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.