KarbosGuide.com. Module 7d5.

About digital music - Koan

The contents:

  • Koan music.
  • Links to the music and software.
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    Koan music

    This something entirely different from MP3 etc. Koan is genuine computer music, with much more potential than the "flat" MIDI files earlier mentioned.

    Koan is an electronic music standard. And this represents a fascinating technology developed by the British company SSEYO. Koan requires the addition of a plug-in to your browser to enable playing the files. Koan music is written to designated sound cards. The Sound Blaster AWE is the best as far as I know. I just have an ordinary Sound Blaster 16, and there is also a lot of good Koan music for that.

    Koan is "live" music - it changes every time you play it. You can compare it with an aeolian harp, where the wind and thus the tone is different each time it is used.

    "I too think it's possible that our grandchildren will look at us in wonder and say:
    You mean you used to listen to exactly the same thing over and over again?
    Brian Eno 1996

    The Koan music consist of small files, which start a process in the PC where they work. There may be 8 hours of music in a 12 KB file! So it is not the music itself which is contained in the file. Rather the files contain some structures, frames if you wish, about a composition. These frames are activated in your PC's math processor. Then the music is generated within your PC, differently each time you play it.

    Soundcard compatibility

    Koan music is written specifically for a certain sound card. So you must have either Sound Blaster 16, 32 or 64. or a few other makes. Here again is a good argument to stay with the SB sound cards. They will give the fewest problems. The music is Internet suitable, since the files are small. I have found music in the category ambient, that is long electronic music sequences. They can be very quiet and meditative, but they can also be more rhythmic. If you:

  • Like electronic music á la Tangerine Dream and Brian Eno
  • Have a SB sound card and speakers in your PC system

    Then you ought to try some Koan software. It is really simple to install and requires only a little space.

    How do I do?

    I write this on three premises:

  • You have a Sound Blaster sound card and speakers.
  • You are on the Internet and use either Netscape or MS Explorer.
  • You know how to download and extract (unzip) files.

    My installation example is based on software for Sound Blaster 16 and Netscape in 32 bit Windows 95 edition (Netscape Gold, version 3 or 4). It may sound complicated as I describe it. However it is really quite simple:

    You want to install SSEYO software, so you can play the small SKP files with exciting music. First get the following: 32 bit Koan Software for Windows 95, and SB16 . You have to find the file on SSEYO home page. New versions arrive all the time.

    It is a self extracting Exe file about 300 KB big, which you place in some temporary folder. That file will be deleted after installation. Run the file (it is called knp1032.exe), which will install the necessary plug-in in Netscape.

    Now you can go on the net and for example retrieve the starter package on the same server, which includes some SKP files. Each of those represents hours of electronic music.

    The best result is obtained with a AWE64 sound card and a pair of good speakers. I purchased a set of Altec Lansing ASC45. They are two tiny satellites with a heavy sub woofer, and giving fantastic sound - that is hi-fi!

    Play back of Koan music

    Once you have installed Koan plug-In, Netscape can play the Koan files! It sounds backwards. You would think that the filter should work in Windows 95, but no - the music has to be played through an Internet browser. I use navigator for Koan (it works there) while I have chanced into Internet Explorer for surfing....

    You save your Koan files in a folder (in my computer: \web\music). Then, in Netscape, you press Control+o (for open ). Now you have to modify the file type, to activate the filter:

    Now you just select the melody, and Netscape will play it. You need not be on the Internet, you just use the browser to play the music. The music can run in the background all day, while you do something else.

    If the SKP files are associated with Netscape, you can play them directly by double clicking on them.


    At the SSEYO Koan home page you can find plugins, tunes and information, including software to let you write your own Koan music.

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