A few years ago a friend introduced me to Tonematrix. Tonematrix is an online application that allows people of any musical skill level to create interesting music. The user is intended to click on different squares, causing them to light up and create different tones. The music is on a loop, moving chronologically from left to right, and varying vertically in pitch. Here’s a video of how it works:

Everyone can use this application easily, but that doesn’t mean aspiring musicians should shy away. This is a tool with loads of potential. The combinations of pitches are pretty much limitless. All of the squares fit together musically, so it is really difficult to create unpleasant sounds (unless you light up all the boxes at once). The only downside to the pitches all fitting together is that it’s hard to create dissonance if you want it. Regardless, this is an easy-to-use tool that musicians can take advantage of.

I’m not sure where this app originated, but it is fairly easy to find. You just type tonematrix into Google and it’s the first link. It should be here. When you get there, just start clicking around. Experiment! Let your right brain run wild! You should really check it out, but be careful. It’s really easy to spend several hours playing around with it!


5 thoughts on “Tonematrix

  1. wingedwhimsy says:

    I stumbled across Tonematrix about a year ago, and while at first I was a bit baffled about what to do with it, I soon discovered that it was loads of fun. I even ended up taking a melodic pattern that I had generated and writing it down for future use. You’re right that Tonematrix does have some limits, within those limits it’s a creative tool for generating simple rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic patterns. I’m glad you reintroduced me to it; I can’t stop playing with it!

  2. I have to say, it’s a real shame that it’s hard to get dissonance with tonematrix. Dissonance is part of what makes music rich and beautiful! When the dissonance resolves it’s a sigh of relief. But other than that, it is pretty cool 🙂 It’s amazing what people come up with these days!

  3. Jack Campo says:

    My roommate showed this to me freshman year, and I have to admit while I secretly enjoyed it, I thought he was a poser haha. It is a cool tool and hopefully gets a bunch of other people involved with the creative process of music! Have you seen the rock band stuff you can do on google, with a drumset, guitar, vocal mic, bass guitar, and keys? It’s a virtual band so you and your friends can log on together and virtually jam, I have to admit its a cool idea and who knows how complex the programming must be!

  4. lydiabrace says:

    I never heard of this put it reminds me of this big keyboard they would have at the science center and you could step on it and it would play different notes. This is really cool I might check it out when I have some free time. The person who invented this was very smart now people who have no knowledge of composing music sort of can now.

  5. This sounds like a very interesting application to use. It also sounds like it would be a lot of fun to spend and waste time on it!

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