I was going through my collection of random royalty-free sample bits and bobs that I’ve accumulated over the years, and came across this one particular random 25-second-or-so snippet of something relentlessly upbeat and “pop”-y, and I decided that I had to see what would happen if I effectively mangled it beyond all recognition.
First, I took the snippet and put it through Hourglass, stretching and glitching it through a couple of different randomizations, making the results the two “main” channels of the track, processed through various effects. To that I added an instance of Cataract performing a random walk through a selection of the original clip, both stretched versions and another sound source I happened to have on my desktop. There’s also an instance of the track processed through Granulizer to create the underlying noise bed, and an instance of Lancinantes to provide the additional central drone that ties it all together. It took a while to balance all of the different tracks, but I think it comes together into a reasonably focused and meditative soundscape (well, meditative for me, at least).
I listen to a significant amount of chiptune music, but it’s been a while since I’ve tried working on any. However, I’ve recently been playing with a small synth called MiniBit that I picked up during holiday sales. It’s devoted entirely to that chiptune/lo-fi sound, and has some quite intriguing tones, including a mini-“additive” waveform editor. I’ve been throwing some algorithmic rhythms at it and the results are far more intriguing than I anticipated.
The following tracks feature a couple of randomly-generated and subsequently edited waveforms, along with some default drum patches, with some processing by BYOME to get the “squishy” sort of extra ambient drum bed. These are more demo loops than full songs, but the second one seems like it could have served as the background music in a rudimentary platformer back in the day…
I imagine that most people by now are familiar with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month – the idea being that you sit down, write somewhere around 2000 or so words a day, and try to put together a complete novel in November. I have participated in NaNoWriMo before (in fact, you can find the story that I wrote for it elsewhere on my collection of sites), and have tried some of the various offshoots. I had no idea if this was actually a thing for music (I didn’t actually look it up until just now, but there are apparently some established challenges like this, including the RPM Challenge, February Album Writing Month, and National Solo Album Month).
I did not participate in any of these directly, but the challenge was roughly the same: work on and produce… some kind of sound just about every day, and create an album’s worth of stuff by the end of the month, while at the same time learning more techniques and doing further experimentation and familiarization with my collection of usual (and especially unusual) sound design tools and plugins. So, I worked on it through the month of November 2018, and now that the month is in the books, I am hereby releasing my NaAlProMo album.
If you want to just jump straight to the music, you can click on the link below to grab a ~100MB zip file containing the music files for the entire album.
Download the NaAlProMo Album
The album itself is definitely in the experimental genre, and contains over 60 tracks of… sound, or music if you’re feeling generous with the term. It contains everything from quick clips and sequences to full(ish)-length tracks. The album is focused in part on algorithmic generation, and features pseudo-randomly generated sequences for the underlying melodies. It also features techniques such as granular and spectral synthesis, among others.
Some of the plugins and program used in the project include: Dune 2, Z3TA2+, Hourglass, Quanta, Granulizer 2, Grainspace, Reaktor 6, MUnison, Microtonic, Drum Pro, Battery, BYOME, and many more…
While you can grab the archive and check out all of the audio files that way, I wanted to put some of my favorite tracks from the album in this post to stream directly:
audio test project
audio test projectt
fxtesting Edit 2 Export 1
It probably comes as no surprise to my listeners that the pace of new music released here has slowed considerably the past several years. Part of this has to do with the fact that I am no longer a student, and am instead a professional building up skills, clients, and my own practice in the next phase of developing my career. That isn’t to say that I’m apart from music altogether; along with my paid work, one of my other major projects is being part of a team that’s trying to start up a new community radio station from scratch (you can check it out at https://ksqd.org, a website which I’m quite involved in, as I’m the station’s web coordinator). Put both of those together, and my time for working on other creative projects has been… fragmented, at best. I’m still making music, still picking up new and interesting experimental tools to play around with here and there, but mostly I’ve ended up working on small, quick experiments rather than the sorts of full-on tracks I’ve worked on in the past.
So, for your listening… “enjoyment,” the following is a selection of the (more interesting) sound clips I’ve whipped up in 2018:
First up, a potential ringtone of a sort:
Then, an experiment with creating a… different type of noise:
A crinking experimental… something that may or may not be a tribute to Xenakis:
Some experimentation with running patterns through radical effects:
And some slightly eerie tonal granularization:
As you may know, one of the things I like to do are field recordings and sampling of unusual potential instruments. While it’s true that the standard plastic fidget spinners don’t make a whole lot of interesting sounds (unless you like slightly clattering plastic), metal fidget spinners can spin fast enough to create some interesting wind/propeller effects, along with interesting metal ringing sounds as the spinning metal part tends to resonate at a certain frequency (this is especially true of stainless steel ones, which create an effect not entirely unlike a tuning fork or a singing bowl). Also the metal ones provide enough inertia that they can produce interesting audio with a loose or dirty bearing, allowing for some interesting mechanical grinding and wobbling timbres.
I’m considering doing another free sample pack using some metal spinners that I’ve come across here and there (recorded with my field recorder, so probably not studio quality, but useful to do things with in experimental music nonetheless). In the meantime, though, here’s a track that’s basically recordings of a few different metal spinners, processed through some glitch and granular effects to create an interesting little sonic noise-scape:
So, over the holidays, one of my gifts to myself was to take advantage of holiday sales to flesh out my library of instrument and effect plug-ins, on computer and on mobile (especially to take advantage of the AUv3 instrument integration into iOS mobile DAWs). On the computer side, though, I picked up a couple of interesting effects (Glitchmachines Quadrant and Illformed Glitch 2), and a couple of synths that were different from my standard repertoire, including Wiggle, which I’m not sure I can even quite describe yet, and the most recent synth designed by Dmitry Sches, Thorn.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m more experienced with different types of synthesis now, or the fact that the instrument really is quite intuitive to program, but I’ve actually been getting into some sound design with it. Aside from the now-defunct Vanguard, which had few enough parameters that I felt like I could tackle them all, for the most part I’ve mainly done tweaks to existing synth patches. Something about Thorn, though, makes me really want to just dive right in and see what I can create. I haven’t even tried any of the presets that it came with yet, just starting from a blank preset and going from there, and I’ve already created some interesting stuff, like the following clip, which is just one of my synth programs applied to a simple set of notes:
And just for fun, here’s a version of it accompanied by some effected drums:
A Sequence (Drums)
Another one in my audio composition card series, this one for my mom’s birthday. Based on… algorithmic something or other.
A quick experimental sketch, sort of a techno-themed piece. I wanted to do something playing off of some atmospheric noise sounds generated by Noisetar, which is a fascinating synth based entirely around digitally-generated noise rather than traditional oscillators (it’s available for free, in case you’re interested in playing around with it yourself). I used it to create the sort of noise background that the other sounds rise up from. Ultimately, I like the way it sounds as is (I like sticking it in my music player and playing it on continuous loop while I’m working on stuff, with the noise intro/outro it loops quite well), but I’m still thinking about adding in a few things to it and making it into more of a feature-length track.
So, it’s… 2017 somehow, close to a full year without posting here. Suffice it to say, I’ve been working on many other projects, which were not particularly music-related.
One thing I did work on, recently, was another alarm clock project. These days, like a lot of people, I use my cellphone as my alarm clock. However, the default ringtones all kick in immediately when the alarm triggers, creating an abrupt sort of sound that jolts me awake. I wanted to create a custom sound, the kind that’s pleasant (to me) and eases in gradually, but eventually gets loud enough to make sure the alarm is effective.
This track is the result. I’ve also included the download for the iOS ringtone version of it (sorry, I don’t have an android device, so if you want to use it for one you’ll need to convert the MP3 version yourself).
Download as iOS Ringtone
I’m not sure why, but I wanted to make something both painfully chaotic and relatively synchronized. Luckily, there happens to be an app for that, and it’s called BitWiz, a unusual program that essentially lets you program in a mathematical formula, and it will turn it into very intense digital-sounding noises. The underlying sound in the track was generated from a modification to one of the preset sequences, further disassembled with some Sonic Charge effects, accompanied by some of my favorite Reaktor ensembles until I got the level of sound I was looking for.
The result is… marginally listenable, but for some reason I really like it. Listening to it makes me feel… synchronized, somehow, especially when I put it on loop. Although I can’t listen to it for too long because then my ears start to hurt…
Also, the title was originally going to be Kabang for some arbitrary reason, but then I removed the G for an even more arbitrary reason. The removal, however, does not appear to objectively affect the sound quality.