Naviarhaiku 172 – morning calm

This haiku shared by Naviar Records this week directed me to reflect on a chord progression I'd been exploring on the ukulele.

I recorded couple of different takes using my gated effects chain. In the version above I added only a little reverb, while in the version below I layer four copies and set them to start about a bar apart.

Disquiet Junto 0277 Chew Concrète

Step 1: This week’s project is inspired by the manner in which C. Reider recorded his recent album, Chew Cinders (Midnight Circles). We aren’t remixing his album. We’re remixing/repurposing his approach to the album.

Step 2: This instruction is adapted, with Reider’s input, from the manner in which he recorded the album:

Process a sequence of standalone “chunks” of pre-recorded sound — voice, field recordings, noise — with an emphasis on the manipulation of time and pitch. Speed things up, slow them down, and explore the opportunity to use cutup techniques. Pay particular attention to segues between the chunks.

Step 3: Make a piece of music inspired by the approach delineated in Step 2.

I only had to look back a few months before finding promising field recordings. There were made on Australia Day at Pioneer Park Museum's 30th breakfast.

Whip-cracking isn't an Australia Day tradition as such, however it is part of the annual breakfast at Pioneer Park Museum. 2017 was my second time at the breakfast, which was the 30th for the Museum.

In addition to cracking displays by young Master Terrazas and Mr Bishop, there is a selection from the musical performance by Jeff Gardner, including Australian classics "Give me a home among the gum trees' and the national anthem.

Ableton Live makes it easy to adjust pitch and timing but the instructions this week led me to try and confine myself to the re-pitch option, which links pitch and timing. From here I did adjust a couple of the loops but it was a good direction to get a quick direction.

I added electric bass and it kinda brings everything together a bit.

P.S. Just noticed the sync is out near the beginning :(

Hallowed femur bone

Naviarhaiku 171 – Among twenty snowy mountains

The haiku shared by Naviar this week brought to mind my time in the high country, specifically the speed at which the weather changes.

This weekend I've been rearranging my studio and reconnected an effects chain that hasn't been used in a while.

I started jamming on the ukulele as it came to hand and this track in G/Em was an experiment in applying the different gated effects.

This is largely a single take on two channels with the camera's audio added in Live.

Free jazz poisoning

Via Joel Berk

Disquiet Junto 0276 808 Blockchain Beats

The Disquiet Junto this week asked for something inspired by 808 and Blockchain.

Frankly, I didn't spend too much time wrapping my head around the idea.

I have a vague understanding of how Bitcoin works but decided to revisit the ice cubes I recorded for the perennial new year Junto, as they offered a visual that related to blocks of ice and that seemed like a cool idea.

The BPM is 88, which is a recent favourite I used for the 64-bar Challenge tracks. After getting a groove with these 808-samples, I added the ice-cube-in-a-glass samples and then worked on VST synth parts.

Last I added the bass and you can hear I didn't spend a lot of time planning what to put down. I'll no doubt loop this recording in the near future.

Drop beats not bombs

Disquiet Junto 0275 Revisit Something

The Disquiet Junto this week asks participants to revisit and revise an earlier track.

The recording I'd made of Phillip Spelman's "Redjar Redbottle" sculpture (which sits outside Bathurst Regional Art Gallery) was still on my desktop and I'd been considering taking another run at it.

This sculpture caught my ear for it has a variety of lovely resonant tones.

Since I started remixing landscapes in 2011 with my playground recordings, I've found that it's good to return to the material and see how differently it might be developed musically.

Often I find that my first brush remixing a recording might develop into an interesting loop that's something of a creative dead end.

When I revisit the material I'm more familiar with the potential to develop harmonic progression, particularly through re-pitching parts to create a chord progression.

Coming back to this track I had a different BPM in mind. Recently I wrote a few songs for a new 64-bar challenge and one of the BPMs they suggested was 80/160.

This track is 162, although only the high-hat-esque part is approaching that speed. It almost sounds a bit Trap-like, probably needs a faster flurry and more prominence though.

The main challenge was finding samples to serve for percussion. I should remember to record a couple of muted taps for this purpose when recording resonant objects with a contact mic in future.

As usual I put gates on most of the loops, although I left one free to allow some of the environmental sounds like birds and passing cars to add context.

The gates were adjusted to provide snappy percussion parts and on the harmonic parts I added reverb to give more presence. This was a Space Echo-style effect and you can hear some faux tape pitch wobble, as well as the feedback in the break and at the end.

Disquiet Junto 0274 Broken Sound

The Assignment: Record a piece of music in the genre called “broken sound.”
The idea of broken sound suggested something intermittent.

I considered pulsing sounds before remembering the grainy warmth of the circuit bent Speak and Spell.

It fluctuates a lot, so it seemed to meet the brief.

After jamming with the machine a couple of times, I was going to take samples and put it together as a track.

Then it occurred to me that broken sound might not have a songwriting aesthetic.

Disquiet Junto 0273 Alarm Clocked

The Assignment: Make music for a (new! improved!) slow-waking alarm clock.

Step 1: You’re going to make music for an alarm clock. Think about what you like and hate about alarms, and about your morning routine.

Step 2: This alarm clock is special. You set it three minutes before you’re due to wake up, and the music slowly gets louder as those three minutes pass. Then at precisely three minutes in, the alarm-like nature of the sound announces itself, and then the music plays for roughly another full minute.

Step 3: Create an original piece of music based on steps 1 and 2.

My alarm clock is set to start the radio but a button malfunction means it often beeps at varying volume too. At different times of the year I don't need the alarm, I seem to have become a morning person.

A previous Junto used an alarm clock as a starting point. That one turned out well.

This week I've been playing on my ukulele, trying to get my daughter interested in learning new chords. We'd been playing Katy Perry's Roar recently and the G chord from it appears in my jam here.

The recording here was the second take. Not sure what the opening chord is but I like its air of mystery, which asks what the day will hold?

It's a bit slow since the track runs over four minutes. My kids came home from school so I didn't get a chance to re-record and shrinking the audio would get fiddly with the video.

Clap on

Via Facebook

Naviarhaiku 168 – Stilness

It was interesting that once I knew the footage that I wanted to use to accompany the audible response to the haiku this week, I started writing to suit that visual instead.

Then it didn't take very long to settle on a fistful of notes across a handful of instruments.

This is my fiftieth video for Naviar Records projects.


Remix of this track from late 2015

Disquiet Junto 0272 Exoplanetary Intervals

Remarkably, six of the planets form the longest known chain where each orbits at a resonant frequency of it’s neighbor. From the slowest, the planets orbit at: 1x, 4/3x 2x, 3x, 5x, 8x. If you think of those as vibrating strings, they form a chord or scale: the slowest planet is the root, then fourth, octave, octave and fifth, two octaves and major third, three octaves.

When I first considered the notes I started with G on my 21-fret bass, which seemed to fall short. So I considered B on a five-string bass.

My idea was to improvise a few loops at different points on the fretboard and then set them running, preferably at varying lengths. In the end it got too hard.

There were different parts that worked, so I edited out the parts that didn't work and whittled the overlapping takes down. In the end I could hear some pleasing parts but lost interest in whittling the results further.

Recording layers of bass often ends up sounding muddy. So I choose a bright-sounding bass, then suffered the sound of fingers rubbing along the strings. In the recording above I used my UAD effects, particularly their de-esser.

After writing the above I went back and started playing with the recording in Live again, ending up with the version below. It was exported using VSTs, such as Valhalla and Ohmforce effects with Ozone mastering.

Initially I selected six loops as I'd initially planned and these were stereo panned. For variation I added sections where I was playing the loop as well as looped recordings but in the end there were five parts that were largely long takes.

Two parts are panned hard left and right, two more are at nine and three o'clock, while the last part has two reverbs and sits across both channels. One bass take has been reversed but, aside from a delay effect, all the parts are playing at their original pitches -- which almost covers both extremes of my five-string Warwick Rockbass.

Adam Curtis on documentary music

The thing I find about a lot of factual films these days — it’s as true in America as it is in Britain — is that the use of music tends to be either very clichéd or very boring. It’s as if the editor or the director doesn’t get out enough. They choose music which is completely predictable — if they’re making a film about bankers, they’ll put Pink Floyd’s “Money” over it. Your heart sinks. Whereas I like the idea that you choose music that feels not appropriate literally, but emotionally to what you’re trying to say.

Part of the function of journalism if you’re using music and images is to create an emotional platform from which you can draw people into the argument that you’re trying to put forward. It’s not a manipulation. It’s just: “Let me tell you a story.” As you tell a story, you draw people in. Music is so important in that.

Disquiet Junto 0271 Prison Sky

The Junto this week returns to the plight of Syrian prisoner Bassel Khartabil. Wednesday will make five years of detention and also a year since he's been heard from.

The project takes Bassel's description of seeing square sky while "dreaming of the moment I can see sky with no walls and bars" as a cue to music.

I took the chord progression onto the ukulele that I've been playing this week and added lyrics:

square of blue sky
I can pair with it
more in my mind
a bigger square of it
many times into
a blue sky
in my mind
think to times
when my blue sky
was free

The chord progression is the same one added to the drums recorded earlier for the Junto duet. It sounds gnarly to add this recording of my singing to either Lapping the Bowl or Crushin'.

Actually, you'll notice the video at top is a mash with Lapping the Bowl. Below is the vocal and ukulele version, which seems a bit naked and embarrassing.

The pitch-y singing and weird timing in places make this more of an experiment. So I've replaced the version below with one repitched up nine tones and used the MIDI recording of the same drum takes to drive a few VSTs.

Naviarhaiku 165 – commercial break

The haiku shared by Naviar Records this week seems to hark back to another era as I haven't bothered to tune in a television in over a decade.

This track came together quickly from a chord progression I started strumming on the ukulele last weekend. A day or two ago I found another riff that seemed to go with it, then remembered the drums I'd recorded for the Disquiet Junto.

Disquiet Junto 0270 Just Duet

The Junto this week is a duet with a Junto from last week, which anticipated the duet.

The instruction directs respondents to generate a number for a track for duet. I got number 17 and, strangely, when I thought to refresh it appeared to remain 17. Then I tried a new browser and got 23.

Number 17 was Tay Ploops' U-key for dUet, which is good material for a duet. The ukulele recording really appealed to me, although I haven't recorded ukulele in weeks.

I tried to record my bass a couple of times before finally succeeding. I should try layering the other takes.

The distorted bass is a bit overpowering and I disregarded a couple of instructions, extending the outro of the original track with looping and switching between recordings in and out of the box.

P.S. -- Below is a version with just Tay Ploops' ukulele and my fretless bass, which better represents the former in the duet and adheres a bit closer to the Junto directions.

Brian Eno by David Bowie

Last Days of Summer

Ran out of time while recording this piece I've been playing this week. It probably could've used another take.

Disquiet Junto 0269 Duet Portion

This week's project is intended as half a project. It'll set the stage for at least one more project that will build on what we make this week. You'll be recording half of a duet.

For the Junto this week I recorded drums because it seemed like a good foundation for a collaboration.

My drumming is a bit wonky, so it's not such a solid foundation but hopefully that adds character.

The sounds come from one of the drum sets in the Ableton Live Suite via MIDI that was recorded with the video.

If you'd like to collaborate, feel free to grab:


Here's a selection of material recorded last year.

It's been interesting mixing it together and hearing where things pleasantly collide.

Naviarhaiku 163 - as petals

The haiku shared by Naviar this week reminded me of a track I'd started using recordings of raindrops.

So I added a bass loop from the previous week and here it is.

Disquiet Junto 0268 Walking Music

The Junto this week is a tribute to Jiro Taniguchi that focuses on walking.

Today there were opportunities to record walking and I tried a few but the results were inconclusive.

Then this evening I was sitting at the pool and had the idea to film wet footprints. The way the water sprays off feet and onto the path has often fascinated me.

I like to imagine that I have giant chicken feet.

At home I experimented with different instruments and treatments. Then on a whim I tried adding a recording from last week and the drums started at just the right point.

The bass and toothbrushes work so well for me that I can't think of anything else.

Disquiet Junto 0267 The Metronomic Society

Create a theme song for a fictional organization.

My meeting with the Metronomic Society coincides with a week exploring 5/4 time signature, as well as dabbling in 9/8 this weekend. 

There were three different songs I started in 5/4 this week but this one got structured further than a single loop, probably because I experimented with a key change to lead back into the chorus. That bit still feels rough though.

The track challenges me to count along and I think one horn riff is in 4/4, which means to evolve the piece but might feel wonky.

The instruments were programmed with Ableton Live's Suite.

Generating music in-the-box meant casting my eye about for visuals and I remembered filming the play of light in my garage. The sun setting behind a tree and through the cracks in my brickwork created patterns and the zigzag crack looked okay for a change too.

Naviarhaiku 162 – tape

The haiku shared by Naviar this week seems incorrect as neither tape nor mountains are silent.

In responding I remembered a recent trip to the Blue Mountains. There were wonderful sounds of wind in the trees and different species of birds, including black cockatoos.

At night there was less sound and I'd brush my teeth and feel self-conscious of the noise made by my toothbrush.

When I decided to record the toothbrush, I remembered that my kids' toothbrushes all made different pitches. So I collected them together and found I could make chords when recording them going all at once.

The toothbrushes were recorded using a motor from an old blender as an induction coil microphone.


More news on the return of the artists also known as the KLF.

Disquiet Junto 0266 Vocal Cuts

The Junto this week was based on composing with segments of sung vowels.

There have been similar Junto projects in the past, like 0108 and you can hear my response below. I used that track last year to accompany the result from a projection workshop.

For the Junto this week I thought I'd use longer segments. As the instructions said to hold a vowel but didn't specify holding pitch, I experimented with a few notes in Eb.

These were recorded using a Rode K2 microphone. In Ableton Live I layered up five segments and added a couple of reverbs, as well as some subtle panning.

Out of tuners

The other day I picked up my expensive Warwick bass guitar and found the A string wouldn't tune up.

As it slipped with each turn of the tuning peg, I expected to the hear the string snap. Instead a piece of plastic fell from the tuning peg.

The tuning peg refuses to tune without this small plastic disc that serves as a kind of washer.

Since then I've looked over my basses and found that five of the six I use have the same style of tuning peg. These basses range from one I bought for $200 to one that I bought secondhand for $1500.

This photo shows a broken plastic disc in my cheap Ashton bass exactly like the one that broke in my expensive Warwick bass.

I've ordered a set of tuning pegs that look to be the same design. They cost $12 including postage from China.

It amazes me that these cheap components seem to dominate in my instruments, regardless of their quality.

Naviarhaiku 160 – painting the sounds

I like the idea of painting with sound in the haiku shared by Naviar this week.

At first I remixed recordings of Leeton pool, then I remembered this footage from Valla Beach.

You can hear there are a few loops of varying length, as well as gating and resonators.


My daughter shot this at the pool while she spun the camera around. It made me want to use the footage for something, so I made music with it.

Sculpture in Bathurst

Phillip Spelman's "Redjar Redbottle" sculpture outside Bathurst Regional Art Gallery caught my ear recently.

The video above is my first attempt at manipulating the recording into a composition. Usually it takes a few attempts to get a result I'm happy to share but I thought I'd reflect on the process.

You can see I've created a number of short loops and a few have been repitched, particularly the kick-like sounds. There's also a couple of reverbs added for depth.

Bass fantasy

Found this photo the other day while researching another topic.

It caught my interest to see this romantic story uses a bass lesson as a plot device.

Disquiet Junto 0265 Kitchen Music

The Junto instruction to choose a kitchen shelf and use those sounds led me to ponder the shelf with electric coffee grinder, Aeropress and various glass vessels.

There was also the broken coffee grinder I used for percussion in this song

Then I remembered I'd wanted to record the glass bowls. Two of the three were sitting among the pile of dirty dishes on the stove.

Feels like there are more sounds to explore with these bowls. I also think there are more songs in the samples that were quickly recorded with my camera and microphone.

In Ableton Live I repitched the loops and gated then EQ'd with the reverb channel too. The parts are all of slightly varying lengths. I didn't notice the drift much but think I can hear it.

Finally I tried improvising a bass part, then opted to quickly record without video. During the recording I improvised that part near the end that runs ahead of the loops. Thought about recording a new part but ran out of time.

This oven and grill came with the house but doesn't work very well. One of the plates on the top will short-circuit the house, hence the song title.

It's not a wrong note

Seen on Facebook

A turn at the Fern Garden

While in Canberra recently I recorded the sound of the gate leading into the Fiona Hall fern garden at the National Gallery of Australia.

The video above is my first attempt at composing music with the material and it's the start of a process where I get a sense of where I can take the sounds. Anyway, I think I may need to record the gate again to get the result I want.

Fiona Hall is one of my favourite Australian artists and the garden is one of my favourite spots in Canberra. It's nice to visit it at night, when the lights cast an eerie orange glow.

I've given the track the name 'Hysteria' as this was once seen as a condition that arose from the womb, which is represented in the design of the gates.

And after I recorded these, I visited a woman who had been placed in the mental health ward. She wasn't hysterical though, she was quite calm and perhaps medicated.

Naviarhaiku 159 – old thorn tree

It's been a struggle to meet Naviar's haiku assignment in recent weeks for various reasons. When this poem arrived last week, I thought it would suit a piece I've been composing on the bass.

For a while I didn't think I'd make the deadline, then last night I decided it was finished and recorded it. Then I didn't find time to upload it before the next poem arrived.

Piece of gate

On the weekend I recorded sounds from the gate at the garden designed by Fiona Hall outside the National Gallery of Australia with a view to composing something using samples.

3 Years of Naviar Haiku

A couple of my favourite tracks from last year are on here.

Disquiet Junto 0264 Time Travel

The Junto this week explores the idea of time travel.

I decided to go back in time, traveling back to a recording made last August. It appealed to me as I remembered the four-string guitar sounded good with reverse delay and I wanted a beat for timekeeping too.

It seemed appropriate to reverse the guitar parts, as well as having them play forward with a reverse delay effect. I wanted to get a result that felt disorienting, as I imagine that's how it'd feel to travel to another time.

Kinda looks fun

Sculptural snippet

Recorded the sculpture outside Bathurst Regional Art Gallery this morning, where they also have a beaut Brett Whiteley exhibition at present.

It has a number of tones, so I'm looking forward to composing with this sculpture sometime soon.

Lucas Abela's noisy pinball

The artist also known as Justice Yeldham has this "Child size hand made pinball / noise generator for sale $2000 (as seen at musify + gamify at teh seymour center for vivid 2015)" and I wish I could buy it.

Disquiet Junto 0262 Ice Code

This is the fifth time I've undertaken this annual Disquiet Junto project to "record the sound of an ice cube rattling in a glass, and make something of it."

Last year it was a challenge to improve on 2015's track, when I found that adding an instrument didn't work as well as hoped.

This year I took the opportunity to record a new collection of glasses while I was visiting my out-laws over Christmas. They had a lot of wine glasses and some sounded like very good crystal.

These were recorded using a Rode NT4 stereo microphone into a Zoom H4n, then added to the video from a Nikon D5100 before being manipulated in Ableton Live.

In the end there were 13 tracks within the project but, as Live struggles to export shorter loops, I had to settle for representing 10 in the video. One is a section of the original recording.

It was a few years ago that I found the sound of an ice cube hitting the floor could be pitched to create percussion parts, so I've used that technique again.

The kick sound has been pitched down and compressed and EQ'd. Some other parts have been repitched but for most parts I tried to keep them as they were recorded.

I've added reverb to the percussion part and another reverb to the melodic parts, which was "composed" using Live's follow "any" function from a selection of ringing glass sounds.

After recording a rough structure in Live, I edited to give the track more shape. Then adjusted the length of loops to add more variation, so you may hear some double and halve in length at points.

Jimi could polka

Happy new year

René Magritte on keeping it surreal

The Surreal is but reality that has not been disconnected from its mystery.

Wonder what this sounds like

Kenneth Snelson’s
“Free Ride Home” (1974) at the Storm King Art Center (photo by joevare/Flickr)

Marcel Duchamp on Marcel Duchamp

I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.