Random Machine
/// 2004 /// Interactive Sound Installation
/// Ludger Brümmer / Chandrasekhar Ramakrishnan / Götz Dipper

Chance is a creative process with easily controllable and continuously changing results. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart already understood how to use this process in his newly emerging work Musikalisches Würfelspiel (KV 294 d) with the help of dice. Chance generates a continuously changing but nevertheless uniformly divided series of values. The most consequent users of chance in music are the American composer John Cage and the Greek composer Iannis Xenakis. There is something common to all users of the Random Machine: to produce coincidence is very easy, though the artistic challenge arises in the application since, for perception, chance first becomes interesting in connection with clear rules. Various types of chance and their applications are presented in the installation developed by the ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics.


The users may enter a ten-sonous tonal series via a graphic interface; various algorithms are available for modifying this tonal series: in this way, for example, only one note per run or the total series of tones per chance can be modified; the visitors can determine the probabilities with which these tones should be sounded, or even define only one tonal area within which the computer program then calculates new tonal series. Random Machine makes the user a composer and shows how he can apply an infinite number of possibilities according to the chance design – both for the discovery of new musical ideas as well as for their variation.

Ludger Brümmer (*1958 in Werne) studied composition under Nicolaus A. Huber and Dirk Reith at the Folkwang Academy of Music, Essen. DAAD Scholar at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics at Stanford University, California from 1991–1993. Teaching activities at the Institute for Computer Music and Electronic Media at the Folkwang Academy of Music, Essen, at Kingston University London, at the Sonic Art Research Centre in Belfast and at the Academy for Fine Arts and Design Karlsruhe. Brümmer is a composer and has been director of the Institute Music and Acoustics at the ZKM | Karlsruhe since 2003. Received numerous awards, among which were the Goldene Nica of ars electronica and the Grand Prix de Bourges. In his works, he uses the computer as a tool for compositional design and for the generation of sound. Questions relating to the intermedial connection of music, video and dance frequently constitute the focus of his works.

Chandrasekhar Ramakrishnan (* 1975 in Washington D.C.) studied mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley (B.A. Mathematics, 1997) and media art at the UC Santa Barbara (M.A. Media Arts and Technology, 2003), where he completed his thesis under Dr. Curtis Roads and Stephen T. Pope. Scholar at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in the dept. of Sound Art from 2003–2004. He has since been working for the ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics.

Götz Dipper (*1966 in Stuttgart) studied cello at the Hannover Academy of Music and at the Mozarteum, in Salzburg. He later went on to specialize in computer music and informatics. He has been working as systems administrator at the ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics since 2001.

Photo: Anatole Serexhe

Ludger Brümmer/Chandrasekhar Ramakrishnan/Götz Dipper, Random Machine, 2004, interactive Sound Installation, ZKM | Institute for Music and Acoustics