This is my track folks!!
“Returning” - Song done for Disquiet Junto #0244
The Disquiet Junto for Sept 1, 2016, was a re-mix challenge.
I’m generally not a fan of these; at times, for whatever reason, it felt more as a way to use the Junto to promote some label or artist rather than focus on the work of the Junto contributors. Personal preference, that’s all.
But the magic of the Junto is that it can get you to create something you might not otherwise because it’s prompting you do do things you might not consider. Such as doing a Netlabel remix.
The task was to take the first 20 seconds of three different tracks and use them to create an original piece of music.
I tend to think that such challenges come with some unspoken rules. Or perhaps loose guidelines. Given available technology it’s easy to take almost any sound and convert it into any other. It’s trivial to take a tiny audio slice, for example, and re-pitch it to provide a complete keyboard-mappable scale. This feels to me like cheating. It goes against what feels like an unstated ground-rule.
It’s much like the TV show “Chopped”. Contestants (usually professional chefs, though increasingly there’s some gimmick arranged to get amateur or celebrities) are given a basket of “mystery ingredients” which must be used in a meal.
The contestants are told they can use “a little or a lot” but if you’ve watched the show for any length of time you come to learn what’s expected. For one, you probably don’t want to use “a little”, unless it’s something really outré. The judges (themselves skilled chefs) expect to see some transformation of the secret ingredients (e.g. don’t use waffle mix to make waffles). At the same time, though, they want to be able to identify each ingredient in the final dish.
And so it is with a remix. Nowhere on the Junto pages do such rules exist, but part of the game for me is to invent part of the game for me. Remixes follow “Chopped” rules.
None of the source sounds jumped out for me as a strong candidate for the focus. I began by slicing the samples and trying to arrange the segments to provide some kind of rhythmic or “melodic” ground. Something to build on.
The slice-and-dice approach allowed for creating some discernible structure, but it felt like the material was getting lost. The judges would be hard pressed to recognize the basket ingredients.
Using longer samples was unappealing because they were, by and large, noise. Interesting noise, perhaps, but not what I wanted. They needed at the very least a different setting. So I decide to offset the largely random noisiness with a simple, obvious, beat and chord sequence.
I have, for quite some time, been interested in music that plays different layers or structures against each other. Many of the songs written with my late-70s band, Chinese Forehead, used a rock-steady beat, with a solid bass hook, then some chord changes and vocal line, with a final layer of typically noisy atonal guitar. I’ve continued this approach today with my solo releases.
With this structure in place I had the idea to make a song. With, words, and singing. A song song.
I thought, hey nobody on the Junto ever makes song songs.
First off, I cop to the fact that not only haven’t I listened to every Junto piece made, I haven’t even listened to every piece made in the Junto’s to which I’ve contributed. But I’ve listened to most of them, and I didn’t recall any sing-with-me songs.
Second, I’m wrong right this minute because this week someone submitted a song. But thirdly, it really doesn’t matter because of another secret ground rule: Made quick decisions and don’t over-think it. Related to this is another of my secret rules: Don’t spend too much time on any given Junto. I don’t mean that as a slight. It’s an operating procedure intended to generate results. To my mind the whole point of the Junto is to end up with some music, and ideally music you would not have otherwise made.
There’s the risk in quick decisions and immediate action that I’ll just follow old habits. There’s the risk in prolonged contemplation and reworking that I’ll never finish in time, or if I do the level of novel ideas won’t be that much higher anyway.
In practice I sort of split the difference. I try to get the first 90% done fairly quick. I then spend my time finessing the remaining 90%.
With a basic chord sequence in place I worked out a vocal line, and wrote some lyrics.
Do you think it's lack of confidence? That keeps us on this side? You say that we're near. We nod to one another as we start to scheme again. Is it better not to breath? As we press against the fold. You're holding me near. When we return we'll the know secret of the strength of time.
The song has three parts. In intro, the verse, and the outro. The current title is “Returning”.
This was made using Renoise. The kick drum and the keyboards are from instrument samples. I did the singing. The remaining noises are from the three source tracks.
With a clear structure in place it became easier to use longer segments of the source material. “Zraerza” is the most harsh of the three; it’s primary use was as the main “instrumental” line of the outro, against the beat and chords.
“The Station and the Underclass” was used largely for the clacky sounds, but with some pitch shifting it helped fill in some background “chords”.
Segments of “Cloud Scissors” was used mainly for percussive/rhythmic backing.
Thanks, got it, cheers
I rarely work this way, but for this project I simply let my whims guide me, working with no particular plan, simply listening to the sound as it evolved through various processings I choose.
Processing includes various pitch shifting, grain delays, reverbs, eq, feedback, dynamic processing, and hand placement of multiple copies of clips. Only sounds used were the three given snippets. Only software was Ableton Live & M4L convolution reverb.
*EDIT: Replaced with a shorter arrangement. Still long enough, says you!
Remix of three 20-second pieces from net labels. Details of source material below.
Goal for me here was to make something drastically new out of the source material, but not lose the overall vibe I get from the source pieces, which sound dark and difficult to me.
Rough idea before embarking on the track was to make a playable sampler patch from the source audio, and use sections of the audio for rhythm.
Using VSTs: New Sonic Arts Granite, Unfiltered Audio Indent, Pentode Audio TRW-1, Sonic Charge Permut8 and Echobode, Valhalla SpaceModulator, Brainworx bx_limiter.
Bassline - short section of audio in Ableton Simpler, pitched down, low-pass filter, chorus, saturation, distortion.
Rhythm - sliced Zraerza in Ableton Simpler, tapped out beats. Also, made some 1-bar loops from each Audio piece, and let Ableton’s Follow Actions sequence them.
Master Bus: Echobode, Space Modulator, and bx_limiter.
Excuse the length. Some day, Ableton will present the length (in mins and secs) of an arrangement - and then I’ll be able to preempt my penchant for long tracks before bounce-down. Hopefully, the track will engage you for the full 4.54…
Hope you enjoy!
But I don’t think your 4:54 wasn’t too long at all.
What is this magic screenshot you’re showing me?!
Cheers man, Eanna
I wasn’t sure about doing this junto, but here you go. This didn’t really seem to come together until I added a beat to the altered clips. I did looping and verb as well as my own plugin Swoosh on the three sources. Finished it off with audio to midi on “The Station” clip.
Very cool shifting timbres
Thank you for taking the time to clearly document your process and share your thoughts. I appreciate your candid words and enjoyed reading them.
I have done this - too long, as usual…
Factory 3 Mix
- An interesting collection of music for this piece. Could have used a heads up on Zraerza. That feedback killed me the first time I played it;)
- The sounds lead me to an industrial feel. It wasn’t until I posted it that I noticed the picture Marc used for the project.
- My piece had six tracks. I used Isotope Iris 2 on each track to play all bits of the three 20 second samples.
- 1 - The opening thump and click played through out came from “The Station and the Underclass.”
- 2 - The clarinet sound playing a very slow progression was from the opening feedback in “Zraerza” - played down four octaves in Iris 2.
- 3 & 4 - A part of “Cloud Scissors” played on both tracks. One panned hard left and the other hard right. In Iris 2 both tracks were set to forward and backward.
- 5 & 6 - Another part of “The Station and the Underclass” automated to come in and out with each note in Track 2. Track 6 was played a whole note above Track 5.
My Ohmage to XX Committee. Gone but not forgotten.
I’m still exploring the world of stretching sounds so what I did was pretty minimal which I hoped would reveal some interesting subtleties hidden in the morass.
I downloaded the requisite tracks, isolated the 20-second clips, and stretched them all out to the same 5:40 length (about 17x). The two loud and continuous tracks were then essentially cross-faded while the quieter and sparser final track was just left as it was.
Yeah, I’d intended the rail photo (I think that show is from Switzerland) to serve as a symbol of inter-European movement, but a number of resulting tracks have used a kind of slow-tempo industrial pulse.
After creating source items from the first 20 seconds of the originals, I loaded them into the Reaktor ensemble Grainstates SP and tweaked settings to arrive at three bed tracks, which were bolstered with Kombinat Dva and SDRR. Then I chopped and looped bits from two of the source items for a brief intro. Next, I loaded the source items into Glitchmachines’ Cataract to create a rhythmic part, and treated the result with ValhallaRoom and Trash 2. Finally, I chopped another bit from one of the source items, gave it plenty of ValhallaRoom reverb, and placed it at the end of the piece. To help glue everything together, the master track received some compression from ReaXcomp, some excitement from Trash 2, and a touch of ValhallaRoom. Final normalization and compression was done in Audacity.
I’m a bit late this week, but here is my attempt:
Sampled a few snippets, tweaked them in SoundForge, layered and further tweaked in Acid Pro. Fairly minimal processing - mostly just pitch related, plus some reverb, and creatively automated EQ.
I managed to squeeze in a disquiet project despite an incredibly busy new school year. I was hoping to achieve my goal of reinventing Eno’s semi-stochastic Music for Airports album, but I ended up going in a slightly different direction (and perhaps falling back into old habits!)
Pitch-shifting and time-stretching were the name of this game. I started with modifying these source samples down as low as they could go, and lovely tones emerged. Feedback squalls became thoughtful long tones. Then, I pitch-shifted and time-stretched the excerpts to make them match the subsections of the golden mean. I let the length of time to fill determine how much I time-stretched the samples: long lengths of time fill meant severely down-pitched samples.
The feedback squall reappears to punctuate transitions between sections.
The other central component of this piece is a slow increase in gain to the golden mean point. I put a limiter on the track to keep the level even, but the gradually increasing gain creates distortion and changes the timbre of familiar samples.
The title comes from a piece of advice my kid gave me after I led her choir rehearsal tonight.
I trimmed the source audio down to the first 20 seconds of each. Next I loaded each 20 second track into the AUM mixer on 3 separate channels. Since they were all noise tracks I decided to remix noise with noise so I ran the audio out into my old Monotron Delay. So essentially the track was comprised of an improvised mix of the three tracks plus the Monotron unit and a little bit of reverb from my analog mixer.