They say that the most innovative ideas arise when someone takes two generally unrelated ideas and combines them into a cohesive and useful result. Is that really what innovation comes down to? Maybe, maybe not–I’m not exactly qualified to make that judgment. However, every once in a while we’ll see an idea come along that proves the statement to be true, and Seaquence is one of those ideas.
The Internet is home to a number of web-based sandbox games, like Falling Sand, where there is no particular winning condition. Instead, these sandbox games are aptly named because they are meant to be playgrounds for creativity and experimentation. Some sandbox games focus on physics and scientific experimentation, while others–like Seaquence–focus on musical creativity.
Never heard of Seaquence before? That’s okay because neither had I heard of it until just a few days ago. I’m not sure how I found it, but I’m definitely glad that I did find it because this is one idea that really deserves to be shared. Keep reading to learn more about Seaquence.
If I had to summarize Seaquence in a single tightly-wrapped sentence, I would say that it is an experiment in music composition that uses biological metaphors to present and modify the various components of a song. That may sound a bit confusing, but bear with me as I break it down piece by piece.
The world of Seaquence is a blank canvas upon which you can paint your musical creations. The world is broken down into individual organisms which serve as visual displays of their musical configuration. Each organism represents one layer and as you add multiple organisms to the world, they all come together to form a whole song.
By clicking on an organism, you can modify its attributes. What can you change? On first glance, you’ll see that you can alter an organism’s waveform sound (color of the organism), the notes that it plays (the big grid on the right), the octave that it plays at (the ‘+’ and ‘-‘ buttons), the scale of the notes (the 12 keys to the left of the octave control), and the envelope (changed with the three control points along its waveform).
When you’re on the main world screen, you can drag your organisms around. The closer they are to the central point, the louder they’ll be. As they move around, some parts of the song will fade and others will grow louder. Your song will be constantly flowing with life as the organisms move around on their own.
The coolest part about Seaquence is that you can share the work you create with other people. Once you click on the “Share” button and name your composition, it appears on a public list for all to see. You can view the public list by clicking on “Recent.” You can then share particular compositions by linking the URL directly.
Just browsing through the Recent list, I stumbled across this cool little composition. It’s a good example of why Seaquence is so awesome and why it’s not as awesome as it could be. If you want, you can listen to this Seaquence piece.
For one thing, the beat sounds like a real beat. The structure is all there: the bass, the melody, the rhythm, everything. It’s easy to see how this could be the backing track in a video game or even a short clip on Youtube. The way that the organisms all work together to bring this to life–very cool.
The downside is that the music is limited to repeated patterns. There’s no way you could compose a full song using Seaquence because the tools just aren’t there. It’s more about bringing different beats together to see how they interact with one another. This limitation can be frustrating for anyone that wants to do a little more than just fiddle with beats.
Still, it’s worth a try for anyone–yes, even those of you that aren’t music enthusiasts. At the very least it’s a fun way to take a break from an otherwise ordinary session on the Internet. Try it out and see what you think.