Music Technology

Studio Neologisms

Glossary of Studio Neologi(ci)sms

  1. Zimmer Frame – Writing in a style entirely influenced by Hans Zimmer
  2. Pain Threshold – When you realize you’ve been carefully adjusting a compressor on the wrong track
  3. Undo – The Hindu God of Editing Forgiveness
  4. Cardioid Attack – Almost dropping an expensive microphone
  5. Shyverb – using too much reverb on your own vocals (aka shy/wet mix)
  6. Presettlement – Valiantly building a sound you are imagining and then compromising with a preset.
  7. Green Piece – When you just use Logic’s default region colours.
  8. Refinalising – the art of renaming a ‘Final Bounce Complete DONE_[fixed] MASTER.aif’ audio file
  9. Enoyance – a hung MIDI note
  10. Zoomba – The constant readjustment of zoom values
  11. MIDIval – The ancient reedy-ness of insensitive MIDI files
  12. DAWk – Someone who espouses the merits of one platform over another
  13. Portamental – Sibelius’s crazy glisses
  14. Missed take – Not recording the perfect performance
  15. Ex-file – A file bounced to a random folder which you are mysteriously unable to locate.
  16. Phantom power- Disappearing kettle leads.
  17. Q-jumping – Flitting either side of the frequency you need
  18. Pandemonium – A mix with ridiculously complicated imaging
  19. Rampage – working with a flagrant waste of computer resources
  20. C4getting -Having to look up the MIDI note name for Middle C
  21. Batchelor Pad – When the fucking keypad interface in Sibelius is lost somewhere on its own
  22. ABBA – When you mix up which track you are listening to
  23. Cry-cycle – The irritation caused when the playhead jumps to the beginning of the cycle
  24. Hands Solo – Frantically scrolling around the screen looking for the soloed track
  25. Sample rate: how good your sound library is.
  26. Aux Return – the studio gremlins are back (credit A Pitts)
  27. Brick-wall limiter – picking a career that will keep you from home ownership. (credit J Willson)
  28. 50-cent – microtonal rapper

Steely Dan’s Peg on Push.

Trying to push my Push skills up a peg with Peg and Steely Dan’s gorgeous µ harmonies.

 

 

 

Clapping on Push

Here’s another classic process piece used as a ‘Push Etude’, Steve Reich’s Clapping. Even though it was written after Piano Phase, it is somewhat simpler (certainly to perform), relying on discrete rather than continuous phasing, so fits well into the discrete conceptual world of MIDI rhythm. The challenge here is to program the seminal pattern (which can be heard in triple or duple time like much of Reich’s Ewe-inspired phase pieces). You could of course play it in but I’m trying to roast my Push 2 programming chops. Duplicate the track and then shift it over in steps (you could also set global quantise appropriately and restart one clip at the appropriate metric point, but I wanted to make use of the lovely clip view now available). Unfortunately the push has little control over the fine control of offset, a shift move (as far as I can tell is always a semiquaver (1/16)) so I’ve set the Set to 6/8 rather than 6/4. I’m not sure of a more elegant way to reset the start offset other than how I did it, let me know if you can!

Being an 8×8 grid (we do generally reside in the normative binary default rhythmic world like it or not), the Push represents the 12 slots over a row and a half (I’d like to be able to move the rows into 6s for example) so imagine it like this:

You can then apply the pattern to melodic material as I’ve shown later in the video. Enjoy, njoye, joyen, oyenj, yenjo, enjoy.

Clapping for Push 2 Project

 

The Uncanny Valley of Instrumental Emulation

Piano Phase on Push 2

Ableton Push 2 and Live 10 are incredible devices, both progressive and able to integrate seminal electronic, process and generative creative practices. In order to start exploring their potential I’ve been experimenting with recreating classic works as succinctly and fluently as possible. Here’s Steve Reich’s Piano Phase using just one track and Live 10 and Push’s new melodic sequencer layout which I find hugely valuable.

In essence you can break down the classic theme into its component pitches, and reform them by pitch rather than rhythmic placement.

Here’s the video and Live Set to explore. Piano Phase Push 2 Project

Quick overview: Set scale on Push to E Dorian and form the patterns from above on teh 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th and 7th degree of the scale respectively. Once you can do this it can be fun to enter them in diferent orders, add chords to each of them and of course use in your own improvisational/compositional practice.

The phasing is super simple (naive really) each dial completes a rotation so you can settle on each semiquaver confidently before moving to the next rotation. This could all be done in microtemporal MIDI (creating fewer artefacts) with M4L devices but I like the ‘in-the-box’ constraint, maximising pre-existing tools.

Piano Phase Push Project (change the MIDI instrument to whatever you like)

Tension Blue: Bridget & Milton Mermikides

Bridget and I will be performing at 1.30pm Sunday March 30th (University of Surrey) at the launch of the International Guitar Research Centre (IGRC) run by Steve Goss and me. We’ll be performing 7 new works for classical guitar and electronics. Not the usual guitar rep. Tickets are £2 for students and £10 for the rest of us. Would be lovely to have some friends (of ours and new music) there.

http://www.surrey.ac.uk/arts/music/events/bridget_mermikides.htm

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The Amazing Metrobird

I have a little place in Greece, on a lesser known corner of the Peloponnese, on a little beach with a derelict and rarely visited acropolis from which the islands of Ψιλι, Πλατεια and (just about) Σπετσεσ are visible.

Here

It’s a magical (and for me painfully nostalgic) place where even when we eventually installed a phone (1996),  modem (2006) and wi-fi (2013) seems eerily frozen (well baked) in time. This part of the world is home to some odd creatures: deafening cicada, scorpions, flying fish, swordfish and a plant with fruit that explode on the lightest touch.

Shore it is

One such unusual animal I have yet to (knowingly) see but I’ve been fasciated by its sound for years. It’s some kind of bird that emits a short tweet at intervals so regular that we use it as a metronome. (It sounds particularly good on beat 4 & in a bossa).

Here’s an unedited audio sample recorded on Tuesday, 7 July 2009 19:32

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(non-flash) Metrobird

Notice how (separated by an unmeasured pause) there is a decent metronomic tempo established. Logic Pro X’s transient detector and beat mapping tools reveal that once a pulse is established it tends to stay within a couple of bpm. I’ve played with far worse time-keepers of the human species. Here are the numbers:

Numbers

To get a feel for it, listen to the same unedited clip with a click track.

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(non-flash) Metrobird with Click
Not bad at all. Here’s how it sounds (again completely unedited) in the context of a percussion groove.

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(non-flash) Metrobird Groove

Does anyone know what type of bird it is, an what evolutionary pressures gave it such tight timing?

John Williams Recording

It’s wonderful to be involved in classical guitar virtuoso John Williams’ latest recording project. Details to follow, but the energy, enthusiasm and skill he continues to deliver after 200 CDs, all the accolades and well over a half-century of professional musicianship is astonishing and inspiring in equal measure.

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The Beatless – Part 2 Minimalisation & Non-quantization

TheBeatless

 For Part 2 of the Beatless series lets look at a Beatles rework by one Joe Connor. 

Here the motivic and harmonic elements of the piece are extracted and examined through repetition with gentle timbral variation – techniques borrowed from minimalist and process music.

This, together with non-quantisation rhythmic elements creates a compelling atmosphere. Electronic music has been refreshed of late with such artists as Mount Kimbie rejecting the dominance that strict grid-based (‘quantized’) time has had on the genre. ‘Loose’ (but not sloppy) timing has a huge effect on musical expression, and this latest trend in IDM is heartening.

Enjoy.

http://www.mediafire.com/?wnqnfrd12mqpzb9

London Premiere of ‘The Escher Cafe’

Monday 23rd January 8pm, King’s Place. The fabulous Living Room In London Ensemble with Manu Delago of Björk fame, perform a great concert – including a London Premiere of new piece ‘The Escher Café’ blending classical, jazz and live electronics. http://www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on-book-tickets/music/manu-delago-living-room-in-london?tid=16

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