"Half Clocked" [5 MB .mp3]
More modular synth sounds, assembled into a tune in Linux Ardour 5.3.
For this one I tried to build a techno-style track from the ground up. Kick, snare, and hihat sounds are individually concocted using white noise, FM, sine/square waves, envelopes, a mixer module, and a compressor (the last of which makes the beats audibly more dynamic).
The melodies are chords emanating from individual modules (analog and sampler).
The "clocked" refers to Tiptop Audio's Clocked Delays cartridge for their ZDSP module. The white noise snares get a fair bit of that treatment here. Also used was a sample-and-hold module to change the filter settings on the main tune that runs throughout.
The only "cheats" are kicks and static-y sounds borrowed from the tune "Eight Gates," crafted with the Octatrack.
Believe it or not web browsers didn't always zoom images. You could enlarge text but the photo or animation remained whatever size it was. When browsers started zooming picture content, initially the Windows and Netscape style browser used "nearest neighbor" resizing, so the creator of an HTML page could make pixel art by taking a 10 x 30 pixel gif and resizing it in HTML to "100%." (Or 300 x 900, or what have you.)
The Safari-style browser treated all images like photos that needed to be smoothed by anti-aliasing out the pixels. This sucked for your pixel art, but eventually all the browsers imitated Apple so it became a moot point.
Sometime in the mid to late '00s Charles Westerman made a page that worked well as pixel art but ran afoul of the Apple "smooth" model. In 2009 this still seemed worth griping about. The page is down in its original location so I am reposting it here. (Kind of like net art reconstruction as practiced by "art and technology" websites.)
Using an online image editing site that still uses nearest neighbor, I made an animated GIF [3.2 MB .gif] at 1000 pixels that approximates what Westerman's page looked like on Internet Explorer and Firefox before they switched over to Steve Jobs smooth jazz.
hat tip reneabythe
Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone, which favors returning the Clintons to power. Normally Taibbi speaks his mind in spite of this bias but his bosses must have been delighted with a recent column trashing Trump.
In a campaign speech in New Hampshire, Trump itemized some of the dubious Clinton Foundation activity that upsets people on both sides of the political aisle but has been under-reported until recently:
--Ridiculously huge speaking fees paid to Bill Clinton by companies that had business before Hillary's State Department;
--Clinton Foundation moves to give foundation donors suspicious reconstruction contracts in Haiti and a seat on an intelligence advisory board;
--Clinton Foundation machinations on behalf of a Russian uranium company;
and other examples of shady ethics that have been well documented by the center-left. Taibbi mentions these points but rewrites them so they fit a comical narrative about how Trump is a bad speaker when he reads from prepared remarks. Taibbi blows right past the substance and makes this a "process" story, which is one of the main flaws of conventional, DC-based election coverage.
"Gamma Surfer" [8.4 MB .mp3]
"SIDGuts Sequence" [5.8 MB .mp3]
Back to music-making on Linux. These tunes were produced using the digital audio workstation Ardour. Its midi-looping bug still hasn't been fixed -- I complained and was told I was being redundant, that's what the bug tracker is for and this is already a known issue. Yeah but it's been a known issue for over six months, how are you supposed to know what users think is a priority to fix if we don't speak up and ... oh, never mind.
One thing about Linux is the developers aren't part of a corporate empire that employs help desk personnel to pretend to care about customer concerns, so the developers handle their own forum traffic and are mucho crabby from dealing directly with humanity at its neediest.
Anyway, because they won't or can't fix the known bug, I decided as a workaround to use the sequencer on my modular synth to write the melodies, and use Ardour's MIDI clock to keep everything in sync so the synth notes could be recorded and edited in the workstation as audio. This worked well, and Ardour's latency compensation eliminated the slight lag in recording time. But then Ardour was crashing like mad during the editing process. I don't even dare mention this on the forum -- the developer would just heave a sigh and refer me to the "how to report crashes" page. Am hoping that the upgrade to 5.3 (done after these tunes) will fix some of that.
So the sounds here are mostly recordings of modular synth patches, with some added percussion from softsynths and snippets from Ableton where I transgressed on my all-Linux-and-modular premise.
Update: Just finished another tune using Ardour 5.3 and it was extremely stable. Whatever was causing crashes in the previous version has apparently been remedied.
Hillary Clinton gave a speech this week in which American exceptionalism was a major theme. She obviously chose that theme partly because it would appeal to her specific audience (an American Legion convention) and partly because it would enable her to criticize Donald Trump, who has said he doesn’t like the term “American exceptionalism” because people in other countries don’t like to hear it and feel insulted by it. Trump is right about that, although in many other respects he shows he doesn’t have qualms about insulting people in other countries, including the country he briefly visited on Wednesday and has described as a nation of rapists and drug dealers.
America is indeed exceptional in some obvious respects, and there is nothing wrong with Americans reminding themselves of that, as long as they do not stick the concept in the face of non-Americans. It is some of the corollaries that tend to flow in an unthinking fashion from the concept of American exceptionalism that have caused problems. Several such tendencies in American exceptionalist thinking have contributed to bad policy.
One particular common corollary of the notion of exceptionalism that Clinton emphasized in her speech was that of indispensability. “We are the indispensable nation,” she said. “So no matter how hard it gets, no matter how great the challenge, America must lead.” As with exceptionalism itself, it certainly is true that the United States is, or at least has been, indispensable in some respects. An example would be the role of the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency and of U.S. government debt as an instrument in international finance. The problems come from the tendency—which is implicit in much of the wording of Clinton’s speech—to consider the United States and U.S. leadership as indispensable in addressing all significant problems abroad. But not all problems abroad are U.S. problems, not all such problems are solvable, what solutions there are do not all come from the United States, and in some problems U.S. involvement or leadership is instead counterproductive.
A related and common tendency is to invoke the physical metaphor of a vacuum. “When America fails to lead,” said Clinton, “we leave a vacuum that either causes chaos or other countries or networks rush in to fill the void.” The vacuum metaphor has several problems when applied to foreign policy. It understates or overlooks altogether whatever was present before any outsiders rushed in. It incorrectly assumes a zero-sum or mutual exclusion relationship between the supposedly indispensable superpower and any other players who may be involved.
Once again, the reviled Trump is the person making sensible statements while the Secretary of Vacuum-Filling spouts dangerous nonsense.
Recommended reading: a long-ish Mondoweiss interview with Major Tom Pierce, a retired career military man who was one of the JAG Corps officers defending Guantanamo prisoners. Some pretty good thoughts on the US foreign policy nuthouse.
The anecdote below captures some of the loony quality over here right after 9/11. I remember arguments with otherwise reasonable people who thought we needed to "do something" (i.e. bomb the shit out of some hapless country). My response was, yes, "we" need to find the people responsible -- whoever is still alive -- and put them on trial, and not a kangaroo court either. Instead "we" invaded two countries and years later, shot one of the loudmouths who claimed responsibility. Oh, yeah, exceptionalism R US.
Where were you on 9/11?
I was on active duty as a JAG officer. I went into work that morning. And our staff was small, me and a lieutenant colonel, and he routinely would come in late. And that day he didn’t come in till 2 or 3 o’clock, which I won’t say anything more about. It was all happening when I got to work, and the second plane hit and we knew it was terrorism, and so we began wrapping up immediately our command, because we were responsible for all the Reserve units in six states. Also we knew people were being mobilized almost immediately. I was in on all the discussions because the more senior guy hadn’t shown up yet. And you could just see the hysteria taking hold of a lot of people.
Then at the end of the day, late in the day, because we worked late, finally my senior officer arrives, so I can go home, and I picked up my son [from school in Minneapolis] so we could go home, and see my stepson who was back from the Marines on leave. He’d been in a year and a half, and I was anxious to see him. And there was a huge traffic jam. And finally we got north, and we came to an overpass, and there was a guy on the overpass with a kid waving a flag. He backed the traffic up five miles because everyone honked a horn and slowed down a bit. It was something like after Pearl Harbor. But I was ticked off. I wanted to get home and see my stepson.
The next night– the same thing. The guy was out there again with a flag. The third night, I pulled over. I had my uniform on, and I said, Hey you’re backing up traffic for ten miles. You’ve done this now for a couple days, we get it. He said, “I just want to show my support.” I said, I’m in the military, I want to get home, you’re doing a disservice to me.
The guy was out there again the next night. I called the highway patrol. I said, Look, I understand free expression, but backing up traffic? Can you at least suggest that he stop? But they said Oh no, we can’t.
Fortunately, he wasn’t out there after the weekend.
Why wasn’t it freedom of expression?
It was hysteria. Immediately– out came this outpouring. He was patriotic, but again to me, sitting out there—he was backing traffic up for miles. I never criticized anyone’s patriotism, though we could get on to a different topic, of how it’s become hyper militarism.
Where else did you see the hysteria?
Just watching my fellow officers. They were changing before our very eyes. We have to go to war, we have to start killing people. Then it all started. Picking people up with no Geneva conventions.
Man with Van spotted in midtown today -- here is phone camera evidence. An in-joke for Jack Womack fans!
"AK Breaks" [12.6 MB .mp3]
Weeks in the making -- while I did other stuff -- but it does take longer to do five minute tracks. The "AK" refers to the Adventure Kid single cycle waves, played in Reaktor with "cheap spring reverb" effects. The "breaks" refers to some drum breaks I downloaded from Ableton, which perk things up, for me at least. Also featuring some sounds made with Linux Ardour, driving my modular synth, and on a separate track, playing those E-Mu Orbit soundfonts featured a while back.
The final mix was done in Ableton, with generous amounts of space-echo style tape delay (from NI's Guitar Rig effects rack) vibrating throughout.
Arrangement-wise, it takes time getting where it's going, but am happy with the way the motifs pile up at the end.
Update: Trimmed slightly, re-uploaded.
screen shot by photos