The Snail

I’m looking forward to seeing more of IRCAM’s Snail app, as seen in this Instagram post:

Ircam lab the snail absolute tuning software crazy! Track by evil needle – for you

A video posted by Richard Devine (@richarddevine) on

In 2013, I wrote:

This chapter has shown that the general concept of what I call a spiroid-frequency-space is a long established form of visual representation; in addition to the Drobisch type of helix described and extended by Shepard (see §2.2.2), the pitch and frequency-domain aspects of sound are often represented two-dimensionally with a spiralling form.

There are many routes by which one may arrive at a concept the same as, or very similar to the spiroid. For me it was discovered after a compositional process involving hand drawn representations of pitch-classes, followed by scales of notes, and then continua, and since I began development of the spiroid (c. 2005), it has been a matter of some perplexity that this archetypical visual representation is not commonly found in computer music software. During the period of this project, however, there have been new software releases found to have spiroid-like interface elements, and I hope to see many more in the future.

The most recently found example of new software that would appear to be using a spiroid-based mapping was presented at the ‘IRCAM Forum Workshop 2013’ (November 22); it has not yet been released, but is described in abstract for that event (Picasso & Hélie, 2013):

Presentation of SNAIL iOS App

The SnailAnalyser is a frequency domain sound analyser with an original chromatically aligned representation. Compared to standard analysers, this representation allows simple visualization of active zones in a sound (similar to a spectrum) and organises frequencies per notes on a tempered scale like a tuner.

At the time of writing, further details of this project were scarce; the authors, however, have kindly directed me to one document that is public, and which gives ‘the basic idea and a basic result with a picture’ (Figure 4.26).


With software products such SPIRAL by Photosounder, and the SnailAnalyser becoming available, there is likely to be an increase of interest in the subject of spiroid-like representations. It remains to be seen whether or not the term spiroid will catch on in relation to the concept; I have registered the web domain towards collating information on spiroid related things, both historical and contemporary.

I suppose it’s time to get that spiroid info site up and running…

Also see this YouTube playlist

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Video time

I had thought to make
A video of these three
All playing at once


and maybe I will, but not now. For now I will instead go back a few steps from that thought and write a few words about these three video documents.


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BBC microbit

The long wait is over: after a number of delays, the BBC microbit has had its release today.

Most the following was written at the end of January 2016, and has been sat in draft form since then… so fro today’s perspective it starts with a link to old news, but it is what it is:

IMG_1840 (more…)

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KULES ex-factory

There’s a thing being called Art City going on in Stoke-on-Trent (a five-year programme that launched in September 2014). The KULES Art Residency is part of that, and their ex-factory exhibition runs November 8th-29th, 2014: more info from the supporting AirSpace Gallery.

I provided art-technology and programming support for Leslie Deere’s Laserdome installation found on the ground floor of the disused Olympus Engineering building – a space that has a tremendous amount of reverberation that exaggerates the mid-low frequency range.


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