while while many of the transformations are done in realtime more commonly these days there is a quality and workflow still in this older approach.  I started a CDP thread on Muff Wiggler some time ago and found quite a bit of interest.

It’s definitely not for the feint at heart but neither is it merely an archaic system only attractive to historians.  Here is another piece I did utilising some CDP harmonic filtering.


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