How a Sonic Fractal Matrix works

Soooo… here is the logic and the methodology for how beatjazz evolves into a networked sonic construction system.

stick man.fwThis is a person….kinda.  it’s a stickman.  but it is a representation of a person, by a person who sucks at illustration.

A person can generate expression in many ways; talking, writing, jumping, walking, surfing, singing, etc.

The original beatjazz “controller” was created to provide a buffer where expression could be channeled through it to become something more.


promophoto-onyx-ashanti-oct-2012The beatjazz controller idea became the origin point for what is now called the “Exo-Voice”.  A refinement of the beatjazz controller into a fully integrated “sonic prosthesis”, complete with its own software.


For the sake of continuity we shall present it like this:




interface controls.fw

There are prosthetic attachments for  each hand, one for the head, dealing with breath pressure (in and out), monitoring, lip pressure and head position, and one for each foot.

fractal pilot.fwThe person, now wearing the full prosthesis, is now the “pilot” of a metaphorical sonic-spaceship construct. This construct is a sonic fractal matrix-level:0-the singular level.


The matrix is composed of 8 elements relating to the 8 “keys” used to input performance data (i.e.., playing).  each element is a different sound, called an element.  In addition to a sound component, each element also has



  • A looping buffer that records played sound from that element and loops it according to the system tempo.
  • An edit mode that allows for sound design while in the midst of playing. fractal matrix.fw this methodology is called Gestural Trajectory Synthesis.
  • The ability to add fix, mute, change volume and pan the sound.


The 8th element is called the “transform” element.  it twists all the other elements into a singular trippy vortex-y sound with no limitations in tempo or pitch.  When making a loop within this element, all other elements sync to this new tempo.  it sounds like this:




All together, this system is capable of sound concepts I am only just beginning to explore.

Along the way I accidently discovered an interesting solution to a few of problems; parameter feedback, laptop interaction and wireless latency.

A couple of months ago I fixed most of my latency issues by switching over to Wi-Fi from xbee wireless.  the increase in bi-directional data speed allowed me to use the LEDs for more than just element color indication.  They were fast enough for parameter feedback! so I took the most important data –mute mode, record mode, panning and volume- and used the leds to provide that information and it worked beautifully.  So much so that I no longer needed to interact with the “laptop” computer at all.  but I found that being “near” the wireless router helped to keep the latency (the time it takes for the computer to make something happen after you push a button) down. And the laptop takes me out of the ”altered state” that wearing this system drops me into. 

Around this time, I built a small robot and discovered that robots are amazing for parameter feedback.  it was much more engaging and intimate than projections because it was a physical, moving “thing”.  I began using it for parameter feedback and it became my first robot avatar.

It eventually occurred to me that giving the node legs would solve a number of issues like  having to set up computers at a show and having everything on a table or in a booth somewhere rather than having an avatar right next to you, linked wirelessly. also, I have finally began working on a foot interface to compliment the hand interface and will use the robot legs to provide sensor information from them. So I designed a small simple system that is a wireless router, and a couple of inexpensive computer boards that will handle synthesis and everything else in a form factor that feels something like “intimate”. This is Node:0

robot avatar v1.fw

Node:0-Level:0 is a small wirelessly controlled hexapod robot that houses everything necessary to convey expression and  provides parameter feedback concerning the system.  the node:0-Level:1 is a larger robot that uses the level:0 avatar as its brain.  this larger bot has a full speaker system as well as various digital projection and video recording capabilities. 

sonic fractal matrix-level:1 is a network of nodes.

sonic fractal matrix network config.fw

As soon as 2 or more pilots-called patternists when networked- join the same network, a hierarchy is established.  The first patternist is node:0-Pattern master.  The second node is node:1, then node:2, etc.

The pattern master establishes the tempo that everyone is synced to.  all patternists are fully audible, all the time.  when the pattern master switches to their transform element, they can transform every transform element of every node on the network as much or as little or for as long as they want, but when they set the new loop length after their transform “solo” they become node:1 and node 1 becomes node:0 and thus, patternmaster.  Then the process repeats and cycles thru every node in the network. 

I envision 3 rooms. one for beginners to build things for the first time, a second room for intermediate pilots to “sync” or “mesh” with each other and trade ideas and even parts and techniques.  the main room is where there are at least 1 or more patternists that can guide the pattern more fully.  These would be considered “pro’s”, each of whom is capable of expressing full patterns when solo.  The goal is to create a type of social construct where there is no leader, no band, no dj; just a network of people who create the sound-space improvisationally. a space where one can learn about it, how to do it, and to actually do it, all in the same space at the same time. and where the collective will is expressed because every person becomes patternmaster eventually and if the network is too large for each patternist to become pattern master, it can be broken up into smaller patterns.

The most exciting part about this project is that I can or already have done everything I described above so at this point I just want to see it  happen.  the exhilaration of hearing a room full of loosely related grooves being twisted together into a vortex of sound, boggles my mind.  lets do this thing!!!

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