Progress report – 5/9/12 musical experiment

Mixer and keyboard layout

Mixer and keyboard layout

Click photos to enlarge.

I started out working with Soniccouture’s new EP73 Deconstructed sound set’s FX keyboard. The FX selections are highly imaginative treatments of the electric piano’s sound harp – plucking the tines, bowing them, striking them with mallets and much more. The sounds produced are vaguely familiar to quite surreal.

First I laid down a long, dark drone, then track-by-track added sounds from the various octaves. Sometimes my choices were good. Sometimes they were terrible. But that’s how you get started with things such as this.

Next I started sculpting the sound, varying the audio levels on each track using automation as the piece went along to make some elements stand out and others recede into the larger fabric of sound.

MIDI tracks with animation

MIDI tracks with animation

After that I attempted to add an un-altered Electric Piano sound, but found that I was bumping up against the CPU usage ceiling. Hopefully, with the 64-bit next version of Digital Performer being released soon, that issue may go away, once I am able to access more than 4 GB of memory at a time. But it could still be an issue. We’ll find out in the next exciting adventure.

To get around the current problem I decided to “freeze” the current MIDI tracks. What that means is that I output audio from all of the MIDI instruments used thus far, disabling the automation before freezing to make sure they had their original recorded sound levels.

I then created a new document and added only the frozen audio tracks. My CPU usage went from above 90 percent and peaking into the 100-percent-plus level to around 3 percent.

Now I can again start to sculpt the levels of each track, though it will be easier now as I will be able to see where large sound peaks are coming up as I proceed through the piece.

I may add the unaltered Electric Piano, or I may not, depending on how the shaping process goes.

"Frozen" audio tracks

"Frozen" audio tracks

In some ways this shaping phase is similar to how Mexican women produce lace by taking away part of the cloth to reveal patterns.

There may too be a phase of adding various effects to selected tracks and triggering them on and off as the piece progresses to generate various washes of sound.

One thing is certain. This is a new work that will require a lot of finessing to arrive at either one or a number of sonic conclusions. The process will inform later work, some related to the Jonestown project, some to other musical works.


~ by Daniel Buckley on May 13, 2012.

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