Algorithmic Arts

Interactive Generative Creativity Software for Music, Visuals and Wordplay

ArtWonk4 is a creativity tool for music, visuals and wordplay based on generative algorithms you interactively develop by connecting modules (graphical objects representing functions and processes) in real time, adjusting the parameters as you go, in a drag & drop environment especially designed to be fast to learn and fun to use.

Source material can be anything at all: Fractals, DNA, EEGs, EKGs, stock quotes, random numbers, you name it. Built in data extraction reads data from virtually any source, and an extensive DNA editor opens vistas of public domain genetic sequences to explore.

ArtWonk v4.3 was released in December, 2014, but the algorithms and generative processes in ArtWonk have been in development for over 20 years, since the first release of MusicBox for MSDOS in 1986. It represents the ongoing life work of pioneer music and graphics developer John Dunn. This makes ArtWonk vast, deep, and comprehensive; but it is easy and playful to use because it is always running, always live, and you get instant feedback on every change you make.

MusicWonk4 is essentially the same program, but without the graphics processing components. The MIDI and general algorithmic functionality of both programs are identical, and file formats are compatible between the two programs.

Winner of Electronic Musician's 2005 Editor's Choice Award.

"Artwonk...takes computer assisted composition to new heights."

"With more than 200 modules, there's not much in the way of real-time composition that you can't do with this program"

"Algorithmic Arts' ArtWonk is an algorithmic-composition program featuring real-time MIDI playback with animated graphics. The program provides a clear, logical work environment for arranging its vast collection of Modules, which can be connected and controlled in numerous ways. ArtWonk is a powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use program for creatively exploring the fertile relationships between music, visual art, mathematics, and nature."

ArtWonk has been reviewed in the September, 2004 issue of Electronic Musician Magazine.
Read the EM review here.

Read the review by Electro-Music.com
View Getting Started Tutorial Video (...or download the .mp4 video)
View a Flash Demonstration
Complete ArtWonk manual online
ArtWonk Packages paper by Dr. Warren Burt

Looking for Bio2MIDI?  Click here.

ArtWonk/MusicWonk Examples


From ICAD 2004 Competition Winner Concert. Composer's conference paper: Listening to theMind Listening - A Sonification/Composition.pdf
"I guess you know I am a great fan of ArtWonk and its predecessor SoftStep. I even remember doing a MusicBox patch (took huge effort...). During the years I've looked at algorithmic programs like MaxMSP. Csound, Symbolic Composer etc, but I always returned to your software. It just fits my way of working like a glove. But more important: your service is simply unequaled. And without it, I doubt if I would have been able to finish my 'masterpiece' for the ICAD in 2004 at all. Thank you!!" - Hans van Raaij


PlayingTheLotteryInPlano & PlayingTheLotteryMicrotonalTrio used the built-in DataBin to convert data from the New South Wales Lucky Lottery drawn on Sept 24, 2009 to an ArtWonk array sequence. See PlanoNotes for details.

Bell Pepper from Nightshade Etudes Book One is from a set of six pieces made by using protein patterns from members of the nightshade family as musical source data.

Solanum4-BellPepper is a MusicWonk Variation of an original ArtWonk patch by Warren Burt. Full set of Variations available on our DNA Music page.


Igor Stochastic Generator - by Igor Karaca:
Harp - Using the Windows built in GM MIDI wavetable synth.
Mute Trumpet - Same as above but with a different instrument selected.
Mirage for Flute and Vibraphone excerpt - "I'm using a similar stochastic patch, but with a different statistical distribution - and I was playing the rhythmic slider instead of having the software control it."

ArtWonk uses MIDI output because it is more of a composing than a production tool, and MIDI gives greater flexibility than direct audio output because it greatly expands your sound palette. The default General MIDI synthesizer is always available, but that is only the beginning. For example, here is one of the example ArtWonk patches driving different MIDI synthesizers:


Delay Line - An early ArtWonk demo patch, a simple 2 voice sequencer array with delay and wandering pointers. Uses Windows built in GM synth and sounds like what you get running the included patch from your computer.

SongBells2 to Metalfons2 - These 5 excerpts are the same patch but use the free ProteusVX synth player and the Planet Earth sample library from DSF.

Kontakt Celesta - Same patch using popular NI Kontakt5 sampler.

Kontakt Free - Using free Kontakt Player and included free sample library.

Absynth - Using Absynth, another synth from NI. ArtWonk is compatible with all NI synthesizers.

Finger Cymbals - Using a Quantum Leap Player sample synth & library.

ArtWonk works great with images in all sorts of ways. Here is an example of ArtWonk music created by John Dunn as a companion to a very large ArtWonk image created by Jamy Sheridan.

This image is an except. The full image is available here.


Because ArtWonk is often used in live performances where computer crashes are unacceptable, ArtWonk uses the ImagXpress high performance, professional graphics imaging engine developed by Pegasus Imaging Corporation. We have found this to be the highest quality, most complete, and most rock solid stable imaging engine available today.



ArtWonk Images by Jamy Sheridan - Click images for full size

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Copyright © 1996-2015 by John Dunn and Algorithmic Arts. All Rights Reserved.