Colin Sullivan

Touch UI to Generative Music Sequencer in SuperCollider

There are many ways to incorporate generative music into electronic music performance. Since 2012 I have explored methods of integrating SuperCollider instruments into a Ableton Live set. This most recent development is a touch-screen UI built with modern web technologies, controlling SuperCollider patches through a Node.js server (running inside an Electron app). By using experimental Ableton Link support not yet released in SuperCollider, I can synchronize the clocks of rhythmic generative patches from SuperCollider with sounds in an Ableton Live set.

LED Wall Prototype

A prototype of an interactive LED wall experience.

An LED wall allowing participants to paint gestures on a touchscreen.

Imagine entering the lobby of a modern office building. One of the large walls looks textured, like it could be a screen. There is a small podium close to the wall in the center, when you approach the screen on the podium calls to you touch it, when you do the wall in front of you lights up immensely bright as you paint a pattern over the screen.

Transdimensional Audio Workstation

The Transdimensional Audio Workstation is an interactive musical experience. The machine allows one to tune into another dimension in order to send a musical communication to one’s self. After sending the music, any transdimensional response will be interpreted and played back automatically.

Family Bonding Through LED Art Installation

Over the recent holiday season I decided to try working on a project together with my family. I proposed the medium of LED light animation and started talking with Pegs (my mom) about it. What we ended up with looks pretty cool! It is made from some LED strips in the shape of a star.

Mountains in Space

My most recent musical project is a collaboration with Luke Dahl called Mountains in Space.

Here is a recording similar to what we performed at Burning Man and a few other venues this summer:

Mountains in Space August 2014

We are performing original electronic music based on my explorations with field recordings, rhythmic algorithms, software synths, and Luke's explorations with analog synthesis and custom multi-channel reverb.

More sounds here:

Event Handler Gotcha with Backbone.js

I just fixed a bug in the Backbone.js related portion of my application. The issue was specific enough to Backbone.js that I'd like to document it here as a warning to tread carefully in complex-applications written in JavaScript land.

Has one of your event callbacks seemingly stopped being called when it should be? Perhaps it is a related issue.

Disable & Enable the Google Software Update Daemon on OS X

I use the same computer and OS X installation to both perform music and develop web technology. I am happy to let Google run a software updater in the background, but I want to be able to turn it off when I need to.

Here is how I do it.

Summer 2013 Set

This is a performance of the music I have been working on throughout the summer. I performed a very similar set in center camp at burning man this year. All of the sounds were created from scratch.

Colin's Summer 2013 Set
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Henry Cowell's Joys of Noise

A wonderfully foreshadowing quote by Cowell.

Although existing in all music, the noise-element has been to music as sex to humanity, essential to its existence, but impolite to mention, something to be cloaked by ignorance and silence. Hence the use of noise in music has been largely unconscious and undiscussed. Perhaps this is why it has not been developed, like the more talked-of elements, such as harmony and melody. The use of noise in most music today is little beyond the primitive; in fact, it is behind most native music, where the banality of the thumps often heard in our concerts would not be tolerated.

Dore Changes Party Set

I performed at a party we held to celebrate changes happening among many friends at one of my favorite spots in San Francisco with wonderful people! Here is a recording of the set:

Colin's Dore "Changes" Party Set
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Sounds of the Subconscious Seas

The "All Worlds Fair" took place in San Francisco at the beautiful old mint building. It was quite a delightful gathering of people and showcased some art and performances that I found quite amazing.

I built a soundscape for the "Seas of the Subconscious" experience that took place in the basement. It sounded pretty sweet in that steel-walled room.

The soundscape is generative, so I could render out 3 minutes or 5 hours if I needed. Here is a short sample:

Sounds of the subconscious seas.
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It is written entirely in SuperCollider so I now have the start of a framework for developing soundscapes in the way that I like to think about them. It is open source:

Jnana (Generative Ableton Live Plugin)

"Jnana" is an algorithmic accompaniment system integrated into Ableton Live. It can analyze MIDI input and generate melodic and rhythmic material in a similar style.

Demo of Jnana v0.1


I worked with Gracenote during the summer of 2012 to develop interactive applications that were integrated with existing music information retrieval tools and recommendation services.

tulpasynth v0.2

"tulpasynth" is a prototype real-time collaborative music creation system that takes advantage of touchscreen gestures for a tangible, responsive UI. It has been generally well-received when I have shown it at CCRMA events and at the 2011 bay area Maker Faire.

tulpasynth screenshot

tulpasynth screenshot

Homebrew soundscape

For this assignment, I gathered a few recordings and created a short musical statement by manipulating the sounds in ChucK. The rhythmic variation is created with first-order Markov Chains, and the string-like sounds are created by feeding a recording into a Karplus Strong algorithm.

Music created from sounds I recorded then manipulated.
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Here is a "musical statement" I created while working on a homework assignment. The assignment was to experiment with FM synthesis by building some timbres and submitting them along with a musical statement.

Sounds I created with FM synthesis.
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"KnacK" is a framework that I started this past quarter during my time in Music 220a.

The basic idea of the framework is to provide some conventions for making compositional code modular and reusable. There are some other features that I am interested in developing further as well such as a MVC-like interaction between raw "aesthetic data" and the instruments/performers in a musical piece.

entities and relationships in the KnacK framework

entities and relationships in the KnacK framework


"tulpasynth" is a real-time collaborative music creation system that I created this past quarter during Music 256A.

It is a collaborative web-based application for creating music with others by manipulating simple shapes in the web browser.

Activist Montage

Below is an audio montage/narrative-like soundscape that I have created from various clips of NPR interviewees and reporters. It was originally developed for a 4-channel audio system, but below is the binaural stereo mix. Audio was generated using ChucK. End result and source code can be found below. Hope you enjoy.

NOTE: Unlike most content on this site, this audio is NOT licensed as Creative Commons. The content is copyrighted by NPR.

Too Big to Fail
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NOTE: Source code is licensed MIT.
Download source code

Computer science, philosophy, and the web

This summer, I drove across the country with an amazing woman who told me about some philisophical issues that she has concerning Computer Science. One of our discussions was about how she felt that if she were to enter the field of Computer Science, she would rather spend her time on computational theory research, seeing as eventually we will have solved all of the problems we can with our current models of computation.


I worked with IBM on big data visualization software and HTML5 mobile application research and development.


During the summer of 2011, I worked freelance for a startup company called "Float" who are in the process of developing a system for augmenting real-world interaction with technology.


Every New Year's Day, many of my family and friends gather to play bingo. In recent years there have been too many people in the house to hear what numbers have been called.

Algorithmic Composition with the Fibonacci Sequence

I find the significance of the Fibonacci number sequence in nature, art, and mathematics very interesting. For some time I have been thinking about how this pattern can be applied to music and have been developing my own musical composition that is algorithmically based on the Fibonacci sequence.

The composition as it stands currently. Please enjoy, and feel free to download if you would like.

Algorithmic Composition
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Concert Development

This semester I did a decent amount of work on the framework for the Concert project: Once this robust framework is complete, adding features should be a breeze thanks to the modular nature of our code. I have begun to work with the Backbone.js framework, which is turning out to be quite wonderful. For more details, see the Fall 2010 Final Presentation blog post on the Concert development blog:

Algorithmic Jams

While working on my Fibonacci piece (mentioned here), some interesting results pop up now and then. These riffs were algorithmically generated, written in JavaScript and Max/MSP, and are based on the Fibonacci numbers in multiple ways.

Fibbass 2011

Last year I developed a short composition based on the Fibonacci numbers in which various accompaniments were generated algorithmically, you can listen to it here.

This semester, I am working with Prof. Curtis Bahn in a much greater capacity, and will be hopefully be developing this idea into the composition that I have always wanted it to be.

Fibbass 2010

Here is the result of this semester's work on my Fibonacci composition:

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If you are interested in my process, please feel free to read my final report below, or email me.

Synthetic Cinema International

I have worked for SCI for a few years, wearing many hats. The majority of my time has been spent editing and producing sound and video, although I have worked as an audio engineer and boom operator on many occasions.

Kenyon Finally Launches!

My Symfony project is finally complete. I cannot take credit for the design, but I am quite proud of how the backend came out. Of course, all of the coolness is stuff the general public cannot see. Symfony worked out quite well, I would certainly use it again if I had to do a PHP project in the future.

IBM: Extreme Blue Internship

This summer I will be interning at IBM in Austin, TX. I will be part of the Extreme Blue team of interns, working for IBM's Emerging Technologies division on a project called Big Sheets. I will be doing mostly JavaScript interface work, and am looking forward to the experience. Over the summer I'll write as much as I am legally able to about my time at IBM.


Concert is an online collaborative organizational tool for sounds. I am developing Concert as part of Software Design and Documentation class here at RPI. See our wiki for more information.

Fibonacci Composition

This semester, for "Interactive Arts Programming" class, I will be making an interactive composition based on the Fibonacci sequence. The piece will involve me playing the bass line of my composition, while a computer takes my performance as input and generates algorithmically determined accompaniments.

CMS in Symfony

I was recently hired by Synthetic Cinema to develop a content management system for I developed the entire backend using the Symfony PHP framework, and implemented some Javascript functionality on the frontend.

Times Square New Years 2010 Pyrotechnics

This past new years, I worked for Pyro/FX at Times Square, programming and operating the digital firing system to fire all of the pyrotechnics underneath the ball. It was an exciting and nerve-wracking experience, but like all shows I've done, very rewarding in the end.

Convenience with Quicksilver

For the past few years I have been using Quicksilver for OS X, an application which has dramatically changed the way many people get things done on their Mac. Here are a few things you can do fairly easily (if you want to be as cool as me).

Bass Distortion with ChucK

This semester I have been pursuing an independent study in DSP Programming for Music/Audio Applications. For my final project, I will be designing an Overdrive/Distortion effect that is customized for the sound of my bass.


RPInventory is a web-based inventory system designed for use by clubs at RPI. I have been working on the RPInventory team for the past year, doing mostly Ajax/Javascript interface work.


"PyroInventory" is a complete inventory system for fireworks and explosives, customized for a Pyrotechnics Entertainment company called "Pyro/FX". Written in PHP/MySQL, it is a dynamic, database-driven web application.

Pyro/FX Entertainment Group

Pyro/FX is a pyrotechnics/fireworks entertainment company based out of Hamden, CT. I have worked with Pyro/FX on configuring and implementing an automated firing system, I designed a customized fireworks/explosives inventory system for them, and have operated the computer firing system on multiple large-scale entertainment events.


Here is another song I made recently. I do not think it is perfect, but I am proud of it. I think we are going to try to perform it as a band.

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This is a song I made for Computer Music class. It is produced entirely of sounds I have recorded myself. There are still a few compression issues that I would like to work out, but overall I'm pretty proud of it.

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Tripeg Studios

Tripeg Studios is a film studio facility which I worked for in 2006. I worked primarily in a tech-support/systems-support role.