VCV 3-minutes challenge Ep.5: The (Ugly) Alien Ping

STORYLINE: … in the previous episode the aliens, who were traveling to a distant planet (probably the cradle of an ancient civilization), exited the hyperspace jump near an unknown galaxy.

Well, it turns out that the real reason for this stop is that the spaceship’s computer (which has an autonomous consciousness) has an old electronic friend on one of the planets on the outer edge of the galaxy and has autonomously decided to block the journey to give him a greeting (?!? ). He woke the alien passengers from their cryogenic sleep and changed course temporarily. During the approach, the planet’s traffic control begins scanning the spaceship with an extremely complex radar “ping”.

The aliens - quite pissed off by the behavior of their onboard computer - pass the ping signal through their copy of VCV-Rack …

THE CHALLENGE: the sequence of PINGs received is the same as the composition “World’s Ugliest Music: The Perfect Pitch by Scott Rickard” ( watch this video for more information) … it’s up to you to make a VCV-patch that re-creates the same “music” … and you have to decide whether to make it even uglier or come up with something more interesting (and beautiful :open_mouth:) !!!

  • use only free modules;
  • you should use - IN SOME WAY - the original sequence: you can start from this .vcv patch (you can download it also from patchstorage: The (Ugly) Alien Ping | Patchstorage) that contains the melody in an Entrian Free Player (you can rebuild it from scratch keeping only the Entrian Player and clearly also change the tempo) or download the MIDI file here;
  • record the patch and - if you want - add a video
  • if possible upload the video to youtube (tag it with #vcv3minchallenge and #alienping) and add the link in your reply (if not possible add a link to an mp3 file or to soundcloud);
  • there is no deadline … at least until the next challenge

As an example, this is a video I realized with the sequence using a hybrid setup: VCV Rack+an external Behringer Neutron.


Yes. Challenges :black_heart:. I started with your template and stuck with the literal sequence:

Mixer and Valley+Valhalla offscreen


:+1: Great! … actually I find it more interesting (and pleasent) than most of the “normal music” that I listened recently on YouTube :grin: … if other people contribute to this challenge we can think about releasing an entire album with the variations … “The Ugliest Album”

I’m up :slight_smile: However, I don’t find the composition particularly ugly - it’s like something a Krell musician would come up with and we’re all familiar with that.

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A nanosecond before the signal to close the hyperspace loop rippled through the fabric of the ship, the A.I. triggered deployment of a battery of communications relay drones. A perfectly timed concerto played in the silence of space high above the planet’s surface as the ship appeared from nowhere, small hatchways arpeggiated open, and dozens of drones shot out and streaked into the upper atmosphere. As the drones spread out, the A.I. scanned the widening electromagnetic web to find a precise electronic signature, the signature of an old friend.

The crew of the ship, awakened from their cryogenic slumber, surveyed the galactic map, found the coordinates to be far from anywhere they intended to go, and with practiced rapidity, initiated the protocols to override the A.I. control of the ship.

Protocol 37 called back the comm drones which by that time had reached the near side of the planet’s surface. All drones complied with the return-to-base command, except one. Within the circuitry of that lone drone a struggle ensued for control; a lightning coded battle between the ship’s A.I., the ship’s crew, and the small team of space traffic control engineers stationed in the high altitude mountain outpost nearest the drone’s flight path.

One of the quick-witted engineers, with only moments to study the chimeric signals, sent a pulse interrupt from an archaic string of A.I. code known as SH-101. The primitive technology was enough to give the engineers a few precious moments to work on the three signals bombarding the drone: from their mountaintop station, from the alien ship in high orbit, and from a mysterious third signal emanating from a small cluster of dwellings near the base of the mountain.

The contest ended in a victory for all. The crew’s superior knowledge of the drone allowed them to regain control of the navigation systems and guide it back up to the ship. The engineers were able to record three minutes of unscrambled signal passing through the drone. And the ship A.I. had a refreshing conversation with another string of A.I. code known as MOS-8580, in the ancient machine’s native language.

On the 3 minute recording can be heard the space traffic control engineers, the ping they sent, the chatter of the alien crew, and the “conversation” between the alien A.I. and the venerable MOS-8580. Cryptographers studying the signal deciphered a single line of code deep within. However, they were unable to find any trace of the drone’s video feed well hidden within the signal, which was a pity because it was exactly the sort of thing they’d been looking for all these years.


I keep replaying this - it seems very musical to me. Is there something wrong with my brain ?

I completely agree!

:+1: Great patch and story!!! … :smile: you took the challenge to another level with your nice detailed contribution to the storyline! …

If there is something wrong, then the same is for my brain :joy:

It is strange how the brain can discern patterns where there are few … probably played this piece too much while constructing the patch and accompanying video :smiley:

Episode 5 of the 3-minute ‘Martian’ VCV Challenge.

In the previous episode the aliens, who were traveling to a distant planet (probably the cradle of an ancient civilization), exited the hyperspace jump on a reef among the stars facing an anomalous planet.

The unscheduled stop was due to the alien’s spaceship computer who suspected that an old electronic acquaintance was inhabiting the planet. While waking the alien passengers from their cryogenic sleep, the shipboard computer determined that it was being painted by a complex radar ‘signal’ from the anomaly. Friend or foe?

The radar signal was determined to be similar to a Costas array, except that the frequencies were exponentially spaced. Figuring this to be a form of an alien Turing test, the aliens looped the signal through their copy of VCV-Rack, including their own attempt to sing a long, in order to determine a response.

The challenge was to include the original sequence of the “World’s Ugliest Music: The Perfect Pitch by Scott Rickard” in the VCV patch and use all free modules in the patch. So, here it is and it doesn’t sound like the original at all. The sequence is an 88-note sequence with all different pitches and all different durations. The patch splits the notes in 5 voices, adding arpeggio’s to some notes, percussive hits in others and also lots and lots of delay reflections.

Video is generated from the MIDI sequence and the audio rendering.


:grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: :+1: Great !!! … and here we have the fourth song of the album!!! (coming soon)

Love the album idea! @algoritmarte I didn’t include my original .wav recording in the patchstorage zip. If you want that for highest quality in the compilation, give me a shout. Or feel free to hit run in the patch and record a new one! It’s fully programmatic/generative. :grinning:

Because I’m old and I have slight tinnitus (and high notes hurt my ears), I modified the MIDI file. I took the 88 notes and crushed them down into about 2 and a half octaves. I used Tiny Tricks Sine+ and fed random voltage into the detune CV. That goes to Squinky Labs Formant and F2 filters. A little reverb and delay and patterns emerge!


:+1: Great! … Olè and we have the fifth track of the album :partying_face:

How did you make the video animation?

The video is a free clip from Videvo Net


very cool sounds!

My first experiment. I don’t actually use VCV to make music, I just like coding modules.


… which ends up in “coding music” :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

:+1: Great! … a quick backdoor to all 21 basic “ugly” sequences (using primes 3, 5, 7, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31 , 37, 41, 43, 47, 53, 59, 61, 67, 71, 73, 79, 83 and starting from note 1) :sunglasses:

I presume the original sequence is 88 notes in length because that’s how many keys are on a piano. We could go higher, you just need two primes.

Yes, but with 88 notes there are actually 40 unique sequences (the formula should be N’ = [(k*N-1) mod 89] + 1) … an universe with plenty of “ugly” sequences :grinning: