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MuMu is Audio Workstation
Procedurally generated music through gameplay
Right around Christmas Eve, MuMu welcomes a wave of updates! Among them, the introduction of Audio Workstation mode, directed by Casey Wescott, is the most exciting one to us: the MuMu mechanics is “overloaded” for generative music, meaning the MuMu editor interface becomes a workstation for creating music!
First, let us quickly cover the other updates:
Cartridge integration: by integrating with Cartridge, players can now swiftly sign up and submit their MuMu design to StarkNet without a browser wallet.
Tutorial mode: the tutorial mode contains lessons that walk new players through the fundamentals, one step at a time. Currently, only the first 2 lessons are available.
Video tutorials: Greg, the Cairo wizard, created these video tutorials to demonstrate everything a new player needs to know to start designing in MuMu.
Music Library and Audio Workstation Handbook: these features come with the new Audio Workstation mode. Music Library lists all submissions meant as music creations; click on any row to load up the design and run the simulation to hear its sounds! The Handbook documents the musical rules and effects in Audio Workstation mode.
Festive visual: The overall visual now reflects the festive vibes all around us.
Join MuMu’s Discord to jam together!
Below, Casey explains the design philosophy, thought process, and musical rules for MuMu Audio Workstation mode.
Music and games share many properties and operations, such as looping, sequencing events, motivically evolving sections and player input/collaboration. Harnessing these shared elements enable gameplay as a creative experience for players. Musical settings also provide an opportunity for users to challenge themselves through gameplay.
I’ve long been interested in mechanical and computed music, having used instruments like programmable music boxes and auto-harmonization algorithms in my band Fleet Foxes. Similar to music groups, games as compositional and performance platforms have the potential to foster new modes of creativity and collaboration.
The goal/challenge is a musical creation and performance game that requires zero background to intuitively create complex polyphonic structures that evolve over time. The design should enable access to musical operations that usually require experience, such as key changes, pleasing mode/chord changes and melodic motivic development. I wanted the game’s output to strike a balance between having a musical ‘sweet spot’ yet capable of extremes. Furthermore, the musical output should intuitively punctuate the visual and conceptual events of the game.
MuMu - Gaming Music
In MuMu, each Spirit is an autonomous melodic agent traversing a guitar-like fretboard of pitches determined by itself and interactions with other Objects and Formulas. Players can use the musical grid to create note sequences and chord progressions that correspond to specific in-game actions. For example, when a player moves from one square to the next, they’re creating a melody in the contour of their instructions. Similarly, Formulas can precipitate changes that yield satisfying and sometimes non-repeating variation. As more Spirits are introduced, polyphony arises.
When a player reaches certain milestones in Formula production, they can trigger specific note/chord/key/fret changes that serve to punctuate the moment and evolve the music. There are eight Formulas, each corresponding to a specific musical operation:
Stir (🪵🪵 → 🍀) - Change chord progression within established key
Shake (🍀🍀 → 🌹) - Rotate fretboard notes - Varies melodic contour and range
Steam (🍀🌹🌹 → 🦊🪵) - Reharmonizes the musical sequence
Smash (🦊 → 🪵🪵🪵🪵🔥) - Flips the frets upside down
Evolve (🪵🌹🌹 → 🐢) - Change key - A more dramatic sound than Stir
Slow (🐢 → ⏳⏳) - A chord change two steps down that creates a dramatic dropping feeling
Wilt (🌹⏳ → 🥀🍀🍀) - Modulates from major to minor - Changes tone from light to dark (and vice versa)
Bake (🪵🥀 → 🔥🔥) - Varies the melodies’ intervals by altering the intervals between adjacent grid coordinates.
By mixing these musical operations together, players with little to no experience have compositional tools to facilitate a variety of sounds with arbitrary harmonic and melodic criteria.
By mapping game logic to musical operations, players can create through their gameplay. They can experiment with different scales, chords, melodies and musical nuances to create a soundscape unique to them, without any prior experience.
I'm thrilled by the potential of game-music integration and even more thrilled to hear what you all create!
Join MuMu’s Discord to jam together!
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