Saturday, September 30, 2023

Always Something New You Can Learn


I had never used Reapers InputFX feature. To process MIDI or audio at at the input before it is recorded.  

For vocals and things like that, I just use track FX and add compression there, so it can be changed latter as needed.

But in using the MIDI JS modules to process MIDI, putting them as InputFX allows you to record their output. Useful too in this case.

So the above YouTube short is a small section of a track where I experimented with JS modules that produce 1 note chords, arpeggiation and force notes to a scale.  Interesting.

The animation is revisiting Terry Gilliam styled paper cut outs, all done in Moho Pro12.

A longer version of this track: 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Simple Minded and Naive: Instrumental

Simple Minded and Naive. An instrumental from yesterday. 

Based around a 4 bar octave bass riff synth part. I have made this same track 100s of times. The fingers just naturally hit these notes doing this.  It is adlibbed and very simple minded. Just a fun happy, bouncy thing for most of it. Synth parts are "mostly" just the black notes, and mostly just octaves in all the synth parts.

And the the guitar section briefly takes it else where.

Been listening to the 17 minute Porcupine Tree: Anesthetize track a lot in the last few days. It is kind of like 5 different songs strung together with some particularly interesting heavy guitar in odd rhythms in part of it.  

My track here isn't like that, but in one sense was inspired by that. Will see how other tracks of mine develop. 

The thing about this is that it is a recording, made in my DAW. It isn't a performance, even if I adlib to the part I just recorded. My interest is in making recordings. In a studio. 

Addition: 2023/9/27.  Yesterday a friend was saying how he is using Chordpulse to come up with chord progressions in his song writing.  He is starting with the lyrics and working backwards from there, from my point of view.
Many years ago I used JAMMER on DOS with a Roland D-110 multi-timbral sound module. I never did anything with it though. They have all the styles, intro, verse, chorus, ending things, but all based on classic hits in those styles.  I found it just did too much, and was really for people doing covers.  Lots of people want to play covers.  Educational, but not my thing.

I have a small KORG microKEY keyboard on my desk at all times, and that is how I come up with chord progressions, if I aren't mucking around on the guitar.  I am not going to come up with big fancy chords a Jazz musician would though.  That is okay, your style partly comes from your own limitations.  I can look up any chord I don't know if that becomes important.  It hasn't.
I see Chordpulse is very affordable. Has a 14day free trial too.  Have to say I don't want it though. 

I see there are related free chord generating JS plugins already provided in my Reaper DAW too.  They do an equivalent thing, but really don't want them either. Better off just learning a few more complicated chords the old fashioned way.  
Being able to play things to improvise in real-time is really important to the way I make my music. But if I run out of inspiration and skill, something to maybe revisit.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Friday, September 15, 2023

Mail Delivery In The Rain: Ambient Music Soundscape

Mail Delivery In The Rain: Ambient Music Soundscape. Based on a 5 minute Zoom H1 recording of the rain from an open window in our house. Half way thru the mail man delivers our mail on his motor bike.

Too much like a couple of previous things, but, hey, that is what AIR SUPPLY & AC/DC did so it is what it is. It also came together so quickly, as it used the previous ambient projects template project. Would like to take the melody else where though, and may revise this later. Have NOT put this on our Bandcamp as yet.

The sound of the rain is so relaxing. The lazy synths and the slow bass pulse help that to me.

I didn't think I would do another of these recorded ambient pieces, but it rained for a couple of days this week, and remembered I had wanted to get a good recording of that one afternoon. So instead of the postman ruining the recording, it actually is a feature.

Probably the next stuff will have Metal power chords again, Maybe inspired by the Porcupine Tree albums been listening to the last weeks. We will see.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Steven Wilson - Limited Edition Of One

About 3/4 of the way thru this, but already read Harmony Codex at the end. Rather different from the approach in Joe Satriani's book. Lots of things in it I can relate to. 

At first I thought he was repeating himself a bit, but later Chapters don't feel that way.  I am finding it interesting, and relate to much of the record collecting side of things, taping stuff off the radio and music discovery, but I never stepped very far from rock/ pop /metal/ synthesizers.  I never borrowed a record from a Library, but I did join a Record Club when I was in High School and I could afford it.

I was never the "most successful musician you have never heard of".  I could have been a bit the guy that designed "some cool stuff you may have lusted over", from Roland or Fairlight Instruments, and similarly, you have never heard of.

But, since the later 1970s I have been making recordings, building synths and gear. Had a PortaOne 4 track, so never as serious as Steven was. My career was electronics design, or so I thought.  May be more like one of his keen friends. I am some 8 years older than Steven, even older than Rick Beato, so things were even more different back then, and I was in quite backwards Australia.

I didn't upload any music I had made for anyone else to hear till the 2010s when SoundCloud happened.  Have stuff under name Megacurve on SoundCloud. But I haven't put anything on Soundcloud since I joined as Megacurve on Bandcamp. 

Bandcamp having the features I want that Soundcloud doesn't, like being able to sell music, but more importantly, being able to update the track or album after it has been created. I just use that all the time.  Must say, I have never sold any of my music, but I did sell illustrations and cartoons, outside my engineering career, that paid for the gear to make music. And that is actually good enough for me.

I have written the much shorter 50 page  WHERE THE SMOKE COMES OUT, webcomic on a bunch of my memories and career.  Do I need to add lists or more family details? Mostly no. {I should add I wanted to learn the guitar when I was in junior high school, but my mother, with no interest in  music and only ever listens to talk back radio, thought that was a waste of time, and I should play sport instead. So I did soccer.  I was terrible at it, and took up every weekend. Had to wait till leaving High School to buy my own guitar and teach myself. }

But back to Steven's book, he explains what he did to get where he is now, and all his concerns with Social Media and all. Social Media, and what is popular on it, what goes viral, very much has the stink of BIG BROTHER about it. He doesn't use those words though. The dumber something is the more likes it will get liked, whereas some art that has taken years will be almost ignored. I so feel that. He also goes into details about his family, and that is something I have done little of in my work.  

In Absentia, the album they finally get a big label behind them to make, they all feel great about it, but upon release it doesn't make the charts.  The feeling is the world has moved on since that kind of music ruled the world.  

Lots of things in it I can relate to, but when it comes to his favorite books, movies or songs the opposite is true. Few of any of them I had even heard of. Much he likes is so "down", but he is British, and that is part of their character. Makes you realize how unusual and glorious Supermarionation and THUNDERBIRDS where to spring from that wet island. 

Interesting influences.  An interesting read. He has OCD tendencies, as do I. 

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Trip to Chiba, and the works of Steven Wilson


Spent three days in Chiba at the beginning of September, across the country from here. Stayed on the fourteenth floor of a hotel not far from Chiba JR station. The dawn sky one of the mornings was truly wonderful, and the phone picture really doesn't capture the streaks of pink that emanated from the rising sun, rather like the "troublesome" Rising Sun flag.

Didn't stay long in the hotel though, as there visiting family, our grandson and kids.  His name is  翔 馬 (Shoma, soaring/flying horse, ala Pegasus). We also talked and went out with our sons in-laws, and had a ceremony at their local shrine.

A tiring but wonderful trip. Not for making all public here though.

During the trip preparations, I noticed Steven Wilson is about to release his new album Harmony Codex.  Steven seems to have had articles about what he is doing in many of the Sound On Sound Magazines I bought over the years. 

Everything from how he recorded his early Porcupine Tree albums at his parents place, alone, to doing surround mixes for Classic Rock Albums, and becoming one of the goto people for that.

Have know about him for years, and have had his In Absentia album for almost as long.  I played that album on the Shinkansen from my X1 music player using SONY noise cancelling earbuds both ways on the trip. He has also had quite a presence on YouTube, even being interviewed by Ric Beato not long ago.

His album remixing moved from 5.1 Surround to the recent Dolby ATMOS. He has become kind of a spokesperson for ATMOS in some ways. ATMOS seems to be being forced onto the music industry, but I am not going into that. The way it is being done seems rather unpleasant, even if Steven says the results are amazing, 

Steven has taken the unusual step of having exclusive listening parties in places with truly massive ATMOS setups as part of the Harmony Codex PR. Listening to the album the way no one does these days. From start to end, in comfortable surroundings with the lights and mobile phones off. 

YouTube influences in the UK and the USA have been invited to these, and have been duly reporting how amazingly awesome the album is. Enough to make me very suspicious that it couldn't be that good.  So the album has an ATMOS mix, as well as a standard stereo CD release, and there are various boxed sets with discs for the different versions.  

I have actually pre-ordered the standard version Harmony Codex CD from Amazon Japan on getting back home. Will see if it gets on the playlist of stuff I play all the time, or not.  At the same time I also got his older Porcupine Tree Deadwing, Fear Of a Bleak Planet and his last Future Bites albums.  

I am catching up on some of his stuff, the way I did with Freak Kitchen and Smashing Pumpkins, which had proven to be very worthwhile, and inspirational for my own music making. 

Months ago I started on a Comic about From Mono to ATMOS Music Production but discovered a few things that made me stop.  It would have been a continuation of my MUSIC ON LOUDSPEAKERS, from Mono to Stereo. The first page of which is shown here and available here

I have had an interest in Surround Sound for a long time, but the setup for a home ATMOS (and music production) system is rather trying. Can monitor on headphones, but the number of speakers and their placement isn't very practical.  Back in Australia I had a Yamaha Home Theatre 5.1 Amplifier and a surround speaker system in the living room. Rarely used it though, as in an open plan living space it was too loud and annoyed the family not watching the movie, which was 99% of the time. I ended up watching most movies with headphones or just the TVs small stereo speakers. 

These days only have a Small 32" HD Hisense TV with Sound bar, and only got the Sound bar as it made the sound "clearer" and less muffled than the TVs own small stereo speakers. Have no interest in a Home Theatre for Movies any more. 

Last year I did Binaural Headphone Only mixes instead of some of my music, and YouTube Shorts, and think they are really cool. Part of the reason is that for myself, I really only listen to album music when travelling, and that is on headphones. The Shinkansen trip from Kyoto to Tokyo is 2 hours.  One of my YouTube shorts: 

I may still come back to ATMOS.  The Dolby Atmos Composer Essential  package is about USD$164 for the component to be able to mix in ATMOS for my Reaper DAW. That would mean just monitoring in headphones  though. We will see what the future brings.

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology