Thursday, April 5, 2018

Fish 2.0

Fish is the program (for Windows, Linux, and Macintosh) to edit and upload patches for Shbobo devices (SHNTH and SHTAR). With the release of the new Shbobo SHTAR, the program has received an overhaul. Most noticeably, the older system of tabbed soups has been replaced with a universal map of the whole file as loaded. Thus, soups are all visible, adjacent to each other. It is like a world map, and users are encouraged to use both horizontal and vertical layouts to organize their patch ideas.
To facilitate navigation, there is a Zelda, or world map, like the Photoshop navigator, so you can click on different parts of your world and teleport there.

The expression selection system now follows keyboard focus. Only one expression can be focused at any time, when it becomes the current object being edited. In the following picture, "slewb" is selected, as indicated by a yellow plaid fill:
 As selected, various editing operations can be enacted, in addition to drag-and-drop stuff,  as detailed on the "Edit" menu: 
Most are self explanatory, but let's talk about the "Reference" command. This is important for writing patches in core Shlisp, where it enables feedback loops most notably. A reference is simply a fish-expression, with its "cdr" removed, so it is just the "head" or "opcode". Thus (horn 64 64) becomes (horn) as a reference. At runtime, this expression will yield the last computed value of that opcode.
In the "View" menu, note that Fish can now Zoom!...
Here's the "Shbobo" menu. "Serve selected" tries to upload the currently selected expression to your device, so you can listen to parts of patches. The command for this is redundant with the simple action of double-clicking. Yes, double click on any soup or fish to quick upload only that code! "Serve all" uploads the complete file. "Change cuisine," as before, is for re-initializing your device's DSP matrix. Note, pick "shnth.bin" or "shtar.bin" appropriate to your device. Gwonzer is a readout of the data received:


Patches can be composed visually, mostly through dragging and dropping, but also keys can be used almost identically to the way they would be if it were a vanilla text editor. For example, I typed the following keys into a new file:
  • {
  • (
  • "left"
  • enter
  • (
  • "horn"
  • enter
  • space
  • space
This is the patch that Fish thus composed (with random values for spacepress):


Doubleclick shall become an important tool in this new version. As mentioned, a doubleclick on any recipe will upload it to the device. However, if you double click on the head of an expression, the symbol that denotes its opcode, the program will open up a representative help file from the local "tutor" directory. Thus doubleclicking "horn" will open up "horn.txt" to explain it.

Fish Soup Tank Boat

Let's review what expressions are. In lisp, there is only one kind of expression, besides symbols, the parentheses, (). In Shlisp, as it stands, there are Fish, and Soup, respectively denoted as () and {}. Fish is a DSP core expression, and Soup is a preset. The new version of Fish paves the way for two new types, known as Tank and Boat, denoted as [] and <>. They are not implemented yet, but Tank will be for listing things and Boat will be for scripting things in classical Lisp, thus the possibility for generative patches. Note that the previous version of Fish had randuplicate, and this has been eliminated because Tank and Boat will be bearing the burden of generating permutations of patches.

The new version of Fish is available at, as

Quantus Barney: Secluded Residence @ Radio Shack, Part X

While his dog was off in outer space, Quantus meditated in the radio shack, mostly about the extreme importance of ground. "I like simple things," his thoughts said.

"These simple radio theremins require the strongest and truest source of electricity, the Earth. Otherwise, they're floating on the power lines like birds. I'm trying to broadcast the Earth here, through the air. I start with the same Earth that the corncob man, Heinmann, plows."

Quantus' thoughts drifted to space, as he envisioned his residency in a satellite transmitter: "The spaceship has no Earth, so all signals dwell within it. It's like a little environment of electronic signals. In a way, electronics are the natural life forms of outer space, for electromagnetic radiation dwells in the void. It feels good to disperse. The dog knows how to play the ship. He has a special paw-shaped button that turns off all the electronics so he can fart in the void."

The sun shone through slits in the radio shack's wooden walls. It illuminated odd corners of the room, bases for musical bagatelles about hairballs. With his sharply pointed pinky fingernail, Quantus strummed the string of his zither on the low end, producing a sharp foghorn. He looked again into the strange corner of the room, blurring his eyes to make it appear a sleepy Pacific bay. In this bay, a disturbance appeared on the water as if an actor was breaching.

Focusing his eyes, Quantus noticed a paper bag stuffed with something. The motes of dust were swirling above it in the thin beams of sunlight. Someone had stuck their hand in through the walls of the radio shack, to put that bag there. Quantus reached out with his walking stick and shuffled the bag towards him. He reached down, tipped it, and felt a wet heavy body inside. A fish fell to the ground, with red dots painted on its side.

Quantus picked it up. Its skin was not slimy, having dried to a thin leathery film over the flesh. "Did I just see its eyes light up? It must have been a trick of light as it crossed the red cornea of the fish. What a prank, a bass in a bag." He drummed his fingers on the side of the fish, and its eyes did indeed light up red.

Astonished, Quantus realized quickly that the bass contained a transducer inside its belly, and two red LEDs in its eyes: "What a strange prank! However, I think I can use this on my radio show. For optical disks we use light-sensitive diodes. I can position one on a tiny crane above the eye of this fish. Now, when I drum on the side," Boom, boom, boom, the thrilling motion of his fingertips articulated a loud sound in the radio station monitors.

The sound became radio waves in the station's transmitter, and traveled over the corn fields, and one of these waves reached Blanc's house by the lake, as he was tending his bleach-lagoon. He chuckled to himself. I had an idea to get an old MLPT (Multi Layer Piezo Transducer) from electronics surplus. I disemboweled that fish enough to slip the transducer inside. Then, I drilled the eyes of that fish out, and inserted red LEDs. So Blanc chortled to himself mischievously. To bring the dead bass firmly into the domain of his personal artistic medium, he painted red dots on its side, as a secret message to his frenemies within the sect.

In the next installment of "Quantus Barney: Secluded Residence,"
Blanc's bleach-lagoon.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Quantus Barney: Secluded Residence @ Radio Shack, Part IX

The dog is shaggy and sometimes looks gaseous in form but this is only when photographed.  For in the real world, on the pine-root paths between the zither shed and the radio shack, the dog is real to the monk, searching out squirrels and running up to sniff his sandals while Monk thinks about the invisible shape of his radio fields.

What was his instrument used for in the beginning, when a man chopped a plank off of a Pawlonia trunk?  Perhaps the tree was hit by lightning and it split exactly into the phallic purple-white-tan zither that he is custodian of.  He knows that silk is an important part of the equation, just as much as nylon is, for the ancients would not have heard the potential of Pawlonia without the crystal tones of stretched silken filaments, buttressed by the arch of the branch: convex for koto, straight for qin. 

"This koto is for my wife on the internet, for she takes the curved wood and I take the straight wood.  My zither is played like a man who is chanting lowly and inflecting with slow movements accompanied by the rustling of his rob, and of course the sound of the fans that cool the transmitter, birds outside of the shack."

The monk hears the wind in the pines, and impromptu, as is allowed by tradition, he recites a poem over broad zither strokes, in a dry lilting voice which then becomes wet and sloppy as he turns the feedback up on his radio-zither, high chaotic tones enter the situation: bombs in the pines, shrieks elicit from radio receivers across the land.  The corn-cob-man, listening, has a stroke; immediately Monkletto senses this, and putting his facemask on, steps out into the sofa...

The Dog Does the Drugs
"I like poop," says the dog.  "Now when I go out in the pines because my monk is playing those post-musical high frequencies which beat in my ear, I go and look for poop out in the fields past the pines.  Out here I can hear still his matrix of ultrasound, but it is fading out into the wind, squirrels, and cows.  I comb the grass for poop, poop that grows mushrooms.  Quantus Monk is projecting structured ultrasound into the fields, and transmitting this on the radio too. 

In the next installment of "Quantus Barney: Secluded Residence,"
On first encountering the monk Quantus Barney, playing his zither in a concert hall.



 Think about the bumper sticker "this machine kills fascists." The most appropriate place for this sticker, according to Woody Guthrie and your own good conscience, is on a musical instrument.
Music affects our emotions. Overly simple music is emotionally manipulative. Think of war marches, pop music, and religious (not esoteric) mood play. The core flaw of Western Music is its division into happy and sad, major and minor.

In America, we are musically bipolar. The simple message of Islamic music, I feel, is offering a most sublime alternative: analog gradience between minor and major. Like non-representational art, it leaves out the extremes of hate and love.

Our research into 17 tone equal temperament (17tet) goes back a decade, when Carson Garhart and I built our first Namastitar, fretted in just intonation according to the ratios outlined by Zalzal. Our goal was to respectfully recreate neutral seconds and thirds.

The affect of netural intervals is one of yearning, perpetuity, and eternal motion. -Ron Shalom

Foucault admired the Iranian revolution because of its return to irrationality in the face of modernism, and its spirituality. The way to transmute our president begins with this irrationality and ends with solving global imperialism.

Protest music has always been termed "noise" and "irrational;" It strikes a dissonant chord. In the Bush years, it was literally "noise music." We seek an evolution of protest noise that is not literally noisy.

The band "Sun City Girls" termed their music as "disorientalism:" an appropriation that makes you dizzy, or a misinterpretation that creates new appreciation for the world. When we first fretted an instrument in 17tet, we heard its neutral thirds quite clearly.

If I had made the SHTAR in 12tet, it would not have 33 frets, because that would be impossible on any instrument but a berimbau. 33 frets is a lucky number, because it uses a 32-bit computer, and there is an extra one for emergency situations. -Peter B

The Persian Tar's neck is made of walnut and its body of mulberry, which are also common American fine hardwoods, so we can understand this instrument materially. Whereas the tar uses goat, the SHTAR uses acoustic plastic for its skin. Likewise a bridge in bone became one of black gold: smoked polycarbonate.

It is strung in bronze: although it is weaker it is more resonant. The bronze age of music was like the Baroque, offering microsound for soft touchers. What Foucault saw as the creative force in Iran was to skip modernism and reconnect spirituality to the bronze age. He also admired closeness to danger.

A computer music system in Islamic tuning requires an intellectual commitment. Contrasted to analog culture, offering instant and intuitively fun sounds, this instrument must take years to develop a relationship. That's the epitome of computer music; it's a different business plan encompassing hacking and the idea of the recipe.

Everyone knows that taking pictures of a modular, or trying to write down the patch system, is bogus. The dial's gradience is the true basis of the composition, and it is anti-semiotic. but in computer music, a score, or text, is truly a legitimate thing.

Musically, Christianity prefers intervals of salvation, and Islam those of yearning; one is simplifying, the other is subliming. In Phillip K. Dicks "Divine Transformation," a major world religion is Islamo-Christianity. In this world, what would the pop singer Linda Fox sound like?

-Control NYC, November 2017 (Thanks to Rachelle)


Afary, Janet and Anderson, Kevin B: Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islam.

Farhat, Hormoz: The Dastgah Concept in Persian Music.


During the time of the SHTAR development, my friend Daniel Fishkin invited me to have a lesson with Professor Shahrokh Yadegari, at UCSD. Miller Puckette also stopped by, who immediately recognized the "fret-scanner" nature of the instrument. Shahrokh's response was from an Iranian who had left that country to live in the alien shores of California, and likewise had spaced out in the basements of IRCAM, a formidable French presence. The fact that he knows well the Persian Tar made his response that much more heartfelt. Understanding the populist nature of my computer music controller's gesture, he cautioned that the neutral third is chosen by the musician, so fixed frets could never accommodate the truly esoteric nature of seeking the sublime neutrality; the ancient Tar uses rawhide sinews tied on the neck, that can be moved anytime according to the tarrist.

As a junior to these professors, I prepared my thesis defense. I explained that radical cuts are to be made in the 70s matrix of technology, so I could produce a lightweight instrument that stabs at esotericity, a compromise. And that adding computer music to the heart of the instrument is an attempt to regain this esotericity "lost" in the body of the instrument. That the fret-scanner is not for each string, but is "monophonic" is not a detriment but a simplification of an important bottleneck in a string synth: too much data. At this point in my defense, I pointed out that Pat Methaney had a six-string scanner-synthesizer, but his solos are usually monophonic. So are Fripp's, concluding my 70s references. The tar had doubled strings, but this one does not; the chorusing and tremolo effects are to be regained in a new way from the computer music.


Dear Charlemagne Palestine,
i saw your concert last Fall in Sophienkirche.
I had been waiting a long time to hear your organ performance live,
ever since my friend Ezra Buchla gave me a CD in college,
when I apprenticed to organ builders in Oregon and Ohio.
I noticed that your current work has more glory-of-god dominant modulation,
and I wonder if you think so too ?)

I am not Muslim, in fact my middle name is Christian.
However, I often meditate on how immigrants enrich my country,
even though some were slaves to it.
Your name is composed of a holy roman emperor and a trodden Islamic state,
have you ever thought of it that way ?)

I am a synthesizer builder, and honestly
I wanted to show you one but I am cautious after shows,
so I stood outside instead.
I have released a string instrument with embedded computer music,
in an tuning good for Islamic music,
like the neutral intervals in the call to prayer:

17 tone equal temperament, have you heard of it?

My dream project is to convert a pipe organ
(for the glory of Fid)
retuning it to this scale, with neutral intervals.
If you ever notice a mosque in Berlin that wants this radical project,
let me know!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Introduction to Fishbobo

[] is space list
<> is time function
{} is space situation
() is time sound

Friday, September 29, 2017

Quantus Barney: Secluded Residence @ Radio Shack, Part VIII

The following was transcribed from the language of the deer tick brain computer. Think of it not as English, but a system of gears and mechanisms: instincts not unlike a sophisticated FPGA parallel computer. It's much cuter, and alive though. It has feelings and emotions, desires and hungers. Let's enter its brain for a moment to empathize with that.

My two emotions are thrilled and rest.

I am cool, it is dark, it is cool, it was night. I am under a leaf, I am comfortable at home, and growing. I'm a big boy.

Hark, blobs of pink flesh approach, accompanied by a hairy, leaner love. I love the smell of dog; my leather, under a warm canopy; my cup of wine.

The pink gloves are moving in my temple. Huge white beam is tilting away. My eyes do not comprehend. I am activated by vibrations in my house.

Walking around, crawling on the dry leaf, now I feel the sun on my back; it warms the remaining blood in my stomach and fertilizes my thoughts.

Wolf wolf wolf. I jump in the air, feel the wind on my flat body. I am oxygenated. My eyes are oxygenated. I can see the dog below me.

I am so lucky to be a modern tick, who can fly from a dry leaf and land on a clean and rich dog field. I can walk around and see the hair, the pink underwear!

I dig my head in, my eyes are pink light. My brain is going blank. My head is surrounded in pink glove. I commune with dog.

The blood fills me, my brain is sleeping. I dream in the language of the spirochete. It is a coil which unwinds to slide through my fangs.

I dream of this blood my wine, as it lives in the dog and interfaces with its brain. Excited to create splash art in my natural medium of dog blood, my coil becomes a lance that penetrates to the vein. I will give this dog the gift of sadness, and sleep and sore joints.

Like the tick that bore me, I too will rest in the shade of a bloody liver; I will coil up again, tight like a cyst and wait, resonating my own thoughts into the dog's brain.

My two emotions are penetrate and disappear.
The tick and I get along very well.

The Dog has now contracted Lyme's disease
Since he already was a stoner, he will still live a long life coping with this disease. It may hurt more, and Quantus will be puzzled why his dog has become slower. This is a portal to create trippier writing and psychedelic storytelling from the viewpoint of the dog.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Julia Actor Network

My next step in the code rewrite is to tear apart everything that I hacked together in the first version. I was very concerned with strict OOP, or Object Oriented Programming. I wanted each virtual object to be self-contained, or hermetic, so I employed a radical slackerism of not separating my class definitions into definitions and implementation... Which resulted in a spaghetti of nesting and recursive definitions. The crisis of readability is that similar functions, such as paint(), are interspersed and spread far from each other.

I said, what about some Actor-Network theory to serve this situation! First of all, it dissolves the boundaries of strict objectivism, allowing the objects to interplay with the network of actions. And it gives these actions, or functions, that share a similar impulse network, to have a first-class file of their own.

So I cut up all the class definitions and glued them together on construction paper, giving like functions a name with underscore: _painting.c. The object definitions are now classically headed, with object names and a focus on inheritance and composition. Now the Classes can focus on their job and Functions can focus on theirs.

I appreciate a pretty directory layout. The most important files, those describing the networks, are listed first. Then the object definitions. Thanks Bruno!