Particle System

In the spring of 2010, for my class in Computer Music Composition with Jason Freeman, I created an application using the Processing language and an audio library for it called Minim.

The initial goal was to create an algorithmic composition in which I could sonify particles and use only the information about the characteristics of the particles (namely their positions) to effect musical change.  Each particle would essentially be a sawtooth wave generator whose frequency is determined by vertical position and panning determined by horizontal.

Then, by allowing for user interaction, through a mouse interface, I allowed the particles to move towards specified points, to arrange themselves into shapes, chords, horizontal, or vertical stacks, and various other animations, all of which have effects on the sound that results.

I will post the code here as well as a downloadable Windows version of the application (the lastest one that I know works.)

*Disclaimer:  Although it is highly unlikely that anything I’ve made will destroy your computer, I am not responsible if your computer crashes and you lose that thing you were working on that was really important; use at your own risk.   On the flip side of things, the better your computer, the more particles you’ll be able to draw on screen.   My computer has a Centrino duo processor and 2 GB of ram running Windows XP.  All computers nowadays are better than mine…so …have fun.

Download Application

Download source version with pde files and application. (There is a mac version in here, but it has not been tested extensively….as I do not own a mac)


Run the particleSys.exe file

To add a particle, press g.

To remove a particle press h.

To make particles move towards your mouse, press and hold right mouse button.

To make particles stop, press s.

To toggle the boundary and make particles bounce off of the walls, press b.

There are a whole bunch of other functions tapped to the keyboard.  I will post them later.

If you want to see my algorithmic composition, make sure there is only one particle to start, on the center of the screen, then press r and sit back and watch it go.  It lasts about 5 minutes.  You can stop it with the s key , or interact with it at any time if you feel like it.

Video of the Algorithmic Particle System Composition

More Pics