My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: studio journal

Synth Learning: “Food and Drone Administration”

Week two of Weekly Beats 2020

This is my second weeklybeats.com/disquiet track of the year. There’s noise in this recording that wasn’t intended, but such is the learning process, especially when you leave the recording to the last minute. Building on last week’s track, I made separate recordings of each of the three notes of two simple chords that shared one note between them. I wanted to have the effect of the piece slowly moving from the first chord to the second and back to the first, where the chords are as much their separate constituent parts as they are functioning chords. The chords are F/D/A and G/D/A#, the D slightly different between the two (I changed with pickup I used). The notes go from my electric guitar into my synth, which captures a grain in the Clouds module (actually the Antumbra Smog), let run for about 20 seconds each. I triggered the granular freeze in Clouds with a foot pedal via my Monome Walk module, which is handy, so to speak, when both hands are on your guitar. Each note is being muffled a bit after it comes out of Clouds. I put it through the Make Noise FXDf (fixed filter) and sent the lowest four bands of the spectrum into my mixer, and one of those is made slightly warbly courtesy of a sine wave from my Xaoc Batumi module that is being squished by my WMD S.P.O. module. I recorded and assembled this in Audacity on my laptop, using noise reduction and volume adjustment as part of the process. Oh, and the guitar goes through a reverb pedal, the Hardwire RV-7, before going into the synth.

Here’s a photo of the patch:

Track originally posted at weeklybeats.com/disquiet and soundcloud.com/disquiet.

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Synth Learning: “In and Near C”

My first 2020 track for Weekly Beats

It’s a new year, and I’m giving weeklybeats.com a go again. I only posted a few tracks two years ago when I last joined in. Unlike many other weekly music communities online, Weekly Beats is quite open-ended: “The objective of Weeklybeats is to encourage musicians to be productive, creative, and have fun,” states its FAQ. By contrast, in the SB Beat Battles, everyone works with the same shared samples. In the Naviar Haiku, everyone works from the same short poem as inspiration. And in the Disquiet Junto, everyone follows the same instructions for a different project.

In my brief Weekly Beats writeup, this is how I described what’s going on: “A drone in and near C for the start of the new year. The source note is from my Arturia MicroBrute. It goes through a reverb pedal, the HardWire RV-7, which then goes into my Eurorack modular synthesizer. Several things happen then: three separate bands of the spectrum (via the MakeNoise FXDf module) are individually combined with snippets being frozen in the Clouds module (triggered by a square wave from an oscillator, the Dixie II), and I’m manually saving and playing loops using the Soundmachines UL1 (recording and playing as triggered by two foot pedals via the Monome Walk module). That’s a broad-strokes description.”

Here’s a photo of the patch in my modular synth:

Just a few more notes: Where it says Clouds above, it’s actually Smog, a smaller version of the Clouds module. There’s some low-level LFO activity going on, as well. Waves from my Batumi, squashed into something less wildly fluctuating by my WMD S.P.O., are influencing the volume of one of the FXDf, and the “position” and “texture” of the Smog audio. One thing I was trying to do throughout was ever so slightly alter the tuning of the audio being replayed by the UL1 looper, the idea being to have something close to C that would create moire/beading with the C itself. I was using a lot of the various options within the MicroBrute to make the C as complex as I could, and I slowly turned all of those knobs down at the very end, until the track was silent. That about covers it.

The track is on both weeklybeats.com and soundcloud.com.

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Synth Learning: “Tako Friday”

The soap-opera narrative of my modular synthesizer diary is me breaking up with and then getting back together again with my Soundmachines UL1 module. I think we finally committed to a long-time engagement last night. Season-ending episode.

This evening, to celebrate the 24-hour-versay of our vows, I ran a slow arpeggio of a series of electric guitar chords through the UL1, and through four other processing units.

Here’s more technical detail, as part of my modular diary, mostly for my own memory: All five of these separate processings of the guitar play simultaneously, though two are being gated, meaning you don’t hear them consistently. The UL1 is a lofi looper, and it’s the thing here being pushed into glitch territory. The UL1 is receiving a narrow, high-end band of the guitar signal, as filtered by the Make Noise FXDf. Another narrow band, also on the high end, is going from the FXDf straight out. A third narrow band, the highest of the trio, is going into a slowly clocked Befaco Muxlicer, the relative volume of the signal changing with each pulse. That same pulse is determining whether a fourth channel, the guitar through the Make Noise Erbe-Verb reverb module, is to be heard or not (as clocked by a slow square wave on a Batumi). That Erbe-Verbe is also having its algorithm flipped into reverse, on occasion, based on the same clocked pulse, but the gate delayed a bit (thanks to the Hemispheres firmware running on an Ornament and Crime module). And finally, the guitar is running through Clouds, a granular synthesis module, which is also being clocked to occasionally snag a bit of the guitar signal and turn it into a haze.

It took awhile to get the chords right. The only note the four chords have in common is an open D. The piece fades in with the D played on two strings, setting the backing tone. It also took awhile to get the right processing decisions made. I started with the UL1, and then built up and adjusted from there. I’m working on having more randomness in the triggering of the UL1, but this is pretty good, far as it goes.

It sounds a bit “Octopus’s Garden,” so it’s titled “Tako Friday” (tako being Japanese for octopus, and this being Friday). In retrospect I hear a bit of “The Dark Side of the Moon” in there, too. The audio was recorded through a Mackie mixer into a Zoom H4n, and then trimmed and given a fade in and fade out in Adobe Audition.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

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Studio Journal: “The Body Pneumatic”

Usually when I use my iPad as part of the process, it’s just that: part of the process, creating something that I then employ in another context (like a sample for my modular synth), or processing something external (such as my electric guitar). This time, I wanted to do something where the iPad was the beginning as well as the end of the process, and everything in between, all the way through uploading the finished recording to SoundCloud.

The short version of the process: I recorded my breath (something closer to a breathy vowel), then cut it up into slivers, then enacted some alterations on those individual slivers, then triggered them, then recorded a second variation triggered differently, then combined the two tracks by overlaying them, and then uploaded.

This is part of the current Disquiet Junto project (number 0384), in which we find rhythmic material in our breathing. When working with the sample-triggering, I set the pace of this to 60bpm, which is sort of my happy pace. I didn’t think of the start of each breath as the pace, but instead various moments within the breath.

For more detail, here are the iPad apps I used: I recorded the breathy vowel into AudioShare. It took several tries to get the quality I was looking for. The iPad’s microphone turned most of the initial breath attempts into harshly serrated white noise, which is when I added a vowel/hum quality to the breath, and that took the edge off it. I transferred the sample from AudioShare to ReSlice, and then I used ReSlice to break it down into evenly divided segments, and then changed the attack, decay, and release on those slices, in order that each had a unique quality (I also set two of them to play in reverse).

I used the Autony app to trigger the slices in ReSlice for one track, and then added more randomness within Autony to a second round of triggers, yielding a second track of equal length. I could have done those two tracks separately and added them together after the fact, but I wanted to hear what they sounded like together, so I did this all in the AUM app. When I was happy with the balance between the two Autony-triggered ReSlices, I transferred the two lines to the Cubasis 2 app, then used the mixdown tool within Cubasis to output a finished mix. Then I sent that back to AudioShare, and used AudioShare to upload to my SoundCloud account.

More on this 384th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Breath Beat / The Assignment: Explore breath as a resource for rhythm — at:

disquiet.com/0384/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-pr…t-0384-breath-beat/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project adapted (cropped, colors changed, text added, cut’n’paste) thanks to a Creative Commons license from a photo credited to Victor Morell Perez:

flic.kr/p/4M5zUQ

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

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Synth Learning: Muxlicer Piano (First Patch)

A first go with a new tool

This is my first patch with a new module, a device from the manufacturer Befaco called the Muxplicer. It is capable of many things involving slicing up an incoming signal and effecting changes upon it, such as triggering all sorts of percussive cues. In this case what’s happening is a sample of an electric piano is being triggered every eight beats, and then for each of those beats (pulses, really) various things occur. In most of the cases it’s a matter of the volume level shifting, but in two cases (that is, on two of the pulses) some heavy reverb is put upon it. In addition, a sliver of of the signal is being sampled and replayed in a glitch manner at a lower volume. (Technically the first slice was the same patch processing live guitar chords, but I decided to use a sample playback on this initial round.)

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