The name Clang is an homage to Arnold Schönberg's concept of Klangfarbenmelodie (tone color melody), in which "melody" is created not by changes in pitch, but by changes in tonal color, that is, instrumentation. This basic idea was one of the original germs of Clang, although realized in a different fashion than Schönberg himself used it.
Clang employs concepts from nonlinear dynamical systems (chaos theory) and cellular automata within a simple set of rules for generating sound. The code which embodies the rule-set and the means to perform its output constitutes what is, in essence, an autonomous machine, a musical robot. Depending on version and configuration, anywhere from one to eight or more of these clang-machines might be playing together at any given time (like musicians in a band). Each of their performances is unique—every time they start playing together, a completely different sequence of events unfolds.
Chaotic systems exhibit behaviors which vary from being completely predictable
(periodic) to being completely unpredictable (random). In between these extremes exists a subtly patterned quasi-randomness,
with "quality" that is perceptibly quite different from the character of white noise, Brownian motion, Gaussian distributions, or other statistical distributions.
There is a graphical component to Clang as well. The rules which drive the musical output are also used to produce an animated graphical "score", a kind of visualization of the music. The output of each musical part (clang-machine) is displayed in its own square panel, inside of which each note is displayed as a thick line with particular graphical characteristics (color, length, orientation, position) which are derived from the musical characteristics (pitch, duration, intensity, timbre) of each note.
At any given time, a part may be in one of three modes, or muted entirely:
Clang is dedicated to the memory of