Naviarhaiku 147 - Awake in the dark

At first I came up with an unmusical response to the haiku. I was thinking about hearing miraculous agitations and what a bum steer I thought it'd be chasing the melody from a random arrangement of notes. The result was a bit excruciating.

Then I thought about what could be done with the drum part. The MIDI has been sent to a Roland TR-707 and the clock is running to the Atomosynth Mochika. Under my other hand is a King Capitol Punishment Utopia Synth, which has two oscillators I think.

Disquiet Junto 0252 Sonic Palindrome

The Junto this week asks for a sonic palindrome.

My initial idea was to pick through Em and G chords on my guitar with MIDI pick-up, then double the parts and reverse one. So it would play backwards then forwards, moving from a minor key to a major one to get a sense of resolution.

When I started reversing the part in Live, I noticed it changed the placement of the notes. Where reversing the audio means the notes fade in, reversing the MIDI seem to make them start in about the same spot. So I resorted to exporting the MIDI part through the Oddity pad with Valhalla reverb, then importing it in and reversing it.

The forward and backward parts now sit on top of each other and the result is more like a palindrome in sounding the same in either direction.

At the last minute I decided to add another instrument using the MIDI part, settling on the bowed vibraphone samples that are part of the Live Suite. This isn't doubled with a reverse part, so it kinda ruins the palindrome approach but adds a lot more interest to the song I think.

Annoying noises prohibited

Was talking with a Council colleague about the way local parks all have signs listing things you can't do and how negative they appear.

We hatched a plan to develop a sign that encourages smiling, saying "G'day!" and talking about the weather with strangers.

Washed Ashore

After finishing my track for the Junto this week, I was a little disappointed to find Detritus Tabu had reworked the same track as I'd chosen. In some ways in didn't surprise me though, as I like Hugh's work a lot and figure we must have similar aesthetics.

Anyway, this morning at breakfast I was listening to the tracks submitted this week and it occurred to me that I could add a couple of the more relaxing tracks to my recording of Valla Beach.  Here's the result.

I've added Glenn Sogge's 'A Simple Sleep' to rpcollier's 'Binky' to my 'Valla Beach' track. Both added tracks have been repitched and 'Binky"s been warped to twice the length and edited to fit. They also have Valhalla Shimmer reverb.

Disquiet Junto 0251 Soothing Sounds for Parents

Last week’s project involved making soothing sounds for babies. This week the plan is to transform those sounds into something for parents.

337is's track How To Repeat caught my ear because I like repetitive music, although there were many tracks that I downloaded last week. Music for sleeping is a good theme for composition, I think.

When the Junto was first mentioned by Marc on social media, I'd considered recording a song I've written and adding my recording of Valla Beach. Then I'd gone back and listened and thought about what instrumentation I could add to the work of others.

I'd recorded these drums weeks earlier while attempting to keep up with some drum and bass. My partner suggested I skip adding a bassline to this remix, which was wise and it means 337is' track has space. It's been sped up, pitched down and filtered with a few effects.

There are two instances of Audio Damage's BigSeq gating effect and you can hear when the one kicks in about a bar after the drums get going. There's also two distortion effects, one is bassy as there was a high pitched snap that annoyed my ear from the gating effect and the next warms the mids as I wanted a James Holden-sorta sound. He had a drummer playing with his synth when I saw him perform and I love electronic music with live drums, particularly The Bird.

Around 3.30 you can hear my drums crackle because I've been having problems with my audio while recording. Hopefully it's just the Firewire cable, that's been the case when I've had problems like this previously.

Naviarhaiku 145 - City streets ablaze

There's reflection in the haiku this week but not much from me it seems.

I've been playing this A minor to E seventh riff but couldn't really nail down how I wanted it to resolve.

So what you hear here is a few attempts at structuring the changes layered on top of each other with a view to mimicking the sense of being surround by reflections of sunset.

And I've added Valhalla Shimmer for a big golden glow.

Disquiet Junto 0250 Soothing Sounds

The 250th Junto asks for sounds to soothe a baby. I really wanted to record my ukulele but I remembered what worked for my kids and it wasn't instrumental music.

For my first pregnancy I made mixes in the hope that the stories were true about kids calming when they hear the theme of a TV show watched regularly by their mother.

My partner likes Aphex Twin's ambient works, so there was a lot of that as well as Cliff Martinez' Solaris soundtrack. The latter was on very high rotation throughout the pregnancy, birth and subsequent months. Then around six months I went through a Duke Ellington phase and I think that contribute to my son's skill singing because he's always had good pitch, although so does his mother and grandfather.

With successive children there was less opportunity to focus but I have been a fan of ensuring my kids have soothing background noises. One album that has been popular through all three pregnancies and been recommended to friends is a CD reissue of the Environments album of 1969 with waves crashing on a beach. It's funny that there's a break on the CD for the two sides of the album.

My partner reminded me of the album when I asked if she'd record some of the songs she sings for the kids to go to sleep. Just this week my youngest asked her to start doing this again, despite him being nearly eight years old. She knows a few old English lullabies with surprisingly mellifluous melodies.

This recording of beautiful Valla Beach was made during our winter holidays to the north. Well, as far north as Brisbane.

Valla is about a half an hour south of Coffs Harbour and my partner's family have a beach house there. It's been the subject of a previous Junto track this year, as well a site for great lightning pics and I saw an octopus and a seal and maybe a merman.

It was recorded using a Rode Videomic on my Nikon D5100 SLR. I've added a couple of Valhalla reverbs, as well as a low C using Massive and mastered with Ozone 7.

Piano rolls

Looking into piano rolls at work today and it's a fascinating technology that provided music at a time when Edison's low-fidelity phonograph was the only other alternative to hiring a musician. 

I've never seen one in use, so it seems incredible that piano rolls were in continuous production from 1896 to 2008. I'm familiar with their design though, which can still be seen in the layout of MIDI editing on most digital audio workstations.

I was surprised to learn on Wikipedia that performances by many great pianists and composers were recorded using piano roll, including Gustav Mahler, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg, Claude Debussy, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin, Jelly Roll Morton and George Gershwin.

Angel of death

Image: Brian O'Blivion


Wanted to see if I could rock on an ukulele, so put down some fast drums and bass to go with it.

Disquiet Junto 0249 80 Phases

This was my third attempt at the Steve Reich-inspired Junto this week. Early on I settled on looping sections of recent ukulele recordings, including a cover of the Adventure Time theme.

Something about the waver at the end appealed. Originally I had guitar, bass, drums and percussion backing, but the fluctuations in my timing took attention away from the phasing.

The phasing was achieved with two loops in Live, one a fraction shorter so the two parts drift out of time over the recording. By the end the transient at the head of one loop was getting ahead of the other.

Phasing is a subtle effect, so it's a bit lost on me but I've heard interesting results with these loops and also a percussion part in an earlier draft. Usually phasing is an unexpected outcome and often I experience it as a nuisance in video production.

To round off my track I added a 909 kick and bass line but it still needed something so I used a 303-style preset and Latin percussion. These were meant to complement the loop but compression has meant they're a bit more dynamic and hog attention from those slight changes in the vocal. Dunno if that'd be right with Reich but happy birthday Steve!

Steve Reich came to my attention via Brian Eno, who has enthused about the phasing technique in 'It's Gonna Rain' -- which is a beaut track. I've also been interested in his rhythmic pieces and see a lot of his influence in the music I enjoy. I've also been happy to have comparisons made with my work.

On another note, it's noteworthy that this is my 70th Junto video.

You Clear Distraction

Feeling an increased sense of affinity for four-stringed instruments after buying a Kala U-bass recently, I bought an ukulele on a whim.

It arrived yesterday and, without knowing how to play it, I googled ukulele tuning to tune it up and recorded the first thing that came to mind.

Then I added Valhalla Shimmer to get an effect like a synth because it sorta sounded like sloppy mellow drum and bass.

I was pleased when my partner described it as "demented Cafe del Mar"!

Birthday Suit

It was my birthday on the weekend and I was sad as previous years had celebrated this event coinciding with Burning Seed, which was cancelled due to rain.

So I put on the onesie I'd bought to keep warm on the paddock and played with myself.

There are three takes of acoustic guitar, two takes of four-string guitar, one Nashville-tuned guitar, one MIDI-equipped guitar, two basses, two melodicas and two takes of drums. All are single takes, many first takes.

Universal changes

Almost two months ago I got an email saying I'd bought three new Universal Audio effects, when I didn't.

At first I thought my account had been misused, then I noticed that all three effects were based on those made by Roland (who also own the Boss brand of guitar pedals) and concluded that it was a licensing issue. It seems some people thought they got freebies.

Yesterday I remembered these new effects and remembered to try them. They don't sound any different but the new versions appear larger on the screen. Anyway, I thought I'd comment on two drawbacks with the new unbranded versions.

The first issue was the presets. The new versions have new presets and I found myself looking for the familiar sounds that I use. Thankfully the UAD FAQ says I can copy over the old presets to the new effects.

The second issue is the new names given to the effects. "Galaxy" is colourful and a good equivalent to the "Space" in "Space Echo" and it slipped straight into my memory, but the "Studio" and "Brigade" names have not been so easy to remember.

Previously all three effects would list under "Roland" in the alphabetical list, so I currently find myself scanning the ever-increasing list of UAD effects to try and remember what they're now called. This will become a problem for me when UAD remove the Roland-branded versions unless I get used to looking for them now.

Which leads me to a wistful comment, that it'd be great if only the UAD effects I own appear in the list of VST offerings.

I realise that it's probably not something they'd want to address though, as the process of looking at these offerings goes some way toward prompting me to buy them. It does seem that I remember the effects that are useful to me and quickly forget those that I buy and don't use.

Which leads me to observe that Brainworx should consider giving their effects names with more evocative characteristics. And I'd guess it could be good if UAD were to arrange their effects in sub-folders in the VST list, using categories like those listing the products on their website's store.

Naviarhaiku 143 - Watching the lightning

The haiku this week reminded me of many evenings during summer watching thunderstorms pass, sometimes at a distance of around 100km.

Despite being fairly flat in the Riverina, sometimes it feels like the sky stretches forever and it's times like when a localised storm is passing through that I can get a sense of that distance by comparing what I see with the view offered by a weather satellite online.

The frogs have been breeding among the many puddles recently. We haven't seen a thunderstorm for a while but it does look like it's going to be a wet summer with all of the increased risks that go with that, from mosquito numbers to fire risks when the grasses dry out with the heat.

This recording was made while waiting to film the flooding at Widgelli this week.

Disquiet Junto 0248 Galactic Tick

For my recording this week I've used theremin, drums and bass again. I'd intended to use guitar, but I'd also intended to use another chord progression too.

When Marc's instructions arrived I read the Popular Mechanics article and pondered the vastness of space. Then I'd watched a few of my favourite videos on the subject of the universe and life.

The image in my head when I started recording was of cycles within cycles. I'd wanted the drums to go 900 miles an hour through space but ended up settling on a funkier beat.

Then the chord progression didn't seem to work, so I'd started recording and ended up on a variation of a familiar riff. And guitar didn't seem right but I liked the idea of interpretive movements, so the theremin came out again.

Two takes were recorded on the theremin, with both used and the video layered up. The theremin is a bit blurry as I moved it a couple of times. It was a single take on the drums, with the opening hits moved to the end; and the first take on the bass.