Archive for the ‘music – tm’ Category
Am pleased, and yet, humbled, to announce a new LP on Bandcamp: Critical Weekend Work.
10 songs, mostly previously-unpublished.
Experiments with field recordings begun on the 40 Yards from the Machine release continue: recordings from the transit system and my kitchen, and spoken words. Extensive use of the "Household Kit" of samples described here, at varying speeds and grains, is made throughout.
This is my sixth release in 2014. Your support in the form of buying the LP or songs would be very encouraging, but all the material can be streamed.
Notes for the Critical Weekend Work LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page.
1. Grove Street 01:05
A basic melody done with the modular synth (specifically the Doepfer A-111-5 mini-synth) is augmented with a field recording from, er, public transit, drums from Steinberg's "Groove Agent" (yeah baby yeah), and some overtracking to make the harmony at the very end.
2. Skiffle Capacity 02:16
A variant of the "Grove Street" melody, with added parts played on various synth and/or sampler modules (Doepfer mini-synth, WMD Gamma Wave Source, SID Guts, Doepfer A-112) using the Elektron Octatrack as a MIDI controller. For all that, this wasn't working for me until I added the bassline, dubbed in with NI's Massive softsynth. The middle section is the Octatrack arpeggiator ringing changes on the basic synth lines. This sounds fairly spontaneous and hyperactive but was assembled a few pain-in-the-a** bars at a time. There is a second bassline done with Linplug's Element P percussion synth that peeks out at the ending.
3. The Persistence of Marimba 02:50
Yet another variant of the "Grove Street"/"Skiffle Capacity" tunes. Some of the same instrumentation as "Skiffle Capacity," with added percussion from the Household Kit samples (see previous LP) with heavy chorus and delay. The "marimba" is NI Massive.
4. Kitchen Drone 03:04
Shameless banging around on the Household Kit samples (finger snaps, pan lid, rice shaker, chair thump) using the Octatrack sequencer's MIDI out, converted to CV/gate and triggering the samples in the Qu-Bit Nebulae granular sampler module. The heavy "rave" chords at the end are NI Massive.
5. Cloud Tenders 01:40
An assortment of beats made with the Octatrack as a MIDI controller and two sampler modules (ADDAC wav player and Doepfer A-112) playing Household kit sounds. The sampler outputs were recorded straight (as simultaneously recorded mono files) and then a second group was created running those same beats through Steinberg's Step Filter effect (the "wah" sound at the beginning). After quite a bit of moving all these beats around in Cubase, pads and bass were added from Absynth (the very pretty "Nausicaa" patch) and NI Massive. Lastly, drums: patterns I wrote for the "vinyl kit" in Battery.
6. Grave Wobble 01:56
A tune from three years ago, reworked and tightened up, with some added parts. The wobbly bass patch is a softsynth called the MiniTera that was a freebie with some gear I bought, even longer back. The drums are a "synthesized kit" playing in Linplug's RMV software beatbox. The ascending whine during the "drum break" is the Qu-Bit Nebulae run through a hardware filter module, with a long LFO sweep.
7. Cloud Tenders 2 01:52
Similar process to Cloud Tenders, different pads (mostly NI Massive), with increasing amount of MIDI echo and arpeggiation effects within Cubase.
8. Stabs and Slabs 01:50
This was all done in the Octatrack, first laying down Household Kit beats, then adding piano and synth samples. The "rave-y" melodies are done note by note, adjusting the pitch and/or sample rate of each keyboard "stab."
9. Baby Boom/Critical Weekend Work 00:55
A three channel sound art piece, made with vocal samples loaded into the Qu-Bit Nebulae and messed with (speed, grain, start time, grain size, etc.) The middle channel is the same LFO-swept recording used in "Grave Wobble." The vocals in that channel are inaudible, it's just stuttering of a very small chunk of the words "baby boom."
10. Skiffle Capacity Reprise 01:09
The final appearance of the "Grove Street"/"Skiffle Capacity"/"Persistence of Marimba" tracks. The ethereal-sounding intro is NI Massive played with Steinberg MIDI echo and/or arpeggiation effects.
Am pleased, and yet, humbled, to announce a new LP on Bandcamp: Household Kit.
10 songs, mostly previously-unpublished but with a some older tunes remixed to the point of unrecognizability.
Experiments with field recordings begun on the 40 Yards from the Machine release continue: after the first tentative trips to the deli with my wav recorder (which people assume is some kind of phone) am now making more adventurous forays into the streets and subways of Manhattan. Some new modular gear is also explored.
This is my fifth release in 2014. Your support in the form of buying the LP or songs would be very encouraging, but all the material can be streamed.
Notes for the Household Kit LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page.
1. Triphop Turnstiles 03:31
An older tune, "Tasteful Triphop," reworked, with added house-y riffs from a Steinberg ROMpler called "Loopmash" and a field recording from the 34th Street subway station. The tinkly digital synth way off in the background, sounding like something from a Paris airport, is a venerable interactive art piece called "Reach," from the N/R/Q platform.
2. Barely See Ya 03:17
The second half of the same field recording. An Orphean ascent from subway bowels (my boots tramping up the staircase) precedes the polyglot voices of a busy midtown intersection. The voices become loop material -- digitally orchestrated, gospel-like (!) call-and-response patterns from random snippets of people talking to cell phones or each other. An older track, "Fuschia Refraction," with self-oscillating filter swoops, was also used here, along with Reaktor Massive riffs to sweeten the proceedings.
3. Noise Chamber 02:59
I made a wav file drum kit of household sounds -- spinning pan lid banging against a water glass, chair wheel rolling and thumping on floor, a shaken container of rice, fist smacking into palm, finger snaps, etc. -- and have been playing it with various hardware and software. Here the sounds are transformed via granular synthesis into crunchy distortion and pitched whines by means of the Qu-Bit Nebulae (Eurorack module -- see LP cover). Also heard throughout is a SID chip processed with various filters and LFOs, and some softsynth beats and bass notes.
4. Green Algae (Octatrack) 02:47
Drum hits from Native Instruments' first generation of Battery "Synthetic Drums" kits, specifically the "Green Algae Atmo" kit (now unavailable from the company), loaded into the Elektron Octatrack sampler/sequencer and massaged into a song.
5. Household Controller 01:18
More sounds from the Household Kit described above, processed through the Qu-Bit Nebulae into drones and percussive thwacks and further altered with Doepfer's A-187-1 digital effects module (reverb, chorus, delay, etc). The marimba and synth were something I wrote in the MIDI piano roll years ago and fished off the hard drive of an older PC. The baroque fillip at the end was added recently.
6. Spunky Cluster (2014) 02:35
A tune from several years ago I thought was finished until this month. Previously posted as "Spunky Cluster (Nausicaa Mix)," without the added melody line first heard at the beginning. The choppy syncopated beats that might stand in for a wah-wah rhythm guitar are turntable scratch samples granularized in Krypt and/or filtered in Reaktor's Analogic Filter Box effect. The airy middle section is an Absynth patch called Nausicaa -- running beneath it I added a field recording of street sounds outside my apartment.
7. Noise Chamber (Massive) 01:52
Another tune with the Household Kit playing in the Qu-Bit Nebulae module, with Doepfer A-187-1 effects. The keyboard part that runs throughout is a Massive preset, suggesting house organ stabs. The challenge here was writing enough variations for it by hand (ear?) in the Cubase MIDI piano roll so it wasn't machine-repetitive, as a composition.
8. Alpha Wave Male 02:10
The "organ" is Linplug's Alpha softsynth. The middle section combines riffs done with Reaktor Krypt-ized modular synth samples (the plucking and clucking bits) layered over sounds from the Green Algae Atmo kit. Then the organ riff comes back in. The Household Kit samples also make an appearance here, played in Battery.
9. Full Metal Hoodie 01:34
The opening riff is a remnant from sessions with Doepfer's A-112 sampler/wavetable oscillator two LPs back (it briefly appears in the background of "Ambiguous Anthem"). Gradually some sounds from the Green Algae Atmo kit are phased in. Then a riff done with those Krypt-ized modular synth samples described in No. 8 above. Then a Massive riff for some sort of closure.
10. Deadly Hiphop Kick Squad 02:50
"Kick Variations," a 2012 track featuring electronic kick drum sounds processed with the modular synth, yielded some samples -- about six in all -- that I play here in Kontakt in a more orchestrated form, with some added percussion. This version was posted in September 2012 as "Kick Variations (Deadly Hiphop Kick Squad)," but for the LP I mastered it slightly louder and added a field recording of street sounds in the middle section. A neighbor's gate clanging comes in at just the right moments.
Am pleased, and yet, humbled, to announce a new LP on Bandcamp: Disc Formation.
10 songs, mostly previously-unpublished but with a couple of older tunes remixed to bring them in line with what I'm doing now.
These songs are less about modular gear (like many modular users, am still reeling from the shocking unveiling of Billy Corgan's vanity synth) and more about softsynths and arrangements on the PC. Experiments with field recordings begun on the 40 Yards from the Machine release continue. Your support in the form of buying the LP or songs would be very encouraging, but all the material can be streamed.
Notes for the Disc Formation LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page.
1. Every Single Person 01:50
The vocals came from a field recording of a recent walk to the local deli and back. Chopped up you can hear "Every single person who comes in on this crew is off tomorrow," me saying "thanks" and "you can keep the penny" to Mr. Lee, and his "OK" in reply. Most of the synth sounds are a Linplug percussion softsynth called Element P, played with Cubase's in-house midi echo and arpeggiator effects.
2. Squeaky Arpeggio (Granular) 01:54
The granular whine running throughout, with and without reverb, was made with the Qu-Bit Nebulae granular synth/sampler module. As accompaniment I wrote a piano part -- quasi-Modernist variations on a quasi-Caribbean theme. For the LP version, I added notes to the piano part and used it as a score for other synths, which replaced the piano almost entirely.
3. The Other James Taylor 02:54
A "groove" made with some scratch samples, drum hits, and various effects on the Octatrack sequencer. The main effects -- delay and comb filter -- are running on Track 8 as a master track.
4. Pernicious Percussion (Massive) 01:29
See notes re: Pernicious Percussion below. This version runs the Vermona file through a mastering effect called "Post Filter," which is a comb filter adding octave jumps to the pitch, among other changes. This is interrupted twice with a mock-chorus consisting of layered softsynth riffs (NI Massive and Steinberg's Retrologue).
5. Titanthropic 01:37
Written and performed entirely in the Octatrack sampler/sequencer. The bass and lead synths are sampler-altered versions of Reaktor Titan riffs I made and loaded in the Octatrack.
6. Snaps and Claps 01:32
More snippets from the same field recording used in "Every Single Person," as well as live recordings of snap and clap sounds from my hands. Synths are Element P and Massive.
7. Frame Jam 03:14
Most of this was done with a granular synth from the Reaktor user library called Frame. Some Massive riffs were added.
8. Tesseract Ranch 2014 02:20
Considerable reworking of a tune from 2007 done with the Electribe rhythm box and Vermona Perfourmer analog synth. Added were an NI Massive riff (the lofty pad) and Element P (randomly arpeggiated bass notes).
9. Pernicious Percussion 02:18
Written and performed on the Octatrack sequencer, using recordings previously made with the Octatrack's MIDI controls driving the Vermona DRM1 Mkii, a vintage analog drum machine. The Octatrack's arpeggiator is triggering random clap, snare, and cowbell sequences at 150 bpm. There is some actual live knob turning in the distorted toms.
10. Calypsum 2014 02:26
One of the first tunes I did in Cubase, nine years ago, "Calypsum 2," completely tightened up and reworked. Was pleased to discover that the original synths (Free Alpha and Kontakt 1.5) are still playable with a little jiggering from the older version of Cubase I used (SE). Am pretty sure this started as a MIDI drum pattern, playing pitched samples in several instruments (if so, a kind of found, accidental melody).
Am pleased to humbly announce two LPs on Bandcamp: Squeaky Arpeggio and 40 Yards from the Machine.
It's 20 songs, split into two groups (apologies to previous buyers for double emails). "Squeaky" is sort of pleasant song hooks; "40 Yards" is more spiky and digital.
"40 Yards" has more previously-unpublished songs than "Squeaky" but the older tunes on both LPs got tweaked to make the LPs consistent overall.
Notes for the 40 Yards from the Machine LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page.
1. Cave Man Sample Dump 03:07
After owning Elektron's Sidstation for a few years, am finally buckling down to programming patches in it instead of merely tweaking presets. When I first acquired the thing the LED menus just seemed too obscure and daunting. I think a couple of years working with modular hardware has helped me understand what I want to program in the SID, which gives me the incentive to get in there and dig around in all those nested subcommands (on a tiny green screen). Having said all that, this is not sophisticated tunesmithing, owing more to the Troggs than Les Paul. As for the vocal samples, processed with Doepfer's A-112 sampler module for Eurorack, it's kind of a first for me to be doing this Art of Noise thing that was beaten to death in the '80s, e.g., using the "duh" in "dump" as a repeated percussion hit. Suddenly, now, I want to hear this again.
2. Bitter Incumbent 02:44
Reaktor's OKI Computer 2, a chiptune-esque wavetable synth, sequenced with the Monoliner virtual sequencer and overtracked, spins out the opening and closing segments. Sandwiched in between is a bazooka blast of arpeggiation emanating from the Sidstation, using two of its oscillators as the alto and the soprano and kind of shamelessly transposing away. Shameless because it's so easy to do -- but I love those harmonies. The basic note-on patterns are coming from the Octatrack.
3. Have Gear Will Geer 02:30
Used the Expert Sleepers ES-4 module to trigger and LFO-sculpt various modular patches. At the end I had a collection of patterns that were too diverse to beatmatch or melodymatch into a proper song, so I made a "suite." The title has nothing whatsoever to do with Will Geer's amazing performance as an evil Colonel Sanders-cum-Dick Cheney CEO in John Frankenheimer's film Seconds.
4. Lapdance Landscape 03:47
This started out as an industrial throbber done live with the modular synth (making use of various oscillator-type modules and assorted envelopes), but then a wistful tune was added. The latter is the Massive (wavetable) softsynth, starting from a blank preset and building up a chord (0-2-7 -- what is that?) with some modulation and effects. The only canned sounds were some hihats but even those got effects.
5. Your Toy Army 01:34
Pure Sidstation sounds, driven by MIDI notes from the Octatrack. The opening is the preset "Chordmemry," with jiggered LFOs. Other sounds are patches I made from scratch, including the noisy wavetable one that sounds like an ancient computer game -- which one I couldn't say.
6. Texas Sawtooth Massacre 02:33
Sounds from the computer_controlled_rack (the name I gave my modular on the Modular Grid gear fetish website), MIDI-triggered, sampled, and arranged in the Octatrack. The main excitement here is a gritty wavetable sample originating in the WMD Gamma Wave Source module, sampled by the Doepfer A-112 in wavetable mode (with CV-sweeping of the table at my barbaric skill level), played as a MIDI controlled synth (with hi, lo and notch filters), sampled in the Octatrack, then "sliced" and rearranged to make 10 or so patterns. There is also a bass line and the reappearance of the most famous beat in the history of electronic music. This is kind of rough going at the outset but gets better as it progresses IMHO.
Note: after the above was written I remixed this, with a hand-crafted substitute breakbeat (before and after the redo, it's slowed down about 30 bpm for this song) and also EQ'd to removed some high pitched spikes that were drilling through my eardrum.
7. House Dwellers 02:40
All-Octatrack-and-Eurorack rendition of a House-like tune. This is pretty crunchy, what with all the low-bit-depth and low-sample-rate sampling going on. Am happy with the way this came together, using the Octatrack to MIDI-trigger and sample 1- to 4-bar motifs that are layered and arranged. One modular synth riff was borrowed from an earlier track, "Soul Fusion Disassembly."
8. The Enveloping Shape 02:37
Long chains of random percussion sounds were edited down to discrete loops and layered. The idea was to find musicality in noise. The percussion originated with some Reaktor beats individually manicured and played in the computer_controlled_rack's two lo-fi sampler modules, the Doepfer A-112 and the ADDAC wav player. LFOs were used to scramble wav order, sample start time, loop size, sample rate, etc -- all the classic tricks you can do with these units -- and the output went to modular filters and delays that were further LFO'd. Seductive as the output was, it was further wrangled to make blocklike patterns that could be assembled in Cubase into a composition. Am thinking more of music these days as a process like filmmaking, where you do all your shooting and then retire to the editing room to make the film. The title comes from a plugin I used to reduce certain transients from explosive, speaker-rending pops to something more listenable (Steinberg's "envelope shaper").
9. 40 Yards from the Machine 03:09
Spoken word sample ("some forty yards from the machine," randomly read aloud from Charles Fort's book Wild Talents) recorded in the Doepfer A-112 sampler module in "wavetable record" mode with the Expert Sleepers Silent Way LFO (20HZ Sine Wave) modulating the CV at the input stage. Despite the manual's promise of "drastic" effects resulting from this, so far all it seems to do is add a crackle to the recorded wav. Am probably doing it wrong but in wavetable mode it doesn't really matter what the sample "sounds like" because it's just repeating small snippets of the waveforms. On playback, Silent Way LFOs set to various speeds, waveforms, and ranges modulate the wavetable output, yielding mangled vocals and staccato pulses that resolve into pitched buzzes and hums. This raw output is then snipped and rearranged in Cubase to make musical patterns and severely damaged-sounding robotic vocalese.
10. Ambigious Anthem 00:41
NI Massive synth preset "Ambiguous" played over Sidstation beats from a Battery kit I made a while back. Some sampler module texture near the end of the track.
I have two LPs I haven't put up on Bandcamp yet (20 songs total) but in the meantime here are a couple of recent "non-commercial" efforts.
"Squeaky Arpeggio (Granular)" [mp3 removed]
The granular part, running throughout, with and without reverb, was made on the fly with the Qu-Bit Nebulae granular synth/sampler module. As accompaniment I wrote a piano part, quasi-Modernist variations on a quasi-Caribbean theme. [Update, Feb. 22: bumped the gain and reposted.]
"The Other James Taylor" [mp3 removed]
A "groove" made with some scratch samples, drum hits, and various effects on the Octatrack sequencer. The main effects -- delay and comb filter -- are running on Track 8 as a master track.
Update: James Taylor and a much-reworked version of Squeaky are on Bandcamp now.
Notes for the Squeaky Arpeggio LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page.
1. Squeaky Arpeggio (Gate Expander) 02:09
The sequencing is done in the Cubase MIDI piano roll (General MIDI drum setting). From Cubase, Expert Sleepers' ES-4 Gate Expander software sends the note-on and -off signals through my sound card's SP/DIF (2 channel digital audio) to 8 separate control voltage "outs" on the ES-4 Eurorack hardware module. Each socket connects to a separate voice in the modular, in real time. Pretty much everything in the rack that makes sound is drafted into service here. The sequence plays twice, with slight changes to the modular settings the second time. The lead synth line from "Squeaky Arpeggio" (see below) is overdubbed in, with varying amounts of glide.
2. Buzz Monument 01:37
Employs the same Vermona Perfourmer chord patch used in an earlier song, "Carbon Credits"; here I am switching among the Perfourmer's mono-, duo-, and polyphonic modes. (Which basically stack and unstack the chords.) The unpredictability of those modes doesn't always work out so I recorded long-ish runs and edited down to a few parts, snipping out bum notes as I went. This song resembles a waltz even though it's 4/4. For a couple of measures it veers into jazzy Nino Rota-ish territory. I like that "the machine did that."
Am also processing the synth through one of those skeumorphic "guitar rig" cabinets of amps and pedal FX arranged in preset chains. The timbre changes dramatically, but the amp sound isn't monolithic. Fairly light tweaks to the Perfourmer knobs, such as altering the "key track" settings, will also change the timbre of the amp.
3. New Wavs 01:30
I "played" this live at Apex Art in NYC, at the 2012 Disquiet Junto event. It's all done with the Octatrack sampler, editing and timestretching various loops and hits from the hardware modular synth and Reaktor instruments.
4. Tiny Horns 02:22
Have been using the Octatrack to sample other gear: in this case the Korg Electribe rhythm synth is MIDI-slaved to the Octatrack, which records several bars of audio when you hit "play." Then other sounds can be added on top of those beats. As recording fodder, I am using some of the Korg preset patterns, cutting out what I don't like and rewriting some of the beats. Once recorded, it's much easier to string together a song in the OT than it is in the Electribe itself, owing to a more generous display and better programming.
Why use the Electribe at all? For an inexpensive box it has a wealth of interesting, knob-tweakable, analog-modeling DSP sounds.
The LP version of this tune replaces a "70s breakbeat" in the middle section with some percussion hits of mine that follow the same essential groove.
5. King Sprout 01:33
Some more riffs made with the Vermona chord patch from "Carbon Credits"; this starts out robotic and the tunes get sweeter as it progresses.
Am also using Reaktor Krypt rhythms from earlier tunes -- cutting them up and moving them around.
6. Riveter II 02:53
Several new riffs, generated in Krypt by granularizing (granulating?) samples from my self-made Reaktor "sample maps" of modular synth recordings, were then loaded into the Octatrack sampler and combined with various other riffs and percussion hits.
The piece starts out as minimal techno, gets sort of lush and gothic with fake harpsichord and '60s pop string section bits, then closes minimal again.
The original "Riveter" uses those same not-really-strings chords.
7. Squeaky Arpeggio 01:57
Running throughout are beats treated with NI Spektral Delay, some of which sound as if they are playing backwards (they aren't). Wacky percussion hits from the Linplug RMV's tweakable rhythm synth pads were added in the middle. The first melody is the Massive synth, played with Cubase's factory arpeggiator; the second is a modular tune, reprised in "Squeaky Arpeggio (Gate Expander)" above.
8. Tiptop Harmony Variation 02:05
More Octatracking of modular synth recordings. Here a group of loops were recorded to the Octatrack's compact flash storage, for reassembly by the sequencer into a sort of mini-house song, playing different combinations of the loops (sometimes varying start and end times to add more wrinkles).
Have been listening to old Steve Reich compositions where he used tape recorders. I bought the vinyl of "Violin Phase" because all the versions after that used live players. Humans, bah.
9. Wherefore and Who For 02:55
Another of a series of three minute all-Octatrack-and-Eurorack tunes done in Fall 2013. This is less crunchy than "House Dwellers" (coming on a later LP); more analog filtering was used.
The Doepfer A-112 module's sample rate control was engaged to make the sped-up spacy "sweeps" that occur throughout. The LFO'd, filtered cymbals in the middle section use the Octatrack's inboard FX. The main melodies are WMD's Gamma Wave wavetable oscillators, tuned a few semitones apart, independently CV-WT-swept, mixed together, and filtered.
No analog oscillators were used - it's all analog processed digital, re-sampled and arranged in the Octatrack.
10. Fidgety Twister 03:08
Here am playing with the Octatrack's slicing tools as a way of rearranging notes. You can do this in Cubase but it's a pain, cutting and pasting and dragging files around with a mouse. The Octatrack is designed so you can get in and move notes around and change pitches and sample rates with buttons and knobs and it's faster. Probably about the same as an Ableton control surface but I've avoided Ableton as not "classical" enough.
What's time-consuming is the writing. Each bar is tweaked so it's not just a numbing sequencer grind. An added note here, a pause there, a slight delay, a backwards riff...
The raw material came from an earlier track, titled "Rack Dance 3 (Atonal Variations)": I guess I tried to make them more tonal. Also bulked up with added bass lines and familiar jaunty breakbeats.
For the LP version I remade the breakbeats from the well-worn '60s and '70s originals using new drum samples and a combination of my ear and MIDI groove maps. It was kind of like sketching from the old masters, but I added some of what I consider improvements. I made the loops with identical lengths and filenames as the originals and swapped them out in the Octatrack audio folder.