More practice/Sound Design
Yesterday I worked on some sounds in the Komplete Kontrol, I've uploaded an improvised piece in the key of D dorian with one of the sounds I made. I was aiming to make a sound similar to the tanpura, a droning chordophone instrument from India. The Komplete Kontrol is going to one of my most powerful tools in the performance. It can quickly select between different presets not only within one software synth but from multiple software synth. I'm making my own presets which are stored in the user section, which I'll have easy access to through the navigate section on the keyboard.
The style of the piece I've uploaded is closer to what I want to achieve in my live set than what I uploaded the other day.
Today I started practicing and coming up with some ideas for my set. I wanted to improve my jam spacing, before I was surround by instruments, the way I've set up now though is more of a corn. This is so I can see everything. The addition that helped this was putting the komplete kontrol under the Casio. I've encountered two problems. I think I have blown a resistor in the in Blofeld, which is making the volume extremely quiet. It's meant to be an easy fix, I'm going to see if uni has any I can use and see if I can require help from bob to fix that. The other is the mixer I bought has inconsistent volume on the outputs. I'm sure Bob will know something about this too.
I recorded a section of me practicing today. I realise it takes a little while to get going. I'm going to have to improve one the moment of the tracks. I can do this by loop the first bar I play. Before I was playing for a few bars and then started recording.
I've linked a recording of me practicing using the gear live. Be careful, it gets loud. I was practicing using arpeggios synced to Ableton via MIDI with a lead sound I've been working on. I also tried using some effects on the all tracks via a gruop bus, freeze reverb, filter drive. I get heavy handed with it and thats why it ges loud at the end. The Blofeld is creating the noise all throughout the track, so you can see how thats going to be an issue.
I wrote some notes on the basic building blocks of the music. Presets of the synthesisers, chords and tempo. I may expand on this later.
A change in plan
On Tuesday night I was playing around on Ableton for a future music project when I realised that I could perform the music for my final major project myself. A few days before I was reading and researching hand using hand signals and gestures in improvised music. I came across an essay by Nana Pi Aubo Larsen Conducted Improvisation: A Study of the Effect of the Concept of Signs on Musical Creativity. In the essay Larsen goes into depth the history of signs in music. What came apparent when reading the article is that there has been a lot of attention on developing this somewhat new musical language, the most substantial of them being Sound Painting developed by Walter Thomas, Which has 1200 signs in the language and annual conference to with the aim of developing the language. When reading it became clear to me a lot of time and development goes into creating your own sign language for musical expression. An art form I believe I cannot do justice in less than 4 weeks. Which brings me back to the performing the music myself. Last year was the first time I used Ableton to perform live. My performance was met with some praise and I felt it went well. I believe I have a good foundation to create a performance experience for the examination, and even more so for the degree show. This idea was met with a lot of excitement from me, as I seek to challenge my performing practice with Ableton. I've worked out most of the technical specifications with my set and I even purchased a FCA1616 Behringer 8ins/8outs interface to help me.
Some of the inspiration of this set came from watching Luke Vosper play at the the ID spectral event at Werks Central Brighton on the 11th of April. I was inspired by seeing Luke using Ableton to power external instruments. I plan on using Ableton to send MIDI notes to the microkorg and Blofeld Synthesisers. Which I can then edit in real time through the synths own parameters. I believe this can be using to create live loops that feel more organic and live, compared to if you was to loop a snippet of audio. Looping audio will sound very repetitive because it's repeating the same notes over and over with the same tonality. If you loop MIDI and output it an external synths you can use the synths LFO's and patch control to create variations in the sound. Mixed with some live melodic parts from a melody, vocal or guitar will really bring the music to life. I know there is much for me to learn though, I'm going to look into Abletons randomisation functions, see how that can be used in my performance. Another thing I'm need to look into is the foot switch function on the APC, as I have no idea how it can be used, it might be fruitful to know. I also am not practically familiar with the Blofeld Synthesiser, so I'm going to spend some time learn how to use it and creating sounds.
When I first started this project and had the idea of using Ableton to create generative music, when I was doing so I came across a method of outputting to multiple speakers. I'm going to use this to output to the computer running TouchDesigner as well as sending myself a click track that the audience wont be able to hear. I have yet to set this up yet though.
Below are some photos I took on Wednesday of the visuals in action. This is the visual with a feedback system added to it, which seems to fill it a lot more. In the session I realised I have to do some fine tuning of the visual with the music. I'm planning on going in the performance studio next week to do this with my equipment. some videos of the piece can be found on my instagram:
Below are some pictures of my set up. From Left to Right:
on the 8th I got ready for practice with the musicians, I booked the performance studio to have a practice run on the piece. First I had to update the Tough Designer patch, adding the trail CHOPs that I talked about in my last blog post. That went smoothly and had no problems. I then had to set up Touch Designer on a different computer because the technicians informed me I could not use the MacPros in the studios and that I would have to use the older models of the MacPro. I was worried the computer wouldn't be able to handle the visuals because of tech specs, although when I tried it it worked fine even with logic running too. It was running slightly slower than the new models of the MacPro, but it's fine.
I came into some problems setting up OSC to communicate to the computer and only god knows why! I got stuck for an hour trying to get it to work. I've had the odd problem trying to set it up before, but it's never been this bad. The only way around this problem seems to be prescience. I couldn't think of any logical reason why it wasn't work and when it did work I had no idea what I had done to get it to work. So yeah, it's beyond me. To make sure I don't run into this problem on the exam I'll have to prepare the OSC link the day before, it's always worked once the link is made and no settings change.
So once I got that working I started moving some stuff into the performance studio, such as the computer, interface, extension leads, projector and appropriate leads. I then set up the space for the next day. It took roughly an hour and a half to set everything up including the screen (with help from the technician on that). Although I wasn't sure how I wanted it to be set up, now I know a little better should be faster next time, although I also need to take in consideration the setting up of the musicians, which shouldn't be much longer.
I am trying to place the musicians where they can see the projection and myself whilst I conduct. Although this may not be possible. My initial idea of how they are placed can be seen below, where the table and chairs are. on the stage right you can see on the stage right lies the computer.
A few things need to be sorted out the next day: The height of the screen, as most of the project was cut in half. and setting up the power supplies, lamps for the table and setting up the project colour grading, as it was funny when I used it.
On the 9th, the day of practice, I got in early to set up the last bits I mentioned above and everyone made it in by 11. One thing we struggled with was the size of the leads. Tarek lead is probably the most specific so he will need to be close to the computer. But other than that I can grab some long Jack leads from the technicians.
Today I organised a practice with Charlie & Tarek, we tried following a score but it wasn't working so well. It appears the method of using the visual as away of organising the improvisation is difficult. The instruction of stopping playing when you can't recognise yourself doesn't work, sometimes one can't recognise themselves and other times they can only recognise themselves. I going to have to play around with it some more to be certain.
My tutor Kersten watched the piece for a couple of minutes and gave some feedback, it's feedback I've heard before but until now I haven't acted on it. The feedback was that the image and the sound contrast, because of the flashing lights. The flashing happens because I'm using audio to change the opacity of the image. And it's doing it based off of the sound wave. I tried adding a feedback system to reduce the flashing, but thought it might not be enough to stop it from flashing. A quick google search lead me to discover the trail chop, which basically samples different values specified by the CHOPs window length parameter, for example ever 1 second you can sample the amplitude of the wave. It then ramps between the first and the last sample. I'm going to add this to my patch sometime next week when the uni is open.
There are many balls up in the air at the moment, organising musicians for practice is hard when they all have their own commitments.I'm waiting for Holger to confirm the performance studio bookings, from there I can organise with the technicians the equipment etc. After that I will have to organise with the musicians what dates we go into the performance studio.
As an additional note I have sent the musicians the score for the piece so they may revise if they wish, although I believe the instructions are pretty clear. I will do some revision based off of feedback I get from the musicians.
It's been awhile since I've updated my blog, life has kind of gotten in the way and I've slightly neglected it, but I feel I will be updating more often from now on.
Since the last work in progress session on the 12th of March I have started thinking and writing scores. This is because I need away of organising musical ideas and to have some structure. To get in the mindset I've been thinking about the first year of uni. The first year of uni had us challenged my understanding of musical structure and form. Through the lectures I was inspired the experimental music of Stevie Reich such as Pendulum Music. One of my first year composition Magnetic Soundscape played with the idea of chance in music, ideas that were practiced by John Cage. The exposure of the experimental and Avant-Garde are still influences on me, although I am somewhat looking away from them in this project. It's helped that I've had two years away from that material.
Because the concept of my piece has started with the visual I believe I have to grow the music from that, which works really well for me. Last year I toyed with the idea of using film as an interpretative score for musicians to play too. I think I am repurposing that idea somewhat here. At the centre of the idea is the question: how do musicians interpret moving images through sound? Whats more interesting to me is how will musicians play when they know they have influence over the visual. Once I realised that what I find interesting about my piece, I knew I had to write a set of instructions that facilitate that. The aim of the instructions is to get the musicians thinking about their relation to the visuals. I've written some things down, but I'd like to flush out some more ideas before I get together to jam them with people.
I'm not sure if I have mentioned it before but I was encourage by my teach Holger to have it in the performance studio, which is cool because I kind of secretly wanted it there. For a start it's a bigger space, this will give the light more room bounce around and more room for the musicians and I. I want to create a semi circle around the audio where and have the musicians lite by some kind of light. i was thinking of buy some orb lights to put on the desk. But they might break my budget. Maybe some cheap fairy lights. I'll have to look around brighton. I should try spot lights first, but I feel they will be a little too intense. The only problem with the space is I can rehearse in there so often and I need to have an induction on how to use the ladder so I can hang the screen and angle the lights.
I have had some trouble getting the visuals out of touch designer, which is pretty annoying, as you can imagine. The problem is that touch designer seems to lag when you want to record anything live from it. So I've come up with an inexpensive way of doing so. I plan on recording them onto VHS tape and then bring them back into the computer to sync the sound. I want to do this for archiving purposes and I think it will add a quality to the visuals I couldn't get directly from Touch Designer.
Thats it for now,
Written by Jack Cleary
Today I was considering how the sound diffusion lab would be set up on the day of exhibition. This includes the floor plan and speaker set up.
I figured there would be some room by the edge of the projections for the musicians. I have outlined in the photos where I think the musicians would fit, it’s possible to fit 2 people performing on both sides of the room. I tried seeing if instruments would fit but it was hard to tell, next time we get together for a jam I will get a better idea of how this will look. I also wondered how many seats I could set up. It appears 2 rows of 5 is good. And there is space at the back for people to stand, an important part is that people can see the projection.
For the speaker set up, I used recording made yesterday with Josh Thomas, Louis Sterling and Harrison Milton to organise the speaker sound arrangement. I used the speakers that are hung for one main reason, I didn't want the musicians to be right next to the speaker, for the sake of their ears. I tried two different set ups. both set ups had a speaker hard left and hard right with a central speaker. set up 1 had the speakers midway between the front and back, right and left. Set up 2 had the speakers positioned in the back left and right. I decided through experimentation that set up 2 gave more space for each instrument and there was more clarity, plus it wasn't so loud for people sitting in the front row.
I've thought about recording a video of the piece being performed with live. I aim to do this next week with Ebony Grace, Josh Thomas & Tarek El Goraicy. The date is not confirmed but should be shortly, I have no doubt that they will come through. I also need to find someone who is willing to film, working on that too also have no doubt that I'll be able to find someone.
I've been working on synth sounds recently on my Microkorg XL, which is a wonderful small synth. I've been thinking about how sounds are going to be balanced, I've found the Korg can be a wide range of sounds like bass, lead, accompanying. The demos below highlight this I believe. here is a collection of sounds that are all taking on different roles in the music all from on instrument. I'm thinking all these sounds are fair game to use in the piece, tomorrow I'm trying to set up a jam to see how it all feels alongside the visuals.
Written by Jack Cleary
Today I wanted get some technical things out the way, in an earlier post I said I was worried about how OSC was going to be at the uni. I tried it out today and it work fine. I linked the RGB of the levels and wave nod in Touch Designer with Touch OSC on my phone. Although I need to change the ranges of some of the OSC message in Touch OSC. I also wanted to change the opacity with the inputting sound. When I tried to link the Opacity to the math it was oscillating with the sound, which is the desired effect. I have a hunch the audio spectrum CHOP outputs volume only, but I will have to check. a quick google search doesn't reveal anything. But will keep looking.
as another not I started the documenting today, wrote something for the synopsis and artist statement. Which so far is just me trying to summaries the piece, although I think there is still room for things to change.
write by Jack Cleary
Professional Blog. Talking points include: Music production and Composition.