Disquiet Junto 157 A Little Ice Music

Guess this can be described as a Titanic track since it's made from ice and vessels.

This is my third time undertaking the annual assignment to "Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it." Hear my 2013 ice cube and glass track or see and hear my 2014 effort, which includes video.

It's interesting to return to this project, both to compare the experience with previous years and the challenge of finding a new angle to approach it. I haven't listened to my 'ice cube in a glass' tracks side-by-side yet, so I'll skip the former here for now.

I've found that returning to recordings can be fruitful, so my first thought was to find my previous files to use but they were elusive. (As a result, I made a new new year's resolution to improve my computer back-up.) So once again I filled the ice cube tray and assembled a variety of cups. Next year I should try glass bowls.

Once again it was a very hot day and I had to record quickly as the house warmed without the air-conditioner. You can hear the ice cubes melted and added a watery slurp in places. Next year I should chill the glasses.

For recording I used an AKG C680BL perimeter zone mic and a Shure SM7 vocal mic, with the former underneath and the latter directly above. My idea was to get a couple of perspectives and pick brighter or duller tones for the samples but in the end mostly I used these as stereo recordings.

My first attempt at manipulating the material was an unsatisfying house beat, so I started again with a breakbeat kinda feel in mind. Once again I used the sound of an ice cube hitting the bench as a kick drum, in part because I knew it'd show the ice cube escaping the glass. Kick sounds are usually easily created through pitching down a sample and shaping it with gating, EQ and compression.

I ended up with half a dozen percussive loops and added Ableton Live's Beatrepeat effect. Beatrepeat can produce interesting results, including melodies. It's a shame the pitch setting only goes down but maybe in a future update they'll widen the scope of this effect.

For the harmonic progression I repitched a few loops and used Live's follow function to rotate through them. A couple of these loops were gated using Beatrepeat so they'd only be heard every couple of bars. I added a short loop of a crystal wineglass chiming for the higher pitched part, using Valhalla Shimmer reverb to smooth it over and widen the sound with octaves below and above.

By the time it came to structure the song it was getting late. The result kinda feels a bit like a basic instrumental song, since it goes verse / chorus / verse / chorus / etc. Maybe I could've done something else if I'd returned to it the following day. Maybe I'll return to these files next year.

I spent about five hours making this track if I don't include the video. There were a couple of mistakes exporting the source material and I haven't started editing the final video yet. My video workflow is to replace the audio with the sounds recorded through my mics, export a new video with these panned into each channel, then export the parts from Live and composite them together for the final clip.