How do you all use random, chance, and accident?



I use 2 - 8 Runglers in almost everything I’m working on right now via Hordijk Blippoo boxes / System. It’s been my primary area of research for a while now. I still consider them pseudo-random by themselves (Runglers), but when they are influenced / modulated by other CV from other boxes like the Lorre-Mill Double Knot and or from CV that I influence myself via Koma Kommanders x 4, I thing they come close to what people call “Chaos”. One thing that has been really interesting to me is to be able to “hear” the difference between pseudo-random sequences of sounds and what seems like possibly “Chaos” by being the outside world events that make the whole approach “organic”.

Someday I’d like to join all of this to the digital realm using Csound and other softs. For now, my budget is spent so I’ve been really trying to push this idea as far as I can. Hopefully it’s not too boring for others to listen too :>)


I think @shreeswifty has made some software runglers…


NLC over here, too. I adore the triple sloths module and never patch without it. Randomness and chaos are fine, but I am especially interested when they happen very slowly. I patch sloth CV into delay time (4ms DLD), sample start (Radio Music), all the Clouds controls, etc. It’s also very interesting for controlling oscillators or whatever. Constant change, nonrepeating patterns.

Also first post - hello Lines!


Nice! There’s a Pure Data Benjolin out there too. I haven’t tried it yet (or Pure Data for that matter). Someday I’d like to mix the hardware and software together. Maybe Csound on a Rasp PI or other. I’ve used Csound and Rasp PI a bit for FM OSC and Gendyx OSC sounds … It was a while back in 2015. Way before the cool new audio board came out, so audio happened via USB. I need to start looking back into that sort of idea. There are probably more CV break outs for Rasp PI around now too I bet. I meant to try using the CV to Midi converters in the old Drehbank midi controller I still have, but I got deeply sidetracked by the Hordijk hardware. They’re pretty addictive to my ears. It would be fun to try to interface that way to PI / Csound some how.

A little orchestra of Rasp PI and a single Blippoo would make for a nice gig rig.


I’m also really curious about CV out from the RPi. It’s possible to do this with PWM on the GPIO pins, but use of a DAC would provide much better results. I’ve got a balanced version of the Octo soundcard on order, but it’s on the sloooow boat. Might arrive in December (after a September order!) but it’s a pretty low voltage soundcard.

May have to design/build a solution if one doesn’t present itself…

I was initially attracted to because the BBB has much better support for analog signals, but the whole RPi ecosystem is so much further along…


You can watch me very publicly struggle with this exact question in the Teletype CHAOS thread. That thread is very challenging for me, I went in believing chaos meant “lots of crazy random!” and now realize I don’t know what I’m talking about and I need to learn more. I chalk this up to another reason I like this place an awful lot.

Based on my very very shallow research (so take this all with a giant helping of salt), chaos is different than real random in that it’s deterministic, given a value and some parameters, you’ll get the same answer out of the function. [1] Many chaos functions ‘loop’ around strange attractors, which means (in practice) they’ll create sequences that repeat.

Remember Jurassic Park? If you’re of a certain age, the biggest thing to come out of that movie wasn’t the dinosaurs, it was a thing called “chaos theory.” That’s this. Big C Chaos. Remember that crappy movie “the butterfly effect?” Also this. 90’s hollywood loved big C Chaos.

[1] I’m not sure this is true. I think I’m wrong here.


My favorite neighborhood in the town of chaos theory is the area Rudy Rucker refers to as “gnarl”.

An excerpt:

Predictable. Processes that are ultimately without surprise. This may be because they eventually die out and become constant, or because they’re repetitive. Think of a checkerboard, or a clock, or a fire that burns down to dead ashes.

Gnarly. Processes that are structured in interesting ways but are nonetheless unpredictable. Here we think of a vine, or a waterfall, or the startling yet computable digits of pi, or the flow of your thoughts.

Random. Processes that are completely messy and unstructured. Think of the molecules eternally bouncing off each other in air, or the cosmic rays from outer space.

The gnarly middle zone is where it’s at. Essentially all of the interesting patterns in physics and biology are gnarly. Gnarly processes hold out the lure of being partially understandable, but they resist falling into dull predictability.


Some GPIO based break out R&D for Rasp PI was mentioned by this fellow to me in person at a show we both played a while back. There’s this Terminal Tedium project too. The Tedium module might make a nice tabletop box. The Pi is pretty stable for me. It’s hard to beat for the price and options. I haven’t pursued this again yet. It’s definitely on the list though. The Bela does look pretty enticing too.


If things are wild enough, I sometimes perceive pieces that are only a few minutes long as much longer as my brain attempts to make patterns out of similar percussive like timbres that are randomly distributed (with air in between). Adding some feigned, or a long period progression for melody helps this too. This kind of piece can create a meditative state of mind for me sometimes. Some timelessness.


Lately I’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of tapping into the CPU usage reporting in pd and supercollider as a voltage source. Ends up with results that can seem pseudorandom but are of course deeply related to all the other requests you are making of the computer at the same time, plus I love the sonified data aspect of it - if the computer is working hard let everyone know about it!! On a raspberry the correlations can be especially interesting.


strange attractors, which means (in practice) they’ll create sequences that repeat.

not really… i apologise because i think my post in the other thread was too sloppy and misleading.

an orbit is a path that the system takes, where once you reach a point on that path you won’t leave it. it doesn’t need to be periodic. a rocket blasting into orbit, and thence remaining in orbit, is a fine example, but in this technical sense “falling off a cliff” is also an orbit.

most definitions of “chaos” specify that the system in question contains many periodic orbits of different lengths, that densely occupy the phase space.

attractors are sets of orbits that many different points in phase space will converge on.

strange attractors are when two or more attractors are sort of “interwoven” and its hard to predict whether a given point will go towards one or another of them.

any more specific definition of attractors quickly gets technical, even contentious. you would start by saying they are something like *limit sets that collect trajectories."

speaking to the OP, i think balance is good. it is very rare that i feel the need to deploy a hardware or software module whose specific purpose is to produce pseudorandom variables at the time scale of musical parameters. (even dear old darlings like the 266 SOU or i heave a little mental sigh when i see or hear the evidently scattered deployment of [random] or slow CV pink noise. i often think that randomness is appropriate for “personal patching” but too often acts as a placeholder that never gets replaced.

(of course, at the audio time scale the situation is different, when we start perceiving probabilistic distributions as timbres instead of sequences of events.)

and on the other hand, sometimes of course aleatoric and stochastic processes are used in a very considered way to beautiful effect.

complexity exists everywhere and most especially in events that are taken from the material world - whether they are sampled audio sequences, spectral characteristics or the timing of a button press.

i think i end up frequently using processes that magnify that kind of complexity.

sometimes i think of musical traditions as lying a continuum of how they handle real-world complexity (aka randomness.)

  • at one extreme there is sequenced music that is absolutely deterministic from every standpoint - the composition produces the sound wave, to the technical limits of fidelity
  • there is the “score+performer” tradition, which locates indeterminism in the personality of the player and confines it within stylistic parameters.
  • and of course there is a rich avant-garde tradition of exploring the limits and liminalities of the “score” paradigm, one of the most famous and fascinating is the cage+tudor partnership
  • there are un-notated traditions, which are perhaps more porous to the influence of historical time (gamelan, rock and roll)
  • there is structured improvisation and “free improvisation” and the various strategies to impose or destroy order in those spaces
  • and there is field recording, the “direct” experience or “transcription” or “sonification” of natural processes.

i dunno, i guess it’s a big question, in terms of the poetics of structured sound. i think personally i enjoy using all of those approaches at various times, somtimes in direct juxtaposition.

and let me just point out: cage didn’t just throw the I ching once for ‘music of changes’ and send the results right off to peters to be published. he did it many times and picked results that he liked, using his brain as a filter for beauty. and he happened to be incredibly well attuned to beauty in music i think.

there is also building up complexity in a purely numerical space. like @rick_monster was saying about these sort of pseudo-Euclidean or LCG structures.

like in the design of the buchla 251e (quad sequencer) we made a bunch of funny decisions to amplify this kind of complexity:

  • sequences can arbitrarily reset each others stages from arbitrary points, and be running on different time-bases.
  • a seqeunce has begin and loop points. both of them can have counters (so after using a loop point N times, it will be ignored once, then the counter resets.) you can have nested loop points, each with their separate start/end counters. this can stay in the realm of sanity or quickly strain it.
  • stage durations are arbitrary rational numbers.

don was interested in complex sequencing right from the start of buchla modular design. most of his sequencers had some kind of arbitrary jump / address ability. in feedback this gives you organic pseudo-randomness very quickly. (and the SOU modules through the 70’s are shift-register implementations of LCPRNG kinda algorithms, which are, haha, not very random at all - the sequences can be quite short.)

other design decisions are also telling: a function generator includes S+H. envelope followers are importnant. following a live signal into S+H into sequence position gives extremely complex behavior that still is performer-driven; technically it is quite simple and doesn’t require the explicit generation of pseudorandomness in the machine.

last night (making Halloween porch soundscapes) i revisited a funny firmware from 200e. for the wavetable oscillator we made a variant where the tables in one bank are just different offsets into the flash memory (including preset memory,) and when these tables are selected the input for FM index becomes an offset scrubber. it’s a fun one because the parameterization of the sound remains the same, and learned control gestures apply, but the acoustic terrain that you’re actually controlling is suddenly alien and unknowable. (and frequently capable of great beauty and expressiveness, i find)


I’d say the Batumi is one of my desert island modules. If you have a poti to complement it, you can use 1 switch to toggle smooth or stepped CV and another switch to toggle between 2 flavors of random, one which is more predictable (Verhulst). You get 4 simultaneous outputs of random CV.

@fourhexagons did a nice little video utilizing the Verhulst mode :

And Matthias Puech’s video demos the modes well in a more isolated context:

You can also get some really interesting things happening with some cross modulation/self patching.


Cool, I’ve got the bits to assemble a DIY poti so that’s handy to know. Just need an hour to put it it together!


I’ve haven’t had the pleasure of playing with a vintage Buchla instrument yet. Maybe some day? The alien and unknowable acoustic terrain you describe is a comforting place to hang out for me though. The ability of it to sound like anything / many things in short bursts of sequence is really exciting. It was the sounds of the Gendyx oscillator in Csound that led me to Hordijk hardware. I thought maybe hardware would deliver a more authentic unknown quality (whatever that is), but I’m not convinced that’s true to my ear now after hearing a fair amount of both. Software all by itself makes sounds that are really impressive / explosive and alien. I’m planning some experiments with some type of Klee sequencer later this year if the funds are there. I’m hoping to include the universe / chance in the roles of several players in a band in a very fluid technique. I would just be one of the players. I think I’m getting a little closer to this with each try.


ha, yeah… that schematic looks a lot like a 266. hopefully with better parameter choices if the idea is to go for perceptual randomness :slight_smile:

but i agree - at a slower time scale and with numerical algorithms i don’t think that going analog gives you much. don had a whole arsenal of funny responses to the “analog/digital debate” questions, and usually chose to sort of ignore it. i mean, the 200 series uses plenty of computers - analog computers made out of CMOS.

but there are cool things about analog. one is feedback (i’ve been blathering about this in the FM thread) and one is just how simple the circuits can be. i mean, a lot of these famous numerical models arise from trying to predict the behavior of simple natural systems - a forced pendulum, or a pair of fireflies. the differential equations describing the system (and hence, pretty directly, a circuit emulating the system) can be very spare and elegant, but the discrete-time numerical simulation of one can be arbitrarily difficult.

i dunno if you’ve ever seen my friend jessica rylan’s synths - aka “flower electronics,” namely “little boy blue” design. but they are very cool and very much intended for noisy and unpredictable applications - lots of feedback paths and envelope followers. and they are totally discrete, no ICs.

(i bet you could make a chua circuit with “survivalist electronics” - jars of piss, the right kind of rocks… but i digress.)

(and don didn’t go full analog when he decided to do modular again in 1999, because he thought it was “too easy” - the circuits are out there and you can already get whatever you want. but i digress again…)

and gendyx - i mean what a cool thing, that we have these theories from xenakis in 1960, describing stochastic sieves for music, that are turned into FORTRAN at least by 1971, implemented at the sample level in the GENDY3 recording by 1983. and now you just toss one into a csound patch! its so cool.


“little boy blue” is a nice sounding box. When I started looking around for these kinds of sounds / things / ideas, It looked like she had decided to take a break from making them. I found the Horndog and it fit in perfectly. I was in a hurry to make music that matched the time in my life. The Horndog, Blippoo and Csound did it for me for that period. All fit within my small budget too. Luck.


catch myself doing this all the time, totally agree.


I like composing by either just letting hands fall onto the piano/synth in a random place and going from there, sticking to those notes, listening to the melody and being informed by that. Similarly just randomly placing notes on a piano roll in logic and then listening back and tweaking until it resonates with me as it loops. Sometimes this leads nowhere but other times this really has produced fully formed melodic songs. It’s a great way to get away from scales and structures you’re comfortable with also.

Modular-wise I’ like a good simple S+H subtly varying timbres on each note. Nothing fancy there. I also recently went through the make noise wogglebug tutorials which had some really interesting techniques. This one in particular is pretty awesome. It allows a couple of layers of different oscillators all informed by the original one but with different degrees and styles of randomness.


Curious as to what everyone’s favorite random modules are nowadays, mostly because I’ve become a bit dissatisfied with my Qu-Bit Chance. I find myself wanting smooth random most of all, and frequently end up using only two of the Chance’s outputs because the discrete and wavetable outputs can get a little too wild for a lot of applications. Since my system is relatively small (4*84hp) it hurts a bit to have a whole 14hp be used up by a module that I don’t fully utilize.

Malekko teased a module that looked like 6hp which had 8+ separate outputs with a globally selectable algorithm…can only assume “smooth” is one of the options. Would definitely be a dream module…very curious to see what comes of that.


I really love my Ultra Random Analog :slight_smile: