Category Archives: Iterations

Desync/Resync City

Some more Isle of Tune experimentation here, although this time the focus is much more on how altering, reversing, and shifting the sequence of notes creates interesting new interactions between the various melodies “played” by each of the individual sequencers.


And, just for fun, I created some effectized versions that make the sequence sound a bit more dynamic and interesting (or at least trancegated):



Wub Scub

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)

Slicing/Percolating City

As you may know by now, I’m quite a fan of the democratizing nature of technology in terms of music creation, and the proliferation of tools designed to make creating music fun and accessible to people of all ages and skill levels.  An application that I came across recently, Isle of Tune for iOS, definitely fits the bill: it’s a simple algorithmic sequencer cleverly disguised as a city-building sim.  You lay out roads to define the sequence, buildings and scenery placed alongside generate nodes and effects, and cars on the road serve as the “pulse” to trigger the sounds in sequence.  The program gets more interesting, though, when you realize that the cars can travel at different speeds, in different directions, and that the roads can be constructed to be far more than a simple loop or linear sequence.  This makes the program great for exploring Reich-esque phased patterns, and makes for some surprisingly unique musical opportunities.

Below is the sound of a couple of cities that I designed, although I’m currently working on some that are far more complex…



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.



My brother (who is an accomplished multi-instrumental musician in his own right and a collector of obscure and eclectic music) and I recently had a discussion about this particular track of music. I asserted that the track really does sound quite unsettling, while he opined that, compared to many things he’s listened to, it’s not particularly unsettling at all. I suppose you’ll have to listen to it to see which one of us is right; be aware, though, that it contains many discordant elements and may not be your cup of tea (in fact, music is rarely a beverage unless you are suffering from extreme synesthesia).

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.