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Ideas for software that I am currently writing or plan for the future
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23 Nov 08 Bouncing ball metronome

For some time I’ve wondered about what to do about visuals for the metronome. I could do an animation of a conventional metronome, but that’s a bit boring in a way, not really designed for the screen, as the display is limited to the mechanics of a real metronome. I may do that at some point.

I also wondered about an animation of a conductor conducting the beat, hands moving around in patterns to follow the metronome. That’s much more flexible and could be fun to do. The challenge here is to keep the design simple and easy to follow, yet interesting.

So, today, while thinking about how to program a conductor’s hands, I had the idea of a bouncing ball – that programmer’s stalwart. It’s very similar – with the upbeat the conductor raise his or her hand and it moves in a trajectory very like the bounce of a bouncing ball, speeding up as it reaches the bottom of the beat.

So the idea is to have a bouncing ball that bounces in a series of smaller half size (say) bounces from left to right during the bar, then bounces back to the left in one big bounce at the end of the bar for the upbeat.

The nice thing about that is that you can accomodate any number of beats to the bar very simply, and can also do polyrhythms and so on with simultaneous bouncing balls – either all the balls bouncing in the same area – or a different visual area for each one. They could also be different colours, and could change colour briefly at the beat, brighten up or whatever. The background could also change colour during the bar as a way to see your place in the bar, e.g. starts red, goes through to blue at the end of each bar. Or something. The basic design is simple enough so that you can have lots of effects without complicating or cluttering the interface.

It is something I could get together for a first idea very quickly in a day or two with just two dimensional disks for the bouncing balls. Then optionally you could use any image for each one (that would be easy to do) and one could also make 3D objects e.g. spheres, and maybe it could also be linked in some way with the Lissajous 3D program – trace Lissajous patterns for the meter, e.g. 3 4 5 Lissajous 3D pattern for a 3 4 5 polyrhythm or something.

So anyway – maybe not for this upload but I’ll mull it over and may do it for the next one.

Tune Smithy

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