RjDj: Live ambient soundscape generator for iPhone, which is way more awesome than it sounds

“RjDj” is a new iPhone application that mixes audio data from the iPhone’s microphone in realtime and plays them back out your headphones to create an electronic musicish environment. Different “scenes” exist in lieu of proper songs, each of which use the open “Pd” descriptor language to define what to do with the sounds coming in through the microphone. Your voice might be remixed into a flanging loop in one scene; another might use increased volume to change the melody of a song.

It’s easier to watch in the video than it is to explain — and even easier to understand if you just download it and play with it. I spent a couple of hours with my headphones in while working today and just let the environment integrate into the soundscape around me. It was hard not hum or whistle little tunes just to hear what they would do.

If you’ve ever consumed psychedelics, the auditory effects in some of the scenes are very similar to the time-slipping, inverse cascading repeats that can be provoked by some chemicals.

There are two versions: a $3 “Album” and a free “Single” with just one scene. I bought the “Album” and haven’t felt at all ripped off, but the “Single” is a no-brainer download. I do hope there will be ways to add new scenes into the program without buying a whole different application.

I can’t wait to see what else can be done with these sort of modern smartphone applications. (There’s nothing RjDj does that couldn’t be done on Android or any other OS, I think, sans the accelerometer interface.) Walking into different parts of town, tracked by GPS, might offer up a different set of samples, for instance. Someone could literally build an interactive, evolving soundtrack that emerges from the city as you walked around. You could add an ominous percussion track whenever two or more units were within close proximity.

Exclusive RjDj Interview: Interactive Music Listening, Everywhere You Go [CreateDigitalMusic.com]
RjDj Album [iTunes]
RjDj Single (Free) [iTunes]

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16 Responses to RjDj: Live ambient soundscape generator for iPhone, which is way more awesome than it sounds

  1. airship says:

    So now I can add a custom SID-tune soundtrack to my life? Sweet!

  2. pork musket says:

    So my iPhone got delivered early and I’m trying to activate it. This is a nightmare so far… I’ve been on the phone with AT&T for 50 minutes so far.

  3. Chairboy says:

    Sounds kind of like a Furby with a glockenspiel and a drum kit.

  4. daede says:

    Probably the most fun iPhone app I’ve tried yet. Awesome!

  5. pork musket says:

    My iPhone was shipped yesterday, in no small part due to your reviews of apps and games and such… but also because Verizon didn’t give good antenna (yeah, you heard me) in my house. I’m pretty excited about it.

  6. pork musket says:

    I also love the idea of making music-connected tours of cities, parks, etc. Having a giant database of user-submitted playlists coupled with GPS coordinates of destinations and some sort of indicator of how fast to travel while listening, along with seasonal/weather-based selections, would be a really fun thing to do. I’ve considered it in the past but with my work schedule I simply don’t have time to make a website that would live up to my expectations.

  7. pork musket says:

    So I was on the phone with AT&T for 3.5 hours and still don’t have an activated phone. Kinda annoying, but I should have it sorted out tomorrow. In the meantime I installed this app via wifi and it’s pretty cool.

  8. zuzu says:

    Different “scenes” exist in lieu of proper songs, each of which use the open “Pd” descriptor language to define what to do with the sounds coming in through the microphone.

    I’m assuming this refers to Pure Data, which is the open-source version of Max/MSP.

    I also love the idea of making music-connected tours of cities, parks, etc. Having a giant database of user-submitted playlists coupled with GPS coordinates of destinations and some sort of indicator of how fast to travel while listening, along with seasonal/weather-based selections, would be a really fun thing to do. I’ve considered it in the past but with my work schedule I simply don’t have time to make a website that would live up to my expectations.

    Funny that Apple doesn’t hire a team of people to do this as a value-add to sell more iPhones and songs in the iTunes Store. It sounds like something Apple is ideally positioned to implement. Call it “MobileMe Genius” or whatever.

  9. SamSam says:

    This is really great, and I bet will start a whole series of similar projects, taking in ambient data and turning it into sounds.

    And, eventually, not only will it be taking in location/time of year/weather data as #2 suggested (weather would be really easy, I assume), but will also tie into a social aspect — what if you could hear snatches of what people were listening to on their iTunes while jogging down this very path earlier? o_O!

    Only one hope — eventually the music generation will be powerful enough that it can do more than the obvious drum and base/ambient that most of these will fall in to.

  10. things says:

    this is amazing. Really wishing my ipod touch had a microphone. Also, love the gps idea. A virtual world of sound, laid over the real world sounds amazing.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I just purchased this app based on this review and a view of the companies website. It looks awesome. But as of now I don’t know, because it simply crashes on my phone. I have tried both the album and the single version, and have tried everything short of restoring the iPhone or repurchasing the app.
    There are several other people on the website who have run into the same problem. I would recommend waiting until this is fixed to purchase the app.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Can all of these applications be used for the itouch? I’ve never used any mac products so I don’t know if the itouch is considered on par with 3d gen iphone.
    Thanks.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      Many apps work on both platforms, but RjDj isn’t yet compiled for the Touch, I don’t think. And it would only work with the 2nd generation Touch that has the microphone in, since it needs a microphone to sample the ambient sounds.

  13. Difference Engineer says:

    @Things: I am told that you can get the iPhone headphones for your Touch and the mic and controls works the same as an iPhone.

  14. Difference Engineer says:

    This is by far the most fun I’ve had with my iPhone to date. The free version is a must, seriously.

  15. siliconsunset says:

    Electric Kool-aid acid test?

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