Sunday, March 21, 2021

Rough Interlude Study, Week 3

Three weeks done and dusted. Sounds and ideas are formulating, yet still in preliminary stages and rough. Work this week has differed from the past two weeks, taking a more thoughtful and planned approach, starting with research and thinking, mulling over ideas and then acting. Below is the week 3 youtube demo, also available through this link.

................_.........__.............Coding

Coding & digital for this week involved logistics: coding a wireless router module system for Pdooll and incorporating it into my mixing modules. 

The router functions using three modules, which sounds a bit obtuse, as its goal is to simplify routing, however its all fairly straightforward. The first, and most important module, is the ‘routebuffer’: a small and unobtrusive module that sits to the side managing all of the signals, routing the inputs to the outputs. Then, there are the ‘routein’ and ‘routeout’ modules, which take in and spit out signal. First, a routebuffer needs to be created and kept somewhere safe, and then ins and outs can be created wherever needed. Each routein is designated its own channel based on the unique abstraction number ($0), and then on routeouts, you can choose whatever channel you want. I have created this system with 16 stereo channels (32 mono channels), and I plan on creating more of these networks to allow for even more wireless routing. Additionally, I incorporated this system into my already built mix8 module, and then overhauled the interface a little bit, adding meters for each channel. This way, your able to create a series of 'routein' modules and they all get automatically wirelessly routed to the new 'mix8-route' mixer.

The only real issue one might run into using these modules is when using multiple patches at the same time, there can only be one routebuffer at a time, otherwise many wires get crossed and screw up the whole network. This can, and will, be fixed in the future by creating another network to work in parallel. With this workaround, the user must use a different network in each patch if they intend to use all the patches at the same time, which also allows for functionality when only one patch is being used. These future networks will be titled routbuffer2, routein2, and routeout2, with increasing numbers for future iterations. Another issue that could be faced is accidentally deleting an input or buffer, in which case all the user will need to do is re-create whatever was deleted and possibly restart their patch.

Recording & Unholistic Experimentation

This week in analogue-land, I explored a specific idea/mentality: after looking into some processes of Boards of Canada, I latched onto their idea to...

"Create entirely new instruments by sampling ourselves performing on real instruments and then destroying the sounds. So we’ll maybe spend days just playing various things, wind instruments, strings, guitars, bass, synths, for hours into the samplers and then feeding those sounds through stacks of destructive hardware and resampling them to make unrecognizable new sounds. This is all before we even begin writing any tunes."

This workflow and way of thinking fits in perfectly with what I've planned out for this study, and to put it in a more concise and eloquent way, I intend to 'separate the stages of songwriting and composition, resulting in unholistic methods and products'. 

To demonstrated this mentality, over the past week, Tess King and I recorded some abstract piano improvs and drumming, the next day (in a fresh headspace), I took those recordings and processed them through various systems in Pdooll, the day after, all of the sounds were then processed through a live feedback system (detailed below), and finally on Saturday, everything was sorted through and collaged into this week's demo video. There were four distinct stages to working on the same sounds this week, all of which were removed and unique from eachother, and while I've been doing similar up until now (in both my past practices and this study), this time focus and intent were on the staggering of the stages: resulting in a deliberately disjointed workflow, one which I wish to explore and detail much more over the coming weeks.

Here is an image I took of the system
As for the feedback system I mentioned, I took the dry and digitally manipulated piano samples and processed them through: two guitar amps pointed towards a grand piano with sustain pedal weighed down, amps and piano miced up, getting the ‘dry’ amp signal and the ‘wet’ resonated signal. Made a basic mix of the microphones used and recorded the output alongside the mics, then routed that mixdown out the system for the next iteration. After a few iterations the source sound is fairly alien to the new recording, lots of feedback-like tones and trashy atmospheres. While this isn't exactly what I might call 'live' feedback (an input directly feeding into an output that the input picks up), its more a staggered and controlled form of feedback, as I still am 'feeding back' the the recorded signal into the system again and again, degrading and destroying the sound one stage at a time.

final words for this week

Overall a successful week, it was exciting exploring something slightly more ambitious than previous weeks, and concepts which I look forward to exploring in the coming weeks.

As earlier might have hinted, Boards of Canada have been heavy on rotation over the past week, alongside other warp & related artists: my first time really exploring Aphex Twin, and revisiting the beautifully crushing tones of Vladislav Delay. These artists have been a good reference for experimental music making use of degrading analogue and digital practices, additionally, there is much documented about their workflows, which is exciting and a great help for this project.

Until next time,,,

Lou

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