improvisatory doodle with the binaural piano - brings back memories. If I try to extend this, I'll need to clean up these runs to make the timing work better.
Repetition legitimizes. Repetition legitimizes. Or so I hope. Inserted a variation of the intro transposed down to male voices and with some chord inversions and went ahead and appended the new section with some overlap. Not enough of a variation, but maybe something along these lines can work. (though now it sounds even less coherent). Some of the dynamics are still a bit unnatural…
I think my tools are getting in the way - for this style of music, I "hear" stuff in my brain, but the piano roll view in the DAW doesnt lend itself to capturing it. Dare I say that I may need to get better and using a score editor? Should that be a goal for the new year?
despite better judgement, added another improvised section. i like it, but not sure it really fits - maybe this is the seed for yet another piece.
Documented, packaged and sent Iasos the v 1.1.0 firmware and manager app.
more choral fiddling. Changed the last bit (again).
Dx7 reverse engineering for the translator. Implemented key scaling curves translation to Synergy B-filters.
Re-doodle the doodle. Change the second half. Really need to spend some time thinking through how I really want this to work…
Read up on how others are coping with Spitfire's orchestral samples. They are very quiet compared to everything else I use. Apparently it's just a known thing due to their sampling philosophy. So nothing fundamentally wrong with cranking the gain to get things to a more normalized loudness.
Doodling a bit with choir samples. I like the start; don't like the cadence - went a little off the rails (or perhaps more accurately, fell into a cliche).
Revisiting Iasos's harp - updating the windows app to support the new timing params in the new firmware. Now need to think about how to have him update his firmware.
For this track, mostly just fooling around with the mix and some eq - added a couple pendulate patches at end that don't quite fit, but might work with some rearrangement.
several aborted attempts drums (too clumsy). This isn't too bad. but not sure where to take it (shocking, I know…).
a bit of an urge to do something more rhythmic. try 3 tracks with complementary patterns and alter modulation independently in each track.
Try to create a less cluttered sequence piece. This time using the same Zebrelette plugin preset, but varying the osc modulation on each track
(Finally) released new collection at https://chinenual.bandcamp.com/album/shift-reduce. Dithered for weeks trying to decide whether to release these all together or try to make separate more coherent albums (one more sequence/loopy, one more dark and ambient, perhaps even another with the more experimental tracks). Decided to just lump them together and call it a day.
Still don't have a real plan for what to do with some of the better "acoustic" / "orchestral" stuff I've come up with…
Added a bit more to the orchestral arpeggiation. Falling out of love with this. May set it aside rather than try to develop it any further.
Updated my album art on bandcamp to include artist and album title text.
Not sure what musicians call it, but I refactored the logic project to rationalize the naming and grouping of the repeating phrases - makes it a little easier to keep tabs on which track is playing which pattern. Changed the arrangement after the second key change.
Some improvement on the legato articulation. add some more, mixing up the sequences between cello and trombone - not sure its enough of a change to really notice tho…
started a new project using yesterday's sequences. Started by trying to put a pad under but the arpeggios are just sounding too harsh. On a whim, tried swapping in orchestral instruments and it doesn't sound half bad… The articulation of the legato violins is eluding me…
back to basics. a 6 over 8 polyrhythmic sequence - might be able to make something of this…
No new music production today. Revisited the track listing for an upcoming bandcamp release. Still coming up with nothing for some tracks (I really like the tracks, but can't "describe" them…) - here's what I have so far…
* Open Loop - ?? <sequence heavy>
* Swamp Thing - This started as a polyrhythmic sequence exercise and took a left turn into the jungle.
* Chaos Theory - Polyrhythms gone amok. Twelve overlapping sequences in 6, 9, 16, 18, 24, and 28.
* Luminescence - An exercise in pure additive synthesis that turned into something almost orchestral.
* Depth of Field - ?? <pianobook samples, mens choir, and reversed electric piano>
* Free Fall - Floating back to the seventies…
* Primordial - ??
* Diffusion - ??
* Ejecta - ??
* Laminar - An exercise in the use of shimmer reverb.
* Zoom In - 5 seconds from the opening of a Scarlatti keyboard sonata stretched 50x.
* Resonance - Steve Reich meets Philip Glass meets Vangelis.
Also frustrating that the latest orchestral piece doesn't "fit" - I think it's probably the best thing I did all year, but it really doesnt fit with the other tracks…
switch to 6/8 - could be that the attempt to 7/8 sequences was more of a problem that the note selections themselves
Have a vague idea for a piece that will require a variety of interleaving repeating sequences, so try to create some basic building blocks. I really like this first set of guitar samples, but not so much most of the resulting sequences
revisit the symphonic doodle from several weeks ago. Axed the most recently added section and added this. not sure it's an improvement… This improvisational approach works well when it works, but it has its limitations. May need to get more mechanical/theoretical to finish this one off.
I still really like the first section (up to about 1:40). Second section (to about 2:30) is OK. I'll sleep on this last part. It seems to be getting better as I relisten to it, so maybe some of it is salvageable.
does it help to extend the transition (two measures per change)? a bit…
try transitioning the 5/8 arpeggio to another track, note by note. However, this really didn't work very well :(
First attempt at putting sounds to an existing video. Video from wedistll.io by Loris Lamuniere. The music isnt polished and the ending is abrupt, but it gave me a chance to try some new things in Logic. not sure how how often I'll be able to do this - most of the free video i can find on the net is very short - this was one of the few examples as long as 30s.
work on the tangerine dreamy thing some more. double up (actually triple up) the Synergy drone track and put some automation on a bandpass eq moving up and down as the track progresses. Adds a chord change to D. Where else can I take this?
watched Christain Henson's latest video: give yourself constraints. something I've found very productive in the past. Will definitely double down on that going forward.
Christian released the Winter Voices choir samples today (I'm in there somewhere…). Sound pretty nice! This also uses his the "Family Grand" samples he released yesterday - his family baby grand he sampled with a binaural mic - even nicer. A little out of tune just like my home piano and the binaural sound is scary - with headphones, it sounds like i'm sitting at the keyboard.
Some experiments with sidechain input to Sculpture instruments. Mostly intended as a cheater way to implement Iasos's approach of using a vocoder to modulate envelopes and filters on his other synths. I don't like how the original audio bleeds through on these patches. But will continue to experiment.
woot! even though you can't change the size of the pattern region once you start editing it, you can split it – so I can take an 80 beat 16 beat pattern and lop off 10 beats to allow me to follow cord changes at 5/8 boundaries. I'm sure i'll find other annoying limitations, but for now, this looks usable. Will continue this going forward. Couldn't help but add some virtual Synergy (the internal patch I mentioned a few days ago with a "spread" effect)
spent most of the day working on dx7 vs. synergy algorithm analysis. Found some time to work on the sequence. Reimplemented the 16 bar bass sequence in the new step sequencer and as long as I keep things aligned at 80 beats, it can work. But even this early in the game I'm tempted to shorten one section by one measure and I can't do that with this technique. The lead in bass variations are more to prove that i can do it - not 100% happy with how they turned out.
experiment with the new Step Sequencer in the new Logic. Frustrating! Adapted the 5-note sequence from Alchemy and like the basic functionality BUT. Within the pattern region I can adjust each row to be a 5 16th note pattern. But I cant figure out how to tell the sequencer this is a 5-note (or 10 note) sequence. It insists on multiples of 4 (in this case 12 16th notes). When I put this sequence back-to-back, you hear 9 repetitions of the 5-note sequence then a glitch where it starts over after only 3 notes. A workaround sees to be to ensure that i resize the pattern region before making any edits. Then change step length and adjust each row to a multiple of the measure length. Yuck. First sequence (in E) is before the workaround (if you listen carefully at about the 5s mark, you can hear the discontinuity when the sequence restarts mid-pattern) - the second sequence in F# is the workaround.
This is now the 3rd (4th?) re-implementation of the original embedded sequence. This new UI is really nice and I'd prefer it if it wasn't for this stupid length behavior. Need to think on which approach to take forward…
more software support for AR. Throw some more sequences in and see what sticks
helped Don with the DX7 translator. (adapted his notes to working Go code so he can see how it works and can start making his own edits).
Added a "no flow control" option to Synergize in hopes of helping a user having trouble with his USB cable.
Have been admiring a Synergy demo on youtube for months thinking it was some really clever custom patch only to learn it is in fact one of the factory patches with one of the knobs turned extreme left. I'm going to have to find a way to use this in a track Real Soon…
another day of software stuff. Worked with Finland to capture more hardware samples from my Synergy for his analysis/comparison with his virtual machine. More back and forth with new user in the UK having serial port problems. Built a clean vm to confirm my go project is "good" and then walked collaborator in AR to get his machine happy.
Not a whole lot of time for music, but some. Ensuring the patches I've been playing with sequences can also be used musically with the sequencer turned off. While i think i've managed to do it, this actual sequence isnt good. Throw away.
more deconstruction - this time with the bass sequence
spent an hour and a half on the phone with Apple and they managed to get the app store to upgrade my Logic via numerous reboots, cache flushes, login/out of the app store. (props to Apple support even if their software is getting worse and worse)
… only to discover that the new synergia virtual instrument fails validation with the new AU validator. So reported that to Finland…
meanwhile spent the morning helping a new Synergy owner to diagnose his serial port config – we still haven't fixed it, but he found me on bandcamp and said nice things about my music :)
and discovered an edge-case bug in Synergize due to some discussion between a user and Hal Alles(! Bell Labs guru who designed the Alles Machine and affectionately known as "the father of the Synergy"). Fixed it and will work on getting an emergency release out today.
Found some time to work in the sequence deconstruction. Moved the internal sequencer modulator into the Arp layer so I can create numbered patterns that I can switch to through automation… Definitely has that Berlin school vibe…
Implemented a DX7 sysex parser for a collaboration with a fellow Synergy guy who wants to try to auto-convert some DX7 patches to Synergy. will be awfully cool if we can pull it off even if only partially converting all parameters…
wanted to try to deconstruct the sequence from a month ago so I could morph the sequence during the track. Decided this would be a good use case for the new step sequencer in newer version of Logic. So I tried to update Logic Pro only to find it refuses to update unless running Catalina. The previous version (10.6) was available for Mojave, but they updated to 10.6.1 5 days ago and the current one refuses to install on Mojave and does not offer a "more recent" version compatible with my OS. So playing some games in Parallels to see if I can get older version via a "clean install". Doesn't work! Posted to the forum and sent in a support request to Apple…
I decided to just keep trying. After about 10 attempts to install on the new Mojave vm (each failed saying Catalina required), I got the "would you like to download an older version" prompt.
But of course that failed. (dialog says "could not install: cancelled"). So I tried again (and again (and again)). On the 5th attempt to download the older version, it started a download! Unfortunately, it just installed the version i'm trying to upgrade. The newer versions listed as available only 5 days ago are not offered!?
Why do we put up with this sort of thing? :(
transcribing a 7/8 pattern i was humming in the shower. Blech. Sounded better in my head…
Pondering adding some small tempo changes to Introspection. This speeds up a teeny bit in the middle section and then slows back down to original tempo in the last dozen or so measures. I like this. Should I try something more exaggerated? I don't think so - i don't want this to be very noticeable, but I think it helps give the central section some extra movement. Ugh - bounced a "normalized" export which is much louder and it reveals more phrasing problems I didnt notice when quieter. Rephrased and re-bounced with an an additional 5db gain. Guess it wasn't done! I dont know that anyone else will notice any of these changes, but I just can't leave it alone until the really obvious stuff is fixed…
Four DX7 patches sharing the same MIDI 7/8 sequence, with some LFOs altering the mix and in one case opening/closing a filter and slightly different amounts and types of delay on each track.
experimented with pitch shifting the choir samples to get some extended bass for doing mens ensembles – sounds reasonably good up to about 5 semitones (which gets me down to a low Bf2 which should work for all but the most extreme 'basso profundo' (F1!?) Don't use it in the current piece, but nice to know I can if i need to.
thought i was done, but on relisten the intro dynamics was quite poor. One minor phrasing tweak in the bass intro, but mostly completely revamped expression and dynamics over the top of the tracks with my nifty touchosc x-y controller. Sounds better. Not sure "done", but definitely better
major touch up of the intro (dropped 5 measures, reworked the bass/violin harmonization). Removed the pulse from the bass line at the end. Fixed the pan on the bass (and had to ease off its volume to compensate). Had to tweak Kontakt MIDI setup to keep two track modulations from interfering with one another. Are we done? (something is still bugging me with the initial bass/violin section…) Needs a name… Introspection
explore some of the non-orchestral parts of the tundra instrument. thought I'd try to limit this to 60s blurb but the droney style doesn't really fit into a minute… There's definitely some useful stuff here - will need to finish up the orchestral piece and get on to something new…
got a call from Iasos - he received the arduino, plugged it in and… it works! He is very excited (I am very relieved :))
coming to realize the way i've set up these Kontakt patches isn't "right". (should have taken the time to create a multi-instrument on a single MIDI channel and allow keyswitching to route to the necessary instance). But given how much I've broken things (and tried to reapply phrasing/articulation) over past few days, I'll probably leave as is and just remember to do it "right" on the next piece…?
Fix the dynamics of the sustained violin at the beginning. Extend the melodic intro - i think this is directionally good, but need to tweak the melody a bit - i like the hint of repetition, but this reuses too much of the first phrase. (will also need to tweak dynamics to make for smooth legato melodies) Adds some brass and choir at end, fixes the quarter note bass pulses.
extend the intro (tho probably needs a bit more variation). revisit the mix again (and even so the violin phrasing got some weird glitch in the intro). hopefully no more accidental articulation changes…
spent some time trying to create short song description blurbs for a bandcamp release and got depressed that they aren't very coherent. might need to separate things into separate collections (and wait a while longer before i have enough to "release" something). should i try to explicitly focus on a certain style to build up more output for such a collection? (not inclined to at the moment since I'm having fun working on this moody orchestral thing which isn't like anything I'd probably post to bandcamp…)
extend the choral mmms at the end and add some string pulses under it. the mix at the beginning seems to keep changing each time I revisit this - probably due to the articulation setting futzing.
uninspired today. but need to try to add some more to the doodle. This doesn't work as well as some of the other stuff I've tried
add a bit of brass over the last choral "ahh". Switch from "individual instrument" patches to UACC controlled multi instruments. Hopefully I don't break anything in the process… (one articulation has changed due to bug in the articulation set).
more prerelease testing and coordination with Finland. Loaded an open source articulation set for BBCSO - works! Ran into problems creating my own for the Choir library - have a support query for guidance…
Tweak choir articulation in the tundra doodle. Add a few more bars… Am getting reluctant to extend this too much before I solve the articulation configuration.
Another day of pre-release testing and bug fixing. Had very little "music time" but did add a few bars of brass. This instrument set is pretty inspirational…
add some choir to the tundra doodle. These samples are really quiet. Even when expression and dymanics are maxed, it's pretty dang quiet. Also, none of these new libraries are going to be very usable until I spend some time creating Logic articulation maps - frustrating that Spitfire doesn't provide them.
on a lark, recorded 3 poor vocal tracks (intended to be a bit sloppy, but more out of tune than I intended) and then messed around in Logic to find some sort of interesting effect. Tried distortion of various types, filters, delays, chorus, flanging, etc. Ended up with a Leslie cabinet, big reverb and some eq). Submitted it to the #PianobookWinterVoices project.
spent much of the day trying to fix my backup server and ended up having to buy new drives and rebuild the RAID.
had a little time to kick the tires of the new tundra sample library. Very quiet orchestral samples - I think i'm going to like it…
Trying to make room on laptop, so moved itunes library, bounce folders and large sample libraries to one of my linux servers. Tried to load via NFS, but Kontakt can't load off a case sensitive file system(!?). So tried via Samba - VERY SLOW (3-5min load time for a 4G sample set). Then it crashed Logic with a stack trace showing I/O via SMB. Screw it. Repartioning my backup drive to make room for putting samples on a local drive.
Meanwhile, revisit some older tracks in prep for a new bandcamp release. Changed some sirens in Primordial to a scraped cymbal noise.
very slight change to reduce clutter (mute one of the tracks during the chariots of fire fanfare) for a few measures after the triplets. Done enough now.
Tried to come up with clever names based on the Steve Reich-like marimbas, the Philip Glass-like triplet arpeggios and the Vangelis chariots of fire oberheim, but came up with nothing. Named it: Resonance. Cleaned up some unwanted delay automation that snuck in during some copy/pastes. Removed some delay which seemed to be what Laurie was objecting to yesterday. Tweaked some velocities. added some teensy randomization to the mallet note positions to try to keep it from sounding too robotic. I'm growing weary of this and want to call it done, but I think i'm going to need to review the backing tracks after the triplets - its quite muddy and cluttered.
add some atmospheric pads as an intro, extend the sparse marimba startup - add some triplets into the outro… Needs a name… Laurie hears something odd during the first set of quarter note triplets. Need to review.
beta testing the integration of the next version of Synergia/Synergize. Decided to try revisiting my transcription of my old Synergy piece ("Atmos"). Sounds pretty good without any tweaking. Will need to work on the bass and tweak timbre/amplitude sensitivity and portamento - it's not sounding quite like the original yet. This is now the 5th attempt at the piece: 1) original Synergy recording on 4-track tape; 2) attempt earlier this year to replicate it by ear in Logic using Logic instruments, 3) attempt to drive my Synergy as 4 separate external MIDI sessions (tedious!), 4) attempt to sample my Synergy, 5) finally this using the Synergia virtual instrument. Discovered some new aliasing noise in some voices; working with Jari to fix. And every time I listen to this i cringe at the timing of some of the keyboard/mallet phrases. Really need to go back and fix that…
Spent the day putting the finishing touches on the golden harp windows app. Packaged up the hardware and will get the first adapter on its way to Iasos this morning…
Inserted a few bars at the end… not sure i like it.
created a short marimba based intro by deconstructing and alternating the marimba patterns across three marimbas.
assembled the other two harp controllers and all works as expected. Drilled holes in the first enclosure - the large holes for the MIDI connections are not quite as neat as I envisioned. Will think on how to clean it up…
more marimbas. tweaked the dynamics on the main marimba sequences and added a triplet counterpoint at the end. I like it as an ending - to extend this, I'm going to need to add at the beginning - or splice something into the middle? mmmm…
created a second circuit board from first principles and… it works! Desoldered the arduino from the first board and tested with the prototype breadboard and… It's Dead Jim. Happy it wasnt due to bad soldering or poor board design, but bummed I have a dead cpu.
stumbled on this patch in alchemy - surely i need to make some tangerine dreamy something out of it… However the sequences are embedded in per-voice modulation and I dont know how to control that via automation (want to be able to evolve the sequence over time - can do that with the main sequencer, but dont see a way to do it with the per-voice modulation…) May need to deconstruct the patch into independent tracks
bought another nano, connected it up to the prototype KEY/MIDI connectors and confirmed that it runs properly. That confirms that the problem is in the stripboard and/or soldered connectors/connections.
no connectivity between 5V and GND in the prototype; about 1.6kOhm between them on the board. https://forum.arduino.cc/index.php?topic=549573.0 suggests this is normal, but it's different and the only thing I see "wrong" about the circuit. Have checked/double/triple checked connectivity between pins, wires, DIN connectors. Checked/double/triple checked that all drilled out parts of the board are in fact disconnecting each side of the hole. May have to wire up a new board and just abandon this one.
play a bit more with the marimbas. more simple patterns in other tracks. This isnt going where I expected, but still like it…
added a triplet sequence - sounds more like what I was originally envisioning. Also introduce a phase shift after the 3rd measure (a 15 over 16 polyrhythm); back in sync when chords change; back out of phase when in Am. I'm liking it!
planned to do a little simple arpeggio with some sequences or some such underneath, but got distracted with a bit of tape delay. I liked where this was headed, but then I added some Pendulate based bass - not sure that really works…
cut the remaining traces, soldered in the arduino, uploaded the firmware and… nothing! time to debug…
play around with new instrument - Pendulate - a bit west-coasty synthesis. Nice glitchy presets, but many are wired to be modulated by control signals my controller doesn't support. Might be tempting to find an MPE enabled controller to play around with this…
final touches on new Synergize release - fixes some bugs, improves the editor workflow and most importantly, changes the mechanism to find the virtual instrument in a much more reliable way.
about 80% done with initial stripboard based harp adapter. Havent soldered in the arduino yet and have some traces that need to be cut before I can power it up and see if it works… This was definitely one of those measure 4 times before you cut sort of things. Had some wires misplaced even after the third "review". Fits into the case, but I don't have the courage to drill/cut holes in the case yet…
vague idea to do something rhythmic - fooling with a velocity controlled filter cutoff some delay and some simple phrase variation - sounds more complicated than it is.
an attempt to reproduce a sequence and modular patch christian henson used to demonstrate "systems music" at https://youtu.be/KH6g_IXrKSQ?t=146 Not 100% accurate, but I like it… the 32 over 31 polyrhythm may be a bit too subtle though.
Decided I really like the stretched Scarlatti but uncomfortable with distributing it more widely without worrying about copyright infringement from Sony. So recreated the first 9 seconds of the sonata starting with some MIDI from kunstderfuge.com by John Sankey, then editing it a bit in an attempt to emulate Horowitz's ornamentation. Used Logic's Boesendorfer samples - sounds pretty decent, and definitely good enough to be stretched.
Fed my stretched Scarlatti sample into a visualization tool featured on HackerNews today - pretty cool
Have been listening to Rainbow in Curved Air and Shri Camel a lot in last couple of weeks, so channeling some Terry Riley… It's a poor imitation, but it's quite fun
designed a stripboard based layout for the harp controller. spacing of the DIN connectors, and corresponding stripboard routing is subject to validation with physical hardware.
Still distracted by post-release support, but found some time to play with fugue machine again. this time in 7/8 and subdividing some beats to get a more "interesting"(?) rhythm.
Distracted with post-release support trying to diagnose wierd problems with Bonjour and Zeroconf. Nothing musical to upload.
try some variations on the 5/4 pattern i tried a few weeks back in fugue machine. Each played for a full cycle of the slowest track and with a short gap in between. Hoping to find a way to snip / cut / mix / match this to extend the original.
still distracted with various software issues - assuming yesterday's "reverse" was not an ending, what does the next part sound like? try a slightly different piano pattern and less shimmer.
A bit dry on inspiration, so I opened up the Oblique Strategies for advice. "Reverse". (so reversed the chord buildup and also stepped down the shimmer pitch shift bit by bit). Mmmm. Sounds OK - but is this an ending or a transition?
Released Synergize 2.2.0 and started testing the latest VST beta. It's still not handling state saving properly :(and… Logic grew to 79G RAM. Force Quit. Now any time i try to open even older projects, it grows to about 22G and freezes. Uh oh… Hope this isn't due to the VST beta…
Again, little time for any meaningful music creation. This takes the three scales from yesterday, turns them into semi-random 7/8 arpeggios, changing each measure. Could probably turn this into something sort of Discipline era Crimsonesqe, but I'm not very inspired…
no energy for music today (fighting a bad head cold). But here's a simplisitic use of some of scales trying to mix and match in a way that makes some sense. This was a dead end, but I have a related idea that might pan out
ditch the lead and try some short delayed "bell" like notes instead. it's building to something. just wish i could figure out what that should be…
Extend the intro vamp and add some shimmer reverb (ramp the reverb as the chords ascend at the end). Probably want to keep this fairly sparse so might not be adding too much to this. Stumbled on a nice bass line playing triplets with two delays over the 4/4 piano giving a bit of a 3 over 4 feel. I like the shimmer and the bass line, but the synth lead falls flat for me…
need to try something new. here's a just-tuned felt piano sketch of a simple progression that I think might work. might extend the intro as a long vamp and then give in to the rising progression as a way to give a sense of movement. These are simple triads, am trying to resist urge to add too much color (7ths,9ths)
spent the day experimenting with various ways to parse commands over arduino usb and battling against the severe memory constraints. Looks like I have room to do a nice JSON interface, so will focus on that.
not ultra inspired today, but tried to add some more vibes, flute and bass…
feeling a bit self conscious with the jazz combo instrumentation. What happens if i swap in more synthy instruments? yuck!
rewired the arduino and basic MIDI is now working. Had to fool with timing, but a short delay in the input processing seems to avoid need for an explicit debounce logic. Added support for loading presets - testing here with a major and minor triad. Sent video to Iasos and he is stoked. Next to use NVRAM for storing presets across reboots, then support for programming it via USB, then finally a Windows app to use that USB interface to visualize and configure the harp
extend the cicada intro a bit, experiment with some bass, add another vibes phrase. (I hummed the bass line, the used flex-pitch to convert to midi - which did an awful job, but at least preserved the timing and some of the pitch, then lots of manual tweaking to get a fluid bass line). (temporarily(?) back to equal temperament)
Not synthy at all (even the spectral synth "cicadas" almost sound like a "real" field recording) - the rest is sampled "jazz combo" instrumentation.
combine the spectral "cicadas" with the just tuning test sample (recast into vibes) and add a flute. This might lead somewhere
saw a recommendation for a different image/spectral analyzer tool to "choose images with a dark background" – so I decided to play with the spectral analyzer in alchemy again - this time importing a Unsplash image of some leaves and then tweaking some spectral shimmer and sheer. this sounds kinda cool.
adapt the fugue machine synth thing from a week or so ago to orchestral samples. sounds better than i expected.
refactored and extended the prototype arduino code to handle the entire key set. Input now working as intended. Next: MIDI support, then the preset/configuration manager application.
Finally got possession of the harp controller hardware. It may not look like much but this is one of Iasos's spare controllers – the heart of the instrument are the two rows of touch sensitive pads along the top of the controller (he doesn't currently use the musical keyboard at all, but I plan to use them as a cheater way to do preset selection/scale modification during performance). I was able to confirm that the Arduino code the previous developer had used to reverse engineer the serial protocol it spews works to scan the state of the hardware. Now to get down to business to implement the scaling and MIDI logic.
Also got Jari's latest Synergia beta and am starting final(?) integration testing.
continue to try to extend the orchestral doodle. basic approach is: stick with legato phrasing, offset note changes to keep things sounding fluid. improvise a 20-ish bar melody in some instrument, then add improvised lines in each of the others and then tweak here and there when something sounds particularly off (that worked particularly well for the intro). it still sounds ok (though this last bit is pretty uninspired - well, pretty not so good). There are limits to the approach - it's not going to get me a unified piece with a clear "direction". perhaps try some repetition to reenforce earlier themes instead of just continuing to create new melodies?
frustrated by inability to use the midi controller to "latch" dynamics after the fact - some sort of config setting is preventing the CC's from registering except during initial recording.
experimented a bit with just intonation - trying to emulate the tuning Terry Riley used on Shri Camel - but none of the systems I've tried sounds like what I'm shooting for and I can't find any details on what Riley was using at the time… Was able to find a paper analyzing a later album (Harp of the New Albion) which does have precise tuning ratios.
So here I'm trying to use that. First phrase is played with just intonation. Then played again with equal temperament. then again with both layed on top of each other. The differences are very subtle. I guess the "trick" to accentuate the tuning is going to be to choose scales and tonality very carefully…
experiment with adding max reverb and release time to the cellos - sounds quite a bit better (more legato at least) even if not really "right".
added a cello line which sounds ok (legato) when solo'd, but sounds choppy in the mix. tried a trick to get a polyphonic sample - it sounds different, but not better. blech. Good as these free samples are, they are not really going to cut it in the long run :(
revisit the mix on the orchestral intro - brass less prominent and better balanced. Similarly violin dynamics tweaked towards end to keep them from getting too strident. Extend the violin intro phrase a couple of measures and add a bunch of stuff after the intro climaxes- but its not (yet?) living up to the intro.
Revisit the organ solo on Laminar and tweak a bit. Alter the fade-in for the sequencer to better match the piano.
got touchosc to work as a dynamics/expressions controller w/ the orchestra samples. Wasted a lot more time trying to find why logic gets confused by the noisy midi CC msg that i am filtering in the Environment - but keeps getting picked up when I try to "Learn" mappings. Can't explain it.
not much music time today. barely had time to do some doodling around looking for some interesting chord voicings. and that's all I've got to post for the day…
try using delay/reverb but no shimmer for the B3. minor phrasing tweaks and extend the B3 through the fade. Naming it: Laminar
tried playing with the arpeggios and got nowhere. on a whim added this B3 with a bunch of shimmer. maybe too much reverb. but maybe something like this could work.
add a bit to the shimmery thing. Play with the pitch shift in small continuous variations during the final section. it really sounds nice, but now i need to make it "go somewhere" :) tried altering the shimmer piano phrases a bit at the end, but not sure it really helps. tried introducing some variations on the sequencer patterns, but it sounds too fussy/busy. Need to sleep on this…
Revisiting the orchestral thingee i was working on a couple weeks ago with the new (to me) Spitfire Discovery free samples. Wow! These are still not "great" orchestral samples, but they are a lot easier to make sound good than what I was using… No new composition - just substituting in new instruments and tweaking dynamics. (well not quite true - i added a measure at the beginning and stagger the entrance of the celli and basses, doubled the bass line with bass trombone and shifted some lines by a 1/4 or 1/2 note to keep the note changes more fluid).
spent the day banging my head against development tool experimentation (trying to find a simple way to create a UI for a musician running 32bit win7. Finding tools that support Win7 in 2020 is a challenge. I originally thought I could just create an old school Win32/MFC statically linked C++ application, but I was not able to get modern MS tooling to cooperate. Perhaps if I was a more Microsoft-y kinda guy, I would have found a way to convince the latest Visual Studio to target Windows7 – but alas this project's encounter with Microsoft tooling reminded me why I've avoided them for most of my career :). I considered Qt or GTK, but frankly, working with C++ is something I swore I'd never do after writing the Tower Eiffel compiler (our motto: "You Deserver Better than a C+"). Eiffel never really caught on, but thankfully Java gave the world a decent alternative to C++. But I digress…
In the end I found a pure Go library [tadvi/winc] that provides very simple GUI support with no external dependencies - easy to compile, no unexpected DLL conflicts on his machines. I would have prefered to use the [andlabs/ui] library, but its dependency on the mingw compiler toolchain turns out to be too fragile (link issues caused by incompatible versions of mingw?). I wasted a lot of time trying to get it to build a 32bit windows exe and gave up when I found tadvi/winc. Hopefully winc proves stable enough…
so some fugue machine noodling to avoid being called a futureland slacker… In 7 this time…
Arduino day. Finally moved my prototype fridge alarm from my Uno based breadboard into a Teensy based soldered perfboard. Making room for doing some prototype development for Iasos's golden harp project.
had a little time left over to add a counter sequence and try adding a bass with shimmer. Tried a new chord modulation but its not yet working…
lets see if i can turn this shimmer demo into something worth listening to on its own…
some of the pitch shifts work better than others - wish it could be
continuous instead of by discrete semitones.
Created a "shimmer reverb" effects chain via a tutorial on the web. May try to save this for reuse. This sample is a simple electric piano fed through that effects chain with gradually increasing (a bit beyond what sounds "good") then decreasing amounts of pitch shift/shimmer. Then fooling with the pitch shift amounts to be fractions of an octave and continuing down to a negative octave.
Another Fugue Machine sequence. 3 tracks in 5/4 and one in 6/8; this time recorded in Logic. In the process I've created a template that should make it easier to record 4-track sequences from the ipad.
experiments with the Paul Nasca's audio stretching algorithm. I've always liked Lief Inge's 24 hour Beethoven 9 transmorgification (9 Beet Stretch). Now I can do my own! Here's the opening 4 seconds of one of Scarlatti's piano sonatas stretched 50x. Bach organ also sounds good. Gregorian Chant may work the "best" for reuse as an backing track, but ends up as a fairly common-sounding ambient choral drone… In any case, as unoriginal as this might be, I really like this stretched Scarlatti…
half heartedly tried to start a new piece but sounds trite - don't like it.
so… new ipad sequencer: Fugue Machine. This has potential (it meshes with my polyrhythmic proclivities nicely and is easy to stumble on stuff that sounds interesting). This is a minor elaboration of one of the demo patterns (added a beat to make it 5/4).
boosted the gain and adjusted choir dynamics. Naming it: Depth of Field
Discovered another source of free samples (pianobook.co.uk). This is built on two of Christian Henson's F*ckbox samples. (plus a choir sample I found long long ago and an Alchemy based bass and LABS Monochord sample towards the end). Tried my hand at a reversed electric piano effect - it worked much better than I had hoped… Need to work a bit on the bass choir dynamics, but its shaping up very nicely…
Downloaded and substituted a different string sample (still 100% LABS) which sounds less raspy and works better for this. Some of the overall dynamics (especially the choir swells) are still not right and the mix is muddy, but I'm not sure I'll try to fix. Also still debating whether to continue/extend this.
Change out the initial felt piano for a strummed dulcimer and double it throughout. Add 24 measures in a slightly different chord progression. Lots of tweaks to the cello dynamics to keep it from getting too raspy. Some snails pace "ornamentation" to the felt piano and eq to make it sound a bit less soft. 100% Spitfire LABS samples with only a bit of EQ. I particularly like the looped piano that sounds like an organ (first and last sounds you can hear in the mix). At 2:11 its a bit short (unless you think of it as 'film' music) but it sort of feels done-ish. May insert another verse or two before putting a fork in it. Naming this Soft Focus.
3 or 4 aborted attempts to augment the sequencer piece. Gave up (for now) and decided to see what I could do with (new to me) Spitfire "LABS" samples. Some are quite lush - some not so obviously usable, but what the heck - let's try.
setting the string samples conundrum aside for a while. Back to polyrhythmic sequencer stuff…
need to test dynamics with these sample libraries - all of the initial measures are at very lowest velocity and intended to be very quiet. How do these samples sound when played "loud"?
So… Studio Strings don't respond to velocity at all when the mod wheel is enabled. Mod wheel makes things respond reasonably. The Orchestral strings don't have equivalent settings(!?). Similarly the orchestral horns (which I was using) don't seem to have a mod wheel dynamics option. The studio horns work differently but are a much more "chamber" / individual instrument sounding set of samples. This is frustrating.
Inspired by a film score masterclass from Jono Buchanan on youtube, decided to try to put together something orchestral. Initial phrases weren't working too well. Then listened to last bit of the Labyrinth of Music Theory podcast which has some interesting brass drones under some of the sections. Tried to adapt that idea, but ended up with this instead - i like it so far… Need to take care to not let this get too similar to a brass choir piece I did several months back - I'm starting to hear some echos of that in my head… Just as the dude said in the class, tweaking orchestral samples to make them sound realistic is hard and takes time…
added some tribal drums to the appelian sequencer based thing. drums and high hat played "live". This may be 'complete' - calling it Swamp Thing
more refinements to the mix for 12 tracks of this works a little better. Giving it a name: Chaos Theory
took two of the tracks from the appelian project and started a new one. added a droney pads, some pulsing bass and simple drums , and played with some modulation on the main bass line. on one hand, I sort of like this. its building to something, but not yet clear what.
re-imported midi from the Appelian project - over the wire this time (more accurate midi capture) and created new instruments from scratch to more or less match the basic sound from appellian. This was more of case of "because I left it in such a sorry state" than a "i'm inspired to make music with this"
now 12 tracks of step sequenced polyrhythmic chaos. hard to tweak the mix and it gets out of control towards the end. but maybe I can find a way to get it to work…
Spent the day fighting mDNS. Decided to try to import some midi from the other day's Appelian project. What a mess - I don't do this often enough and 1) remembering the quirks in Appelian (apparently need to cycle through midi interfaces for each track in order to "arm" the output), 2) remembering that the network session needs to get joined on the mac side, 3) setting the "auto demux" setting on the Logic project. Then you end up with no spare patience to make the actual import sound good. Here ya go…
An attempt to import a really interesting Synergy sound from a youtube video into Alchemy additive resynthesis. doesnt sound as good as the original, but interesting in its own right
All day power outage courtesy hurricane Sally. Revisited some rarely used iPad apps and actually created a sequence I sort of like on Appelian
more step sequence nonsense to get my mind off code signing hassles…
not a lot of time to experiment today. add some drum ornamentation. I'm starting to get an idea for how to keep this going…
polyrhythms on the brain. Intro riff is in 15 with the bass and high hat in 4, bass drums in 15.
Yesterday's patterns with pattern 3 and 4 turned into odd lengths to result in a more polyrhythmic feel (yesterday was 16/8 and 24/8 (4 over 6). Today is 16/8, 24/8, 18/8 an 28/16 (so 4 over 6 over 9 over 7). Also rolled the LP filter on the 4th track to be less buzzy. Maybe a little less ho hum.
4 alchemy voices fed to separate FX routes each with a different sequence, mix mapped through 2d morph pads. ho hum…
tweaked instruments by opening up LP filters to make each voice a little brighter - i don't like it as much via headphones, but it sounds a little better on speakers
wanted to start something berlin school so playing with the alchemy sequencer - 4 variations on each of the two main patterns. This is a too busy for what I was planning, but it sounds kinda cool on headphones (but awful on my speakers). Maybe I'll run with it. Same sus chords as yesterday's piano doodle, FWIW.
try to make something with a lot of sus chords. Preliminary melody is a little trite, but gotta start somewhere.
Very minor tweaks to the mix. Calling it done. Naming it: Free Fall
revisited arpeggiated piece i set aside a week ago. Small tweak to the beginning of the melodic track. Re-recorded the second half of the melodic track - using the first live take and I sorta like it. Relistened to the fade out and it's actually not too bad. Mix is not quite right, but I think it's basically done - will need to fix the mix and come up with a name…
Double down in C chord for final several measures and feed everything into same exaggerated reverb that the organ uses throughout for a finale. Added a HP filter on one of the string derived instruments to get rid of an unwanted low frequency "thumping" noise in some sections and smoothed out the modulation on the upper partials on the sustained bell track. Not sure it's done - but basically, I really like where this has ended up! Calling this one Luminescence.
Experimented with the Alchemy spectral "image" import. I may return to that for a future piece, but the sounds - bizzare and interesting as they are - aren't fitting this piece… (first sample is a picture of a tomato tart, the second is from one of my wife's recent pen and ink sketches).
Trying to build a bit of a climax (in an oh so ambient way :)). I suspect I'll be rejecting nearly as much as I keep…
played with spectral resynthesis and got some interesting results, but didn't end up with anything suitable for this piece. Instead added a bit of the bells, "organ" and "tuba" voices and bring back the sustained bell sound on top of yesterday's "strings". It's definitely taking a turn for the ambient, but I think with some pseudo orchestral overtones. The fundamental theme is "periodic reminder of tonality through the "organ". Everything is in the A aeolian modal, but the overtones of the bells and resynthesized strings sometimes camouflages that. Its getting difficult to edit this - some of the notes are so long and evolve over 10s of seconds - just going back and tweaking something requires listening to 20-30s of prologue to ensure all the supporting voices are audible while auditioning… (new stuff starts at about 4:00)
tweaks to the sustained bell track. noticed some discontinuities in yesterday's mix. played with the "organ" track - tried various treatments, even pitch bending, but ended up with a really ringing reverb - sounds nice and feeds into a new "strings" track. experiment with resynthesis (new track after the organ started life as a cello, then run through a granular resynthesis with some noise added in via a slow LFO). Not sure it's going to stay, but that's what i did today…
inspired by yesterday's additive experiments, I'm going to try to compose something sort of 'symphonic' (but probably will end up pretty ambient) with purely synthetic sounds and no presets. So far so good, but I'm going to need to reverse engineer this improvised tonality if i have any hope of extending it very much. sketched out some basics on paper first in an attempt to have a more strategic view of how to proceed. we'll see how this turns out…
After some successful but largely lucky (monkeys typing Shakespeare) modifications to various Alchemy patches, I've decided to try to better understand its fundamentals. Running through some online tutorials focussing on its additive features and reminding myself just how flexible its modulation routing is. I really like this second patch - modulation mapped to the number of additive partials. First patch is more subtle; modulating 3 partial volumes with some slow LFO's; third patch is more monkey typing variation on the second, but i now have a better idea of what i'm trying to do… Finally an organ like patch with some oscillator tuning modulation via a multi-step envelope.
Testing without cover art
remove the buzzy track and end and try a different fade - fade out the bass, melody, then pad, leaving the arpeggio then reduce each of the main arpeggio's delays and leave other components audible last. I grow weary of this. I like what I have, but I'm running out of gas trying to "finish" it…
same idea, but simplify the tracks and turn up the cheese. Fade - but not really happy with the ending. To be continued…
Double down on the cheesy melodic synth at the end - add a buzzy triangle wave patch. Won't keep this (it really doesnt fit…), but the octave glides were fun and sound very 70's :) Still in search of a real ending…
Level and filter tweak on the lead arpeggio track - sounds a bit better on the reference speakers. Cut 3 measures before the bass starts. Repeat the bass section and add some chord changes in 4/4 in the arpeggiated track. Improvised a melody over the repeated bass section. String pads voicings are sloppy, but still sound ok - maybe leave as is? (but need to diagnose/fix the unwanted swells). In search of an "ending" now…
Switch the intro to 7/8 and alternate with some 4/4. Makes it a little more interesting. (yay) Tweak the main ES2 patch to be a bit softer and less "piano" like (yay) - sounds ok on headphones, but still sounds a bit harsh on my reference speakers. (boo). Some unexplained volume changes on the pad towards the end. (boo).
fade in an arpeggiated sequence (multi layered) – see where it leads. Cant get me enough of the effect of shared arpeggiations with tape delay variation. But really don't like this particular mix - need to start over.
had an idea for building something based on simple one-note rhythmic patterns. Sketching it out on piano, but will likely move this to synths if I can convince myself the basic idea will work. First section is in 4/4 repeating every 2 bars; second section chops up each pattern into various lengths and repeats each independently.
Learned how to filter MIDI events in Logic's somewhat intimidating "MIDI environment". Have finally silenced the noisy pot (CC event) that has been an irritant for months. HOWEVER, the settings apparently cant be persisted as a default so that the next project uses them. I will need to create a new "project template" (and remember to use it :( )
Back to the arpeggios. a few more measures with the bass, change the mix to emphasize some of the dirtier arpeggios and an abrupt "finish"? Naming it: Open Loop
continued to embellish the track-stack doodle. Gradually exaggerate the tube distortion on the distorted track. The sequenced bass gives it a bit of a tangerine dreaminess. Naming it Ejecta.
Synergize 2.1 released (with GDS-like faders via TouchOSC)
Played around with the Alchemy step sequencer - add that to yesterday's doodle.
I havent played with track stacks in a long time. This is the same MIDI notes shared by three tracks in a stack.
try another doodle. not really working any better than yesterday
try something along the same idea as what started Diffusion, but using different synths to allow individual "melodies" to emerge from the noodling. This worked better in my head than in this demo, but I'm not going to give up…
back to the arpeggios. Tweaked the intro (eq). small changes in track volume equalization towards the end, try adding in the bass to tie the intro to the arpeggios.
try revoicing each section's piano vamp and add a repeated Am chord for an "ending" - is this enough variety? Name it: Diffusion. Not sure the ending quite works yet…
Heard what sounded a little like a Peter Gabriel instrumental (but wasn't) as background music in a TV episode and decided to see what I could do with the basic idea. (on further thought, a bit of Fripp's Exposure version of Here Comes the Flood must have also been in the back of my head). So nice to not have my software fighting me! The result isnt very Fripp or Gabriel-esqe, but i still sorta like it. The piano is intentionally very repetitive with thought that most of the movement could come from the synths. But my test audience was focussed on the piano. So maybe I need to introduce some variation there…
Fixed! In trying to isolate a possible problem with one of my USB audio or midi devices, I started pulling plugs. When I had pulled them all (the last one being my serial cable(!?), Logic started working normally! And better, when I put them all back in it's still working normally. This will probably remain a mystery, but at least I'm not stuck.
Removes the annoying ring modulation in the intro and adds another 32nd arpeggio at the end. But basically this is just where I left it 2-3 weeks ago. Need to think about where to take it.
nothing i try helps. even if i substitute completely different instruments, logic is detuning one or both in ways I can't figure out. Heres a sampled piano and a ES2 based fm piano both playing in "unison" - identical MIDI on brand new tracks with no track or region level transpose.
restored previous version. it also has the transpose error. previous version to that was prior to most of the new tracks. Its getting wierd. Started a brand new project. Imported only midi data into it and created new instruments from first principles. Verified that the MIDI data has no hidden automation (e.g. pitch bend). Yet it's still hosed when I audition directly from Logic (the first track has a bad wobble at the start and the third track is definitely transposed). But when I exported the audio to prove my point, the exported mp4 file actually sounds correct. (though it's not captured on this screen recording as intended). Arrrgghhhh. Hopefully this is a clue, but I'm still very very confused…
decided to revisit the arpeggio piece from a week or so ago and… i did it again. Managed to screw up note transpositions and no clue how. Notes show where they are supposed to, the track, regions and instrument have no built in transpose. there's no midifx transpose on the track, yet some tracks are playing 4 semitones higher than it should
"First light" of new MIDI control surface support for Synergize. Have a ways to go before I show it to my users, but this is something they really want - will get the Synergize/Synergy combo almost on par with the holy grail of the Crumar GDS.
I'm working with a colleague on a possible new project - he needed some samples of my Synergy. I don't pretend to call this music - but it represents what I did today.
extend the intro, add some top end choir-ish pads over the pulse's buildup and then… bam. the end? Call it Primordial
having trouble with the string ensemble piece, but wondered what a similar approach might take with a more ambient thing. So started some noodling in C mixalodian. and it's taken a somewhat non-ambient turn…
just discovered the pitch tracking feature in TJ. Here I'm experimenting with whistling vs. humming. It's not perfect, but its as good as I've ever tried (have tried many pitch tracking approaches over the years and this seems pretty good - many wont track at all when I hum in my normal range - this seems to do fine whether hummed in my bass voice or whistled). However, it's been sooo long since I sang regularly I've lost a lot of my pitch control :)
several false starts with the string ensemble thingee. Clearing my head with the iphone seaquence app.
argh! I layed down another verse (string trio plus vibes) and had it sounding halfway decent, then did "something" that transposed notes all sorts of weird ways. No amount of "undo" gets me back to where I thought I was. throwing my hands up in disgust - may revisit this tomorrow.
Retrying what i was attempting yesterday, this time just improvising the vibes part via keyboard in Logic.
Synergize 2.0 released.
An unsuccessful attempt to improvise some Vibes via TJ over the top of a song playing in the Music app. But the TJ improve isn't all bad - and it actually sounds halfway decent on top of the strings. No time to try again today - maybe tomorrow…
tried some more improvs on tj in hopes of generating some snippets I could incorporate but they are not really sounding compatible with this. So returned to some tried and true "variation" techniques in Logic - not 100% satisfied, but this is closer to something I might be able to use…
this may not sound like much of an accomplishment, but it is the result of importing yesterday's TJ improv as MIDI into Logic, then using TJ as an external MIDI / audio source to re-record. There's some tempo fixup too now that I am in an editor where that is possible. The TJ samples are expressive, but not great (some clicking artifacts and the bowing is not something I can actually control), but it sounds 'good enough' to make me want to try to extend this and see where I can take it.
taking a break from the arpeggiator and revisiting the string samples.
more more more. in some ways this is too cluttered. in other ways it's too much fun.
add yet another track and morph it a bit. where does this end?
Spent the day researching DAG graphing libraries - settled on nomnoml and got a dynamic patch graphical display to work for Synergize.
adds a couple more tracks and slowly morphs the mix between all of them.
spent most of the day experimenting and mutating jekyll templates for Synergize documentation.
Rearranged the arpeggiation tracks to start the bass arpeggiation sooner - sounds better.
started an outline for a Synergy demo. contacted Tom Piggott to see about adapting some of the old SYNHCS manual for a Synergize manual.
added 4 arpeggiated tracks that turn this into a more 70s vibe. doesn't really fit, but what the heck.
poked around with some presets in hopes of inspiration and not really finding anything. But in the interest of "something every day", here goes… :)
chasing ui test automation glitches - brain is fuzzy, but futzed with the last section's left hand voicings and tweaked the bass line. Have been trying to think of how to revisit the A section, but can't make it work. Maybe this can be an ending?
And with that… it's my one year anniversary on Futureland! Only the 350th day of output - not 365 - since I didn't upload each and every day (I'm still conflicted on whether @internetvin's "upload anything even if its facile" approach is better than "I'm sick/traveling/whatever and don't have anything meaningful to say today"). I've been practicing the upload at all costs approach for the past couple months and it's working out - even though many day's uploads are pretty paltry… I do think it helps combat the tendency to overthink how "motivated" or "inspired" I am on any given day and helps me avoid getting 100% absorbed into software projects as is my want
Added 16 bars. The solo is a little sloppy and the new bass lines could be better, but I don't want to touch it up too much. What's live is live. Still needs an ending…
extend the solo. starting to see how to shape this to find an ending…
another start on a piano solo phrase - this time improvised more or less directly (needs edits!). some ascending/descending scales - might work, but doesn't really fit. will need to find some way to segue into it.
piano vamp by chord inversions and do some bass rhythmic variations.
Started out as some experimentation with Logic's pitch quantization, but ended up with a decent bass riff. Decided to see if i could turn it into a little pseudo-"jazzy" piano duet.
a phrygian improvisational string quartet via TJ. Some sloppiness in the performance, but the samples are really nice - I like they way the bowing behaves in held notes - need to remember this
not really sure i like where this is headed, but I dont have any better ideas at the moment. the bass line give is a bossanova-ish feel despite just being in 7/8…
simultaneously inspiring and discouraging new video from Beato demonstrating phrygian mode - have some better ideas on how to compose modally. But depressing what he claims to have "spent an hour" creating as an example. Jeesh.
Still distracted with sysadmin, so havent produced any new audio…
distracted by sysadmin… some variations on yesterday's doodle. Change instrumentation. Add a bass line.
back to basics. not a lot of time today, but trying to get started on an arpeggiated piece…
see if i can use aphelian to generate variations on an arpeggio. this one is pretty simple, but still, playing with orbit types does lead to some useful variation. may try this for something real
Slight change of approach to tj looping. recorded a number of smaller snippets and then arrange them in logic. also recorded most of the instruments dry and added reverb and some delay in Logic. Not quite as inspired as the loop from a day before yesterday, but technically this approach should work better going forward.
Synergize 2.0.0-beta2 released. Got two semi-luminaries from the Synergy community to join the Slack group - one of the original developers, and the son of the author of the user manual. They seem to be interested in trying to get the lead developer to join. The only thing better would be if they convince Wendy Carlos to pop in to say Hi.
Meanwhile, I tried to remind myself how to use Aphelian - here's a short sequence…
feeling mellow and loopy. I recorded these loops in TJ a bit too quietly so the mix is quite quiet (attempting to boost the gain in Logic results in some thumpy artifacts on the main loop). But I like the result… It feels more deliberate and less accidental. This one is in C pentatonic major.
revisit the extreme portamento string thing I did some weeks back, but reworked to use the Synergy portamento/sustain functionality. A bit tricky to deal with "external MIDI" devices in Logic, so there's not a lot of new music here - it's mostly been about juggling midi/audio/track configuration. Not to mention trying to cope with the polyphonic portamento behavior on the synergy…
this is just wrong. thought I'd try to work on overlaying more simplified "riffs", and had a Doobie Brothers riff floating around in my head all morning. But then had trouble finding something more or less compatible. Who would have thought the stick riff from King Crimson's Elephant Talk would fit??
back to futzing with polyrhythms 3 over 4 over 5. Also trying to take care to leave a little space in the patterns
trying to break habits and try something new. can i write little riffs using a modal keyboard and a beat box like additive approach? maybe not consistently good on first try, but good enough that I think i'll continue trying…
Added a bass and sub-bass to yesterday's doodle. Not really progressing the idea much though. Setting it aside.
trying a loopy sounding bit of ambience, using TJ as a controller but recording straight into Logic this time.
for some reason I havent given up on this. Lengthened the intro and extended the guitar stuff. Tweaks to the "drummer" settings.
made a sample of the guitar patch for TJ - it doesn't do it for me there. oh well.
still not very motivated creatively. added some arpeggiation and for the first time experimented with a "restrained" track of Logic's "drummer" instrument.
sysadmin distractions (backup server crashed and need to rebuild raid array). Spent what little music time I had fooling around with a guitar patch and fuzz/distortion pedals
uninspired to start something from whole cloth. Trying to see if I can find some ideas via just doodling around with random patches in Alchemy…
severe lack of energy to do much musically today - decided to combine my "discovery" of TJ's utility for playing with chord shapes with its arpeggiator. This isnt music but hopefully it will provide another tool in the toolset some time down the line…
Kubrick's 2001 floating around in my brain, so decided to try to adapt Aram Khachaturian's Adagio from Gayane. Found a decent MIDI file to kick start this, and thought I'd try to work on tempo, articulation and instrument design to try make this "my own" (?). the feedback on the guitar instrument is hard to control - in some cases sounds pretty good, but by the end it is obscuring the harmony… But this, like other times I've tried to adapt a classical piece (e.g. Eric Whitacre and Palastrina) is quickly turning into disappointment. This spring's Bach oriented stuff was an exception since it was less literal in the use of the original piece - more transformation/munging which made it more fun to play around with. Probably won't finish this. Gives me pause on ever trying the Barber or Shastakovich 5 adagios… Give me new appreciation for Isao Tomita and Wendy Carlos!
Figured it out. TJ claims to use filename as hint about sample's pitch but it doesn't seem to do a very good job in practice. Here's one of the patches I used in Distancing auto sampled in Mainstage and imported into TJ and each sample manually fixed up for proper pitch - sounds completely different (but still kinda cool- and adding a lowpass filter and using the 2D touchpad to control it is really expressive).
today's discovery: thumbjam makes for an unusual UI to discover interesting chord voicings. Even if this isnt going to turn into a "piece", this could be an interesting tool to get inspired to new chord progressions/voicing…
initial attempt to load a Logic Pro sampled instrument (in this case my sample of the Synergy NASALFUZ voice) into thumbjam. Not quite there yet… I think thumbjam is getting confused by the multi-sample. Still - i think i can make this work…
brain is mush from fighting race conditions in the Synergize test suite. Relaxing a bit with some loop jamming in thumbjam. Sort of an ambient pedal steel trio meets crossed with a slow free jazz combo…
I'm in a bit of a rut in that I've been doing a lot of modal improv and not really trying to make melodies. Will try to put some effort into changing that…
spent the day with test automation. Saved little time to jam a bit with thumbjam…
revisit the thumbjam loop from a few days back and mix in logic.
yeah - Synergize SYN file helps preserve param settings across sessions! the pulse sounds more natural in 4/4 rather than 3/4.
some tweaking to the synergy rate and logic tempo to make things line up a bit better.
Try to build something around a rhythmic looping patch from the Synergy library. It's much harder to use this via Logic than it was on the onboard sequencer since I have to find a way to match the loop frequency with Logic's meter and tempo. This isn't quite right, but perhaps with enough patience I can make it work.
Small tweaks and we'll call this "done". Naming it: Full Moon Tree
fooling around with the looper on thumbjam again as I try to decide what to do about yesterday's piece…
In the end I like it - though it could use more fine tuning in some of the phrasing. I don't feel bad about using the sampled piano, but even though it sounds pretty good, I'm not completely comfortable with the fake sampled guitar. Need to decide where I draw the line…
fiddle with the ending some more
resume the second synth at end and resolve on a major chord? sounds a little cheesy.
added a synth overlay on top of the guitar. Still not sure this is "going anywhere", but it sounds nice…
spent most of the day battling nodejs and webdriverio. Decided to try to add a "guitar" part to the piano doodle via thumbjam. It sort of works, but i really need to find time to think more strategically about this - the end result is still a bit aimless…
no energy to work on the piano piece today (not feeling well). Spent a bit of time on my phone with thumbjam and am reminded just how cool it is
Acoustic piano playing simple chords w/ a sculpture based synth melody overlay. This might be worth spending some time developing
a couple variations on the drum pattern. alter the mix as the piece progresses and fade back out on the scrapes and drums. This is basically done unless I get inspired to fine tune the track mixing - calling it Procession
added a drum track (another Sculpture patch). But now with 6 sculpture instruments running, my CPU is on its knees. I can't actually play this live from Logic - have to bounce and listen after the fact. Ugh! But I am liking how this is taking shape.
More fun with Sculpture. Here's the same 5 measures, shuffled and duplicated across 5 different Sculpture patches: blown, bowed, plucked and various combos.
put aside some time to experiment with the logic Scripter to see if i could use it to "split" a track - can't. The API is very restrictive. So went back to the gomidi project which I'd played with a bit a few months ago – it's in the midst of a big reorg and what worked before no longer works. Will let it stabilize a bit before I try again. So I decided to play with Sculpture (physical modeling synth). It really is pretty slick. Here is some sort of mutant bowed combo steel / nylon string thing with some noise overlay.
Intended to take yesterday's arpeggiation section, slow it down and make the extend each inidvidual note to make legato glidey phrases. Seemed like a simple thing to try - but I can't find a reasonable way in Logic to split a track with overlapping notes into separate tracks. Select lowest/highest is error prone since I keep deleting the remaining event when there are no more overlapping notes in some sections. Split by notes is way too fine grained - end up with single measure tracks. DO I need to write a program to do this!? This is what failure sounds like (unable to really get things separated out so they can be articulated properly)
Added some Synergy bass noodles at the end. This is NASALFUZ patch, but with the timbre settings cranked way down so not as nasty sounding as usual. Naming it: Shadows
morphed the percussion and arps, added some bass and fade to black… percussion is a little busy in the beginning and the new bass line is a little clunky. If this is the basic shape this ends up, need to go back and edit the intro - takes too long to build to the arp.
try some percussion. it fits. but where will it lead?
still have a creative block on the ambient piece i'm trying to finish, so worked a bit on the synth patch for Lux Aurumque. This is a bit better, but it is a bit bland over the course of the piece. Will need to rethink this (again :))
Need to be careful to not let the synth programming get in the way of making some music… The attempt to adapt Palastrina motet last week was utter failure, but I've picked up this failed attempt from last fall in adapting Eric Whitacre's Lux Aurmque to synth. What the heck - he's arranged it for chorus, horn choir, even strings. Why not give some synthiness a try? It's going to take a lot of fine tuning to get some patches to do it justice, but here's a start…
More progress with the Synergy patch editor. Fixed a couple of misunderstandings about the firmware address space and, voila! I can how edit some of the voice and oscillator specific params via the UI. Lots remains, but this is a milestone.
Back to the ambient thing I started a couple weeks ago. Still not sure how to extend this - but here's an experiment. Tweaks to the eq to keep the bass from rumbling down at 30Hz and some small edits to the marimbas, but mostly focussing on finding something to follow or extend the arpeggiation
FWIW, it wasnt the resolution that was wrong, it was the inversions of the last two chords
Wasted the day trying to get my head around D3.js. Taking a break and revisiting another 30 year old Synergy doodle. This time I'm actually using one of the original patches (one of Carlos's pipe organs). The rest via logic soft synths… I was mostly interested in deconstructing the organ chord progression. Not sure I've really got it - the resolution to Eb minor sounds close, but not quite what I hear on the tape… Also the brass samples don't really replicate the original. Not sure I'll continue with this, but if I do I might try a more synthetic brass sound as in the original.
For the most part Mainstage's auto sampler works fine, but I hit what seems to be a bug when sampling two of the voices. When processing note D#-1, Mainstage went nuts, flashed the screen at each velocity range, displaying noisy waveform. Retried several times, but always the same. Worked around by shifting the resampling one semitone lower to avoid D#-1. Wierd. Wasted a few hours figuring that out.
The resulting sample instruments are very quiet. Cranked them up to max in esx24 and the mixer and still not loud enough. Adjust the velocity - that helps a bit and will probably be required to get proper articulations especially with the mallet. But still not there. So now decisions… double down and try to make these samples work, or just go back to the original soft instruments and tweak the phrasing…
Today's audio excerpt is a few measures of Original, a few of the Logic redux, then a few of the Logic version with the multisampled synergy (pre-tweaks).
various disappointing starts. tried to adapt Palastrina's Sicut Cervus as a atmospheric synthy thing - sounds awful. Relistened to my transcription of my old Atmos synergy piece - some of the mallet parts sound klunky. May revisit that and fix up the articulation and timing. But today I'm going to try to determine which synergy patches were actually used and multi-sample them so I can try to use them more easily from Logic and use them in the transcription…
Most of the day spent programming. A breakthrough on VRAM decoding, then revisit financial java app for adding new features for expense tracking. Spent a bit of time trying to make some headway on music. Revisit piece from a couple weeks ago. Can hear something to add over top of transitioning sequence, but can't make it happen. Ended up with this - which I'll probably end up throwing away
Some more guitar ambience and played around with the drum loops at the end. Perhaps this is as far as I should try to take this. Giving it a name: "Distancing"
i dont see any way to merge the new riff with the original, so split the project, calling the new riff "ambient2".
Fine tune the rhythmic patch - some of the extreme ends of the morphing don't actually sound good in context. "simplify" the arpeggiated morphs, but add a bit of embellishment in other instruments as the riff progresses.
trying to find a way to use yesterday's riff. discarded a take with a quiet electric piano. this ambient guitar feedback seems a bit better…
Synergize 1.0.0 is released. Time to get back to some music.
Played with some alchemy 2D morphs… i like it, but not sure how to integrate this…
Distracted with the programming project - made a breakthrough in understanding some of the runtime data structures, so am building out graphical views of voice settings in prep for a new release.
fiddling around with the second section. if i listen to anything repeatedly, i start to convince myself its actually good… :)
I've noticed every other time's I've dabbled with it, I don't intrinsically like this ambient style, but it makes for an interesting canvas for experimenting with sound design. Not sure this is interesting to listen to, but I'm having some fun making it
Experiment with some slow morphing automation in Logic. Sounds ok on headphones, but maybe a bit to "subtle" on speakers…
Back to the Bach inspired piece. Sounding a bit more coherent
Wasted(?) most of the day on an experimental MIDI proxy for the Synergy. It's not working yet and the more I think through some of the limitations in the firmware, the less enthusiastic I'm getting to get to the bottom of the bugs…
Revisiting the distortion exercise from a couple weeks ago - I messed it up trying to "improve" it, so restored it from backup and did some little tweaks. Calling it done.
embellish a bit on yesterday's randomized arpeggiation and extend out to the end of the piece. Add some bass and an analog brassy thing. It sort of works in some sections and not at all in others. Maybe worth some fine tuning…
second beta release already to get the comms fixes out. Found a bit of time to work on the major key challenge. Not sure this will work - but had to try it…
very encouraging reactions from the synergy user's group! I think I'll get pressured into adding all kinds of stuff. Today was hardening the serial io - found some bugs when trying to port to linux for one of the more visible users.
today's challenge: do something in a major key. I'll start with a chord progression from a pretty famous piece and see if I can hide that I stole it. I think I've got some of the chords wrong here - will need to revisit before I progress much further…
lots of error handling tweaks. more or less ready to beta (though I'm sure I'll find more to fix before i do…), so building out some packaging and release management stuff.
revisit yesterday's doodle with a two-track improv
lots of progress on the ui - all functionality is now hooked into the ui. sanity tested that it also works correctly on windows. Some minor styling issues on both mac and windows (different issues on each - grrrr.). Need to come up with a robust way to handle serial connection resets and hangs.
a quick three-track "live" improvisation using acoustic instruments. I like the arrangement, even if the melodies are not quite there. Might try to make something of this…
preferences menus work, some error handling fixes.
frustrating session trying to use the Synergy as an external instrument from Logic (keyup events being randomly ignored even when playing the native keyboard - do I have another hardware problem!?), so fooling around with some alchemy presets. I like the vibe, but this is not what I thought i wanted to try next so will probably set aside
Experiment with driving the Synergy from Logic. Its MIDI implementation is pretty primitive - despite it being able to play up to 4 voices simultaneously via its onboard sequencer, it can't assign a voice per MIDI channel. So to get this, I had to record this like an old fashioned multitrack - one voice at a time. 4 channels to drive the MIDI, another 4 to capture each audio, recorded one at a time (which made auditioning voice changes, note changes very difficult). I hope I can find a more straightforward way to do this… (tempted to add a mode in the Synergize librarian to act as an OSC/MIDI host and then turn around and drive the Synergy through the serial port). For another day…
Yoooge progress on the Synergy file parsers. Can now decode CRT files and display them in the UI. UI is converted to bootstrap and behaves as expected.
Not a lot of brain cells left over for composition, so played around on aiva.ai again - unfortunately, more dross than inspiration. 20th century cinematic, electronic and jazz styles are not generating much of interest. The "modern cinematic" style seems to generate more variety and (to me) better pieces. Better training set? Here's a sample straight from aiva - not reorchestrated in logic.
Discovered aiva.ai via a comment on Hacker News. Hoped to use it as a source of compositional inspiration. So far, most of the "electronic" samples I've generated sound pretty similar. Exported this one to .MID and re-orchestrated it in Logic. Will probably keep dabbling with this a bit, but not sure its going to be terribly useful…
Is it possible to hate CSS any more than I do? Simple stuff is simple but even the most mundane layout can get so HARD… I have it basically looking OK, but with a fragile hack. Tomorrow I think I'll try converting to Bootstrap.
Refactored the UI to use a more file browsing workflow. Will need to tweak styling and error handling, but the basic approach feels good. All implemented IO can now be initiated from the UI.
Found a work around for the serial issue on Windows. Basics are now working - but the workaround is a hack. Can't really release it like this. May have to try a different library…
Today's musical question: what would an obscene amount of portamento sound like on string samples?
attempts to use serial port via windows VM and a spare windows laptop - I can't get it to recognize hardware DTR. Mmmm… :(
More fooling around with distortion, reverb, eq and some feedback. An as yet unexplained gain change mid way that i'd like to correct before I move on.
inspired by a remix of Etienne Daho's Ouverture on the latest Music for Programming podcast. Taking an old acoustic piece from April and running it through some reverb and distortion. Havent really learned how to best parameterize the bitcrusher and overdrive plugins - this could be interesting…
Fixed the nonblocking IO bug and cleaned up the related code. Now stuck on trying to validate that the Windows cross compile works. Have a query into the electron group about some weird behavior.
So not a lot of "music" got made - here's a doodle of fooling around with the loop sequencer
Got STLOAD to work too. Now need to focus on the serial library – the command/opcode re-sync logic doesnt work properly - I think I've got a bug in the non-blocking IO logic.
Not much time for music - but doodled around with some chord progressions that might turn into something
Have confirmed that the Synergy is using CRC16/BUYPASS algorithm. The STDUMP command now works, including the CRC check!
Audience feedback of yesterday's piece is "nice, but isn't it a little repetitive"? :) That's becoming a recurring theme. Need to work on strategies avoid that (first is to stop trying to turn a short melody/idea into something more without a more strategic plan on how the piece will be structured). Strategy vs. Tactics…
Not too inspired to start something new, but wondering if the last project (repetitive or not…) can be re-orchestrated as an acoustic piece. Not sure i have the energy or desire to complete this, but spent a little time to try some things.
Was able to log some useful data through the pseudo-terminal so have a new lease on life on getting the Synergize serial routines working. Worked most of the day on understanding the STDUMP opcode and have it mostly coded, but not yet working – have discovered another limitation of the serial port library I'm using; may pause and look for one that fits the problem better…
Cleaned up the descending scale segue and minor refinements to the ending. I think it is really done now…
spent all afternoon battling socat and interceptty in an effort to get a logging serial proxy between the SYNHCS emulator and the Synergy. In the process, I re-learned the fun of carrier detect and how tty open will hang until CD raised; and by the end of the afternoon, I have a working proxy. Tomorrow I start logging stuff…
Set aside 45 mins to get some real work done: Some tweaks to the final variation and then fade it out.
Maybe "done"? calling this "done" and naming it "Perimeter"
more Synergy diagnostics. Managed to get the original Kaypro software to work inside a MSDOS based CP/M Z80 emulator running via DOSBox. Some serial diagnostics work but its failing to do most of the interesting serial comms. Working with the Synergy users group to see if we can pinpoint virtual machine config settings that might work better…
Hardly any time or brain power to produce any sounds today - but did add a few bars…
Beefed up debug scaffolding for the Synergy serial port IO. Found the bug in the CRT upload – for the record 0x6B != 0x68 :). Reverse engineered the CRC algorithm as CRC-16/ARC. However, the Synergy is NAK'ing the CRC. Not sure how to debug this - can't get a handle on the CRC the Synergy has computed as a comparison; don't have a way to run the Z80 code to validate the go based implementation… Need to sleep on this…
added another ~30 bars to the sequence piece… Some good, some not so good.
Dabbling with a multi-part arpeggiated sequences. I'm really liking this so far… I havent been this productive on a new idea in a long time!
some failed experiments to load CRT files into the synergy. Not yet working…
Try to erase the new age out of my brain. not sure i like this basic idea to continue it much longer though…
Add an improvised "glass marimba" (again with delays). This is now sounding less ambient and more new-agey. Blech…
More progress with the Synergy librarian - have successfully loaded a voice into the Synergy VRAM! Can load any voice as long as it doesn't have any filters – here's one (WARP4.VCE from vcart4). This is just the raw output of the Synergy - no add of delays or effects.
Installed a new EPROM in the Synergy and… it seems to work! While I had it opened up, I replaced the AC fan with a 12V DC one and soldered up a 12V voltage regulator. Old fan was like a jet engine, this one is practically silent! Here's a demo of the Synergy's semi unique way it handles portamento polyphonically
experiment with morphing the pad to new patch with a slow fade and pan. I'm not getting the result I imagined. The fades work, but I can't hear the pan. Setting this aside for now…
implemented RS232 diagnostics and ran against the Synergy's COMTST. Even added support for timeouts via goroutines. It works!
Starting a new ambientish piece. I'm thinking something with slow synthy pads with some percussive stabs with lots of weird delay might be interesting… here's a start.
Application refactored to be a SPA using Electron IPC. Reproduced existing functionality and adds native menu, native file dialog and can now load arbitrary voice files from that dialog.
More head bashing with the go/electron integration. I have an open question to the developer, but I think i've convinced myself that I can't use one of his convenience modules along with the templating library I was using with webview. So I either need to stop using the convenience bootstrap or change the templating approach to use IPC messaging instead. Time for more musical distraction…
Going over to the dark side. converting my webview app to electron. there's a really nice golang package supporting it, but a dearth of examples (and the main example doesn't do things the way i want to…), so banging head a bit trying to make things fit. Started a new sequence based doodle to clear my head
Timbre and amplitude key velocity graphs displayed. This version tries to match the computation i read for the timbre and amp proportion doc generators, but had to scale the velocity values it by a factor of 10 to get it to match the old doc output… mmm…
Hit some limitations of the webview package; am going to need to use something else.
I tentatively think the errant library files may be corrupted binaries; ignoring their parse errors for the moment and working on fleshing out the go based webapp. VCE data is populating the beginnings of a view screen - shown here with the original text version of the voice documentation.
Got the Synergy VCE parser to work more or less properly. 3 of the library voices throw errors - so there's probably still a bug lurking…
Ran into a (hopefully temporary) roadblock - CRT file contents don't seem to match my understanding of the file format based on the reverse engineering the Z80 code. My brain hurts. So taking a break and making some music.
Another improvisation over the atmos bass line. Not as good as Monday's…
Got inspired to try to reverse-engineer the 40-year-old Synergy Kaypro Z80 ASM based librarian/editor (SYNHCS) software. Spent too much time trying to think of a good name and then getting frustrated by crappy SVG editors when constructing the logo (but ended up with something that will fit well if I can pull this off. Threw together a quick POC of a golang/webview based app and will be attempting to decode the binary VCE files next…
improvised over the same bass line as before, but with new choir, vibes and horn tracks
Tweaked vibes dynamics and some phrasing in final measures. Pretty happy with this now - retains what I like about my original Synergy performance. So now what…? Leave this as is or try to extend it?
Added some glide to the beginning of the bass line and a teeny bit of delay on the vibes. Made several coarse corrections to the vibe phrasing, but there are a few sloppy vibe notes towards the end. It's sounding pretty close to the original now but needs some more fine tuning
Lots of household chores today, but got a little time to try to add a few more bars of vibraphone to the synergy transcription… As with the previous, will need to refine to regain the "feel" of the original, but most of the notes are more or less in the right spot…
Dodged a bullet. Took the daughterboard back off, removed the processor board from the chassis and re-sprayed everything in sight with contact cleaner, then reseated the daughterboard (this time able to apply back pressure on the processor board, so made a better connection I guess). Also recleaned and reseated the Internals EPROM just in case… Also replaced the dried out masking tape holding down the washer spacers with duct tape. I'm sure that made a difference too. LED's on powerup, so that's a good sign. Ran self test and… back to the original internal ROM CRC error. Phew. At least I'm back to where I started! Internal voices are all pretty bad (subjectively seems worse than when I started), but external voices still seem to work ok. Have found someone in the local "old computer" scene willing to help burn new EPROMs – that will be next step.
Also started fooling around with a DX7 emulator - here's a ditty using factory presets
In hopes that the Synergy's EPROM is actually OK, but perhaps just some corrosion on the contacts, I removed the INTERNALS EPROM, cleaned with contact cleaner and restested: same self-test error. so, removed the daughter board, cleaned all of its connections, and reseated. Retested and…: she's dead, Jim. Jim. No LED's light up, can't even invoke self test. Uh oh… Time to pause and re-plan.
So back to the Logic transcription project. But having a hard time getting motivated. No actual progress…
Ended up wasting some time with a phone-based sequencer toy called "seaquencer". Started it up with one of its presets and just started morphing stuff.
Installed Mainstage in hopes that it will make it easy-ish to sample the Synergy – want to try to get some sounds off of it into some sort of usable format before I risk damaging it by mucking around more with the circuit boards… Only semi-successful – some notes are sampled nicely, but some are at wrong pitch, many have weird high frequency artifacts. In any case, here's a short example of using the instrument derived from patch #21 "SPOOK"…
Removed the phaser from the choir patch - it was causing an unwanted low frequency tremolo. Learned how to transpose audio so I transposed the original recording up a semitone so i can transcribe it in the key of C rather than B.
Learned how to use beat mapping track to use a midi click to manually set a tempo map from fluidly played recording.
Reasonably good first cut at a transcription of the horn, bass and choir parts. Some of the phrasing is still stilted compared to the original though. Tomorrow finish the vibes…
Stalled on the Synergy repair, so back to tweaking Logic instruments. More attempts to tweak software synths to sound like the Synergy atmos track. The choir sound still doesn't really sound much like, or as good, as the SPOOK preset on the synergy, but some reverb and phasing has helped a bit… I think a few added partials via the Additive editor have made it a bit more interesting. ADSR tweaks have improved the bass part.
Found great resources on the net (https://lanterman.ece.gatech.edu/synergy and dragonslair.ca/synergy.htm) with tons of original Synergy documentation, SYNHCS software, repair manuals, etc. I believe that back in the day I had a user manual but none of the voice library docs and nothing re: MIDI or Kaypro integrations.
So… brought the Synergy out of storage - couldn't find all the cables I needed, so out to Microcenter (had to wait in line to get into the store - only 25 customers allowed in the store at a time…) for a couple of RCA adapters. And… At first it seemed to work except only output on the Left channel. But then after a while (and after experimenting with MIDI), most voices were garbled and noisy. Took it apart and reseated some connections. No improvement.
Ran a self test: error 10/12: "internal voice rom crc. test. The rom containing the internal voices is tested for proper data contents.". Not good.
Turned it off and let it sit overnight. Turned it back on this morning and… it sounds normal. Ran the self test and… same error. And now back to garbled sound. So what does this mean…?
Started working on a Logic based redo of one of the resurrected Synergy recordings (atmos). Today mostly just trying to create instruments that are sort of similar to the originals - not trying to replicate the arrangement yet…
I really don't think that was right. The pulse I counted in 10, actually seems to repeat in 9. So it's 8 over 9 - this sounds much mo' betta to me. Also helps to have changed the bass pulse to a more similar sound that behaves to dynamics more similarly to the original. It still doesn't sound quite right - but is that the dynamics/instrumentation, or am I still fooling myself re: the rhythm?
I think I've figured out the rhythm of the piece I uploaded yesterday. Sounds like a "10 over 8" polyrhythm (8 pulses in 10/8 over 6 pulses in 8/8). Who knew?
This rhythm has been buzzing in my head since I first recorded it xx odd years ago and I never knew what it exactly was… I knew when I recorded it that I liked it, but never worked out exactly why.
This also reenforces how important dynamics and phrasing are - this sounded completely wrong until I worked on note velocities in all three tracks. Still doesn't sound 100% - i'm hoping that's due to the elec piano instrument choice which isn't really very similar to the original.
Finished archiving the old tapes. I did find the Synergy piece that I remembered and have been humming to myself for the past xx (don't ask!) years… I'm surprised that, despite the primitive tech and my clumsy keyboard skills, some of these still have moments of inspiration - I may mine them for ideas for new stuff.
Another blast from the distant past. Drums are sad - but I like the distorted 5ths bass and sequenced arpeggio.
Got through digitizing the first tape - uploading the least worst / least embarrassing extract from today's archiving. Note: I didn't say "best"…
Success! worked around the problem with the tape deck (the tape height lifters are apparently stuck and keeping the tape too far away from the heads. Worked around by threading the tape above the lifters. Should be enough to archive what has survived.
I suspect I'll be busy with this for the next few days at least. Based one what I've heard on the first tape, there's not much I'm proud of from that era (it really brings home the power of the modern DAW - having the play live to a multitrack tape requires a lot more keyboard skill than I had at the time (or for that matter still don't have… but with a DAW I can more easily go back and fix stuff), but I hate to lose it - so I'll just archive everything without making too many judgements.
Including this one not because it's any good, but because it's the first successful tape digitization with this resurrected setup… FWIW, I believe this was made with my upright piano using a pressure zone microphone I made while an undergrad and a rented Korg Polysix.
Rush/Crimson style progressive rock may not be my norm, but it was liberating to have a clear "theme" and constrained instrument choices. Have had similar experiences when writing for acoustic instruments. Need to try to emulate that approach even when I'm working on other styles.
I resurrected my old 4-track tape deck in an attempt to digitize some ancient recordings from school days. Audio quality is abysmal – tried aligning the heads and no improvement. Could be that the audio preamps are toast? Not giving up (yet), but disappointed… I recall one short piece from the era that I'd love to recover – this excerpt is from a best-to-be-forgotten one. :)
repeat second section as a final section, played at the tempo of the third section. some tweaking of the final measures. Simplified and tweaked some drum transitions and fills. The section 2 to 3 transition doesn't flow as smoothly as I'd like, but I think it's time to move on. Done?
added distorted "pedal" guitar above second half of the second section - some pitch bending, delay feedback and distortion automation changes to keep it semi interesting… Added some arpeggios and a similar guitar pedal to the slower last section and another chord change. Still not sure how best to link this all together
Fooled around with some drum variants through the new section (some work and some don't). The transition needs a whole lot of work…
still using the ATL morse code, but with a bit more spacing between each repetition
again, not much time today. tweaked the chromatic 1/6th triplet thingee to match the scale of the intro.
Not much time today; some changes to the drum lines throughout
A vague idea to steal the morse-code rhythm from Rush's YYZ (substituting ATL :)). A bit of interweaved guitar ala discipline era Crimson too. A few ideas that don't quite fit together yet. Definitely a change of pace
some manual edits to yesterday's output - fix the final cello pattern, remove spurious stuck notes, add manual pedal bass, alter intro and outro to start/stop each track separately. Time to move on - giving this a name: Apsis
Spent most of my time trying to diagnose the "stuck" MIDI notes. To no avail. Also tried using the sequencer's "song mode" to automatically switch between sequence "scenes". Altered some of the patterns to try to mix things up a bit - but it was half hearted - mostly trying to get to the bottom of the MIDI errors…
A from scratch set of Aphelian sequences feeding string samples. There are some unexplained "hung" notes (but in the sequencer or in the MIDI connection from the ipad?) In any case, I sort of like some of them so i've left most of the "hung" notes in as "pedal" notes. The only cheat is that I've displaced each track by two measures to allow the transition to each new sequence to overlap instead of changing on the same beat. On repeated relistening, I may need to edit out some more of those hung notes. And each variation really isn't different enough from the last. But overall, I like this for a first try with a new tool.
Changed out the cello and violins to VPO solo instruments. Sounds a bit more like a piano quartet now. The samples aren't super realistic, but even so I think I prefer this to the section samples. Calling this Rusted Moonlight
Despite the new sequencer, I ended up spending time with a slow piano oriented piece inspired by a piece by Max Richter I heard on the radio (which this doesn't really resemble in the least…).
Need to sleep on this. I used string section samples - but I'm wondering how this would sound with solo cello and violin samples - eg. as a string quartet. May try that with VPO samples tomorrow…
Have connected Aphelian up to Logic and used it to drive some orchestral samples just for grins
New ipad sequencer, Aphelian. Has many of the things I like about loopseque, but a whole lot more. I can see myself using this. This is just me randomly changing stuff on one of the demos
The Bach Abuse Continues. This time freely mixing and matching, on a measure by measure basis the original, inverted or reversed notes - this time not restricting which hand - so sometimes playing two left handed measures, sometimes both right handed, sometimes mixed. Sadly it sounds no better than the more constrained options I tried – I'm not even going to finish this - enough of the abuse! time to get on with something less offensive :)
Found a free orchestral sample library (the Virtual Playing Orchestra) and am kicking the tires… Quite good samples but awkward to control articulations
Yet Even More Bach Abuse. This time applying melodic inversion to the entire piece
Yet More Bach Abuse. Again the Two-Part Invention No.1. This time played simultaneously both forward and reversed. Chopped up by measure and each measure mixes a forward or reverse measure. Most of this sounds OK, but there are a couple measures where I really couldn't find a mix of forward and reverse that "fit". Still it's recognizably Bach…
Continuing the Bach Abuse project, here's the reversed 2-part invention, slowed way down and given some ambient treatment. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I like it… Calling this Inappropriate Appropriation
I look at this as a sort of generative music experiment. I made no note-by-note decisions. Basically, took Bach's music, altered it by reversing the notes and slowed it way down, then just added several instruments - some playing the notes in time, some delayed and/or transposed.
Fooling around with Bach's Two-Part Invention No.1 in anticipation of his birthday in a few weeks. Just doing a straight Switched-On-Bach style interpretation doesn't excite me. So let's try munging this a bit - how's it sound reversed?
A bit rudderless at the moment. Not really inspired to do much of anything.
Played with xronomorph again, but didnt create anything worth recording.
Played around with MIDI automation to change Alchemy sequencer patterns - more awkward than I expected (MIDI value 1, 2, 3 do not correspond to ARP pattern 1, 2,3 – there seems to be a threshold around 20 or 30. Perhaps this works well when modulating the sequence via an LFO, but it's not intuitive when using Logic automation.
Kicking the tires of the Wotja generative composition software. Not sure this is "for me", but it's a pretty amazing piece of software and fun to fool around with
back to playing with alchemy. today focusing on the sequencers - playing with a bit of polyrhthmic sequencers (one patch, four voices and sequencers, playing 12, 8, 15 and 24 element sequences). The backing chords make this sound a little "dreamy"…
Added a new solo via thumbjam and reviewed the rest. I think I'm calling this "as good as i can manage at the moment". Not sure how much of this is just having gotten fatigued listening to it over and over or how much it really has gotten a little better. But I need to move on. Calling this "done" for now (with apologies to Ed and Frank…).
Have made a couple of satisfying projects with various tweaked Alchemy presets. Time to learn how to create my own. Yikes - Alchemy's user manual is something like 240 pages… This may be more than an evening's diversion…!
Revisit Frank and Ed and some of the earlier solo takes. This first one is growing on me. May accept this and start working on the rest.
Some refinements - still not completely happy with this. But not sure it needs fixing. Might be "done" - calling it "Let's Ride"
Still feeling groovy. Some automation evolution on some tracks. Adds some more tracks
attempted to add some solos using the whistle/keyboard technique, but it's not working nearly as well as the first attempt suggested. what to do? might put this back on the shelf for a while…
taking a break and playing with the groove oriented track, having some fun with some rhythmic patches.
split out the saxes into individually controllable tracks and re-tweaked the mix. Here's the backing arrangement before any work on the solos…
made the mistake of listening to the original arrangement and noticed some significant differences. Here's an attempt to incorporate some of those changes… The mix is off due to all the machinations I'm making to convert from using the section instrument to separate tracks.
Previous pitch-to-midi experiments havent worked very well, but I'm finding that if I whistle, the pitch tracking is pretty accurate even though the timing of each note is usually quite bad. So this time I tried whistling while using a keyboard to record "timing" in real time. Can then post-process the derived MIDI events to fix up the timing. I may try to use this to make different solos. Or I may put this all aside again - that's a lot of work and I'm not feeling very inspired ATM.
ok, back to about where I started on Saturday. being very careful not to trigger the Logic bug, have tweaked the brass parts, splitting them into individual tracks and tweaking here and there. Brass sounds a bit better now vs. the various tweaks I'd tried back in December. Reenabled the solo track and have done some minor edits there. The parts that are "note for note" from the original arrangement sound ok - the solos are still pretty disappointing. not sure how much more tweaking will help vs. just starting over on some of the soloing…
ugh. found more aliased regions that got corrupted during the copy/paste (which I'd have realized yesterday if I'd listened more closely to the exported audio…). Fixed those and… the horn2 track samples are now hosed. WTF. This is bad. Suddenly I can't trust my tools.
I'd planned to split the brass and sax tracks into individual instruments as a way to try to get a more realistic sound. If the "stacked" section instrument is in fact the wonky part of the project, this should get me away from that problem.
but it doesnt! split the first 26 bars of the horn section and exported a short section to show how nice the new arrangement sounds and… one of the trombone tracks is echoing… grrr.
aha - noticed a pattern. it’s always the “highlighted” track while exporting that gets hosed. as workaround, maybe i can just try to be careful and “highlight” a sacrificial track when exporting… worked once…
restored from backup. replicated the edits. All sounds good in run-through. But when I export the track to audio, the (@&^@ sax sample is hosed. Looks like the only way forward may be to start a brand new project and copy/paste tracks into it without carrying over any of the instrument/effects settings from the original. blech. Have done that, but now i remember all the work i put into trying to get the horn section sounding realistic… this is not going to be a "quick fix"…
Attended a master class with Gary Motley and Bob Mintzer and got re-inspired to finish up the Ed Palermo Zappa arrangement. Playing around with the solos to make them sound a bit more natural. These still are still pretty poor solos, but timing and velocity tweaks really do make them a bit more palatable…
HOWEVER. Logic keeps corrupting settings for the solo sax and sometimes the horn section tracks - the sampler gets into an odd "too slow release" or too much reverb mushy sound. I can't determine why (even if I disable all effects, the raw sampler instruments has the defects). In the process of trying to fix the sampler wonkiness, I managed to completely hose the file. Going to have to restore from backup and start over. Posting the wonky brass section sound for a collective WTF.
started new piece semi-inspired by the opening of a track I stumbled across on bandcamp. Interesting groove after the first little bit of experimentation. Can I keep it up?
thought i needed a "middle". but instead tweaked a bit and worked on an ending. "done"?
not sure if this is really getting better, or if i'm just getting more used to it since i'm listening to it over and over, but here's today's snapshot…
less incoherent and maybe marginally more musical
much incoherent experimentation with the piano piece. Doubt I will keep it but in the spirit of "daily output" here's the least worst of the experiments…
a bit of an extension, but only have vague idea of where this is headed…
revisit an abandoned piano piece from august. really like the start, but it's hard to find compatible ways to extend this. tried a bunch of things - not there yet…
Slight change to the outro to get to the fast arpeggiation sooner and removed 8 bars in the middle. Audience feedback: leave the counting whispered throughout. Still not entirely happy with the next-to-last section, but may resist changing that. Had to re-record the count - some have some annoying breath plosives that were pretty annoying on my reference monitors. So… is it "done" now? FWIW, fades at decimal #147 now
another variation. try to string them together… Not entirely happy with some of the segues, but I'm getting tired of listening to myself count. Doubled the bass lines to add a higher octave - it's not really fair to expect speakers to get down to 30Hhz (but it sure does feel good when they can :))
Despite some chords and leading tones not quite gelling, I may call this "done" - title "Irrational". For the record it fades out at the 172nd decimal position.
developed another chord sequence, but haven't yet figured out how to segue to it - not sure if the change from F to E in the final measure is very noticeable.
Have an idea for a piece harkening back to my very first computer program (which computed the square root of 2 to "infinite" precision) (and reminded of Kate Bush's recitations of the digits of Pi)
Experimented with the EVOC vocoder - it's much more limited than I'd hoped - control over unvoiced "consonants" is pretty binary - and hard to mix wet vs dry. Abandoned the idea of vocoded pads for this piece.
Learned how to create an ESX24 instrument from an audio recording. Sounds sort of cool underneath an ambient choir and bass patch. Hope I can keep this up and make it interesting…
this plucked string patch has some potential for a full on ambient treatment. Also gives me an excuse to finally use the tibetan bell samples I downloaded a few months ago. let's see… I don't intrinsically get excited about this sort of music, but it's kind of fun putting it together and it takes more effort to make it sound good than it may sound like. If I space out while "listening" to it, I sort of like it. It definitely hits the "ignorable" aspect of Eno's ambience definition - while not really achieving "interesting".
In the end I quite like this. Added delay feedback, filter cutoff and other patch/effects automation throughout. Fade out at the end. Calling this "done" and naming it "Spiralling Onward".
Back to being frustrated with mastering though - this sounds best in my Sennheiser 650 headphones, "ok" on my Spica's (which are a bit weak in bass), "ok" but differently on a pair of old Klipsh's (boomy bass and much of the subtle delay effects on some of the treble is lost in the mud…), and not too bad on a Fugoo bluetooth speaker. So who knows how this will sound to anyone else… :(
Doubling down. Rather than try to find some variance in melody/chord progression, I'm just going for more and more variations in rhythmic patterns. So it's a bit repetitive, but what the heck. a slight change to the intro, but mostly just a lot more added to the end. Some work better than others and prob need to shuffle order to allow things to build and/or decay in a more coherent way.
Started playing with a LFO driven bass and some slowly evolving delay / pickup settings on a Sculpture patch. But then extended with other rhythmic patterns. Needs some work to fine tune the delay feedback from being annoying and to keep it from being too repetitive, but I think there's potential here
Modified the intro, added remaining verses, use flute for counter melody. This may be "done" - or I may try to add some drum accents ala the surdo in the original. Calling this Yila Moja.
Changed my mind. A "cover" (very loosely defined…) it will be. Doesn't hold a candle to the original, but I kinda like some of it…
can't get the south african chorus out of my head, so transcribed the funeral music intro PG used in Biko. Not an exact match - but a decent SATB rendering.
still fooling around with basic phrasing. i'm still liking the atmospherics, but not finding anything to add to it that sounds right… I've abandoned the idea of trying to do a slow "cover".
experimenting with a chord sequence stolen from PG3's Biko - might even try to turn this into a slowed down "cover", drowning in ambient pads. It's not really working yet…
revisiting HFO-163 - get rid of the fairlight-sounding flute and adds a couple of ambient pads/drones. could turn into something…
Simplified first intro rhythms and tweaked some vocals. I think it's time to call this "done"
Added an intro and outro focussing mainly on drum variations. Toned down the female voices a bit to control the unnatural "sampliness" of it but it still doesn't really sound right.
Rather than try to mesh this with the original drum/synth thing, I think i'll keep it separate and work on the original synth thing as a new piece. Giving this one a name: "Sunlight"
extended yesterday's choral parts a bit. the vocal samples are better than I expected - but frustratingly not perfect. I have to use more of my imagination than I'd like here… The drums sound so good - and some vocal phrases are pretty convincing - but others scream "sampled!".
more riffing on african drumming. played with some bells and oboe like sounds but like this snippet best so far. hopefully i can find a way to mash all these ideas together.
Channeling PG4/Passion era PG - I think I can have some fun with this.
writers block - can't manage to realize the sound i'm looking for in the patch editor. After a short hike got inspired try do a slow "tribal" drum beat - can i develop something over this?
flailing in the patch editor trying to match a rhythmic sound i have in my head and getting no where. stumbled on this preset which is interesting (and nothing like what I'm trying to create :)) maybe it will inspire something…
another verse for piano-tempo-experiments. Tentatively calling this "done" and naming it: "Farewell"
revisit the piano improvisation from Nov 15 (HFO-119).
Added a verse. Leaving the intro as-is (was improvised without a click and sounds worse trying to clean it up.
Oblique Strategy: "Is it finished?".
I'll take the hint. re-ordering the variations to end on the "total darkness" one, tweaking a bit to make the reordered sections seque to the next and calling it done. I like this a lot more than I expected when I gave up trying to make it "good" a few days ago.
Oblique Strategy: "Imagine the piece as a set of disconnected events"
Oblique Strategy: "In total darkness, or in a very large room, very quietly"
Personal insight: (somewhat embarrassingly late in the game given that it's explicitly part of the futureland manifesto :)): not every daily creation needs to be "art". Except for a few cases where I've explicitly uploaded a one-off throwaway, I keep getting frustrated when I start something that doesn't lead anywhere interesting. This current piece isn't likely to turn into anything I'm particularly proud of, but it does seem to offer a nicely portioned "daily exercise" (in this case, a simplistic 12-bar variation on a theme). Much easier to get motivated to create that next variation not expecting it to necessarily turn the piece into something more than it is.
Today I'll try to apply an Oblique Strategy – "Reverse". (after fixing up some poor note choices for the second variation)
some more rhythmic stuff
finally showing signs of the head cold the rest of the family has been suffering with since christmas. So not much to show for the last couple days.
Playing with rhythm - but really ought to find something more interesting to do with melodic development.
getting a bit more comfortable with where this might be headed
not much thematic progress but adds a bit. spent most time trying to get articulations right so it sounds realistic. Happy New Year!
as much as I like the LFO pulse, it's getting me nowhere. Let's see if I can use the basic chord sequence in something more orchestral… Will need to find another use for the LFO pulsy thing.
in which a filtered noise pulse and drum line are added under the arpeggiation - which now sounds even more cluttered…
added some 5/4 arpeggios. still not really doing it for me, but i'll keep trying stuff until something works…
how to make it less boring? not much time today, but trying a little reshuffle to change the time signature 5/4 after the 4/4 intro. can't really hear it yet since there's nothing emphasizing the time other than the pulsed chords
Added gated chords and removed the synth stabby thingies. Added a "live" drum track (overdubbed, but not step sequenced or quantized). Still sounds a little clunky.
even though the filter works as expected, it's really awkward to use and it's not easy to predict how the pattern will affect the original notes. not sure it's going to be usable in practice…
fiddle around with some analog patches - where will it lead?
Much closer on Jansen's intro to Taking the Veil. I think he uses a delay on one of the snare hits - I cheat and just play the snare with decreasing velocity. Sounds thin, but I think the rhythm is actually correct now.
i've been fooling around with drum loops for the past few days, but I can't get the drum intro to a David Sylvian tune (drums by Steve Jansen) out of my head. How hard could it be? Apparently pretty hard. This is approximate, but not really close yet…
a less busy percussion loop
an attempt at some restraint with the loop sequencer, but not as restrained as intended…
Loaded up some latin acoustic percussion samples into loopseque - lets see what that inspires
added some delay on each trumpet and trombone in attempt to make the brass section sound "bigger" - sort of works. Extended bass lines where needed. Still more copy paste than I'd like. This is "complete", but the bass lines could be improved and the solos are still the "first takes" and are mostly too busy. The brass sometimes sounds decent, sometimes pretty thin and artificial. Still, it's not half bad and I'm not sure how much energy I have to improve this… The poor solos are very distracting, so posting the rest of the "finished" piece (with just the backing vamps and no solos).
Whether I return to this to try to create some decent solos remains to be seen…
Jeesh - found another glaring problem with one of the sax parts in the ending. fixed(?) Also tweaked articulations for brass, drums and keyboard parts to fix dynamics throughout.
back to Ed's King Kong arrangement - fixed timing in final (du'oh!) section and added drums and organ. Still needs bass.
uninspired to work on the big band piece for a few days in a row - mixing it up with some percussion looping. four loops, three in 16/8, one in 10/8.
got brave enough to try some improve soloing over the solo sections. Not happy with most of it yet, but some phrases aren't half bad. Still missing drums and bass in the ending
voicing and rhythmic tweaks to the ending. Still no drums and bass
getting closer on the ending. here's most the ending instrumentation but without the drums and bass and needing some fine tuning for arrangement / sample articulation
sketching out the last brass parts - very sketchy :)
not a lot of time for music today. more bass line tweaks. add octave to the end of verse section and split the new vamp into 2-bar pieces and play them out of sequence to add illusion of some variety…
some arrangement / reverb tweaking at the airport. Also a new bass line for the solo sections (still a bit repetitious). And tweaked/fixed the sax/brass after the second solo.
More sample tweaking. Extended through Ed's first 2 solos (sans solos :)) Still a little rough - much of the drums and bass are just copy pasted, could use some variation.
second verse more or less in place. Found a way to control the horn sections to mute saxes (or horns) and add additional instruments to the section so I can treat a track as a "brass" or "sax" section.
Now that i have the basic theme transcribed (with help from written scores), I'm going to try to replicate Ed Palermo's arrangement by ear. (I have a dozen different recordings of King Kong in my library – the original Uncle Meat variations, Jean-Luc Ponty's, Zappa's later bands and Ed Palermo's big band - Ed's is my fave). His has an extended sax solo as the central core and I don't want to try to create a jazz solo to replace it - but I think it will be fun to just get all the rest of his arrangement figured out and replicated. Or so I think… The brass samples in Logic are pretty good, but missing a good sax section – the "section" samples also mix in brass so its hard to separate out the parts. Making do with what I have, but it's difficult to make this really sound like a real band…
added the 8-bar intro, drums and harpsicord - rounds out the sound. Added the glissando for the horns. Drum fills aren't very good, but its a start.
tidal is wedded to the notion of a cycle with all sounds sharing that same cycle. very difficult to break out of that model. works good for dance music; might work ok for generating algorthmic drum tracks - but awkward for the sort of thing I'm trying to do. Not sure how much more effort I want to put into it…
So taking another break and transcribing some Zappa. Here's a beginning for King Kong. I cheated a little by finding a score on the net, but got all confused by the horn part key signatures. Need to read up more on how brass and horn parts are notated.
tidal is fun to fool around with, but like anything new, when I want to do something specific, I'm spending hours hunting down the right bits and pieces and then running out of time and desire to do whatever it was I thought I needed to do in the first place. Patience…
more fooling around with tidal. This is all tidal generated audio fed into Logic, with a delay effect added after the fact in Logic.
it wasnt straightforward, but also not that hard - I now have Tidal->SuperDirt->SuperCollider acting as both audio source and MIDI controller into Logic. As evidence, here's a short recording - first an audio sample from tidal (squeel), then another in track2 (saw synth), then a midi sequence in track 3 (drums), another midi sequence in track 4 (piano) and then some random "live" munging of the sequence patterns. Still not "music" - this is still just an exercise in making sure all the pieces can talk to one another as intended.
In a rut. So decided to try playing around with Tidal Cycles. Had an old version of SuperCollider installed - deleted it. Installed Tidal (haskell, SC, SuperDirt, Atom, etc.) Fired up SuperDirt the first time and… "Error - Index not an Integer" while initializing :( Eventually sorted it out and got basic Tidal examples to make sounds.
Don't get excited @internetvin - I haven't made any "music" yet - just making sure all the modules do what they're supposed to do so far… Have a vague idea of things to try when I get beyond raw newbie mode - but not sure if I want to concentrate on Tidal as a standalone audio generator vs. an OSC/MIDI controller (or some sort of hybrid).
more success with tempo mapping. but after all that decided to not mess with the feel of the performance. Instead added a bit to it.
banged my head against Logic's "smart tempo" functionality trying to find ways to take freely recorded MIDI (e.g. yesterday's piano snippet) and slice and dice it to a more rigid tempo. Much frustration and no success.
resurrected the foot switch off my old Synergy to work with my current midi controller (had to disassemble and readjust the sustain spring tension.) It now works with the ESX24 piano – I had forgotten how much I depend on the sustain pedal when playing piano! I think going forward I'll have an easier time improvising piano parts.
not much time to experiment today. here's a different approach to an intro…
Some clumsy piano noodling over the synth pulse. My fingers arent really cooperating today, but with some practicing maybe something like this is a way forward.
a bit of an analog patch editing exercise - heard a pulsed tone in my head and wanted to see what i could do with an pulsed LFO driven filter. Not sure this will turn into anything more serious…
fooling around with a discarded project from august
Slight reworking of the drum loop based piece - calling this one Extruded.
Benefits of being on the beta test team - ipad sequencer is fixed, so I created three sets of looped patterns, exported them as individual loops and then rearranged/assembled in Logic. Could also play the loops live in the sequencer (that's more or less how the developer intended), but this gives me more control.
waiting on a fix for loopseque and not inspired to start something in Logic yet. Fooled around with TonePad ipad app and captured some audio. nice UI and fun to create simple sequences - but VERY limited - too bad it doesnt have any direct use as a midi controller.
more experimentation with the new sequencer. found a bug in the pattern editor, but the developer seems pretty responsive; hoping for a fix soon. meanwhile, i imported some drum machine samples from Logic and created a pattern from scratch then fooled around with it in real time while recording. I think i'm going go like this.
Away from home for a while for a family emergency - Had a few minutes to play with new ipad sequencer. This is just using its demo loop library - just getting a feel for how the app works…
back to more or less where it started with some tweaks to the arrangement. I think I'll just call this "done".
tried a bunch of things to flesh out the middle and this is the best I could come up with? Sigh - better luck tomorrow…
It's been raining all day, so… I have a decent opening and ending - needs a middle.
had a sequence floating around in my head but can't quite place where it's from (Jean Michelle Jaare? I don't think so…). In any case, this isnt exactly the same (which is a good thing :)) and maybe I can make something out of it…
Found better settings in thumbjam as a midi-controller for guitarish sounds (eg. pitchbend via H-tilt instead of V-tilt and try to avoid pitchbend via drag gesture.) Slightly better results. The larger layout on the tablet vs phone helps some too.
Searched for a simple-to-use step sequencer for the ipad - nothing "free" does what I want. Decided to try Lemur since it has gotten good reviews and is very customizable / programmable. Then wasted lots of time fighting app store problems - turns out apple's servers were down for a few hours.
Eventually installed Lemur on the ipad, but can't get the supporting daemon and editor utility to run on the mac. Frustrating! To be continued…
read up on Haskell (nightmare memories of APL from school daze…) and Tidal Cycles (live coding)
On relistening, the weakest part of this was the original rhythmic pulse :). Tried to remove altogether and that didn't work. It's specifically the "B" pattern that bothered me, so altered that. Messed around with the mix too - brought the "drum" and bass a bit up in the mix. Shortened it by 4 measures.
clean up the pads and build a bit via chord voicing, tweak the bass to be a bit less muddy (but it's still almost lost in the mix). Some of muddiness is inherent in the patches (especially the pad, but it's a bit better now that i reduced some of the exciter-driven harmonics) – but I like how they sound together… maybe this will just be a slightly cluttered/muddy piece. Giving it a name: Stubborn Hope
had an idea to build something "ambient" around a "non drum" rhythm pattern. So started with a filtered noise patch. then just started noodling with random patches. this is too muddy, but something like it might be worth persuing…
Messing around on a new-to-me ipad with Brian Eno's Trope app.
Saw Cirque du Soleil last night and liked some of the heavy beat, major key stuff they use during some of the acts. This comes nowhere close to what I liked (and I still can't manage a convincing "guitar" part…) Sigh…
she's not dead yet… still not sure this really has any sort of future, but rather than fret about it, just having some fun playing with midi transpose and delay filters to munge the arpeggiated sequence
no matter how hard i try, i can't get excited about this dancy thing. I like the arpeggio and the transition leading to the kick - and even like the repurposing of the pattern to the bass and then its variation. But I can't really get excited about finishing this. Either I "kill my darling" and abandon the kick and dancinesss or put this whole piece back on hold yet again.
returning to an abandoned project. Not sure I'll be any less stuck as I try to extend this though… But at least a few bars further than I was…
refinements to the final synth sweeps and extend them throughout the fade. I think it's done now.
Tweaked some settings in thumbjam that makes it work a teeny bit better for this patch - but it's still making tracks that need a lot of manual cleanup (very small thumb movement on the phone generates wrong notes - probably would work better on a larger screen. Still I managed to record something today - though there's not much of the original thumbjam take left after all the tedious manual cleanup… The result no longer sounds vaguely guitarish so I'll just call it a glidey synth. Maybe I should try letting thumbjam create audio on the phone and import that rather than trying to use it as a midi controller? (that allows for less manual tweaking tho - so not really practical in the long run). I think this is getting closer to the realm of "done enough", so I'll give it a name: "Mystified Stranger"
spent too much time trying to find a way to use my bass as a way to create guitar lines. thought if i could get a DI audio signal, I could use a pitch shifter to get it up an octave or two and what could be simpler…? Eventually managed to get the DI part working via an old Bassman preamp using the headphone output, but the Logic pitch shifter is CRAP. Completely useless at least in any way I've tried so far… The Wham pedalboard pedal plugin is a little better at pitch shifting, but it doesnt really solve the problem. So back to square one. Nothing worth recording…
added some cymbals and simple drum fills and replaced the bassline for a slighty more human feed. Need to re-record some of the piano (reduce copy/paste) and spend more time on the drum/bass - some of the phrasing still sounds a little clunky. Spent a lot of time trying to find a guitar-like sound for another track - have a close-enough sound (I think) but none of my takes via thumbjam are sounding good. may try using the keyboard. Added some filter swells in the pad.
got distracted playing around with the https://syntheshesie.buzzlight.com webapp. Reminds me a bit of Brian Eno and Peter Chilver's iPhone apps (trope, bloom) (without the generative aspect - this just plays what you draw - nothing more).
continuing on in more or less the intended style. trying hard not to fall into a rote copy of the song that i stole the inspiration from… (spent 30 minutes fooling around with a tape delay on the bass but that really did get too derivative).
its a bit monotonous, but perhaps with some additional development i can turn it into something decent…
Not a lot of time and not super inspired today. Trying to at least find a chord progression for next piece. Settling in on a basic two chord "progression" from Pink Floyd. Fooling with the stock FM Piano patch sounds really nice - so maybe will just lay down something like this and see where it can go.
Naming things is exhausting (no new music created - just a lot of thrashing around with naming things). Come up with names for my "back catalog" of more or less completed pieces. Will try to do this as I create anything non-throwaway going forward.
amb -> Bigfoot Sleeps brass2 -> It Is Possible dreamy -> Lazy Water dreamy2 -> Aimless Flight dreamy5 -> Choose a Path dreamy6 -> Smoking Circle piano2 -> Unpaved Trail piano5 -> Altered Fate seven3 -> Captive Puzzle spacey1 -> Deep Space One string1 -> Obsession strings2 -> Stalking Music
some more variations. some placeholders that probably still need to be fleshed out (or excised :)) Or maybe this is "done".
trying to start being more creative about titles - may start calling this one "Eastbound Countdown" instead of "strings3" … (ended up using an xkcd style password generator to generate word random triplets and selected some words. this was exhausting! maybe I'll just go back to numbering things (opus1, opus2… :))
some more development. feels complete, but still pretty short - will probably try to come up with some more variations
not stuck yet… tweaked articulations; refined some phrasing. beginnings of a chord progressing (the Am7->Em7->D maj progression with the A oriented ostinato over it is reminding me of something - but i can't quite place exactly what…).
Possibly a dead end. try to limit myself to orchestral instruments, but develop a repetitive/minimalistic theme
revised the "guitar" parts. refined bits and pieces. i still like this, but not sure where else to take it. Maybe its "done enough" - but i'm not yet convinced.
I like where this is headed… The "guitar" solos arent really working yet tho…
Building up from various stock patches (each mutated slightly) rather than worrying about creating patches from whole cloth. Can I continue to develop this?
trite arpeggiator stuff. each track using the deadmau5 inspired basic sawtooth patch but each with slightly different filter and envelope settings. My excuse for this travesty: I'm learning how to use the arpegiator to create basic sequences, but then paste them into editable piano roll for fine tuning.
Fooled around with an external step sequencer (Cythar) - but it's way more than I can wrap my head around in an hour or so. Clearing my head with some more "tv music".
still not trilled with the bundled arpeggiator (I would like to be able to control pattern selection via MIDI CC (track automation), but can't find a way to do that). here's the basic sequence using it. Uses CC to control the basic rate. Tweaked the equalization a bit to get a bit more fizz into the patch while also emphasizing the bass.
My initial impressions of the bundled arpeggiator in logic was not good so i’ve been avoiding using arpeggiators and manually writing sequences into the daw (time consuming and gets in the way…). time to find and master an arpeggiator. Spent too much time looking at alternatives and fiddling with demos. Havent found anything i like better than the bundled one. Maybe i ought to just suck it up and learn how best to use it. nothing worth calling a “creation” today - so not posting audio.
inspired by a Deadmau5 excerpt heard on an amazing wingsuit video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXGowLvRPWc). As simple as his fat sawtooth patch sounds, I'm so far unable to replicate it with ES2, ESM or even ModulAir. Mine sounds thin in comparison. Here's as close as I've managed so far (via ES2). A slow opening of the filter and a gradual introduction of some delay effects just to make things interesting.
more tv music. an excuse to finally play around with orchestral string samples. an imaginary scene with some sort of psychopath stalking his victim - so I couldn't resist finishing up with a tetrachord :)
Have been thinking i should try some small snippets and call them "music for tv" – i.e., like incidental music for tv or movies – that wouldnt need full fledged development, just a snippet of rhythm or melody or interesting "sound". This the first such output – though it turned into a more structured sappy song than originally envisioned. [mutitracked, but melodies improvised live with minor touch up].
a bit more work on the sequence; only an approximate replica of the original, but addition of a rhythmic filter sweep and more emphasis on "the 1" make it sound pretty good
attempts to deconstruct/recreate the layered pulsed sequence in Ascendant's Inception. This isnt really very close (yet…?), but it's a lot closer than most of what I managed earlier in the day…
Unproductive day. Spent considerable time creating a system for better organizing audio snippets for future inspiration. updated audacity and fought with it to get it to read m4a files :)
dabbling with sidechain modulation in the ES2 synth but haven't found a way to use it musically yet...
Refinements to spacey1. Space out (so to speak) the squaulks, give the pulsed noise more time to develop. There's a moment where the bass pad and pulsed noise combine to evoke a "helicopter starting up". This may or may not be "music", but its kinda fun.
return to dreamy5 - nothing i try works over the final bass riff (drums, substitute arpeggios, bassey stabs, whatever…). Probably should have abandoned that riff and tried something else, but i sorta like it. So just fade the sucker out and call it a day. Time to move on.
lots of false starts on continuation of dreamy5. setting it aside for the moment. started a little throwaway project to experiment with spacey electronic patches.
extended the solo and it now sounds a little better in context. here's the whole thing as it stands now… Still not sure these sections really work together - i've listened to them so much I'm convinced they do, but I've had comments that it seems a bit aimless. Still - that isnt completely uncommon of the style… mmm…
tried adding verse to first section - nothing really works yet. but did put together a nice restrained sounding solo patch and played it over the second section. probably not a keeper, but it's better than what i was able to do with section 1 …
I just can't help myself - added a 4/4 arpeggio over the new (still 5/8) section, then layered a 3/4 over top of that. the 5/8 isnt as apparent here - maybe I'll morph the following section away from 5? Will probably also extend the initial melody section with an extra verse before transitioning to this.
switched to 5/8 meter throughout - truncated the pads and arpeggios to 5/8 - left the bass and melody alone and extended it a bit. Transition to another section that… doesn't quite fit (yet).
Something citrus inspired again. build up some 9/11 chords to start then simplify, add some arpegiated bells (in 6/8), a bass line and a melody (in 15/8). Lets see where this can take us… Complex meters, much less polyrhythms arent typical for this style – should I continue or modify the bass/melody to 6/8 or the arpeggio to 5/8? Decisions, decisions…
continuing to struggle with the interlude/outro riff. It's still not "right", but does sound closer than it's been… I've spent so much effort trying to get this right, i've lost the desire to go back and fixup bass and drum copy/pastes. This may be "enough".
searching for a usable general purpose LFO controlled filter/gain modulation effect. Can do what i want with some built-in LFO's for some soft instruments, but am trying to find a standalone effect so I'm not tied to a given soft synth. so far the Logic supplied "Step FX" is close - but has icky clicks when i use it as a square gate and tonal instrument - works well for noise though
pseudo vocals by ear. tweaked some of the bass riffs during the final chorus. interlude and outro riffs are better… but still not right :( need to do Tony justice and fix up more of the bassline copy/paste
Struggling with the 2-bar bridge – which i think is also used in the outro. But have everything else mostly worked out (still need to add "vocals" and the guitar filler in the 2nd and 3rd chorus). But here's the interlude and 3rd chorus rhythm section… once i have everything worked out, i'll go back and refine the bass and drum parts.
Yikes - this is hard. transcriptions arent quite right, so lots of ear training indeed! Even so, without the hints from the transcriptions, there's no way i'd be doing this - gives me new appreciation for Bruford - this isnt even one of his particularily complicated drum lines!
King Crimson's Three of a Perfect Pair has been playing in my head for the past week - try to exorcise it by using it for more ear training (with some cheating by referring to some transcriptions available online).
little tweaks. have tried various things and they all diminish rather than enhance this. May set this aside for a while until/unless re-inspired
some variations on the sequence. The more I listen to it, though, the more harsh the sequence bells sound. I spent considerable time trying to create a better patch for the bell-like primary sequence, but nothing works better than this yet.
Attempting to replicate an interesting effect on a song from the radio - was not able to get even close, but learned how to drive multiple instruments from a single midi track, adding some midi filters and delays on each sub-track and came up with these
realization of Steve Reich's Clapping Music for Two Performers (1972) – except using pitches for vibraphone (I assigned a random "melody to the first variation rhythm). Deviated from the performance instructions by having one performer stereo left and the other stereo right instead of mixed "mono"
tweaked the intro bass pitches and extended a bit into the first solo. delayed triplet arpeg. changed drum kit, ramped up the hi hat, created an alternating measure drum beat. Added with a less abrupt ending, fading the arpeg, drums and bass and ending with the synth sweep.
back to tangerine dream inspired piece. added intro, fixed instrumentation of first melody, added beginnings of a thumbjam guitar part at end
can't get the opening to Jean-Micheal Jarre's Equinoxe out of my head, so used it as an excuse for some more ear training.
extending the dream…
channeling my inner tangerine
Started with the piano riff - thought it would go one direction and it ended somewhere else. Was very frustrated with it, but as i relisten to it maybe its ok for what it is…
Start of a solo piano piece. Hope I can find a way to extend this
some more doodling on the ambient edition of Bigfoot. I don't like it, but I'm surprised it turned out as good as it did. Except for the drone, all comes from the original - slowed down in most cases, moved to different instruments. Hard to recognize much of the original.
Ambient doodle based on various slowed down extracts from Bigfoot
Fairly complete rendition of Bill Schaeffer's Bigfoot (a note for note copy and attempting to be faithful the PLATO IMS wavetable sound of the original). Some of the fast arpegiation may not be quite right, but it's really hard to follow in the original. Pretty happy to be able to knock this out in a couple days - i'm getting a lot better with both Logic editing and analog synthesis patching.
Ear training - attempt to reproduce a blast from my past. Bill Schaeffer's Bigfoot. Yikes- need to find a way to slow down the original so i can hear it better :)
revisit the poly rhythm experiments - move the high frequency beats to more bass-ey drums.
experimenting with a markov generator - adapting some code in Sonic Pi. Nothing sonically worth posting yet…
discovered "time stretch" in Logic: polyrhythms are much easier now
extend the retro analog snippet with more aimless, but homegrown analog stuff
fooling around with analog synth programming (and learning how to save and organize patches in the Logic library); a little ditty using only ES2 with homegrown patches (plus a super reverberant silververb setting to reverbify the string patch).
fooling around with Logic transform functions (pitch and position) - non-musical results but developing an understanding on how to use them.
seeds of an idea that might turn into a piano oriented piece
cut about half of the final theme and it works a little better now. may be "good enough" to move on to something else - though not really something i'm especially happy with (yet?).
mashup all three themes. link each with a single note - and end on same sort of single note bridge. not yet "done", but feels like it's taking shape. third theme seems confused and cut off too short at end.
another chord progression driven section - this time adding Am, Bb and C. Still needs some revoicing. More similar in style to the original from some months back. Not yet integrated into a whole (tried mashing together with the original and it just doesnt quite flow). But hope to find a way to make it work…
Revisited brass1 and extended it. Not thrilled with the result - but with more time i might be able to make something of it. Skipping 31 and using 32 in order to realign with futurealpha numbering.
added some room ambiance and tweaked a few note timings (and removed two measures). Disappointed in both the piano and cello samples. Installed Kontakt player in order to use pocketBlakus solo cello sample. Nice! but only "demo mode" - so spent time articulating the esx24 sample instead. Piano sustain has some wierd harmonic side effects, but still sounds better than without it
simple piano chord progression, with some inversions and then a fake-cello over the top of the final repetition
edits - shorten to 12-bar patterns; add more patterns; rearrange to make them more similar to previous ones
continuation of yesterday's idea. still more of a proof of
not feeling well today - tried a couple of things that i threw away. this might turn into something tho
fooling around with drum machine patterns. Needs some evolution. probably drop the pad and find some sort of interesting bass line.
A lot of not much for the time spent. Added 3 or 4 tracks and took them away (cluttered the sound and didnt really add anything interesting). the remainder is not exactly as it was - drums have an extra kick, triplets pan from left to right, main sequence delay increases during first couple measures.
This is more like what i was intending yesterday. stole a basic sequence from eric wollo, but end result doesnt sound anything like him.
ugh. the plan was to start on a moody, sequencer driven ambient something or other and instead i get this light bubbly fluff
what a difference a decent set of headphones can make! remix the macoy riff - sounds much more similar to my speakers. Still sounds ok on the cheaper phones too. I think i have a path forward for achieving acceptable mixes.
more thumbjam pussyfooting emulation. a bit more musical this time
what? more pseudo-pussyfooting? reused loops from yesterday, but loaded individually into logic and then "arranged" them from there rather than trying to use the thumbjam mixer.
fooling around with thumbjam loops - tried to play along with a funky canned drum loop and sounded lame. did a poor man's emulation of No Pussyfooting instead
Spent time mostly researching "virtual reference monitor" alternatives. Made some small articulation tweaks on the bass, some additional fills on the bongo part. No changes to "mix" yet
a diversion. Habib Faye's bass line from Youssou N'Dour's Macoy (sans drums and synths).
extension to the diversion: add percussion, flutey thing and drone to macoy groove. spent more time fooling with equalization trying to make it sound ok on speakers vs headphones than I spent laying down the tracks. Not happy with the percussion accents, but ran out of time due to the "mastering" time sync. still sounds 100% better on headphones than the speakers :(
Mix check. My least favorite part of the process. Sounds so different on headphones, living room speakers, car. Step 1…
fripp’s first set of atmospheric doodles
all “vocals” now roughed in. need to fine tune; added a rough frippianism at bar 64
added pitch and volume tweaks to bass solo and fripp ending. simplified the bass part a bit - stick part doesnt translate that well to synth (need to do the same with the "vocal" track)
beginnings of an attempt to recreate Sylvian and Fripp's Damage
redid the second verse "vocals" - still not right, but largely there. minor massage on the bass line
spent some time playing with the Logic arpeggiator
synth tweaking, distortion and delays to make a fripp-like sound for the ending
Force myself to learn more stuff in Logic by trying to recreate Alan Parson's I Robot
beginnings of 1st bass solo. timing is a bit clunky
Learning how to use XronoMorph to generate polyrhythms
Experiment to use thumbjam as a MIDI controller in Logic Pro
Eno style tape loop
wierd mashup of discipline era king crimson polyrhythms, pink floyd organ and
maybe some peter gabriel/jerry marotta drumming
Experiment using SonicPi as generative synthesizer, feeding MIDI to Logic Pro