Impossible Music Manipulation

Imagine reaching inside your favorite song and transforming it. Not just replacing one track with another (exchanging, say, Eddie Van Halen’s solo for your clearly superior version), but altering it at an atomic level. Misplace a finger on a chord or two in an otherwise once in a lifetime take? Grab the notes and move them after the fact. Hell, reorient the whole thing and build an entirely new refrain in a different key with a completely repurposed drum part. Then build a wholly new song.

Once thought impossible, Direct Note Access lets you edit individual notes within flat audio tracks. All of a sudden, any audio source becomes an endless palette. Mindblowing.

Back when Guitar Hero creators Harmonix were a tiny shop struggling to pay the bills, they made a genre-defining game called Frequency. And getting the music for it was tough. That’s because, in order to tell the instruments from one another in their licensed tracks, they had to secure master recordings from the original artists. No small feat, especially on a razor thin budget. That just changed.

But there’s so much more. Imagine the kinds of new music games that could be built, making use of music the original developers never heard or even imagined — building from software that finally understands sound as intimately as the player does. Beyond that, being able to restructure music at a note level opens up tons of fascinating new avenues for electronic and traditional musicians alike. I can’t wait to see where this takes the samplers of tomorrow.

Find more Direct Note Access at

thanks to jesse kriss

5 Responses to “Impossible Music Manipulation”

  1. 1 David Simon

    Oh, wow. That’s some amazing technology, if it works as well as in the video. I can’t wait for when it eventually goes or is re-implemented as Open Source; I could probably automatically PyDanceify my entire music library.

    And in games in general, it could be used to combine authentic orchestral music with the gameplay-sensitive music alteration you get in games like Spore or (to a lesser degree) Wind Waker.

    Just… wow.

    (An editorial aside: perhaps you meant “mindblowing” instead of “bindblowing”?)

  2. 2 Jason

    Totally — I had the same reaction. WRT how well it works: I imagine the technique won’t be completely generalizable. Most problems that seem impossible in the broad are solvable for particular subsets, so I bet the same is true here. But, honestly, it’s a pretty amazing feat to get that working for any polyphonic source.

    And I really look forward to seeing what creative game developers do with it. Your idea of simplifying the creation of context sensitive music in games is a great example.

    (Thanks for the edit. Fixed!)

  3. 3 Roo Reynolds

    Oh wow. Tweaking exploding notes from audio samples? Changing the key of any sampled chord? Want! That’s stunning. Melodyne suddenly looks really interesting, and I look forward to seeing the new version.

    The application to games is enormous too. Even just the simple examples are exciting. Imagine something like Guitar Hero in which you have the freedom to play bum notes (or even just different notes) rather than being met with the “you’ve messed up” fret noise. All transformed from (potentailly) any audio source. Exciting stuff.

  4. 4 Jason

    True! I’m really looking forward to seeing this technology applied. It removes a lot of the limitations music games have been fighting for a long time, and same for samplers, and same for… Yeah, lots of possibilities. O.o

  1. 1 eightbar » Blog Archive » Nifty Note Manipulation

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