· 2 min read
Erasing the Boundaries Through Chaos: Introducing the Spider Plug-In
Written and Designed by Charlie Gleason, a.k.a. Nosine
Time to inject a little chaos into your music − literally. Spider is a uniquely digital plugin that allows you to explore the realm of chaos theory through sound and real-time visualization. Erase the boundaries between tone and noise as you traverse through bifurcations, oscillations, convergence and divergence, paving the way with fat, glitchy basslines that would make Skrillex break a sweat, percussion Ryoji Ikeda would drool over, textures that would make Iannis Xenakis giggle, and harmonic changes that would give Beethoven an existential crisis. Not to mention − it’s both a synth and an effect. Play it on its own, send a sound through it − whatever you make of it, expect the unexpected.
The first version of this plugin was a Max for Live prototype I started several years ago. I had decided I wanted to learn more about chaos, and picked up a copy of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos by Steven Strogatz. While I enjoy math, I’ve found I tend to learn (and enjoy) it best when I can apply it to music somehow. I immediately started to implement some of the formulas from the book in the form of gen~ patches in Max For Live.
From there, I got curious about what different functions might sound like when iterated recursively. At some point in following my curiosity, I added another input to the equation just to see what would happen. And what happened was magical - suddenly, a 40 Hz square wave turned into a stuttering sequence of glitched out tone and noise that varied wildly at the slightest change in any parameter. The tamed became untamable.
I’d liken it to an extreme form of FM synthesis − always 100% feedback, with up to another 100% modulation from another oscillator/operator. In my mind, what really makes it stand out is that additional modulation. The oscillator feeds into the feedback loop of the chaos generator. This opens up a range of sound design possibilities far beyond chaos alone, and far beyond a simple oscillator alone.
Finally, you’re probably wondering where the name came from. It’s based on the cobweb plot that is so prominently featured in the user interface. It makes a web, so it must be a spider.
Charlie Gleason is a musician, multi-media artist, and technologist who performs under the name Nosine. Check the out around the web: