Thursday, June 4, 2015


Sonocipher, is one completely unnecessary tool, which can convert a text string to machine drum sequence. The practical uses of this device are severely limited, as there is no backward conversion tool. However, it makes noises and it has blinking lights, so it's quite fun for those, who enjoy such activities.

Audio output example:

The machine is quite simple to use, you use virtual keyboard to type in text, then press "enter" to decode it into sound sequence. "Play" button in upper right corner starts sequence playback. And here's how it works:

Sonocipher is virtual machine for Native Instruments Kontakt sampler. It requires full version of Kontakt 4.24 or newer. It is free to download and use for private or public amusement. You can get it HERE - 12MB, zip archive, includes sample set and Kontakt program.

This machine is rather simple, so there is no manual. Here are some tips and hidden functions:
  • press 'enter' when input line is empty to recall last entered text,
  • hold 'control' key while clicking the backspace button to erase whole line,
  • 'wave' button next to 'start' button activates modulation sequencers, which will animate audio effect and distribute signal to spatial processors,
  • 'hash' button triggers spatial effect auto configuration function,
  • click 'asterisk' button to generate random text sequence, then press 'enter' to decode it,
  • big blank key in bottom left corner, shifts between spatial modes, which will change signal distribution to spatial processors,
  • little blank key activates 'glitch playback' mode,
  • hold shift and click comma button to enter apostrophe character,
  • hold shift and click question mark button to enter exclamation mark character,
  • use modwheel to change sequence properties,
  • this instrument doesn't read computer keyboard, you need to click through virtual buttons,
  • the instrument only uses capital letters,
  • some functions (like clock restart or modulators reset) are only available from midi keyboard keys,
  • similar text string will generate similar sound sequences,
  • very short strings will generate very simple sequences, make your text 10 characters to make the machine use all layers, the input text limit is 50 characters.
The sample set used for Sonocipher is mainly a selection from various sets I made before. There are however some sounds which haven't been used elsewhere, like diesel engine, plastic pistol, hand drum and some synthesized sounds from my vintage Sequential Circuits synthesizer.

Graphic interface is based on stock agency photo.

There is a "melody machine" variant of this device, read here.

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