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.