38. Slabhands, Slabhandedly

I am in very high spirits today. Presumably its cause is the fast approaching finish.

I made a little program with lots of components that let you build up a dance track on the fly, a lot like features of programs like Ableton’s Live or Propellerhead’s Reason. The difference with mine is in the way short riffs or sequences are compiled. With a focus on building non-matching riff lengths, the input takes two lists; one denoting melody, the other denoting a rhythm (not confined to bar length). This allows for otherwise very long sequences to be expressed very briefly, for example if you take a seven note melody and play through it using an eight note rhythm, the sequence wont repeat until the 57th note. Of course, the main stylistic feature is that of beat-driven electro, the 4/4 beat. For this I used a simple 16 step sequencer to play through a bunch of 808 samples. I didn’t experiment very much with different bar lengths, fearing it would compromise the grounding of the more loosely timed parts.

The Beat

Interestingly, whilst playing with my program, I stumbled a lot across the acoustical phenomenon that I was so desperately trying to achieve on Thursday, that of imagined sounds, especially voices, caused by the stacking of other sounds. This is in part due to the relative complexity of what I was working on, but, more interestingly, the other contributor to this strange happening is the digital acoustic phenomenon of foldover, something I don’t really understand. It occurs when a waveform pushes over its Nyquist frequency, you start to hear wapping noises as the higher partials “reflect” off the Nyquist. What I was hearing was all kinds of unusual whispering noises and occasionally sounds like voices in conversation.

Foldover is generally considered a bad thing. Most mainstream software that simulates sound synthesis compensates for it with upsampling and filtering, but I quite like it, not least because it seems to generate all kinds of unknown quantities.

It’s bath time.

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3 Responses to “38. Slabhands, Slabhandedly”

  1. Charlie R Says:

    i understood very little of that but it was interesting nonetheless, and wow i see what you mean about voices! not long now, lets do something

  2. khalil Says:

    I was travelling home from Luton last night and listening to Radio 3’s Hear and Now, they were playing music from Pauline Oliveros and James Tenney. I missed the first half, so missed some of the intro and background info but Oliveros seems to have some connection with Dartington and Tenney, a student of Cage, is interested in different understandings of music across different cultures. The results are very interesting and resonate a lot with what you are doing. You are not alone!!

  3. Jo Says:

    I really love this… so soon yaz so soon, soom times i think about how soon and i boil from fit range fear excite

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