Sound Experiment number 18.
Tag: Theoretical Audio Laboratory
A Chop off the Old Block
I finished the RPM challenge again. As mentioned previously, I set out to write and produce five songs for an Ep. I was aiming for five instrumental guitar based songs, and I have ideas for them. I have ideas for 10+ instrumental guitar based songs, in fact. But I’m lacking time to do them justice. I’m teaching two courses at two different universities, and so, I decided to follow a looser approach, and improvise.
I’ve enjoyed this one very much. The cover is a photo I took in Cape Cod at a flea market. I walked up to a vendor’s table, and this little display was set out exactly as I’m presenting it.
I also made covers for the individual tracks.
Constellation/XYZ – ABC
Beverly and I were walking along the inner harbor on a very cold February morning, looking for somewhere to get coffee. I recorded this on the walk, paused my recording while we got coffee, and resumed recording to capture XYZ – ABC.
I will never say I told you so
BGE has hired contractors to dig up all the roads in our neighborhood, and also move our gas meters outside of the house. I had to quickly dismantle the Theoretical Audio Laboratory to accommodate employees of Pipeline Solutions desire to track a great deal of mud through my home. It was a huge relief to have them out of the house, and when I set up some drums again, I recorded these parts.
One night, I played a Bass VI and improvised the string parts on this track. The next day, I set out to lay down drum tracks for a different song, and wondered what these two parts would sound like together.
I will never say I told you so is what these two parts sound like together.
A Pie for Grackles
I was “taking my exercise” one day and heard someone playing an out of tune, warbly piano. As I paused to capture this recording, a car drove past me and parked a block away. I was happy that I captured enough piano to make a loop, and then found the passing car to be interesting, too.
I got the photo one night while Beverly and I were out on a date. It struck me that the people across the room might be having grackle pie, and/or might be grackles themselves.
Where to be
I made about an hour of recordings one night – 7 tracks in all – two of which will end up in films, and then this one, which is the sweetest of them all. More straightforward, it reminds me of a part of Baltimore that I may have once visited.
The cover is a continuation of Found and Chosen. As much as I’d like to stop, I keep finding discarded treasures on sidewalks.
A favorite among faves, this drum loops sits squarely under a recording of BGE’s favorite road warriors, busily ruining the streets around here.
The image is from a 1950’s era advertisement, and while I’m a sucker for those sandals, it was the text that inspired this image become the cover for this track.
Cards of Marseilles
I had a sleepover with my lovely daughter this month, and we got some recording in. One this track, I got to play her cello, and she manipulated her Line6 DL4 MkII delay pedal.
A risible scene of lovemaking
This was the first track I made for RPM2023. I set my iPhone on the floor under my drums and it just happened. I’ve made some backing tracks from this for the aforementioned instrumental guitar album.
As always, I’m grateful to have participated in this cool challenge, and I’m always better for having done so. I recommend it to everyone who writes music.
I gave a lecture on inspiration and where to find ideas last week. I told my students the following:
Ideas are a form of creative currency that must be spent. They do not earn interest if hoarded.Mr. Jim, Introduction to Animation, ART341
I remember when I was in my 20’s and the drummer for several original bands, I’d come up with ideas for songs that I kept to myself. Maybe I envisioned myself playing guitar on them. For a few, I remember thinking they were like shiny treasure that I needed to keep safe. That these ideas were soooo good, I needed to do something with them myself.
That was wrong thinking, for several reasons.
- I was being selfish.
- The ideas might have been great, but most certainly would have been made better by the collaboration of my bandmates.
- Those ideas never saw the light of day, all because of this thinking!
I wish I had shared those ideas now. I would love to know where Guppy (of Bazooka Joe) or Christoph Green (of Honeypump) would have taken them. They were both fantastic song writers, and much better guitarists than I.
Ideas are not personal property. They cannot be copyrighted or trademarked. They are useless unless executed. Statistically speaking, if you don’t do it, someone else will!
So, I spent a few ideas this month, and you know what? By doing so, I doubled the amount of ideas I had, and have even more recording to do. I think that’s part of where ideas come from.
Unknown no. 2
I’m not sure how to classify this one, and also, I don’t think it’s finished. Part audio experiment, part experimental animation.
I have been awarded a creativity grant by the Maryland State Arts Council! This is truly an honor, and much needed.
I used the grant to create physical copies of my album entitled Found and Chosen, which I will be giving away at my upcoming show at the Hamilton Gallery in Baltimore.
I finished all the work for the grant, and awaiting the arrival of the recordings. I’ll talk more about them in a different post.
This ended up being A LOT of work – more than I had originally calculated. I loved every minute of it, and I’m full of gratitude and happiness.
Edward Gorey’s Oven (S.Ex 16)
Here’s a little number I call “Edward Gorey’s Oven.” Enjoy!
Sound Experiment no. 16.
Four on the Floor
Andy is a friend from work who also plays guitar. We were talking about a podcast where the host asks each guitarist guest a question: “What four pedals are on your board right now?” The idea, I think, is to find out what four effects pedals are most important to their sound.
Andy has sent me a few audio clips of him playing through four of his pedals. It’s super cool, and it gave me an idea.
I hooked up these four pedals and made some sound. While this combination works really well together, I’m not sure I’d have put this together without this program. I’m going to use it for a week or so, and see what happens. I predict I’ll discover a lot of useful combinations I wouldn’t have otherwise chosen.
The program itself is very simple, and only checks to see that it hasn’t chosen the same pedal twice. I get decide the order of the pedals in the signal chain. One pitfall is that it may suggest truly unusable combinations – perhaps four distortion pedals (I have four distortion pedals). Maybe that would be cool for a second, too.
Next, it occurred to me that I might want split the signal at at the top of the chain with a signal blender. I like to record stuff as I go, and lately I’ve become interested in the idea of re-amping the signal. To do that, I need to record the dry signal directly from the instrument (an instrument might be a guitar, bass, tape deck, my iPhone, drums, some keyboard, thoughts transmitted directly to the pedal board, etc.). I also sometimes transcribe guitar parts so that I can recreate it in MIDI, and having a clean signal makes it easier.
So, the signal blender sends one channel to the pedal board, and the other channel straight to the direct box. The direct box sends the pair of signals to my computer, and both are recorded into Ableton Live on their own tracks.
I can also envision adding a looper after the pedal board, on rare occasions. I use loopers extensively, and they can record/save loops. Making loops in this step of the chain could be helpful. But, it’s not actually part of Four on the Floor.
Future iterations might include a switch that modifies the number of pedals: Two, Three, Four. I think more than four will lead to endless noodling, which is what I often do. For now, four seems like an ideal number. I could pre-sort the pedals into categories, to avoid having four distortion pedals show up, or four reverbs, etc. I think this might crimp some happy accidents from happening, so I probably won’t. Finally, I can see adding a way for other people to use this function. My pedal inventory is contained in a hard coded array, so I’ll have to make an easy way for others to add their own inventories.
I think this is an interesting little device. I like the constraints. I’m going to spend the next few months kicking this around.
S.Ex no. 15
Building on Sound Experiment no. 14, I put together this track, along with some wigglies inspired on our trip to Puerto Rico. I’ve been quite literally doodling this on the iPad for weeks.
As mentioned in S.Ex no. 14, I used the Excess V.2 by Old Blood Noise Endeavors. The audio also features a nocturnal frog, an ice cream truck I heard on a beach in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
This song is part of The Old San Juan album.
The Old San Juan (album release)
All of the material on the first track of this release was recorded on an iPhone between 4/22/2022 and 4/30/2022 in Puerto Rico, with the exception of a guitar loop that was recorded in Baltimore on 4/22/2022. I brought the loop to work on with my iPad, and included it in this audio postcard as it felt like part of the trip to me.
The source material includes:
- various vendors selling beer and food
- a walk through Ponce
- a distressed stray dog
- street performers
- the Atlantic Ocean at Castillo San Cristóbal
- invisible frogs
- a fellow traveler who snored continuously during a trip to the rain forest
Also included on this release is sound experiment no. 15.
Not a very thick album, but it conveys memory and feelings of the trip.
Loops with Chloë
I got to hang out with my daughter Chloë in the Theoretical Audio Laboratory, and we made some loops. We really don’t do this often enough. Hope to change that! Love you, Chloë!
S.Ex no. 14
A quick one to show off the Excess V2 by Old Blood Noise Endeavors – I really like this pedal.
I’ve successfully completed the RPM challenge for 2022. This is my third success in five attempts, and I think it’s the best one yet.
This video to explain the why’s and how’s of this one. I’m proud of this work, and I hope you’ll check it out. If you are a Patreon subscriber, I’ll share the free download link!
Music to Hear Blindfolded, Vol.1
I’ve got some cassettes available from Scientifically Sound Records! This release is called “Music to Hear Blindfolded, vol. 1,” and it evolved from my “write music everyday” challenge for 2021.
This music and sound on this cassette is intended to inspire and/or accompany film and animation. Some of the audio was used in my videos.
Approximately 40 minutes in length, the tape is a mix of musique concrète, found audio, loops, and stuff I recorded at the Theoretical Audio Laboratory.
This will not be available on Bandcamp, and this will be a very limited release. All tapes are signed by me.
Volume 2 is in the works.
S.Ex. no. 13
S. Ex. no. 12
I made this in a couple of hours this afternoon. The bass isn’t very tight, but I had fun making it, and I think there’s something in here. The video is a compilation of morsels from various trips.