Tuesday, 27 March 2007

cc - week 4 - sequencing of a sort

This week was to create a "sequence" of our paper sounds using a multitrack interface (rather than a sample sequencer).

Here is a photo of the score.

Horizontal folds represent repetitive percussive sounds. eg dodgy beat.mp3
Vertical folds represent staccato sounds. eg stuttering car.mp3
Rips within the piece of paper represent abstract washy sounds. eg vacuum organ.mp3
Angular folds represent simple sounds with pitch variation. eg
whirry biscuits.mp3
Scrunching represents long scrunchy sounds. eg crunkling orama.mp3
Rips at the bottom represent tearing sounds. eg stereo tearing.mp3

Here is the finished product, Davader the prequel.mp3.

I decided not to use the grid editing, but aligned files sequentially using their own lengths as a general guide. Hence the repetitive features are occasionally not quite regular.

I kept any computer style processing to a minimum by using pan, volume and pitch modulations for effects.
I also used some compression on the finished mix for better signal strength.

I used a bit of layering sounds simultaneously (or close to) with these variations.

A sort of time stretching was achieved by cutting the file into multiple parts with overlapping sections, and then playing them sequentially.

F - week 4 - collaborations 1

This week was student presentations. Four seperate ones on the theme of "collaboration"

I didn't gain much out these particular presentations. Only perhaps a glimpse into the psyche of each presenter.

First up, given by David Dowling (edit: oops, changed the name to correct one) focused on the collaboration of Metallica with Michael Kamen and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. A reasonably presented foray into the difficulties of dynamics.

The most interesting thing was the idea of space in the music of Metallica - between the simple chords used (a lot of 5ths), and the general rhythmic simplicity/repetition.

Second, given by Vinny Bhagat focused on the work of Trilok Gurtu and his ongoing collaborations with a startling variety or musicians of many bents.

Not very coherently presented.

Thirdly briefly discussed the production of software (Exact Authoring Tool) specifically designed to make collaboration easier between groups of people with little face to face communication. As referenced to game design and a 3 layered sound design situation (music, incidental sounds, fx).

Fourth, given by Khaled Sanadzadeh featured a general discussion on the concept of "world music". A reasonably mayhemic descent into opinions and general assumptions on the music industry.

A variety of content made for a wide view, opening the concept of collaboration beyond the expectations I went in with.

Monday, 26 March 2007

AA - week 4 - recording a band more info

This post to further explain the recordings of the band used in week 2, with diagrams.

The actual recording positions of each person and instruments used depend on the song (and who turns up – extra brass for example).

The band consists of

Jared ; Laptop – beats, melody, rhythm and probably more.


Euan ; Tabla, Djembe, Guitar, Bass, Vocals.

Liam ; Guitar, Bass, Vocals

Andy ; Saxophone, other windy things.

I’ll just pretend I know the actual instruments for a song, and call it song 1.

Jared will play both laptop and melodica, Euan will play tabla, Liam guitar and Andy saxophone.

Because the bass will be coming from the laptop we can use the deadroom for the guitar amp patched into the live room for guitar input, and then monitor through headphones. In the live room their will be three accoustic instruments, melodica, saxophone and tabla. Using low baffles to minimise cross information with face to face communication still available.

Make up another song with different instrumentation, song 2.

Jared will play the same, Euan guitar, Liam bass and Andy clarinet.

Because there is both bass and guitar – the bass will go in the deadroom, and depending on who’s using the rest of the space there may well be somewhere else to hide the guitar amp outside the recording area – failing that we’ll just baffle it.

More baffles to minimise sound and promote face to face communication.



general signal flow

There will be different number of mics used depending on song, most in the live room being patched through the wall bay into the studio, one (or just a DI out of the bass amp depending on sounds) in the deadroom patched into the studio. The Laptop outputs can be run straight into the patchbay into the studio also, I’m thinking that these can be patched straight into the line in of the desk in the studio.

From the studio the signals will go into the desk then into the DAC then into the computer into ProTools. Whatever is in the deadroom will be sent through the headphones back to the live room, also any other signal necessary…

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

F - week 3 - compossible in 19 parts

For this weeks forum we all got to perform the work "compossible – with nineteen parts" by David Harris.

It is a chance piece with a reasonably well defined structure, giving pitch and time directions, AND being scored for 19 separate parts. Although as I'm comparing this to other pieces I've been responsible for (and much that I could be called irresponsible for), such as "composition for coins and dice" [1] and "monopoly" [2] , I'm willing to admit this perhaps constricting environment is all in the perspective.

Having recently been reminded of the Fluxus movement through reading a biography on Yoko Ono[3] (which is one of the obvious inspirations that lead to such pieces by myself, and no doubt also this one by David). I was more inspired by the performance aspect that the clock arranging and chair moving [4] created than the music created.

The music produced over the course of the 45 minute piece was fairly unsatisfactory, although I'm sure with a bit more preparedness a more fulfilling piece may have been performed. I did enjoy the initial 5 minute rehearsal more than the actual performance.

Overall I was quite appreciative of the experience, it has been quite a while since i have been involved in such a shindig. The general reactions of many of the students was quite amusing, and I'm sure that the underlying motives of whomever designed the course structures is slowly opening the pores of all our minds to new potentials.

[1] Kelly, Edward . Composition for coins and dice. 1993.


Roll a dice – the number indicates how long to maintain the action as defined by the coin toss.

Toss a coin – heads : do something/ tails : do nothing.

When the time as indicated is finished – repeat instructions.

[2] Kelly, Edward . Monopoly. 1993.


Play the board game Monopoly.

When it's not your go – do something.

When it's your go - stop whatever you were doing and have your go.


[3] Hopkins, Jerry. 1986. Yoko Ono. Macmillan Publishing.

[4]After several other potential props were tried and discarded, and a stack of chairs arranged to a satisfactory height, the clock was eventually balanced on top. This taking numerous minutes, and being accompanied by Stephen Whittington conducting - apparently in the style of John Cage.

Monday, 19 March 2007

CC - week 3 - SPEAR

EDIT - posted 27/03/07

Well, I did a bit of a dodgy in the week 3 assignment.

Not having my own paper recorded sound I inadvertently used someone elses. In retrospect not the most kosher of decisions.

In the past I have used a lot of "found sounds" for innumerable projects, and in this particular case I felt I had processed the sounds beyond a point which then made it my own without reference to any other. However here in the academic world there are protocols to be adhered to.

I apologise for any disturbance caused by my actions :)

I have redone the exercise with my own recorded paper sounds and here are the results.

whirry biscuits.mp3 vacuum organ.mp3 sonar.mp3 fm.mp3 fm orchestra.mp3 fluctuating vandal.mp3 dodgy beat.mp3

I found that I enjoyed the end products more this time. In the case of "fluctuating vandal.mp3" I did little more processing than just opening into Spear. This may show that I have taken a major step in Spear appreciation (and even manipulation), or it could even show that by using my own finely crafted input samples I received more gratification.

New observations on the software are that I really need to read up on the processes involved :)
The "Frequency Resolution" option doesn't quite behave as I expected it would. Most obvious when using 1 Hz, what I expected to be the most accurate rending is not.

I also am curious about the vocoding possibilities.

More research !!!

Less dodgy !!!

I have previously done an amount of editing with splitting sounds, via band pass filters, and then processing each band separately. eg double happiness (surveillance systems) – zzX. and am happy to explore this particular software more.

The potential of splitting sounds into component spectra allows for a depth of editing I've rarely explored, and then by laborious processing. Band pass filtering gives the chance to split into multiple bands, but this allows for far more depth. eg Select a band, then select harmonics. Or splitting sound into frequencies defined by duration/amplitude.

It has occurred to me that this could also be a type of sample rate reduction, where the FFT sample size defines the amount of samples per second. Thoughts along this line leaves me wondering why the .sdif file should be so much bigger than a .wav, and makes me consider I don't quite understand either the program, and/or the file type very well.

Occasional visuals predicted a linear descent in pitch - however, they were'nt !! Was finally clever enough to zoom in enough to discover the non-linear shape of the curve. So not very accurate graphical rendering. I also found myself considering the grey scale depiction of amplitude - so far I don't find this informative enough, but I imagine more use and awareness will give me more depth of analysis.

I'd quite like to use this to process other sounds that are more harmonically simple.

So far, processing quite dense sounds, I've managed to created long waily sine wave sounds and dense mashes of sounds, neither I'm particularly fond of. But still this is all new and I may either grow to appreciate such tones, or become more capable with the software, either way will be a win. !!

The following links are to sounds as created by the processing of a couple of recorded paper sounds, not very descriptive titles but i couldn't work how to spell them :)

untitled 35.mp3 untitled 38.mp3 untitled 33.mp3 untitled 23.mp3 untitled 15.mp3 untitled 10.mp3 Untitled 4.mp3 untitled 2.mp3

last, but biggest of all is cow doppler.mp3 , this is a 2'12" extravaganza, extraneous to the demands of the assignment but i quite enjoy it :) once again the product of a recorded paper sound.

AA - week 3 - Sudio2

This weeks lecture concerned the correct procedure for getting studio 2 up and running, then closing it down again afterwards. It featured correct power up procedures, most importantly to turn on the amp/speakers last to prevent other powering on sounds (clicks and spikes) damaging these or your hearing. Also important is the neutralising of the equipment afterwards, clearing the patchbay, taking the desk to a clear state, and packing away all other equipment used.

Follows is my actual experience.

Studio 2, an adventure.

"Oh no!! I've turned everything on and it's not on !!". [1]
I had turned the switch on the left of the power conditioner on, not the main power switch – what actually does that switch do i wonder ?
It caused me a few minutes of consternation – especially as i was in there directly after our lecture when everything had worked fine.

That fixed, i then had to get a signal to ProTools, mmm.

Definitely a signal at the desk, and the ProTools interface had flashing lights on the top section so there was a signal....
A few minutes of wandering up and down the signal path, I finally tracked the problem down to the track input.. I had already looked at it, but unfamiliar with the equipment, none of the possibilities looked promising. But minutes later, back again, I got it all to work !! Huzzah!!


Spent about 30 minutes playing with ProTools (the longest session yet), then came the saving...
"UH-OH !! it won't write to my flash drive!!" [2] (I'd already some weird problems with trying to write in the Windows lab but I won't go into that except to say it seemed familiar territory). [3]
I could read from my drive but not write to it.
More messing about, although this time with the Finder (all good experience for the new Mac world that I've become a part of ), and it seems I didn't have writing privilege to my drive !!?? So I decided to zip it up and e-mail it to myself. [4]

All finished, although I've yet to hear the results from my first session again (see below).

[1] [2] dramatised quotes from myself during my first session in Studio 2. 13 March 2007.

[3] Have since worked out the writing privilege has got to do with the file system on the drive, previously NTFS – good for Windows, bad for Mac... now FAT32, slow but it'll have to do for now.

[4] Of course this 12 Mb file had then put me over the apparent 25 Mb limit we have on the real world internet (which seems rather small when considering we have to post to an external website, and look at fellow students site, and do research). And problems with download at home have prevented me from using this file.

CC - week 2 - tape style editing

I was absent for this assignment, but it sounds like such fun I hope to do something similiar and then post here.

I have got some recordings I did in studio 2 of myself beatboxing (of a sort), which I intend to use. I have had some problems getting hold of them after emailing to myself, but all is now good !!

So within the next few days I intend to do some editing of those sounds and put them up here.

No to beatbox style, Yes to paper sounds :)

fluctuating vandal.mp3 crunkling orama.mp3 bbrrring.mp3 stuttering car.mp3 stereo tearing.mp3 dodgy beat.mp3

These sounds were used as the source for 2nd time around of the Spear exercise.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

AA – week 2 – Session Planning

For this weeks assignment I was away so missed the lecture and any notes and discussion amongst the other students regarding this. And then my plan to find out all there was to know on the Monday was invalidated by the public holiday on that day :(

So, a bit of reading material [1] and viewing other students blogs later i have come up with the idea that the assignment was all about planning your recording session. Finding out such things as what you will actually be recording (eg instruments, musical style) seems fairly obvious, and even having an idea of what sound would like to be achieved also is a straight forward step. One could even get so excited as to work out preferred soft drinks and which colour M&M's should be removed, depending on how much one is receiving for the pleasure :)

As part of the preparatory stages, designing a recording plan in terms of microphones to be used and studio setup (seating, recording order) can be useful in minimising setup time. Included here is a plan I designed for recording a friends dub band, Melatonin.



Laptop, firewire device with 4 Outs

DI x4


Shure Beta 56A


Neumann KM-84i x2


Sennheiser MD-421




Shure SM57


Shure SM57


Shure SM58


C-ducer Saxman

notes : Laptop supplies a range of instruments including drums, bass, lead and rhythym. As the band is primarily a live band, would record intially with a stereo mixdown of most instruments with any real time playing given its own tracks, then overdub with individual sounds after main recording.

The most important step is the preparation of the recording facility. Setting up of the recording area (microphones, headphones, seating, baffles etc) and making sure all the equipment works as expected makes the session smoother, quicker and much easier – having to change a microphone cable in a room full of musicians setting up is not exactly the best thing to be doing with your time.

[1] Bartlett, Bruce. "Session Procedures", accessed 13/03/07

Monday, 5 March 2007

CC - week 1 - not much happening

This week we covered entry level audio/midi control for the Mac OS.

I've had a bit of experience with this on my PC so it was good to get a reference point into Mac land, it's been quite a while since i dealt with Mac's (system 7 was too good for what i was doing, i think it might have been something like 6.4.3 on a MacPlus pumped to 4MB RAM. Everything on 1 FDD, system and software :).

We had an assignment which was deferred due to technical problems.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

AA1 - Week 1 - Studio Analysis

This week we have been made aware, whilst not officially and totally introduced, of the resources available through the Electronic Music Unit.
Not least is the EMU website which gave me personally a much more in depth list of products :) and of which i've liberally linked to and used some images.

It looks like the standard eductional style setup. Limited live recording facilities where individuals or small groups could work on the recording of whatever it is they wish to record, and loads of computers where post-production and MIDI work can be acheived with the use of headphones in a space economy.

studio 1 + 2 are setup for recording of anything from accoustic percussion (eg triangle) to your standard rock/electronic act with drums to DJ's, and with the special dead room for sound isolation for extra special moments
(see picture above for a tasteful shot of the mixing desk).

These i think are most definitely critical resources, with the potential of much quality recordings and mixdowns, although I am yet to experience how the EMU space will work in practice with access from both sides of the building, and it acting like a thoroughfare whilst we were in a lecture/seminar/workshop/forum. The presence of outboard gear, studio monitors, the dead room and a big patchbay make me feel happy and excited to get in there. From past experience, the difference between a pair of headphones, a computer and a little mixing desk versus a well setup studio with a desk the size of a small boat makes it extremely gratifying to use.

Studio 5 is setup for "MIDI synthesisers, analogue synthesisers, and other interactive control devices" [1], on the internet at least it looks like any number of bedroom setups i've seen, although with a rather more spacious setting. This spaciousness no doubt gives a lot of opportunity for combining other live instruments for potential live ensemble recordings. And sadly I managed to hype myself up with this by having it described by Stephen Whittington as the "analog" studio [2], imagining some rather cool vintage stuff with leads hanging akimbo I was disappointed to come across a picture of this studio featuring stuff from a more recent vintage (ie it looks
suspiciously digital) :( Still more hardware = more fun !!

To go with these studios are the microphones (very exciting - a good microphone is better than a roast chicken to a vegetarian !!), accompanying leads, DI's, and also portable DAT machines !! (Anything portable = very exciting). They seem to be the stand alone studios, and these are accompanied by rooms full of computers (and more computers = more fun as well !! ). I assume all these computers are for the tedious job of mixing and sequencing and other such jobs where speakers are not mandatory. For me at least the problem here will be obtaining a more comfortable set of headphones to reduce ear soreness - and I am quite curious as to how working in a potential room full of people will turn out.

There are also two rooms which sound interesting but i'm not sure of their uses and if I might avail myself somewhat :) These being the keyboard lab, a room chock full of digital pianos, and again a slight laugh on my part - what appears to be ancient Yamaha floppy based MIDI recording devices (I once being the proud owner of a Yamaha RX-7 drum machine, circa 1987, which gave me much pleasure and sonic excitement ).
look for the yamaha box :)
This room, according to the EMU website, "is used for both keyboard tuition and music theory training." [3] Where this leaves me and the potential of the odd tingle on such is yet to be explored.

The other room being the Media Lab, chock full of computers chock full of web development software (not that i know how to use much of it). I think here the problem is too much potential in learning and not enough enrolment. I have to assume from the website and through a brief discussion with Christain, that at this point there is nothing in there for me. This at least I think covers the EMU section. Apart from these there are also the rehearsal rooms featuring real pianos !! A much looked for and enjoyed instrument - these i assume can be booked out by myself for random tinklings, recordings and composition experiments. And also the Elder Music Library, a lot of potential to explore in the recorded music, scores, books, magazines and all the rest i may have skipped. I have yet to visit the Barr Smith Library where there also apparently is goodness to be found.

[1] http://www.emu.adelaide.edu.au/resources/guides/spaces/studio.5.html
(28 February 2007)

[2] Whittingon, Stephen. Converstion during informal tour of facilities (22 February 2007)

[3] http://www.emu.adelaide.edu.au/resources/guides/spaces/keyboard.lab.html (28 February 2007)

All pictures and general information from EMU website, http://www.emu.adelaide.edu.au/index.html