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February 11, 2008 - February 2008 Archives




EMS Pictures


The studio that was my home for 6 days.


The old brewery houses EMS, Fylkingen, and various other smaller companies.





EMS - Saturday

Back in Amsterdam.

Saturday at EMS was a good day: I generated some more 2d generation files, and experimented with the 3rd generation. Then organizing it all in one Nuendo setup. It's over 400 soundfiles!

For the 3rd generation I limited myself to files from the 2d generation that were processed at some stage with process nr. 4 (applying a highpass filter with the joystick) and then using mainly processes 2 (pitching up the sound extremely) and 4 again. I figured, that would push the sound into the high frequency and hopefully create some interesting different sounds. That actually worked quite well, and some of the 3rd gen files are quite long as I felt they kept developing.

The processes again, now all in a row:

  1. LiSa ch2 LPF: this is basically playing the sample twice on both speakers, but a little out of sync and with a low pass filter applied - this one turned out mainly to be interesting when applied to the axioms - repeated application doesn't give distincive enough versions.
  2. LiSa ch2 pitch+48: this is a process that plays the sample pitched up 48 semitones together with the same sample pitched down 48 semitones - the high pitched version of course is much more prominent, and works in some cases and not in others - the low pitched version only gives some rumble every now and then - all the time there is some sample length change going on so the loop is not so obvious.
  3. LiSa ch6 broken + distortion: a joystick action, scratching through the sample with extreme panning, some subtle pitch change and variable distortion - all kinda broken and cutup.
  4. LiSa ch6 filter + distortion: similar, but then with a high pass filter changed by the joysticks Y axis, and no panning.
  5. ch6 regular + distortion: my main instrument in the live set, scratching through the sample and applying extreme pitch change with the Y axis.
  6. LiSa ch5: this is a weird, but a little too obvious stuttering of the sound - I didn't use this one much.
  7. Audition pitch bender: changing the pitch of a sample over time, sometimes subtly, sometimes quite drastically - very much depending on the sound material.
  8. Audition noise reduction (keep only noise) (with 'noise' from next sample): this is kind of crossbreeding: take a snippit from the next soundfile in line, and use that to apply the noise reduction filter in Audition - but instead of getting rid of what you filter out ('noise'), keep just that - in a way this resembles vocoding.
  9. Aluminum foil: attach pieces of aluminum foil to the speakers, playback sound with lots of low frequencies, and record the playback with two microphones. This I applied mainly to the axioms that were treated with process nr.1 (the lowpass fiter).

The names of the LiSa processes refer to the midi channels they are assined to - not very interesting to know, but that's the way I memorize them.

I organized the samples by the following naming convention:

  • starting out with 27 samples, numbered 001 - 027.
  • for every applied process I added a period and the process number, f.e. 017.4.6 is part of the 2d generation, applying first process 4 and then process 6 on axiom 017.

A couple of notes:

  • I realize now that I should have started with much less axioms - max 10 would have been fine.
  • Applying process 2 twice seems to result in more interesting sound than only applying it once! Which doesn't make sense, as the process mainly duplicates the soundfiles, with one voice being pitched up 4 octaves, and one voice pitched down 4 octaves. If you apply this twice you'd think they would cancel eachother out (with 8 octaves up and 8 octaves down not being audible I'd think). Where's the catch?
  • Some axioms just don't work - and those are mainly the noisy ones: action sequences in the film with lots of traffic, crowds, rain. The more sparse ones worked much better.

The upcoming composition process: I will definitely need to cut down extremely on the soundfiles. After sequencing them in Nuendo the total length was 5 hours! This means that I'll probably skip some branches of the tree alltogether. Axioms 005 and 006 (and their descendents) for example will certainly be skipped (sorry guys...).

Furthermore I'll probably have different versions: one where I'll just edit out a couple of seconds from each soundfiles and sequence those - this is the Rigid Way - probably (hopefully) this mindless (or less 'mindfull') way of working will not result in an interesting composition.
The more sensible way will probably be more tedious: listen to different variation of the samples, filter filter filter select select select until I end up with a more manageable number of them. Then put them together in an order that makes sense.

And next to the composition (that's supposed to be approx 20 minutes) I'm thinking of compiling a CD with 60 second versions, calling it 'De geluidjesfabriek' ('The little-sound factory'), after a good friend of mine that used that term to describe my music. The idea would be that everyone of those 60sec pieces would be little compositions in themselves, as that's how I've been thinking of all the files that I generated: basically I tried to have some micro structure in them, some sense of small scale development.




February 9, 2008 - February 2008 Archives




EMS - Friday

I'm abiguous as to how this week went. I generated 155 soundfiles in the first generation, and 169 in the second - all between 30 sec and 3 min, a horrifying number for a 20 minute composition! I'm also not sure of the variety of sounds, since in quite a lot of cases you clearly hear the processes.

In generating the 2d generation, I became more and more critical on the sounds - I'd discard them much more quickly, also because I found quit a lot of them to be resembling 1st generation sounds too much. But it's also interesting that the order in which I'd work on them is important: after working for 2 hours I'd get tired of certain processes and not even try them. Kill the unborn in the womb, to quote Metallica Iron Maiden (2 Minutes to Midnight)...

I haven't consistently generated all possibilities for the 2d generation, but I don't think that's necessary. Also thinking about the next step where I'd have to go through all this material and make sense of it - it's probably good to already start selecting in the generation process.

Another thought: I already failed the initial goals I set myself. The processes I chose are too much about performing - while generating them I'm already making all kinds of artistic judgements, in stead of meticiously, mindlessly applying processes on the sounds.

Fo today I'll just generate some more 2d generation - being picky about which 1st generation files I choose, as to not generate any more trash (well, again defeating the purpose, but that's why it's called research I guess). Then I'll try some 3rd generation. Not too much, just playing around. The last thing I'd like to do here at EMS is organizing the sounds a bit. Thinking of a way to present them so I can more easily go through them and monitor them.




February 7, 2008 - February 2008 Archives




EMS - Wednesday & Thursday

Two days in one post. Yesterday wasn't very exciting. I was mainly routinely generating material.

Last night though I was playing around with Audition, and decided to add two more processes:
* Pitch bender: changing the pitch of a sample over time, sometimes subtly, sometimes quite drastically - very much dependent on the sound material.
* Noise reduction (keep only noise) (with 'noise' from next sample): this is kind of crossbreeding: take a snippit from the next soundfile in line, and use that to apply the noise reduction filter in Audition - but instead of getting rid of what you filter out ('noise'), keep just that.

So all day today I've been again generating material, starting the 2d generation. I'm not applying every process on every sample though, that would get me way too many files, and some just don't work (LP filter over LP filter f.e.). Some outcomes are surprising!

I actually realized today that I don't have too many processes, but I started with too many soundfiles (the 27 'axioms').

Then tonight I added (yet) another process, an analog one this time:
* Aluminum foil: attach pieces of aluminum foil to the speakers, playback sound with lots of low frequencies, and record the playback with two microphones.
I'm hoping this will add some different aspects to the whole. I'm sometimes not sure if the family tree is varied enough - too much inbred?

Just keep going, tomorrow another day. Hopefully finishing the 2d generation, and then looking at what I have and if I should generated more. Maybe try out some 3d generation examples.

To bed.




February 6, 2008 - February 2008 Archives




EMS - Tuesday

Very interesting how this works, setting yourself up with strict rules, and trying to stick to that. More than a couple of times I was tempted to leave the path I set myself - thinking of other samples to use, getting ahead of myself by applying more than one process at the time. But I resisted.

What I have now: 27 samples with a length between 30 sec and 2 minutes. I allowed myself to edit the initial sourcefiles a bit to get a lenght of at least 30 sec. And to keep that a bit more interesting than just repeating the same sample 2 or 3 times, I used: reversing the sample or adding a slight pitch change in time and editing these various versions of the same sample together into one.

Then the processes. I decided on 6 processes in LiSa:
1. ch2 LPF: this is basically playing the sample twice on both speakers, but a little out of sync and with a low pass filter applied - this gives me a lot of low drones (probably too much).
2. ch2 pitch+48: this is a process that plays the sample pitched up 48 semitones together with the same sample pitched down 48 semitones - the high pitched version of course is much more prominent, and works in some cases and not in others - the low pitched version only gives some rumble every now and then - all the time there is some sample length change going on so the loop is not so obvious.
3. ch6 broken + dist: a joystick action, scratching through the sample with extreme panning and some subtle pitch change - all kinda broken and cutup.
4. ch6 filter + dist: similar, but then with a high pass filter changed by the joysticks Y axis.
5. ch6 reg + dist (fixed pitch): my main instrument in the live set, scratching through the sample and applying extreme pitch change with the Y axis.
6. ch5: this is a weird, but a little too obvious stuttering of the sound - probably I'll get tired of this one the easiest.

After applying these processes to 6 sourcefiles (already quite a lot of work!) I can already see that I'll end up with much too much material, every 1st generation file being at least 1 minute, but most of the time 2 or 3 minutes. When generating them I actually add quite a ot of 'musicality' - they are small compositions in themelves sometimes. Also I allowed in some cases to not use a certain process, as it didn't seem interesting on that particular sample. Shouldn't do this too much though, as in other cases I initially also expected a certain process not to be interesting on a certain sound, and it ended up being quite nice.

A thought I had yesterday: if I would have executed this composition process at home or in a STEIM studio, I'd have abandonned it already, or at least changed its direction. Being here in Stockholm with no diversion and plenty of time forces me to keep working. So I'm glad I took on this challenge for experiment.

So today I'll be continuing the 1st generation creation with the LiSa processes, and then decide if I still want to add other processes, more regular ones using Adobe Audition. It seems I'm already generating too much material, but maybe Audition will give me another direction - LiSa can sound a bit too 'LiSa' sometimes.

I also finished Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep yesterday. Interesting how different in story but similar in atmosphere it is to Bladerunner. But even more focus on those intense initial questions this process started with (see the pdf with the plan, above).




February 5, 2008 - February 2008 Archives




EMS - Monday

So yesterday I arived at EMS. The place is nice, very quiet, good for getting work done. Friendly people.

I started out roaming through Bladerunner, taking samples. Not an easy task, since I don't want voices and music from the film. So what's left is a little one-dimensional: a lot of droning, crowds, atmospheres. Not much details or fast changing sounds. I guess that's what I have to add then.... Still I'd like to stick to the plan of using only sounds from the film. After getting 20some soundfiles, ranging from 3 seconds to 2 minutes, I tried some processes. Adobe Audition, my favorite audio editor (yes, Windows on my MacBook!) is a good tool for filtering. Also the dynamics processing, with extreme parameter values is promising, as is using noise reduction with random other pieces of sound as 'noise' (this is like 'subtracting' one sound from another).

The plan for today is to organize the samples, figure out a way to administer them in the family tree, and adjust lengths, so they are a bit more practical. Then I should test and decide on LiSa processes to use. This is hard, as I want to choose only 3 or 4 processes, and they should be narrowed down: the processing I do with LiSa usually is very broad, meaning that with one process I can do a wide variety of things. But I think the processes to build the family tree should be a bit more contained.

As a general direction to go I'd like to explore a soundfield with low frequency drones, high filtered sounds, and not much mid frequencies (maybe some sweeps through those mid frequencies). This seems the best take on the soundmaterial I have right now. It is actually a good thing that I have this kind of rigid plan, as I'm constantly tempted to consider other sounds to use: there's a Buchla analog synthesizer in the studio, and a lot of room noises in both the studio and the room in my family hostel. It also is a little scary though: will I be able to generate enough interesting material from those sourcefiles to create a composition that is any good?

To work.




February 4, 2008 - February 2008 Archives




Start of the work.

On this blog I will keep a log of the work on Vreemdeling, a composition and research project. The full description of the project can be found here.

The first task, creating this blog, is (obviously) done. I'm currently in EMS's studio 4. EMS director Mats Lindström was very kind in enabling my stay here at EMS (Institute for Electroacoustic Music in Sweden). I will be here one week, starting up the work on Vreemdeling.