A quick experimental sketch, sort of a techno-themed piece. I wanted to do something playing off of some atmospheric noise sounds generated by Noisetar, which is a fascinating synth based entirely around digitally-generated noise rather than traditional oscillators (it’s available for free, in case you’re interested in playing around with it yourself). I used it to create the sort of noise background that the other sounds rise up from. Ultimately, I like the way it sounds as is (I like sticking it in my music player and playing it on continuous loop while I’m working on stuff, with the noise intro/outro it loops quite well), but I’m still thinking about adding in a few things to it and making it into more of a feature-length track.
So, it’s… 2017 somehow, close to a full year without posting here. Suffice it to say, I’ve been working on many other projects, which were not particularly music-related.
One thing I did work on, recently, was another alarm clock project. These days, like a lot of people, I use my cellphone as my alarm clock. However, the default ringtones all kick in immediately when the alarm triggers, creating an abrupt sort of sound that jolts me awake. I wanted to create a custom sound, the kind that’s pleasant (to me) and eases in gradually, but eventually gets loud enough to make sure the alarm is effective.
This track is the result. I’ve also included the download for the iOS ringtone version of it (sorry, I don’t have an android device, so if you want to use it for one you’ll need to convert the MP3 version yourself).
This track is somewhat similar in composition method to Fourscore, and was created in an attempt to make a musical “card” for Mother’s Day. In a similar vein, the phrase “Happy Mother’s Day!” was entered into the DAW’s piano roll, in a font style similar to a 7-pin dot matrix display. The sequence is then looped and used with several different instruments, primarily a selection of sounds from the Sculpture physical modeling synth (some processed through the Space Designer reverb) and a custom arpeggiated sequence that I created in NLogPoly. The track is backed with a few drum loops and samples from Logic Pro. It is a little towards the atonal and discordant side, but has a punchy and direct sound that is definitely growing on me.
What is Wub Scub? I have no idea. I guess it’s the sound I make when I attempt to vocally imitate dubstep. I do not have a very high regard of the dubstep genre generally. Therefore, the following demo is obviously not dubstep; rather, it is fairly traditional dark-ish driving techno, featuring a custom-programmed “wobble bass” that is admittedly a hallmark of the dubstep genre. (Really, it’s not that hard to do – all it is in this case is a custom-tweaked FM bass with high harmonics, with some drive and distortion, pumped through an LFO-linked filter with programmed variable frequency). The full demo also includes some bitcrushed samples and other fun stuff. The main bass is a custom patch for EFM1, processed by CamelCrusher and modulated by Logic AutoFilter. Samples and drums are stock logic loops.
I also created a couple of more “minimal” arrangements if you’d rather focus more on the bass sound:
And, just for fun, here’s what it sounds like when cranked (maniacally) up to 140BPM:
Oh, and as an extra added bonus, here’s a track of me running just the bass loop while playing the “wobble” live for around four minutes or so. The track, to me, seems just about on the edge of unlistenable, but then again, people listen to actual dubstep and seem to enjoy it, so who knows…
(Although, to be fair, *actual* dubstep sounds more like this)
The song started out as an experiment in varying synth harmonics by variably modulated filter sweeps across synths playing the same pattern. Ultimately, the effect ended up being less interesting than I had hoped, so I started playing around randomly with other musical elements, the result being a sort of discordant found-sound mishmash which sounds to me like something you might hear during a cinematic nightmarish hallucination. There are two versions: the original, and a later variant with some additional samples and processing that is probably the better of the two.
The synths were produced in Vanguard, and the discordant ambient background is provided by a custom-tweaked preset for the Reaktor ensemble SpaceDrone. Most other sounds are random clips and loops from the packs that come with Logic Pro.
Oh, and one additional note: You might want to check the volume level on your equipment before listening.
It’s probably not exactly a secret to those who know me that I can be very opinionated when it comes to music. There are certain genres that simply rub mew the wrong way, and on balance, hip-hop (or rap, or all things similar) is often one of those. Don’t get me wrong – I certainly don’t hate it all. I do have some rap albums and mixtapes, although they generally fall into the following categories: progressive lyrics, nerd/geekcore, or thoroughly electro-influenced oldschool rap from the mid-eighties. Nowadays, though, the genre to me feels musically bereft, and usually devoid of the interesting musical hooks that can get you into it. Monotone rapping on top of a crap beat that sounds like a keyboard preset, thoroughly vapid “gangsta” lyrics about guns and money and prostitutes… bleh! In fact, one day I sat down and thought, after listening to one particularly odious example, “this stuff is barely music. It takes no effort at all. I could probably sit down in an hour and pull together a hip-hop-style track I’d rather listen to than this dreck.” A few minutes later, I decided to take myself up on the challenge, and fired up my DAW. About an hour later (most of which was spent tweaking a beat and some sounds in microtonic, and auditioning some interesting-sounding royalty-free samples that came bundled with Logic), I had the following track, which I would much rather listen to over the majority of major-label hip-hop being released today.
Pretty much everything on this track is generated to some extent by Reaktor’s various ensembles. The core of the track is a heavily transformed live playing of Reaktor’s Acoustring ensemble, modified by Traktor effects, and accompanied by a large number of Reaktor algorithmic grooveboxes and sound generators. The overall result is a pseudo-ambient piece with an interesting, pulsating sound that cycles between gentle and gritty. This song was definitely interesting to work with, as it took the original melody line and managed to transform it into something almost unrecognizable compared to the original, but much more interesting.
There are two versions of the track that you can download – the Minimal version, which focuses mainly on the transformed melody accompanied by a couple of generated sounds, and the All-Inclusive version, which includes many additional generators and grooveboxes. The minimal version is good for listening to the essence of the track, while the all-inclusive version has a much fuller sound.
This is a techno jam.