Category Archives: Live Performances


This one is as much an experiment in sound design than anything else, tweaking a synth with a formant filter to create something… well, not really akin to it at all, but slightly evocative of overtone singing (which makes sense, considering that overtone singing is about formant manipulation above all else).  It’s certainly an interesting thing to hear coming from what’s basically a subtractive synth, though.  Not quite like someone singing, but eerily expressive nonetheless…



Some additional experimentation on live-playing instruments on my tablet (this one is done in Chordion).

I have to say, when it comes to playing things live, I’m definitely of mixed minds about it, and even more so when I’m working with melody.  When I’m working on live manipulation of a weird soundscape, for instance, that live random element is almost part of the fun, to see what unpredictable thing might happen.  With a melody, though, it’s a different story, especially since I’m not the kind of person who can jump in and improvise something while guaranteeing that I won’t hit an off note – and if I was going to practice and play something over and over again until I got it perfect, why not just take the extra step and program it directly into my DAW where it can be as precise as I want it?  While I’m not sure it results in absolute perfection each time, for me the fun of improvising something is to just go with the music while keeping it reasonably listenable.  At the same time, though, when I’m playing it back and hear something jarring, or even if not then at least something I didn’t intend or didn’t really want it to sound like, it can infuriate me to no end.  And yet, I keep trying to improvise and play unusual things live, so…

I played several different approaches with Chordion, but this was the only track I really got into:

Kelvin (Chordion Test)


The annoying part of being busy with work and exam prep and dozens of other projects, creative and otherwise, is that sometimes you don’t get a chance to make music for a while, and it drives you crazy.

Anyway, here’s a little track that I came up with while working on some different musical sequences and tried to play live in Rockmate, mostly succeeded, and then probably titled by mashing my hand against the keyboard.


Acoustic Rain (tablet experiments)

An experimental album of music played/sequenced live and recorded on my phone/tablet using various music apps.  All songs here are the first “live” draft, and may be corrected/reprocessed later.  Generally ambient synth/rock sound.

1. Barbecuew (created by… my voice, primarily)


1. An Unpopular Lactobacilli (created in Beatwave)


2. A Vaguely Popular Lactobacilli (created in Beatwave)


3. RainA (created in Rockmate)


4. Yergi (created in Rockmate)


Nodebeat Meditations

While it’s not something I’ve written about much on this site, one of the things I’m very passionate about is the idea that anyone, regardless of training or education, should be able to experience the joy of creating music. To that end, I’m always interested in technological innovations that can further that goal. Technology has already progressed immensely from where it was when I started making music with a simple notation program and General MIDI sounds – today, you can have everything from multiple racks of synthesizers and effects to the equivalent of a full symphony orchestra at your fingertips on a single computer. However, while this world of possibilities is great for a professional or advanced amateur with years of training, it’s not particularly accessible. Because of this, I’m always interested in alternate methods of creating music that don’t require advanced knowledge of a complex DAW user environment. These tools are usually simpler, but have a considerable amount of creative potential, often paired with an interesting and easy-to-use interface.

The first program I experimented with in this vein was Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS – the song Planktonic Variations was recorded live using it. This song is created via a somewhat similar program on the Mac, called NodeBeat. It works by placing musical nodes that are networked together with essentially pulse generators – depending on the distance from the generator to the node, the sounds are played in different sequences. By moving the generators and nodes around in real time, you can create fairly complex variations.

This particular song is a live experiment using the program. It’s definitely an ambient-sounding piece, something that I’ve found the program excels at. This tends to be the case with many of the current programs of its type, as playing around with sound is easier within that sort of context (due to the fact that you’re not trying to sync everything to a particular beat or style). While the program does have some limitations in the sounds it can produce (and while it would be nice to be able to load external sounds or samples into its interface), I think it’s definitely a worthy entry for people who are interested in creating music without the complex learning curve creating digital music might otherwise require.


Crazy Demos

Sometimes, when I’m testing out a synth and trying to learn it, I just hook up my keyboard and start playing around with them live, tweaking every knob I can get my hands on and seeing what happens.  Sometimes, if something interesting happens, I record it.  The following are some of the results.  Warning: some of these amp up unpredictably – make sure your speakers are set at a safe volume before continuing.

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Not 2001

I was playing around with Wusik EVE when I discovered that you could do some interesting ribbon-controller style sweeps using the mouse on the instrument’s mini-keyboard. This is one of those tracks, where I was playing around with some octave shifts with one of the interesting Mellotron sounds. WHile I was playing it, I thought it sounded slightly like the intro to the movie 2001, but not really… hence the title.