[these are not the looch]
See and Hear The Looch!
The Ancient History of the looches
Years ago (like, in the OLDEN DAYS, c. 1988-89) there was a fabulous
computer called the NeXT machine. It came with a nice package of
Objective-C classes and libs called the MusicKit (I think you can get
a contemporary version of it at
The MusicKit compiled to code that executed directly on a Motorola
56001 DSP chip included in the computer. Thus it was possible
to run sound-producing processes on the machine with virtually no
load on the host processor. Back in the days of 25 Mhz 68030
main CPUs, this was a Big Deal.
In order to learn the MusicKit, I wrote a simple app called "Looching"
that generated long, droney tones -- I love to have this gunk going
in the background while hacking, reading, writing, etc. I guess I was
a Gregorian-chanting monk in a former life. Something rather remarkable
happened after posting the code to various ftp sites. I started getting
e-mail from all over zee vorld from people who enjoyed "Looching".
Amazing! I didn't dub a single cassette! The Future is Now! This was
a few years before things like Mosaic (remember that?), the World-Wide
Web, Netscape, "surfing the web", etc. became the independent memes
that have infested our collective consciousness today, and
I was totally enthralled by the possibilities of a networked world.
Since that time, I've become older, more jaded, more cynical, yeah...
all that... been there, done it, been back, got bored... but I still
have a soft spot in me heart for them droney sounds.
By the way, "Looching" was reinstantiated in a number of different forms.
Here's a listing of a few:
-- the original source files for the NeXT version
Contemporary MusicKit Looching
-- a version ported to the new
(maintained by Leigh Smith)
-- a version done using
a java-based digital sound synthesis/sig-processing
language. It can run right in your web browser.
Most of the time. Although I did jloochabout the same
time as mlooch, jlooch makes different
droney sounds. Go ahead -- try it out! The web
page is fairly similar to this one.
-- a version created using
Ditto the jlooch/mlooch discussion above.
Different droney sounds indeed.
-- a really stripped-down and basic version (no interface)
in C for RTcmix
-- a nicely-interfaced version done by Luke Dubois using
-- a version of looching in the lisp language gcl, using
-- an OS X dashboard widget that makes them sounds
-- an iOS app in the App Store, woo-hoo!
And there are a few named after Nissa the Kitty, too:
app, with some fun graphics (the *nissa's generally have
nissa, also with some fun graphics.
Semi-Silly Answers to Semi-Silly Questions
Q. Why are they called looching?
"Looch" was the name of a wonderful dog we owned through most of the 1980s.
Unfortunately, Loocher passed away a number of years ago, but the Spirit
of the Looch still lives on... the hound was amazingly mellow and
had a darned good approach to life. She lived to the ripe old age
of 15 years, not bad at all. We should all live such happy lives.
Q. What is the story with all these references to dogs, woofing,
The most direct reason is implicit in the previous answer. Another
Fun Factoid: the first networked CMC (back then the EMC) computer
was "woof.columbia.edu". Looch (the dog) had an incredible howl,
and we used a digital recording of it for testing and demonstrating
a lot of our software back in the wild days. For several years,
Loocher claimed the title of 'most digitized canine'. We used
to call our users' group meetings of people doing computer
music at Columbia woofmeetings. We were strange.
Q. Why are the looching web pages so
dull and boring? Why don't you have
fancy Shockwave or Flash things happening? Where's all the
nifty graphics and colors?
I am old and tired.
Q. Are there any known bugs?
Please feel free to send me comments, etc.:
(garton - at - columbia - dot - edu).
Every once in a great while I randomly answer a bunch of stacked-up
e-mail. Also be sure to visit the
Computer Music Center
home page. It's a fun place!