Bytebeat – Return of the One-Line Music Craze

We recently stumbled upon a music style that emerged a couple of years ago, Bytebeat, and noticed it was on the rise again. Ville-Matias Heikkila (aka Viznut) is the pioneer of the crazy style with some friends of his, they were experimenting with a programming language and discovered single-lines of code they had written could output wild audio patterns. More experimentation lead to the discovery of more musical code outputs and thus Bytebeat was born.


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Bytebeat is a quirky look into the world of computer music and the art of accidental discovery. Its origins were happened upon, “I came up with a 16-byte VIC-20 program whose musical output totally blew my mind” Viznut said about the code. Inspired by his discovery Viznut looked more into the subject and someone else realized the ability the add percussion and rhythmic elements to the algorithm. The video below demonstrates the addition of this code:

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Programming culture can often be a beautiful arena for collaborative efforts, and when word got around about these one-liners that could produce music the community went wild. Musicians are typically a collaborative bunch and those who were also programmers got involved in the scene and helped spread the code around. Viznut’s discovery had taken a life of its own, he fantasized about where it could go, ” a very short program, maybe even shorter than a Spotify link, that synthesizes all the elements commonly associated with a pop song: rhythm, melody, bassline, harmonic progression, macrostructure. Perhaps even something that sounds a little bit like vocals? We’ll see.” It was an exciting and interesting prospect, computer code producing music! Part of the awe was that the code was so short that no one believed it could make music, it was a fluke. Bytebeat has remained mostly in the underground of the music scene, but it continues to gain popularity with producers. An iPad app called Glitchmachine uses the same code; Reaktor from Native Instruments also has a synth – called digit 8 that uses the code for Bytebeat. We’ll have to see if the trend continues into the future, until then enjoy the wonders of the form and get to making weird beats!

Our list of Top 12 Instruments for NI Reaktor includes a crazy cool ensemble to easily make Bytebeat.

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