Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Rough Interlude Study, Week Five

Hey all,

Week five has now passed, a better and well paced week compared to last, but still not ideal. Next week more focus needs to fall on rest and time in between work, on interludes. However, wonderful and amazing sounds were still born of this week, alongside interesting and exciting coding endeavors.

I did not end up making a YouTube demo for this week, and even this blog write up is still not finished as of Wednesday the week after . . I fell a bit 'behind' (I wouldn't really consider myself behind what I need to do overall, just behind or not as large an output as previous weeks), and instead of pushing myself much harder than I really should (sure, the videos and blog posts seem fairly straightforward but they take a solid chunk of time and effort to complete each week), I decided to rest. Sue me.

Editing... on april 16

 I did end up making and uploading a video for this week on april 11, and am now getting around to putting it here. You can find it at this link here, or view it below.

Rotary coding

This week I coded rotor: a 'sequencer' which blends between a series of 8 inputs in a repeating rhythmic fashion, heavily inspired by the recent attention the Crystal Palace has gotten from Hainbach and Look Mum No Computer. The potential for sound exploration by using this in pure data is incredible, it allows for beautifully evolving and ever changing sounds, and my rendition of it is still incredibly basic, all it does is modulate the volume of the inputs; once effects such as saturation and more exciting modulation are implemented this device will be incredible. I ended up using this alongside my tapeloop module from last week extensively over the course of this week, which will be detailed below.

the two renditions of the rotor module
There are two renditions of the rotor module: the first of which uses a more tradition pure data sequencer with a metro, a counter, and a [mod] to continuously, although fairly mechanically, rotate through the inputs; however, the second rendition, aptly named [rotor2], uses a series of lfo's to more smoothly and realistically cycle through the inputs. This second rendition also allows for more varied envelopes for each 'pass' of a sound through waveshaping the oscillator controlling the volume of the input, its even possible to have a hard on/off square wave controlling the volume (crazy, I know...). At a certain point I decided I might as well turn this into a ring modulator, as the modulator oscillator/lfo can be turned up to audio rate and create wacky over/undertones to the source signal.

Although over the past two weeks, Ive made some pretty cool and weird effect, one area I've really been missing when using pdooll is distortion and saturation, something that has been on my hit list for a long time now. Over the next few weeks I'm planning on knocking off some simpler, more utilitarian, modules off the list to really make pdooll a versatile and accessible platform for sound creation and mangling.

Recording and songwriting

This week there were two main 'phases' of recording/writing/creating sound, which will be detailed below...

Phase 1. Guitar tapping and how to work an idea up to uninspiring results

My first recording of the week was an idea I've been hyping up for a little bit now: chord tuning my guitar and tapping/hitting it to create sound. I quite liked doing this recording, and the results I got from it were quite cool, but for what I had in mind they just didn't quite fit unfortunately; the cords were too pretty and the guitar tone was a bit too bitey and crunchy, sounded a bit to pretty-math rock for my current path. However I persisted for a while longer, recording some more and then processing the sounds through pdooll, resulting in some gorgeous gooey undefined flutters of sound which would be criminal not to use in the future; then tried arranging it and recording it into some form of a song, but alas it just felt forced and uninspiring to me at the end.

I most definitely intend on repeating this process in the future, however I plan on spending more time experimenting with sounds and tunings until I find 'the sound' that I'm after, rather than going with the first result that presented itself.

Phase 2. Sail wind and writing a full 20 minutes in under 24 hours

After frustratingly admitting to myself that what had been made so far wasnt it, I started from scratch; a decision that would lead to fantastic results.

Initial ideas we're recorded straight into pdooll tapeloop, with the output of the loops running through soundflower into reaper, set to constant recording. Starting with some synth drones (the main synth drone that can be heard throughout most of the piece, which yall will be able to hear in due course when I put together a video or demo for this tune), then layering vocals over the top, utilising the varispeed recording that I incorporated into the tapeloop module; this was the basis of the composition, and marks the end of the more involved recording for the first session, as after this I let the loops record out into reaper for about an hour n a half, changing parameters and feeding back and degrading the loops over time (also feeding the output through a hardware compressor chain in parallel). The final recording from this initial session were brilliant little loops which eventually devolved into destructive madness.

Over the course of the next sessions, I edited and arranged the piece, recorded some percussion on it using my ms20 and some lfo's, creating this strange clickity kick drum and shaker pattern that runs through the entire piece, and process and polish off the piece a little. The result was 'Sail Wind', 15-20 minutes of percussive ambient sample based electronica, of which I intend to work on more and present at Oscilloscape next Saturday, April 17th.

I have continued working on this piece into week 6, which I will write about in the next post.


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