A random link led me to a series of fantastic tonal toys. Some of these are simply diversions, and some are elaborate programs that can be used to create amazing compositions. Here’s a quick run-down of what I found…
Think wind chimes. This little Flash app by Andre Michelle is hypnotic and addictive. Clicking on the black work area will create a circle that expands from the click-point. The circle will continue to expand until it touches another circle, so you need to create at least two for this thing to work. When two circles touch a bell-like tone is generated, and the circles reverse direction. If they had been expanding they now contract. A contracting circle will contract until it reaches a single point, then start expanding again.
The pitch of the tone is determined by the size of circles. A larger circle will create a deeper tone, and a smaller one a higher pitch. An interval is created, but sometimes the larger circle’s pitch is so low that it’s hardly audible. It sounds like the app is tuned to a pentatonic scale to minimize dissonance, much like a set of wind chimes would be be tuned.
Rhythm is determined by the expansion rates of the various circles. You can create very complex patterns by positioning circles closer to or farther away from each other. Circles within circles also create neat patterns. I find it fascinating to start with a simple pattern of three circles, and gradually make the pattern more complex by adding more circles.