This one is as much an experiment in sound design than anything else, tweaking a synth with a formant filter to create something… well, not really akin to it at all, but slightly evocative of overtone singing (which makes sense, considering that overtone singing is about formant manipulation above all else). It’s certainly an interesting thing to hear coming from what’s basically a subtractive synth, though. Not quite like someone singing, but eerily expressive nonetheless…
So, no surprise, I’m still busy with a dozen different things, which means that it’s been a good long while since I’ve actually sat down with my DAW and really worked extensively on a comprehensive new track. That’s not to say, though, that I haven’t still been involved with music. It’s just been a different process, more quickly playing around with stuff on my phone or tablet when I’m on the go, or pulling up a program and trying out a quick idea in a spare minute. Or, for example, singing random weirdness into the new Music Notes program and seeing how surreal the accompaniment can get:
What that means is that while I don’t have a ton of really cohesive songs to post, I do have a whole bunch of myriad random sound clips, that nonetheless have some very interesting sounds to them.
Such as this quick improvisation in iKaosscilator:
Or a couple of really quick clips of how the same underlying sound can be dramatically different just by tweaking a few effects:
Speaking of which, I’ve been playing around with a lot of new experimental effects, which can do quite a lot with even a very simple two-note sequence:
And then, um, there are these…
So, yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to music-wise recently. Admittedly, among some of these various tracks are some other clips that I think have some promise as the basis of a more extensive work, which will be heading for my DAW likely at some point in this next year (assuming the US isn’t swallowed up in a ravenous vortex of vicious politics). I’m still playing around with sound, still making music, even if it is a little bit more… bite-size at the moment. (Oh, actually, I did come up with a more complete track recently… trouble is, it’s another one for the NSFAE album, which means I can’t exactly release it here.)
In other news, while I haven’t really had a chance to utilize it a whole lot yet, I finally, after years of delay, made the jump to Logic Pro X. Which does, admittedly, have some nice features, although it killed off all of my 32-bit plugins, some of which I do miss dearly, although some of the replacements are even more promising (for example, CamelSpace, from the Apple-devoured Camel Audio, was a nice and extensive trancegate plugin, but Tantra takes it to a whole other level). And, in the interim, I have to admit that my musical style and technique have changed quite a bit, so while I miss some of the old sounds, a lot of the newer instruments that still work are more directly applicable to the things I’ve been wanting to work on, including some phenomenal granular synthesis instruments I’ve been having fun with. Between that and the rather impressive mini-studios I’ve managed to get going on my tablet, there are more opportunities than ever to explore the boundaries of sonic character, and I already have some fascinating ideas about what I want to try next…
As you may have noticed from glancing through my catalog, my family has been an inspiration for my music in various ways. Music has always been a large part of my family’s experience, and we’re all involved with it in one way or another: my father is an expert at manipulating song lyrics to create pitch-perfect parodies, my mother is an excellent vocalist who performs in multiple choirs, my brother is also a great vocalist and player of reed instruments (clarinet, saxophone, etc), and like me was also a radio DJ for a time. And as for me… well, I do all of this craziness that from time to time I like to call music.
My family has also been the driving force behind some of the music I actually create. I may have mentioned it before, but some of my earliest tracks created to add a little bit of original flair to the mix CDs I created for family members (at the time, my computer was the only one with a CD burner). Over time, that tradition continued, and for several Mother’s and Father’s Days, I used music to do something interesting.
For my mom, it was mainly about doing something unique and interesting, but for my dad, there was usually another layer involved. Another hobby that the two of us share is that of cryptology: of making and breaking codes. So, for Father’s Day, instead of just a card, I’d create something that had an encoded message in it for my father to decode. Over the years, I’ve done all sorts of things for it, from abstract color patterns to choose-your-own-adventure games, to painstakingly hand-drawing my own particular adaptation of the classic Dancing Men cipher from Sherlock Holmes. And, in several cases, it’s involved music and sound (in fact, there’s another coded musical message posted somewhere on this site, if you’re so inclined to track it down).
This particular one is the latest iteration, and thus far has remained uncracked, if for some reason you’re interested in trying your hand at it… (this particular one contains a more generic rather than personal message, so I’m okay with posting it publicly).
Some additional experimentation on live-playing instruments on my tablet (this one is done in Chordion).
I have to say, when it comes to playing things live, I’m definitely of mixed minds about it, and even more so when I’m working with melody. When I’m working on live manipulation of a weird soundscape, for instance, that live random element is almost part of the fun, to see what unpredictable thing might happen. With a melody, though, it’s a different story, especially since I’m not the kind of person who can jump in and improvise something while guaranteeing that I won’t hit an off note – and if I was going to practice and play something over and over again until I got it perfect, why not just take the extra step and program it directly into my DAW where it can be as precise as I want it? While I’m not sure it results in absolute perfection each time, for me the fun of improvising something is to just go with the music while keeping it reasonably listenable. At the same time, though, when I’m playing it back and hear something jarring, or even if not then at least something I didn’t intend or didn’t really want it to sound like, it can infuriate me to no end. And yet, I keep trying to improvise and play unusual things live, so…
I played several different approaches with Chordion, but this was the only track I really got into:
The annoying part of being busy with work and exam prep and dozens of other projects, creative and otherwise, is that sometimes you don’t get a chance to make music for a while, and it drives you crazy.
Anyway, here’s a little track that I came up with while working on some different musical sequences and tried to play live in Rockmate, mostly succeeded, and then probably titled by mashing my hand against the keyboard.