For the lack of a better name, I have dubbed this simple little MSP app the Vinyl Harp. For awhile now I've been interested in the potential of using vinyl run-out grooves as a compositional device. Philip Jeck and Christian Marclay's investigations into this esoteric medium are pretty well known, so I've been trying to produce something original for the past week.
As the record player's stylus is stereo it reads both sides of the run out groove which are diffrent to each other on a micoscopic level, but can be articulated with the right kind of processing.
The Vinyl Harp is straightforward enough; it's a two-channel input into Max/MSP where the signals can be sonically tranformed using a biquad filter and comb filter. Each of these effects can be used individually or in consort with each other. I've found that the most interesting results have been acheived with the comb filter - applying a quarter to half second delay and using a strong feedback level. This articulates the vinyl's clicks, pops and crackles quite well and produces a nice sustained bell/plucked string sound. The biquad filter is also useful for scanning the resonant areas of the clicks and pops and can be very handy in conjunction with the comb filter.
I've also incorporated a sample playback option for pre-recorded run-out grooves.
I did some documentation last night, but I don't have time to upload it today. Check back here in a couple of days. There's plenty more to come over the next couple of weeks.
June 30, 2008
In preparation for Saturday night's performance, I've decided to revisit an old favourite: "The Sky Falling" (2006).
The Max/MSP realisation of "The Sky Falling" consists of a main patch which triggers samples of the phonemes which make up the poem (i.e. the, sk, y, fal, ling, etc.) When a triggered sample has finished playback it relay triggers the next sample in series after a short delay. The short delay creates a pause between phonemes (fal-ling)and assembled words (falling-into), this allows the semblance of the poem to sound more like a realistic speech pattern. Each of the phoneme samples are stored in sub patcher where the relay trigger time can be set and the sound of the phoneme can be altered with a biquad filter and comb filter.
I did some documentation last night, but I don't have time to upload it today. Check back here in a couple of days.
Main patch + subpatchers
The inside of the main patch
The inside of one of the subpatchers
June 25, 2008
Boy, was I in a bad mood last night.
Since I've had a turntable for over a month now I figured it was about time I administered the knife and pliers to some of the less-loved vinyl in my collection. Beethoven's Greatest Hits anyone?
I've personally never been that much of a fan, and since he made that appearance in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure I've regarded the deaf prick as a complete sell-out. 'Fur Elise' is nice, but the rest had to go.
The end result sounded terrible, but there's definitely some potential here. I've got another two of his Greatest Hits to abuse.
There's nothing more cathartic than butchering other people's idols.
June 23, 2008
Whew! What an interesting book this is. A study of noise in music over the past hundred years. It's becoming an essential reference tool as I flesh out thesis content, but it's not for the faint of heart. It's published by Continuum - notorious for lax editing and euro-philosophical impenetrability - so that's why it's taken me nearly four months to get through it. I suggest a cherry picking approach as opposed to the start <> finish technique. There's a good review by Adam Green which you can read here:
I will be playing a live sound art set at the Jade Monkey on Saturday 5th July. Starts at 9pm with other sets by Rafael Torale and Dan Verrucio. I believe the amplified peppercorn frames will probably make an appearance.
June 19, 2008
Something of a different post. A couple of weeks ago I saw Nanni Morreti's masterpiece "The Son's Room" (2001) which features Eno's "By This River" as the soundtrack. "The Son's Room" is an incredibly sad film, it's about a family grieving the death of their son. The video below shows a scene in the film when the song is first introduced, where the father is buying a record for his dead son - it's Eno's Before and After Science from which "By This River" is taken. The song also features at the end of the film to a devastating and beautiful effect. Rent it out if you're curious.
So. Following this viewing a couple of weeks ago, I decided to attempt a cover of it in the wee hours after Lauren had gone to bed. It's a pure Garageband production as it was a spare-the-moment idea, with a couple of overdubs I felt it was done > replete with a discrete Eno-ish synth pad.
By This River (Brian Eno cover)
The ongoing fascination with Eno continues. Since 2004.
My mentor Robin Minard is back in town for brief spell before he takes a 4WD up north into the wilderness for three months. We've caught up a couple of times over the past week and it's having some very positive outcomes in terms of research and my associated practice. The peppercorns are dancing on illuminated resonant surfaces and I think I might have something special on my hands. I'll be constructing the frames over the weekend.
June 14, 2008
I thought there was a smaller that usual crowd at the EAF for an opening. There was a good reason.
Thursday evening presented 'Arterial', a performance/installation work where the performers (senVoodoo) bleed from the wrist across a long strip of photographic paper. I lasted about three minutes. The sound of dripping and a horrid 'sticky foot' sound nearly made me pass out. I inspected the delicate blood patterns after the performers had left the space, feeling a little more at ease albeit with a twisted stomach and a desire to consume more wine.
An impressive work nontheless.
June 12, 2008
Over the long weekend I spent some time revisiting some experiments I first set about two years ago. Directly referencing Alvin Lucier's Queen Of The South (1972), the process involves activating a responsive surface and strewn materials with sine waves. In the case of the 2006 experiments, I used a keyboard, Marshall amp (with detached 60W loudspeaker), baking tray and strewn materials including cous cous, flour, sugar and nutmeg grains. These experiments led to some interesting results, but they felt ill-suited to my research at the time and were put to the side.
I came back to this idea for two reasons - firstly, because the most recent installment of the research had included references to Rolf Julius' warum grau, warum gelb, warum grun (2002) which uses the process of activating a responsive surface as one element of the work. Secondly, as I am struggling to realise the original concept for my third and final creative work, I decided to return to a previously explored idea that is a) easier to realise, and b) more suited to the scope of the research.
For the new experiments I retained the previous materials with the exception that I decided to use two small matching loudspeakers for broadcasting the sine waves and a very simple Max/MSP patch as a means of generating the sine waves. The benefit of using this simple sine wave generator opposed to the keyboard is it can accurately sweep through the resonant frequency range of the baking tray, finding its key areas of resonance and vibration.
At first I positioned the loudspeakers at various points beneath the baking tray in an attempt to activate different points of the surface at closely tuned resonant frequencies. This was successful, though I found a better and more visually interesting result was achieved by positioning the loudspeakers close together beneath a resonant area of the baking tray. Using a slight difference in resonant frequencies (i.e. 161 Hz and 163.3 Hz) an interference pattern is created, thus causing amplitude modulation and a pulse-like vibration. This causes the strewn material to start and stop its propagation across the surface of the baking tray in regular timed pulses. The rate of pulses can be adjusted by either tuning the resonant frequencies further or closer to each other.
The two embedded videos document this process with cous cous, black peppercorns and crushed leaves as strewn materials.
The first experiment with cous cous and black peppercorns was good as it was able to evoke an reasonably accurate phenomena of wave propagation across the responsive surface. The cous cous is used as homogenous material (textural and specific to the wave movement), whilst the peppercorns serve as more individual markers which illustrate how individual grains are caused to propagate - sometimes very chaotically - across the responsive surface.
The second experiment is similar with the exception that crushed leaves are used in the place of cous cous grains. The array of subtle colours and shapes of the crushed leaves make the process a little more visually stimulating, but lack the phenomenological accuracy of the cous cous as a strewn material.
Additional findings for further investigation relate to how the resonant frequency of the baking tray changes when different materials in different quantities are put on the surface. The explanations for this are relatively easy to explain, but are curious nonetheless.
I'm making plans over the week to expand on what I've done so far - in aesthetical/conceptual terms as well as some technical considerations - to give the work more relevance to the research, some identity and distance it from directly referencing Lucier and Julius' work.
June 04, 2008
June 02, 2008
My review of the recent Adelaide Contemporary Music Festival has been published on the Australian new music site Resonate.
I see it's already attracting some attention - see the comments section at the bottom of the page. I'll probably post replies when I'm in a more serene mood.