March 24, 2011

New (and older) Micronaut Stuff...

by Chris Randall

This is definitely absolutely the final "experiment" video. I have decided how I'm going to do the next micronaut full-length, and am going to begin work on that in earnest now. In this one, everything is sequenced in Live. I'm using the SoundPrism Pro app to play the TETR4 for the main melody line. I record the one-measure clip in to Live, then loop it, as you can see.

A quick note about SoundPrism. If you have an internet connection and are a musician, you probably saw the hullaballoo a couple weeks about how Apple had rejected a SoundPrism update because of MIDI capability being an in-app-purchase. Audanika re-submitted the MIDI version as a "Pro" build, and it is now available in the App Store for $9.99. This is a very cool app, and I recommend it.

Due to many requests, I've taken the audio from three of the "experiment" videos, plus the full track of "location 1" (the field recording video/song), plus one previously-unheard track called "procedure 1" which I did entirely in Max, no samples, no external synths, and made a BandCamp release. (Boy, that was a long sentence.)

Anyhow, it can be found here for pay-what-you-want-minimum-nothing, which is how I've taken to doing the off-release stuff.

An interesting technical point is that these five tracks were created with five different methods.

1. location 1: Field recordings, re-sequenced in Live.

2. experiment 2: hardware synths, sequenced with an Apple //e and Roland CMU-800R.

3. procedure 1: Entirely procedural/algorithmic, done entirely in Max/MSP, end to end. No samples, no hardware synths, no plug-ins.

4. experiment 4: MIDI algorithmically generated in Max/MSP, driving hardware, recorded in Live.

5. experiment 5: All hardware, driven by MIDI sequenced in Live, recorded in Cubase 5.

While those facts, in and of themselves, aren't that amazing, what I found odd was that, upon assembly of the collection, all five tracks are strikingly similar. I think this was a result of the whole point of these experiments, which was to determine a new workflow that didn't involve making short samples and moving them about until I had a song. In other words, I wasn't looking to push any melodic envelopes; rather, I was concentrating on technical matters.

Strange how things work out.


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Mar.24.2011 @ 7:05 PM
@Chris Randall

Damn, that's some good info. Thanks! I was actually looking at the RDD-10(or 20) and the RPS-10(pitch shifter delay!) since they can be found for around the same price as the RRV-10. Did you mean the RSD-10? The digital sampler/delay unit?

Also, since you stand while coding and whatnot, do you have a tall desktop or a tall table that you work on for that stuff?

Mar.24.2011 @ 7:14 PM
Chris Randall
Yes. I have two desks, and both are quite high. I also have a tall chair for when I'm not feeling like standing.

And yes, I meant the RSD-10. I always get fucked up on those acronyms.


Mar.25.2011 @ 12:52 AM

link []

No idea if that is a reasonable price etc.

Mar.25.2011 @ 1:33 AM

If you are patient, you can find most of these Boss MicroRacks for under $100. Usually in the $50-70 + shipping range or, if you get lucky like Chris, you find someone with a local pickup price of $50 on CL.

Mar.25.2011 @ 5:16 AM
@Chris Randall

I hate to ask but can you drop a hint as to where I could find the clock inputs on the RRV-10?

Mar.25.2011 @ 8:51 AM
Chris Randall
Yeah, I would _never_ pay over $50 for any of these. They're extremely common.

@xmodz: Looking down at the bottom of the board (what you see when you take the cover off), with the controls at the bottom, you see the main CPU in the center. Above and to the right of the CPU is the RAM. Below and to the right is the DSP chip. Directly to the right of the CPU is a row of pins, like 16 in all.

These are where the magic happens. Two of them, you can short to ground and change the clock speed. Most of them, when you ground them, it'll crash the CPU and require a reboot. Experiment.


Mar.25.2011 @ 11:39 AM
Night Night
These new tracks are killing, Chris. Fucking envious of your productivity.

I was wondering if you'd be willing to nerd out on your video workflow a bit? I thought you had a post a while back about DSLR video stuffs, but I can't seem to locate it. I like the concurrent mood between the music and the vids.


Mar.25.2011 @ 11:52 AM
Chris Randall
Briefly, I use a Nikon D3100, with a c. 1970 Nikor 50mm/f1.2 lens. (Except in experiment two, where I use the stock kit 17/55 lens at around f3.2 or so.)

For all of the videos except the one above, I just threw the resulting .MOV in to iMovie, swapped out the audio, did a touch of color correction, added some simple titles, and Publish.

For experiment five, though, I wanted to try out that floating text method, so I dropped the video and audio in to After Effects CS5, put in the text, added a camera and a light so I could do the shallow DOF effect on the text (notice it blurs in the same way it would if it was real) and rendered that. A little more trouble than the iMovie method, but not that much more.

So there's really not a lot to nerd out on. I start the camera, and make sure the performance I'm doing results in a usable audio track in one of the various methods available to me for that purpose, and that's that. The location one was a bit more of a pain in the ass, because that workflow doesn't allow for different takes. It's just a one-trick pony. I haven't really worked out a way to do the videos like Diego Stocco does. I've got an idea in that regard, though.

While I'm working on the micronaut album, I'm going to do more location videos, because they don't have anything to do with it other than slight musical similarity. I'm going to pick up a battery-powered multi-track like a BR-600 or that TASCAM battery powered 8-track, and actually perform entire tracks. Then I'll have a better video group to work with.

I might go on the hunt for an assistant of some sort that can go with me and run the camera and stuff so I don't have to do everything.


Mar.25.2011 @ 12:02 PM
Night Night
Cool sir, thanks - I had been kinda struggling with my wife's D90 for a few small tests and now have a chance to get a better solution. Looking at a Canon 7D (and a great deal of patience!).

After Effects always seemed like such a steep climb to me, but the results are always pretteh.

Mar.25.2011 @ 3:59 PM
@CR: those circuit bends sound interesting. The ability to kill the diffusion makes me think that the algorithm is closer to a Schroeder, with the diffusion being a bunch of allpasses before or after a bunch of comb filters. The way you can tell if it is outside of the loop:

- Turn up decay all the way, with the diffusion killed
- Send an impulse (a click) through the inputs
- Turn the diffusion on and off really quick

If the diffusion is in any sort of feedback loop with the multitap, the reverb will be diffuse after you switch the diffusion on and off. If it sounds the same after the on/off switch as before, then the diffusion is before or after the loop. If it is before the loop, switching things on/off shouldn't make any difference in the sound whatsoever.

If you find a circuit bend that can turn off the reverb part of my brain, let me know. I need a fucking break.

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