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Koan Heads

By Paul Fishwick

This demonstration works only with Netscape

Bells Drums Flute
Mixing your own music requires the Koan Plugin for Netscape > 3.0. There is also an ActiveX plugin for Internet Explorer, which I have not tried. Make sure to get the version 4 MIKE plugin. Instructions: drag the mouse over one of the three heads for a temporary mix. Click on a head once to start a voice and a second time to stop the voice. NOTE: Make sure to have the entire picture visible in your browser; otherwise, you will not see the text tags when you pass your mouse over the heads.

How does this work?

Netscape created Javascript as one method of communicating between the browser and a plugin, which may be written in a variety of programming languages such as C or C++. SSEYO created a plugin (called MIKE V4 Koan LiveConnect Plugin for Netscape > 3.0) as well as a Javascript-based interface to this plugin. This means, effectively, that you can interweave HTML-based multimedia with their plugin, which serves as a music "engine" for Generative Music. Pictures and videos, along with other hypermedia content, can now be mapped to music. The music, itself, is created using one of SSEYO's content-creation programs such as Koan X or Koan Pro. The above piece was made from Koan Pro Version 2.0 but Koan X would also be quite suitable.

The steps in creating a musical piece such as the one above consists of several steps:

  1. Create a Koan File (such as an .skd or .skt file). I created a piece with 8 voices. The first three are assigned to the background sound that you hear when no head is playing. The first head plays a bell: voice 4. The second head plays voices 5 and 6 (Drums), while the third head plays voices 7 and 8 (flute with ambience). Heads are numbered 1 to 3 from left to right. Other Koan music and streaming digital RealAudio can be heard in my computer music page.
  2. Create a digital image. It can be a scanned picture or computer-generated. The above image is one that I created using a variety of tools: Bryce 2, Poser, and Corel PhotoPaint for touchups. Other artworks that I have produced can be found in my computer art page.
  3. Create an image map so that when the user passes over a specific area of the image, or clicks the mouse in that area, an event occurs. I used LiveImage for this purpose. It allows an interactive, draw-like approach to segmenting an image into the right sized and shaped areas. It will output HTML which you will then have to insert into your larger HTML file.
  4. What larger HTML file? Well, you need to set up the HTML file so that it properly communicates with the Koan engine (plugin). To do this, I suggest just copying the source of this web page (View Page Source) and putting in your own image and "AREA" commands created from LiveImage.
  5. At SSEYO, they have a complete online reference guide for all of the Javascript function calls that you can use. I have used only a fraction of what is available, and the only parameter that I modulate via Javascript is Volume, so I have only scratched the surface.
Your best bet is to save a copy of this file from your browser using "FILE--SAVE AS" and then substitute your own image and Koan file. Many thanks to Pete Cole of SSEYO for help in Javascript suggestions and corrections.