Granular Synthesis

Introduction to Chaosynth

Chaosynth uses granular synthesis and cellular automata (CA) to generate complex sound spectra

A persisting compositional challenge with granular synthesis is finding ways to control the massive array of parameters that are required to create music using thousands of discrete sonic events. In the early 1990s Eduardo Reck Miranda began investigating the use of cellular automata (CA) to control granular synthesis. Cellular automata are mathematical models of dynamic systems often represented as cells within a large array or grid. Each cell is discrete although it is influenced by neighbouring cells. Conway's Game of Life from 1970 is probably the best known application of 2 dimensional CA. Miranda however saw the possibility of using CA as a compositional tool specifically to control granular synthesis particles.

Miranda developed this idea in his PhD research at the University of Edinburgh. His inital research on this topic was published in 1991 in an article entitled "ChaOs: A Model for Granular Synthesis by Means of Cellular Automata". Various other research papers Miranda published during his PhD research are listed below.

Chaosynth was one of the main PhD research outcomes. It was developed through the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) and published in 1995.

In 1996 whilst working at the Federal University of Santa Maria, in Brazil, Miranda created a website on Geocities that hosted Chaosynth along with extensive details on how the software works and some of the research underpinning the software.

Before 1995 anyone who wanted to create music using granular synthesis either needed to be a proficient computer programmer, or they needed to have access to highly specialised and unique systems, such as Barry Truax's PODX system. However in 1995, both Curtis Roads' CloudGenerator and Eduardo Miranda's Chaosynth were released, giving composers an opportunity to create granular synthesis based sonic structures using an interface that was easy to understand and manipulate.

For people learning computer music in the mid 1990s, CloudGenerator and Chaosynth introduced many of them to granular synthesis. Curtis Roads has kept CloudGenerator available through his personal UCSB website, just email him for a copy, however Chaosynth's host Geocities was not so fortunate. When Geocities closed down in 2009, there were various attempts to keep archives and mirrors of Geocities alive due to its large and active userbase, however most attempts have been only temporary.

With the permission of Eduardo Reck Miranda, Chaosynth now resides at

So please make the most of this resource.

Miranda, E. R., Nelson, P., & Smaill, A. (1991). ChaOs: A Model for Granular Synthesis by Means of Cellular Automata. (pp. 92-153). Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre.
Miranda, E. R. (1993). “Cellular Automata Music: An Interdisciplinary Project”, Interface, 22(1):3-21.
Miranda, E. R. (1995). “Granular Synthesis of Sounds by means of a Cellular Automaton”,Leonardo, 28(4):297-300.
Miranda, E. R. (1995). “Cellular Automata Synthesis of Acoustic Particles”,Supercomputer, 56:16-23.