Archive for the ‘music – others’ Category
MIDI Users' Group performs at an electronic music event, Oscillate:Pittsburgh 2017 [YouTube]
Travis Hallenbeck tweeted: "my set in Pittsburgh was described by the organizer as like being stuck in an office"
On the other hand, it was kind of refreshing not seeing an Apple laptop or a rack of modular gear. These not-quite-ancient MIDI devices have their own unique sound and seem to have their own mind. Hallenbeck treats them like a flock of erratic sheep, letting them go where they will and savoring their little bleeps and hums as events in themselves. The caretaker approach to (dis)organized sound.
The website Lateral Addition, edited by Eric Laska, specializes in sound art works. An entry that stuck in my head is "Popular Songs A," a cassette tape by NY artist Christopher Knowles. As writer Lauren DiGiulio explains it,
...in “Popular Songs A,” Knowles introduces a series of short excerpts from Billboard’s Top 20 songs of fourteen different years from 1957 to 1971. The songs are recorded from the Top 20 countdown series on WCBS-FM, an oldies radio station in New York City that offered a programmed countdown of classic hits in the early 1980s. He made this work on fourteen different days throughout the winter and spring of 1984, and each of the recordings is comprised of songs that were popular on the same day of the referenced year. This temporal layering, in which we hear Knowles in 1984 introducing songs from the previous decades, creates a folding effect that draws sonic connections across moments in mid-twentieth century popular music. Here, Knowles takes us on a tour of this formative period in music history, showing us the differences between the smooth soul lyricism of the late ‘50s, the funk-rock beats of the ‘60s, and the psychedelic poetry of the early ‘70s as we hear cropped excerpts of “Pretty Girls Everywhere” by Eugene Church & the Fellows from 1958, “Dance to the Music” by Sly & the Family Stone from 1968, and “Toast and Marmalade for Tea” by Tin Tin from 1971. As listeners, we are invited to tune in to the soundtrack of Knowles’s everyday world, and to shift effortlessly with him across these carefully measured distances.
The song snippets are no more than a few seconds each and punctuated by generous amounts of crackling tape noise. What stays with you, however, are Knowles' amateurish yet incantatory introductions to each group of songs. He is speaking into his cassette recorder in 1984 as if he had an actual audience, which he does, now, 32 years later. Here's an example of one of his spiels, that I transcribed, delivered in an accent that my Southern-born ears can't place to any particular NY borough:
Well now, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for listening to the popular songs of 1965, 19 years ago today. So, Wednesday, March thirty-first, 1965, 19 years ago today. So thank you very much for listening to the popular songs of 1965, 19 years ago today. So Wednesday March thirty-first, 1965, 19 years ago today, so thank you very much for enjoining it [sic]. [Tape noise] So, that was 1965. [Tape pause] Well, now, ladies and gentlemen, now you listen to the popular songs of 1962, 22 years ago today. So, Sunday, April first, 1962, 22 years ago today. So now listen to the popular songs of 1962, 22 years ago today. So, Sunday, April first, 1962, 22 years ago today. So now, you listen up!
These Beckett-like intros, and the time folding effect of listening in 2016 to a crunchy tape made in 1984 of aggressively-spliced musical madeleines from 1957-1971, put the "art" into this sound experiment.
Something I bet you don't have -- a Captain Beefheart signature.
A bunch of us youths mobbed him after a concert; he was signing "Love Over Gold" on whatever scraps of paper we had handy.
This authentic Don Van Vliet signature is on the back of a receipt for a car battery from a store called Memco.
Last night at Eyebeam, resident Brendan Byrne gave a talk on his project Destiny Clock (formerly, Theseus), a music interface/installation/environment that sends MIDI notes to Ableton and triggers sounds. Essentially this is a modular, patchable computer, with components (sequencer, multiplexer, clock divider, logic gates) that the user connects in various ways by means of patch cables of ordinary thin wire. The design is extremely elegant but the output is bottlenecked by being limited to a stream of on-off notes. Patching changes the sequence, speed and volume, but the device is not sending MIDI CC commands to affect timbre, envelopes, effects, or other typical aspects of electronic music. Also, because the computer components are unlabeled, you aren't really learning much about computation.
Byrne might be cut slack for these limitations except that, in his slide talk, he posed the interface as a challenge, or alternative, to Eurorack-style modular synthesis. He showed examples of "Eurocrack" addicts whose homes have been taken over by their gear purchases, by way of contrast to his modest circuitboard (about 8 x 12 inches). This was kind of unfair -- there might be some middle ground between those lost souls and what he's doing.
Jerry Goldsmith, Mince and Cook Until Tender (In Like Flint)
Danger Diabolik dialogue
4Hero, May the Wicked Perish in the Fire of Hell
Melen Monk, Phen
London Elektricity, Harlesden
Softcore, Love 2 B Right
Supersister, Confrontation of the Armies
Atomic Rooster, And So to Bed
Danger Diabolik dialogue
John Andrew Medeiros, Hansel and Gretel Dance
Unicorn Hard-on, Mysterious Prism
Clown Staples, Windows Noises
Saucermen, United Worlds (Touchdown)
Bruno Coulais, Dreaming (Coraline)
Ennio Morricone, Charading Chaffeurs in Wait (Danger Diabolik)
4Hero, Mad Dogs (Feeding Propaganda)
Emerson, Lake and Powell, Step Aside
Mark Mothersbaugh, Xp28
Danger Diabolik dialogue
This is kind of like Soundcloud, in a universe without share buttons, stats, autoplaying next tracks, wav file graphics, fact-packed sidebars, and comments pasted on top of the stream.
Thanks again, ffog.
Have been looking for kindred musical spirits and thought I would check out active audiocassette-releasers. Cassettes played a large role in the ambient/noise scene of the '80s/'90s, which I wasn't participating in as a producer but was certainly aware of via publications such as OP and OPtion. It's amusing to see how cassette "merch" mingles with digital tracks on Bandcamp -- a hint of the "real" in the vapor of streaming audio but also the continuation of a subcultural tradition. My personal taste lies with music that combines piquant, lapidary noise/synthesized timbres with beats, musical structure, and conventional song development, so that's what I'm looking for. Below are tracks (hat tips dpnem and sstage) that have those elements. Most are "electronic" but Washington DC's Talking Points is straight-up jazz, melding a '60s/McCoy Tyner sound with hints of Univers Zero. Lortica's is the most amorphous entry.
demonstration synthesis - simple syrup
nonhealer - the paradox unseen
talking points - garv
lortica - trou de trou
demonstration synthesis - lake sunrise
politesse - natasha
Have been working on some collaborations with Jules Laplace. His original song, "Clouds 21," is below. Taking the mixes in reverse order:
"Fog Computing" [4.2 MB .mp3]
A MIDI file of Laplace's "clouds21" was played in Winamp and a few "general MIDI piano" notes were sampled. "Fog Computing" is made with those samples using the Doepfer A-112 8-bit sampler module and the Octatrack for sequencing. Some of the patterns were re-arranged and remixed in Cubase and imported back into the Octatrack.
It's uber-noisy and dirty. Both the wavetable and sampler functions of the A-112 were used. The really dense static-y sound is the sampler playing the notes very slowly.
Thing I learned: how to reduce an LFO signal to swing between 1 and -1 volts to modulate the wavetable: this adds Hammond-like grit to the sound.
Tom Moody and Jules and Laplace, "Clouds Remix" [4.1 MB .mp3]
Some of the gritty patterns also used in "Fog," but playing in conjunction with the march-like MIDI piano version of Laplace's tune below. This isn't the same Winamp piano as above -- it's a sampled concert grand, but "played" with very little nuance.
Jules Laplace, "clouds21" [6.2 MB .mp3]
I maximized the volume to CD level. A diaphanous, faintly Kirk Degiorgio-esque synth confection, very nice, that can in no way be blamed for what came later.
"Trippmatic Variation 3" [4.2 MB .mp3]
More rearranged drum-and-bass, almost becoming...dubstep. The "profit" pad is from the Synth Mania website, also rearranged.
"Oort Lover" [4.4 MB .mp3]
This short atmospheric techno stomper includes a looping guitar-and-Moog sequence by John and Brad Moody (my nephew and brother, respectively).
They just sent it to me today and it meshed/contrasted nicely with the drum patterns I was working on.
More from my collaboration last year with Travis Hallenbeck: he came to my studio and we played a "live MIDI" set.
"H.M.M.J. 3" [8.3 MB .mp3]
Kind of tribal-sounding, with kinetic and varied percussion from Travis' gear. The reverb makes us sound like a Varese ensemble playing in an abandoned factory somewhere, if that's not too boastful.
"H.M.M.J. 2" [20.6 MB .mp3]
Nine minutes long, more tunes to work with here and the musical ideas run the gamut. ("The Charles Iveses of repurposed '80s synths" - Post-Hipster magazine)
The process, as explained last May:
A desktop computer plays MIDI files that we prepared in advance. One channel goes out to my gear: the Sidstation synth and Mutator analog filter. All the rest of the channels go to Travis's setup, which includes a midi mixer and Roland MT-32 sound module (see YouTube demo and this diagram).
So it is a live performance in the sense that the computer is dispensing a stream of MIDI on-off notes and we are changing settings on our gear in real time.
I was recording the performance, and did some minor post-production mixing, mostly for EQ and levels.