Rock Out!

Wrote and recorded a rock song today. I think it needs lyrics but haven't had an idea yet.

Also need to get back to practicing my drumming.

Naviarhaiku116 - melting windshield frost

The Naviar haiku this week seemed a bit a prescriptive. Sometimes when the poem chosen describes sound it feels limiting rather than inspiring.

Anyway, I took my cue from the description of warm guitar and used the part I'd recorded for the Junto this week.

Brian Eno on technology

I’ve always liked technology because I never learned to play a conventional instrument. I started making my own signal generators and so on, and suddenly I had instruments that only I knew how to play.

Mortal Kombat Theme with Joey Muha

Disquiet Junto 0221 Morning Music

This week the Disquiet Junto gave a nod to Easter with the direction to compose a piece "you’d like to imagine other people would want to wake up to. This isn’t “shock alert” music. It’s quiet, peaceful, refreshing."

My first thought was to remember a dream from earlier in the week where I was backstage at the Grammys watching a performer who sounded a bit like Green Velvet accompanied by dozens of women in American football uniforms on stage under spotlights.

Then I decided that wasn't the right approach. I reflected on the sound I like to awaken me and realised its my partner's voice. One of the wonderful things she does is address me in a measured way when she wants a response while I'm asleep. For years I had girlfriends who would take out their frustrations with my snoring in a variety of short-tempered ways. When I started sleeping with Jo she would put a hand gently on my back and ask in a soft voice for me to roll on my side and I would, usually without needing to awaken.

But I realised that a recording of my partner prompting me to wake up wasn't what the Junto wanted this week.

So I grabbed a few of my favourite chords and experimented with a gentle guitar piece. I wasn't really enjoying the guitar though, so I used MIDI to drive the orchestral samples in Ableton Live. I pasted the same part to each track, aside from a few simple edits, relying on the range of each instrument to determine what it would contribute.

It's great to hear how different participants approached the project. There are many beaut tracks.

Bach in the church

St Johns is the oldest church in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and one of the dozens of historic buildings at Griffith's Pioneer Park Museum, where I work part-time as curator.

Good Friday is the annual 'Action Day' at the Museum and this year is the 45th anniversary of the first Good Friday when the Park was opened to the public and thousands of people came to have a look.

Thousands of people visited today and saw machinery in action, such as a rice harvester named 'Gertie' invented by an enterprising farming couple in 1943 and a Clayton and Shuttleworth portable steam engine from 1905.

Among the many activities was a small contribution from my musical identity, the Wendy Carlos-inspired Bach piece I produced for a Disquiet Junto a couple of years ago. This track was looped in St Johns and it gave me a thrill each time I walked past the building to hear the low notes rumble.

Ratchet Face

Naviarhaiku115 - You know where you are?

The Naviar haiku this week reminded me of times when I'm able to explore a new environment, as well as the clarity that sometimes come with walking around.

These chords have been on my mind this week. I've been exploring on the guitar and this progression has been taking shape, so I was keen to use the prompt from Naviar to record it.

Artwork embedded in the Soundcloud link by Jo Roberts.

Stealing a bass

Via Tim Prebble

Disquiet Junto 0220 Rhythmic Arrhythmic

The instructions for the Junto this week come from Dennis DeSantis, whose book Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers I've read about and looked at the online material.

The direction was to use short loops of arrhythmic material to find rhythms and I'd initially thought of the remix I'd made of a field recording from outside Wagga. That process drew on my experiences remixing playgrounds, to use suitable transients to make beats and also a bassline from a passing bee.

One thing I've observed is that gating loops makes it easy to focus on a transient, as it removes the background noise (and can sometimes even create the transient). Then the question is where you put the starting point for the loop, as this will determine whether the transient sits on or off the beat of the rhythm.

As a result, it's fairly straightforward to create a beat from most material. The interesting variations come from the loop selection and how the resulting transients swing as a rhythm. For this reason I resisted the initial idea to use a recording of me 'playing' an object as it mean I made the rhythm.

So I ended up thinking it would be interesting to make a track from the recording of the Rice Co-op that was made for the Junto proposed by Kate Carr. The occassional hisses seemed ideal and the passing mosquitoes were good too. I also found there was some deep rumble, likely from a breeze.

Using the gated hisses, mosquitoes and rumble to create a rhythm, I then accentuated it with a programmed drum machine in Ableton Live. Then I jammed on a few bass riffs to give the track a song structure, which develops from F# minor to A major I think.

Jonathan Wolff on E! News

Naviar Haiku 7

I've a track on this new compilation by Naviar Records.

It's an older song called 'Windy Bases' that was recorded around the time I made my track for the last Shinobi Cuts Remix Chain and sharing a glitchy aesthetic -- possibly even the same bass part.

I'm a bit surprised it was chosen for this release but I've come to realise I have a different relationship to my music than a listener does. It's like how Eno explains his concept of 'scenius', in that artists aren't necessarily the best judges of their own work.

Naviarhaiku114 - Where do you come from?

For the Naviar haiku this week I recorded some chords that I've been playing for the last fortnight or so.

I'd been experimenting with different ideas but the haiku's image of flying upwards gave shape to the tempo change. I tried to convey that feeling when a plane is speeding down the runway, readying for lift-off.

There were some words that came to mind too but I decided not to explore lyrics this week. I was going to record it on an acoustic guitar but there's been too much noise.

The idea of looking beyond national identities speaks to me for many reasons. I also was prompted to think about it when a friend mentioned on Facebook that when he gets asked where he's from, he's started looking blank and answering "Earth".

Image added to Soundcloud comes from here.

Disquiet Junto 0219 Breath Dance

The Junto this week was proposed by Paolo Salvagione and involves creating an audio backdrop for a piece of choreography that utilises only the sound of soft breaths.

When I started thinking about manipulating breath recordings, I wanted something that would be more interesting than heavy breathing close to a microphone. Then I remembered the recording made while having sex earlier this year.

That piece came about because I'd found a spank I'd uploaded to Youtube had become my most popular video. I'd shared that as it had been remixed into an acid sorta tune for a Junto. I'd also been reading how William S. Burroughs used audio to create spells and I was keen to get the result to sound like I was with two women.

So I went through the recording and selected snippets that featured breathing. In the process I got a few moans and groans, as well as a low sound that might've been a passing car. I made loops of these, then pitched the passing car into a couple of harmonic progressions. It was C, so I made it go C-E-A-G and also A-G. I changed the pitch of a couple of the other loops but didn't push them very far either.

Some loops were gated and one had Live's Beatrepeat effect added. Then it was a matter of triggering the loops to get a rough shape and editing them to get something that flowed.

Bunnies explain sound

Was reminded of this beaut cover from Tape Op magazine.

Naviarhaiku113 - In the clear night

Another beaut haiku from Naviar this week. 

The positive response to a previous field recording, led me back outside with a microphone. My partner is away with our car, so I didn't get to visit an actual forest. Instead I decided that, if urban jungles are a thing, then I'd capture a suburban forest.

I liked the idea that moonlight reveals a hidden orchestra, so I started thinking about revealing hidden sounds. I've been experimenting with EMF and there's a power substation nearby that must produce a lot of that, but it didn't suggest an orchestra. And I'd already recorded a Naviar track recently using an EMF recording.

Then I remembered a homebrew software I'd looked at years ago called sniff_jazzbox. Back then there was only one wireless network on the property where I lived and it was running a dial-up internet connection, so it was quite underwhelming. It would chime a piano note every few seconds but I always meant to try it in a city.

I played around with a recording of the software 'sniffing' my wi-fi yesterday. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense for this project -- especially when I considered this sarcastic meme I'd seen on Facebook.

These days even my small suburb has oodles of wi-fi networks. I took a ride on my pushbike yesterday and listened to nearly two dozen just going around the block. There was one section in particular that sounded nice, so I returned there early this morning.

Before the sun rose I also recorded crickets in my backyard, as well as some video of the tree-lined streets under the crescent moon.

This afternoon I've used Ableton Live to convert the 'sniffed' wi-fi into MIDI, which I've then used to trigger Ableton's orchestral samples. The lead instrument is a cello, which is supported by a viola section and both string and wind sections. These have been exported via UAD's Ocean Way reverb, as well as other lush effects. I added a Novation V-Station bass, as well as the backyard crickets.

Why fry?

Jamming with sniff_jazzbox.

Disquiet Junto 0218 Sound Passage

The Junto this week was "guest-crafted" by Kate Carr, an Australian recording artist whose writing I know from Cyclic Defrost and whose recordings I've seen Mark enthuse about on

My understanding of the assignment was it involved exploring proximity. Specifically how sounds change based on distance, not so much through the proximity effect where they're exaggerated by types of microphones, rather, how they change through the landscape.

One of the distinct sounds of Leeton, the town I've been living in since 2009, is the Rice Co-operative facility. It's part of SunRice, the global brand whose headquarters is still based here, as well as being a major employer.

When I first moved here I lived across the carpark from Woolworths and I mistook the hum of the Rice Co-op as originating from their supermarket. About a year later I moved closer to the Co-op and realised the hum originated from the massive facility that runs almost continuously.

The Co-op is also brightly lit at night and I've often taken photographs of it, see here and here. It also can be heard in my soundtrack for the Reimagining The Murrumbidgee exhibition. So it seemed a good candidate for the Junto this week.

I explored proximity by moving away from the Co-op in three recordings, starting at the Railway Avenue end of Brady Way and moving toward the disused train station. Each location contributes about 40 seconds to the final two-minute piece.

When I got to the spot where I wanted to record, there was a diesel train warming up behind me. The intermittent hisses from its engine seemed to respond to those hisses from the Rice Co-op. I considered recording it but decided it would mess with my video, as I could only show one side of their conversation.

The first location is opposite a building that is closed during the day but often open at night. I suspect they close it during the day to hide that it's packed with dog food. You can smell it at times but I often think it's better to smell dog food than to live near somewhere like the Cadbury factory in Birmingham and constantly crave chocolate.

The other week when my air-conditioner broke and the heat made sleeping difficult, my son and I walked past the open door early one morning and he observed that the brand was 'working dog food' or something. He suggested it was for dogs who wore ties and collars, rather than the kelpies and blue heelers used to round up sheep. It's a cute image.

You can hear in my recording that, as I moved between the first and second locations, the hum changes a bit. Then it grows quieter at the third location, and crickets can be heard along with the mosquitoes whose numbers are nearing their apex as the warmer months come to a close.

The audio was recorded with a Rode NT4 and a Zoom H4n, with some finessing using UAD effects. The video recording was made with a Nikon D5100 camera and 50mm lens.

Naviarhaiku112 - The stars that sparkled

Naviar shared a nice haiku this week, so I was keen to write a track for it. It's been a bit hectic though, so this is a bit of a rush job.

The image I've embedded with the track is a detail from my friend Casey Anker's installation at the RE//CONSTRUCTING exhibition, which my partner is also exhibiting work in.

So I've been back to Wagga Wagga again and was tempted to offer a field recording, then decided to use it as atmosphere for the chords I'd been strumming.

My guitar playing isn't very good but I like the way the parts drift, as though it really is a band playing this song. I also like the way it develops from a minor key to a more major one.