June 30, 2013

City Jitters 17

Posted by matt at 8:18 PM | Comments (0)

June 25, 2013

Bill Stickers is innocent

Another meeting, another poster. In this case it was the UCL Neuroscience Symposium, and the poster looked like this:

(As ever, you can click for the full PDF if you're feeling masochistic.)

It seemed to go down pretty well, although as always at these things only a handful of people had properly coinciding interests, and many of those I already knew.

I'm currently scheduled to present the same thing at the IUPS 2013 meeting in Birmingham (hi ho the glamourous life!) at the end of July. It's conceivable I might rework it before then, or I may even not go -- I'm scheduled in the Friday morning graveyard shift “late-breaking abstracts”, so it's not like anyone will even be there -- anyway, time will tell.

Meanwhile, I have an interview in a couple of weeks for the job to which I fleetingly alluded a couple of posts back. I am, as so often, Mr Ambivalent about this -- some of the job is, let's say, out of my comfort zone, and there are other considerations as well that I'll not rehearse publicly for now -- but once again, time will tell. (Time is a bit of a ratfink tattletale snitch, let's face it.)

On an unrelated note, Waldorf's new Nave app (built by NLog's Rolf Wöhrmann) is the absolute bollocks*. Pity poor Thor, released nearly concurrently, which is also excellent but frankly a tad overshadowed.

* Note the very important “the” in that sentence.

Posted by matt at 12:36 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2013

Liner Notes

Robin (who else?) asked for some "unpacking" of what went into the construction of UST, so here goes. Needless to say, you are not expected to care about this.

Minimal vocals (and coughing) aside, the noises were all software-generated. Some of that software makes use of samples, so there's a tenuous connection to real instruments in some cases, but not played by me. I did strum the occasional onscreen guitar.

The main programs used were GarageBand (iPad & Mac) and Logic Pro. A bunch of other apps figured as well, notably NLog Pro, Animoog, Addictive Synth and Magellan. All tracks, even the oldest iPad GB ones, were (re)mastered in Logic -- using headphones, which is universally decreed to be a very bad idea. If the tone sounds dodgy, that might be why, although it could also just be down to my poor judgement generally.

The tracks span more than two years, with the original Loopy Lou having been posted up on WT back in March 2011. Loosely, there are two periods represented, corresponding to different tech used. In the early tracks it was pretty much GB all the way; in the recent ones there's more software variety and the addition of a Roland A500S keyboard. The former live up to the album title better, I think; I mostly prefer the latter. There are about equal numbers of each, and though the track order is very much non-chronological, you could probably work out which is which without much effort.

With the exception of the Lous, which were obvious experiments in just piling on library samples to breaking point, most tracks arose from poking at one or another piece of software until it made what seemed to me interesting noises -- this stage often accompanied by alcohol -- and then (sometimes even sober) layering up the results. So they are built around a few serendipitous phrases or riffs or whatever, but are basically constructed in the edit. This often feels more like coding than actual music. Maybe some future guitar-oriented output will be in some sense more "authentic", although I doubt it.

As an example, Generator was based on a bunch of shifting rhythmic note patterns from two iPad generative music apps, Sound Cells and (more prominently) NodeBeat HD, which both include midi support. I couldn't figure out a sane setup for sending the midi output directly to Logic (if the new iConnectMidi devices ever actually materialise that will probably be the way to go), but both NLog and the venerable MusicStudio support recording of virtual midi streams, so I did that, exported the MID files, then chopped them up and pasted and looped bits I liked to drive various Logic instruments and drum kits. While this process was atypical in terms of the data sources and means of acquisition, the eventual "putting it together" stage was in keeping with the general approach.

For the most part, I'm reasonably happy with the results. There are plenty of weaknesses, of course, but that's inevitable. I'm glad it's "done".

And there'll probably be more of this nonsense at some point. A few things that didn't make the cut this time might get still get revived or reworked, and a number of new seeds are starting to sprout. Stick around.

Posted by matt at 8:35 AM | Comments (0)