Phase Toy

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Phase Toy is a simple Shockwave sequencer that allows you to create compositions using a point-and-click interface. Just click on a cell to have the sequencer play the corresponding tone when the 'play head' sweeps over it. Click and drag to add several tones at once. Phase Toy makes a nice little diversion that is as mesmerizing as it is relaxing.

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56 Comments

once you have figured out how to produce some great sequences it really is a lot of fun.
Now the problem is as soon as you get up to 16 tones in a sequence my PC doesn't seem to be able to play the sounds properly, cutting them off not going in tact etc.
Would probably have been better if it was in Java...

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As allways, Shockwave crashed my Firefox browser :(
But it was fun as long as it lasted :)
Please Andrew, implement this with Flash as well. And sell it to mobile phone manufacturers. I hate the application and sounds I have in my mobile phone. In this Phase Toy the sounds (instruments) are very calming and the possibility to change the lenght of beats is good thing to have.

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Scratch N' Sniff October 6, 2006 8:36 AM

this is a wonderful music toy

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This is great!

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I guess one way to share compositions is like this:
03054306 55020430 200430
(counting up)
:D

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Dylan James October 6, 2006 10:07 AM

Yeah i agree

on max bars allowed

Bar one
2342-5342-2342-5342
Bar two
1342-5362-0342-6362
Bar three
3126-3621-3126-3521

Funky!!

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Hey, this is really cool!
These little casual webtoys are always so neat.

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Hello Jay et al.

What you might not realize is that "Phase Toy" is referencing a very specific breakthrough in music composition pioneered by minimalist composer Steve Reich (who just turned 70 and is being feted all over NYC with the Steve Reich at 70 Festival). I'll be happy to post some background on what's going on here, but I'll do it within the spoiler tags, so if you're bored by such things, you can skip it.

"Phase Toy" allows you to do very quickly what used to take a very long time, and therfore is actually a great introduction to one of the most important era of modern music.

"Phasing", which is basically the practice of playing two notes or patterns and having them gradually get out of sync with one another, was pioneered by minimalist composer (and undisputed late 20th century american master) Steve Reich.
How it started was Reich would take two looped recordings of the same thing and play them on two different reel-to-reel recorders. He would gradually slow down one of the two reel-to-reels and the patters would "phase", which is to say the sounds would stop syncing up, and new patters were created.
He first did this with found sound in a couple of pieces, the most famous of which is "IT'S GONNA RAIN" which features a black street preacher's voice looped with itself. At first listen, you sorta feel like your head is going to explode when you listen to it, but if you get used to it, it is profound and disturbing.
Reich then experimented with using prerecorded music and letting it get out of sync with itself.
Gradually, he started doing it with live performers. One piece, PENDULUM MUSIC involved swinging microphones in front of amplifiers. The mics would gradually slow down (thanks to the laws of physics) and therefore the tones they produced would rhythmically get off until eventually the mics were stationary and droning at different pitches. Then he did CLAPPING MUSIC which involved phasing two performers clapping the same pattern by having one of them skip a beat every now and then. He then started using actual instruments in pieces like SIX PIANOS and ORGAN MUSIC (which horrified its audience at Carnegie Hall when performed live).
He two most famous experimentations in phasing are the remarkable "DRUMMING" and the truly breathtakingly spectacular "MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS" (for anyone who is a Sufjan Stevens fan, Music for 18 Musicians is, I believe, his favorite piece of music). DRUMMING is about an hour long, four different pieces for percussion instruments performed by between 4 and 12 performers. Each piece involves the same pattern repeated over and over again gradually getting more complex, and then more simple, and then more complex again. Added into this is that the various performers slowly and deliberately get out of sync with each other.
MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS is sort of hard to describe in its breathtaking sweep and gorgeous melody. It's like a giant moving, living organism, made out of 18 different players on all sorts of different instruments slowly altering various melodic patterns and phasing them with each other.
I would absolutely recommend buying MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS and, if you get a chance to see DRUMMING performed, it is startling to watch. (I would also recommend buying DRUMMING, but after hearing MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS, which is more accessible).
Anyway, yeah, check it out!

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Something about the full on majorness of it that wouldnt allow an off note brought me straight back to rainbow colored xylophones and childhood nostalgia.

If you let in run in the background and your computer starts chugging away on something, it will hang up the sequencer in a really cool Aphex Twin stuttering kindof way. Now we just need to get a knob installed in the program to do it on purpose!

Good times!
LCL

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Aww, I wish I could play this more, but my sound card is too old. Whenever two notes play, the sound crackles, and it gets really bad when I have all three boxes playing different things...

Otherwise, it's very cool!

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don't know if many people have noticed, but you can right-click and double the playing speed. also, when you turn fast-forward off, it sometimes speeds up even more before returning to regular speed

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I adore this toy!

I wish I could save my compositions. I've been making "informational" mp3's and I've been putting together music in the background from free loops and samples. This would be much simpler. I'm not about to go out and buy a synthesizer.

So, would one of you lovely programming people do that? ::Smiles and bats eyes:: Please?!? ;)

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That was quite interesting parabasis, it reminds me of an art piece which included to videos of people walking (just the feet) and the rhythms were slightly out of synch but would ever so often match up.
:D

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Neat! Kinda reminds me of Björk's Vespertine..

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Are you using the 0 to indicate that there's nothing filled in on that column? If so, here's my 'composition':

40353
45654323403535
4565435000555222

Again counting up from the bottom. You can see an image of it here:
http://img112.imageshack.us/my.php?image=music1uz8.gif

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1234 254302000 (5x13)440

nice little gadget...

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Michael Stanton October 6, 2006 4:22 PM

Here's mine. From top to bottom is 1-6.
BAR ONE (four bars): 3452
BAR TWO (max bars): 3452034520000333
BAR THREE (max bars): 3430034303212321

BAR ONE (eight bars): 54365456
BAR TWO (max bars): 4340404060406060
BAR THREE (max bars): 0505050502050103

I also discovered that you can accelerate the tempo by choosing "Fast Foward" when you right click.

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Very cool.
My piece (nothing special but I like it :D)
2165-2020
5666-4666-3666-4666
2412-0412

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Playing around with this does show you how very simple rhythm combinations can lead to interesting sound patterns. For example

0
23400
2300

Here's another one I like:

434345434341
12345432
1234565432

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here's a cool sounding one:
0's represent rests i'm guessing
bar 1:4242
bar 2:66554433
bar 3:4343434311210000

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Very awesome! I love it! Jay, you gotta post more games like these!

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Wow, this is actually really relaxing.

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Howzabout this one:

12131410
53415341
41530143516300 (yes, 14 beats)

Depending on whether the third bar is "in-phase" or "out-of-phase", the off-beat is either 13 chords or a 1-3-1-3 series.

This is far more fun than I expected. :-)

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Part of me wishes there was an instrument option. Hearing the same melodic cowbells can become monotonous after a while.

But hey, I'm certain we all need more cowbell in our lives.

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This is fantastic! I could spend way too much time playing with this.

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A really simple one that sounds good:

1234
15
164

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They aren't cowbells. They're mallet instruments, either a muted vibrafone, or a glockenspiel, again, a tribute to Steve Reich-- Reich started as a percussionist and mallet instruments are very present in all of his most famous compositions.

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3655443044

5011502250335044

343234

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Here's a simple one, the phasing tends to cause it to desynch, though it sounds mostly good. :)

34320
323454
0200

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My composition (1 at bottom):

6543-2112-3456
6543-2100-1234-5600
6543-2100-1234-560

The fifteen beat line is intentional, of course.

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5252
5661566134512341
0662166010421300

It's interesting listening to it skip, actually. Or maybe I just say that because I have an old PC.

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My composition: (1 at top, 6 at bottom)

Bar1:1232
Bar2:1234
Bar3:23235632

Quite simple but i like it.

The toy has an indonesian sound to me... anyone else get that feeling?

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Here is another.

64656366
1634545432323454
3232534363252321

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Here's mine:

425342532136
23002300
00450043

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My beat is simplest:

(1 at bottom)

4543
4000500400003000
2000300200001000

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wanderlust October 8, 2006 2:15 AM

Here is mine. Kind of reminds of some Tortoise songs from TNT. Wonderful "toy" you have created here!

(1 is the top, 6 bottom)

040050060000
264626362646
646264626314

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Reminds me of another music toy called TENORI-ON, which is still under development... Here's a video of it in action: http://www.youtube.com/w/Toshio-Iwai-(TENORI-ON)-@-Artfutura05?v=WQq2aXvIsz4

Very cool and fun stuff.

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Very fun thing to play with. Here is my little creation (1 at the bottom):
41204023
00054000
456(13x0)

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PandaKnight October 9, 2006 1:52 AM

6453-5254
1232-3434-5456-5453
6545-4343-2321-2134

The sounds you make get so hypnotic after a while... @_@

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My second creation:
(1 at bottom)
5431 3456 5431 3454
1231 2312 3123 1235
6546 5465 4654 6543

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Sarafina Pekkala October 12, 2006 9:58 PM

Here's mine. Kind of an Eastern feel... 1 at the bottom.

1305-1305-2406
5004-5004-5004
5432-4330-0321-1000

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I quite like this one I made, 1 at bottom.

1425 4550
2040 56
4246

Pretty simple and nice.

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wow..... sooooo fun.

1234
10
6565456655545650

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First 45-25-45-25-45-25-14-65

Second 52-22-65-55-11-11-14-56

Third 44-55-44-55-44-55-44-55

Minor key..........

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this is my "composition":
(counting from the TOP)
1st
8 bars
1,5,2,6,2,5,3,2
2nd
16 bars
1,2,3,2,3,4,5,4,5,6,5,4,3,4,3,2
3rd
4 bars
6,1,2,5

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Polaris-1 July 4, 2007 8:14 AM

This game is so awesome and calming
heres my composition 1 at bottom:
1st:6bars
2-4-1-5-4-2
2nd:4bars
4-0-0-0
3rd:6bars
6-4-3-6-4-2

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Charles July 25, 2007 2:36 PM

How about this?

Less is more??

402305
30040060
05010

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less IS more!

4234
65241513
24252425

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Grant Thurston Author Profile Page May 5, 2008 3:54 PM

umm.... if U I think they changed the link, it doesn't come up anymore.... :,(

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darlingdestruction Author Profile Page May 28, 2008 9:00 PM

It appears as if the link isn't working anymore. :( Shame, because I loved this little music toy.

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FriedTaters Author Profile Page August 15, 2008 12:23 PM

It's not there anymore!!!

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Angry Bear June 2, 2009 12:02 PM

there was a game like this on JIG awhile back similar to this game. it looked like a grid and you would click squares to create notes, and they would play based on a wave each note created. anyone know the name of this game?

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Killroy Quartermaine January 11, 2010 7:59 PM

Sadly, this appears to have disappeared. I know I enjoyed playing with it when I first discovered it.

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Grant Thurston Author Profile Page March 28, 2010 6:38 PM

It doesn't work like it used to for me. It's really laggy, and the screen will blank out except for any part that moves. I really liked this game, it's too bad..

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54345550-61524352-05
Why, yes, mary DID have a little lamb! However did you guess?

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