Tomorrow Came (2013 : The Year in Review)

Well, not really. But Disquiet Junto Project #0104 had us go through our past year’s work, and splice five seconds per month into a one minute year-in-review piece:

Details (and links to the source tracks) are at the SoundCloud Link.

In other news, last week’s Disquiet had us make a secular holiday track, using material from the previous week’s project:

I’ve also uploaded the third in the ‘The Chaldean Social Club” series (which I will explain at some point, I promise):

a shining tree [disquiet0102-sonictinsel]

For Disquiet Junto Project #0102, we were asked to make a one-minute loop that was “glistening, reflective and gentle” to make a secular holiday track:

Done in Ableton Live. Used a Collision patch to make the tolling sound, and ran a Korg WAVESTATION soft synth through the effects part of the emulated Korg MS-20 to make the ‘snow sprinkles’ sounds that make their entrance about a third of the way into it.

This was exported as an actual Live loop.

constraint groups, all the rage…

Newmusicbox has a brief interview with Marc Weidenbaum about the Disquiet Junto. (The newmusicbox site looks pretty good in general, I’m largely linking to the article so I’ll remember to check it out later).

Also found another ‘constraints-based exercise’ SoundCloud group, this one with a monthly deadline, where the stimulus is a particular photo.

Could be interesting…

Oh, and BTW I did end up taking the plunge and updating to Live 9 Suite (Max for Live and all!). Almost $200 in savings was too much to pass up. I haven’t had much time to play with it since downloading it. I’ve already noticed that it has much better CPU performance than Live 5 did… which seems somehow counter-intuitive.

you must march back towards the things you had forgotten… (disquiet0088-3d)

I’ve been skipping the Disquiet Junto projects (and music in general) these past few weeks. Real life has been a bit… event-filled. But this week’s project appealed to me:

We were told to generate three elements: A beat, a drone, and a ‘melodic fragment’. We were then to use these to create a 90 second piece, with each element ‘showcased’ for 30 seconds by applying some kind of 3D/spatial effect to it. (Melody from 0-29, the Beat from 30-59, and the Drone for those last 30 seconds).

Process details are here. Link to the entire Disquiet project is here. I basically panned the hell out of the ‘melody’ for 30 seconds, applied an interesting pong delay pattern to the beat for 30 seconds, and then ran the drone through an even more interesting pong delay pattern for the final 30.

I’m still trying to find an easy workflow as I make these pieces. I find myself using AudioMulch as the ‘laboratory” for creating the actual sounds, but it’s then easier to load the created sounds into Ableton Live and work on them there. I realize that most folks will tell you to just pick one DAW and learn the hell out of it, but AudioMulch is so much closer to the old-school ‘pedals and cables’ way of doing things, I find it easier to be creative there. Meanwhile, Ableton Live is just so much better at the actual construction of a piece of music, once you’ve created the raw materials.

Speaking of Ableton… 25% off the upgrade to Live 9 if I do it today. Hadn’t intended to upgrade until Spring, but I’m tempted. Live 9 Suite has the Max for Live extension that I’ve been dying to play with for almost a year.

Disquiet Catch-up (#77, #78 and #79)

Real life has been brutal, frankly, so I haven’t been updating the music blog even though I’ve managed to participate in a few Disquiet projects since the last post.

First, #77, ‘disquiet0077-netlabelsplice’:

This project gave us links to three deriv-friendly netlabel tracks, and specified a time range for each of them. We were to take material from these, and use them to create a deriv-friendly track of our own. This track was done in Ableton Live.

The next week, #78, ‘disquiet0078-minusmusic’:

An original Edison-era wax cylinder recording of an old-time orchestra was provided, and we were to ‘subtract only’ to create a new piece. Like most, I interpreted ‘subtract only’ to imply filtering and volume/mute changes. I attached mutes and filter controls to MIDI events in Audiomulch, and recorded the piece live.

The third week, for disquiet0079-juntofate, had us participate in a remix contest using the (apparently public domain) soundtrack to the MST3K favorite, Manos, the Hands of Fate:

We were instructed to go ‘downtempo’, but unfortunately my random choices pulled track #24, “Chaos”, which as you could imagine from the title, was not the most downtempo track in the source set. Typical ‘crazed saxophone’ noises familiar from movies of the late 50s and early 60s (probably already a dated sound when Manos was made in 1966). I did manage to find a nice syncopated hook inside one of the breaks, and decided to build the bulk of the track on that.

Additional process details (and links) are available at the respective SoundCloud track sites. I just wanted to update.

Disquiet Junto 0073: Faulty Notation

The Disquiet Junto project for this week assigned us an excerpt of a geological/topographical map of the San Andreas fault line. Mine is below:

a san andreas fault map excerpt
san andreas fault map excerpt

There were many map excerpts, but this one was mine. I started out with no real idea as to how to approach this, but soon found myself making a detailed markup of how to bind the maps’ characteristics to tones, etc:

Collected the map areas into eight ‘categories’ (to keep it tractable– I lumped together two separate yellows as one tone, for example) and did what I could to read it as a score. Six MIDI instruments (mostly processed Korgs softsynths), keyed in by hand. The “score” was complicated enough that it was best treated like a comp sheet. In addition, two samples of my own were drawn in by hand in the proper places (relative to the other sounds/features).

If you look closely at the markup, you can see that I had originally planned for 5 minutes (300 seconds) because that made the pixel-to-time math easier. I soon realized just how grueling this would be, so it ended up scaling to 3 minutes.

Enjoy. Creative Commons, no commercial use, derivs ok.

(ETA: This one was done in Ableton Live).

disquiet #0069 : the four elements

This week’s Disquiet Junto project had us downloading four sound sources from, one for each of the classical elements (earth, air, fire and water).

I used Audiomulch for this one, along with a couple of the Korg Legacy Collection VST plugins (specifically, the filter bank section of an emulated Korg M-20 –which I find myself using more than I’ve ever used the emulated synth– and the Korg MDE-X effects plugin, which IMO has a nice soft/clean reverb). Each sound was given a specific ‘character’ through the use of effects, and I set up the MIDI Controller to manipulate the mix and effects in real time. The final patch ended up looking like this:

screen capture of audiomulch

As before, the size of the patch is limited by my ability to control the beast in real-time. The new controller (a Novation zero mkII) does seem to make it easier to control larger patches. And while it can be a confusing and finicky thing to use with Ableton (sometimes I have to reboot to get the two talking through Novation’s Automap S/W), with Audiomulch it’s just another MIDI controller, and the learn function works just fine.

I do wish I knew how to manipulate the Zero’s little LCD screen (through MIDI, presumably) to put my own customize info there. It must be possible in theory, because apps like Logic, Ableton, Cubase etc can all do it. But (as far as I have been able to tell), Novation doesn’t publish any info on how to do this for ourselves.