The Game of Life

The game of life is what is a mathematical game known as a cellular automaton.  It creates patterns that grow and change in a seemingly organic manner that vary depending on the initial state of the game.  Invented in 1970 by Cambridge mathematician John Conway, it is fairly simple to realize on a computer.  It consists of a grid of squares that are either populated or not depending on a simple set of rules.  The rules are as follows:

  • For a space that is ‘populated’:
    • Each cell with one or no neighbors dies, as if by loneliness.
    • Each cell with four or more neighbors dies, as if by overpopulation.
    • Each cell with two or three neighbors survives.
  • For a space that is ’empty’ or ‘unpopulated’
    • Each cell with three neighbors becomes populated.

Over at the bidule forum, Hansje provided a variant that instead of turning a cell on or off, assigns it a value between zero and one with the value depending on the “neighborhood” conditions.  I hooked the output of it up to some effects.  Actually, not the the effects, but low frequency oscillators (an LFO is a thingy that makes wave shapes that turn controls up and down, like volume or the length of an echo) that are set to sync with the drums.  The LFOs are thus what gets varied, allowing the sound to get manipulated by the effects but still stay in time.

I recorded the result a while ago and decided it needed a bass, but let that go for a while, just getting around to recording it today.  The song is called, of course, game of life, and a recent post reminded me of it.  Thanks Hansje.

As usual, if you are on facebook reading this, you need to go to to get the links to the music and so forth.

2 thoughts on “The Game of Life”

Leave a Reply