Hello everyone. This tracks open with a glitched and volume-controlled recording I made of the deafening semis (cicadas) in the park near my house this summer. Cicadas always strike me as being automata, so their music is mechanical. Apparently, although birds eat cicadas, there is some evidence that birds will move away when periodic cicadas emerge. And so, around the 40 second mark, the chirping birds graciously provided by Northwoods (via Chuck) make an entrance - in order to make an exit. Thank you @disquiet for your support and inspiration, and @NorthWoods for your continual generosity in sharing with the group…
I’ve been pretty fascinated by using insect sounds, ever since reading an article about The Insect Apocalypse late last year. Since then, there’s been a proliferation of articles about declining insect numbers and what that means for the rest of us - and I’ve been mediating on this theme over multiple tracks. Here is the last of the series - how it might sound like when many insects become a distant, fading memory.
The original track was a 13sec recording of crickets in my front yard. I slowed the track down about 1600%,then ran some frequency filters to hone in on specific frequency bands. I found this process via Joanna Bailie, an English composer whose works explore the hidden rhythms and musicalities in a sound through elongating a moment. For me, this process has turned an insect into a wonderous, mournful, textured instrument.
Layer 1: Crickets, slowed 1600% with Paris resonator + chamber trio delay + Moving 3-5-6 delay
Layer 2: Crickets, slowed 1600%, filtered at 500-1khz with Paris resonator + Moving 3-5-6 delay
Layer 3: Crickets, slowed 1600%, filtered at 2khz with Paris resonator + Ring frequency shifter + Replika triplet delay
Layer 4: Original recording of crickets with reverb
Taking the cue of insect chirruping – how a sound evolves to be heard above the din, hitting frequency bands that are sometimes left vacant. And yet the whole can appear cacophonous to the ear not listening for the specific frequency.
I found myself experimenting with a few different patches in Max MSP before arriving at the vwarp~ patch. Using the built-in mic on the laptop I scratched in some frequencies that sounded insect-like. It was interesting to think like an insect making a specific chirruping sound, going beyond simulating an insect and looking into the process of how the insect sound is made, and why it is made. That was the enlightening part of this assignment to me.
Earlier this week I’d been speaking to someone visiting my workplace who was writing a PhD thesis on Rooks and whether or not they could be classified as songbirds which sing (apparently they’re currently regarded as songless songbirds - which is quite a sad label to me). He is investigating whether or not they caw for a specific purpose or if it’s sometimes done for purely for pleasure and he was writing audio software to try to “provoke” the bird into song.
So this task feels like quite a nice coincidence to me
I wanted to synthesise the sound of birds rather than use existing recordings. I have a 0-coast which I’ve been criminally neglecting these past few months and I figured that this was a perfect time to put it to use. I was happy with how quickly I got to approximate bird sounds All it took was a comment online from someone to saying “pitch modulation is the most important thing to consider” a few minutes spent adjusting some knobs and voila.
I also tried doing some synthesis on a Volca FM which is giving some supporting bird material.
To pad it out and give it a more woodland feel I added an Ableton percussion drum rack. Obviously its not very natural sounding, but since this was all a bit computer-y anyway I decided to leave it that way and imagined it to soundtrack a museum diorama of a bird sanctuary.
A while back I heard a sound artist talk about his work. Two things stuck with me from his talk, one I’ve talked about here before, “the collection of instruments and tools on his desk is his instrument.” The one I haven’t talked about much was his frustration with grid based DAWs. He said something like, “you don’t hear birds all tweeting together on a grid.” Those two things stuck with me. I didn’t know the word fritiniency existed before this project. Great word.
I imagined a composition style that tightly couples instruments to short phrases and emphasized location in the sound stage over anything else. I recorded a handful of midi phrases, picked some instruments, then spent the bulk of the time moving things around and messing with the timing. I made the video above quickly with on CV envelopes following a few of the voices controlling the LZX Vidiot. Ableton CV Tools!
This track is an attempt to imagine the sounds of insects/birds that have emerged through synthetic evolution, far in the future (25 years or so, somewhere distant from our planet).
For this track I tried to use a similar method to Frippertronics at least with my cursory understanding. I used bird samples in Samplr with the tape loops technique feel through long delays to build up a wall of sound.I also built up a drone using Droneo as well as some slowed down samples.
Dreams, but with touches of modem-esque fritiniency.
Gear: OP-1, modem, PS-2 (Cicada), Chase Bliss Tonal Recall, generic plate verb, some photos.
i was staying in the northumberland countryside last week and had the time and space to listen to birds.
funnily enough i took a robert macfarlane book with me but it wasnt til the project came thru that i picked it up. woller is a word in that book (landmarks) for a seal waddle (saw lots of seals around farne and stockton)
i’d recorded a load of birds at a junction waiting for a train to pass, there were loads of sparrows, jackdaws and tits; not sure what else
i denoised and converted the recording to midi so you could say it’s composed by the birds.
ran thru zynfx ddly and freqecho then had the recording of the birds appended towards the end
Modulated sinewaves and a birdy sample from Iris 2.
Hi, I thought fritiniency as a granular music genre.
I used mainly granular file players (Fog and Grain3) from Cabbage (Csound frontend)
Gorgeous. Love the concept, love the execution.
Really appreciate the structure, feels like it has a direction and narrative to it.
This is my contribution to this weeks challenge, and my first ever at it. I made the original field recording on a Zoom H1N earlier this year at Leighton Moss Bird Sanctuary, near Morecambe Bay, Lancashire UK. The track was created entirely in apps on an IPad Air 2018, no hardware or computers involved. I edited the original field recording wav in Hokusai, imported it into Cubasis, and arranged further additional spot samples against it (a clip of the birds twittering into Sampletoy for real time multitouch pitch variations, a pitch shifted child’s ‘twirly tube’ toy sample, the static and bird like computer glitch noises from Fractal Bits, and a clip of a jet going over from the original field recording .) The tuned percussion sound was the cykle sequencer app driving a patch on Audiokits’ free Synth One synth app. FX: Eventide Blackhole and Blamsoft reverbs, FAC Maxima for mastering. The untuned percussion was actual shotgun blasts from the shooting grounds immediately adjacent to the bird sanctuary. An odd juxtaposition, hence the title.
Hi - interested to know how you achieved the extreme slowing?
Created on iPad with Droneo and Ripplemaker, LFOs from Rozeta modulate volume and various effect sends…
I managed to get one done with two hours to spare!!
I wanted to emulate a cacophony of birdsong with my Microbrute. Much patching and LFO weirdness ensued. Recorded 4 separate tracks then warped/reversed/added reverb in Ableton.