There’s a book, I read it many years ago under the title “The Stardroppers”, but an earlier and shorter draft was also published under the title “listen! The stars”, about a small Device that looks like a radio, but allows you to listen to the vibrations of the stars. This is the titular stardropper.

I like the book. It’s a cheesy sci-fi thriller. I want a stardropper.

Within the context of the novel, this is presented first as an addiction, and later as a means of transcending the limitations of this mortal coil.

In practice, it’d look like a little transistor radio, but play at least partially generative ambient music, with a knob that would widely vary the output.

In my head, it sounds like C64 era, or SNES era chiptunes. Sparse notes, sweeping tones, lots of arpeggios.

I want one.

The trick is that it needs to be pretty close to genuinely generative. Close enough that even with repeated close listenings, no real discernible pattern emerges.

Computer generated ambient stellar jazz.

I’m not a musician. I’ve never done any real audio programming. I don’t know how impossible this would be to code, although I imagine the answer is somewhere on the extreme side of “pretty much completely”.

Any tech savvy musicians (or music savvy technicians) out there want to take a crack at it?


I used to work in algorithmic music in the seventies. Since then I have moved on to real people playing real instruments aka old school.

I had a concept I called the dance box. An algorithmic music generator with motion detection that would optimize the music on how much people liked to dance to it.

A dangerous concept. Also might be difficult to implement. But probably possible.


Also I think I read about some projects that used cosmic rays or some other signals from space to aid in the algorithmic music generation.

I don't think what you describe would require input from outer space but it would add a certain element to it.

I still do algorithmic composition but I output scores instead of synth noise.

@ajroach42 Sounds like a white noise generator with specialized filtering, much like some of the more complex sleep machines.

@ajroach42 it might not be quite as hard as you expect.

puts me somewhat in mind of a couple things from my sparkfun days. my (often brilliant) friend todd did this:

it was great and i still have my record. also, for the giveaway where the traffic's recorded on one side of that 7", we used a geiger counter for a source of randomness, which was a lot of fun (if probably not for the people trying to get the free stuff):

@ajroach42 You may also want to do a search for Magenta - Google folks have been using deep learning to develop generative music tools.

@ajroach42 You can do that with an SDR and a high gain antenna.

@ajroach42 John Brunner! He wrote a lot of great books, have you read any of his other stuff?

@ieure Bruner, yeah!

I’ve read a bunch of his novellas (ace double book editions) and a handful of his pulpier paperbacks.

Nothing I’ve sought out intentionally, just stuff that has filtered through my hands.

@ajroach42 Nice. He wrote a ton. Shockwave Rider is worth reading, it's proto-cyberpunk.

@ieure I’ll check it out!

And yeah, dude was prolific AF. Often published multiple novels a month.

@ieure he did s good job with hard boiled SF. Thrillers, with science fiction trappings.

Simple concepts elevated.

Very unlike most other sci-fi writers of his era, IMO. His works were relatable, and rarely weird for weird’s sake.

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