What is nGen?

nGen is a command-line multi-platform computer-music application that creates computer music event lists. The current version (2.1.1) makes Csound event lists ("score" files) and standard MIDI files. Version 2.1.1 is currently available for Macintosh OS 10.5 and above, and Linux (Intel, 64- and 32-bit versions). nGen is similar to two other note-list preprocessors: Aleck Brinkman's Score11 (available from the Eastman Computer Music Center) and Andre Bartetzki's CMASK. Currently the sources are not available, but I hope to post an open source version in the near future.  (Please email me if you need a version for another platform.)

Why use nGen?

nGen will allow you to do several things with ease that are either difficult or not possible using Csound and/or MIDI sequencing programs; nGen is a powerful front-end for creating Csound score files and basic standard MIDI files. Some of the basic strengths of nGen are:

  • Event-based granular textures can be generated quickly.
  • Huge streams of values can be generated with specific random-number distributions (e.g., Gaussian, flat, beta, exponential, etc.).
  • Note-names and rhythms can be entered in intuitive formats (e.g., pitches: C4, Df3; rhythms: 4, 8, 16, 32).
  • "Chords" can be specified as a single unit (e.g., C4:Df:E:Fs).

Additionally, nGen supplies a host of conversion routines that allow p-field data to be converted to different formats in the resulting Csound "score" file (e.g., octave.pitch-class can be formatted to Hz values, etc.). A variety of formatting routines are also supplied (such as the ability to output floating-point numbers with a certain precision width).

How does nGen work?

nGen is a UNIX style command-line program. It parses data in an ASCII text file and converts it into a Csound "score" file or a Standard MIDI file.

I hope you will find this tool useful! If you do (or you have specific suggestions or bug reports), please email me with your comments.

Mikel Kuehn