Disquiet Junto Project 0538: Guided Decompression

I made a collection of instruments for both sides, then took the mellow ones and manipulated until they sounded grating / harsh. Did the same for the janky, stress inducing ones but the other way, so made them sound more smooth, lo-fi. Then worked from opposite ends until I had them segue into each other. Somewhat.

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disquiet0538
Weird distorted sounds with driving beats are always calming for me, but not for others, but at times they can make me tense and aggro -especially with everything going on in the world right now. So, the calming synths mixed with the birds I recorded at the end of this track ground me, and remind me that I’m lucky enough to stay safe, while others in the world unfortunately have no reprise from unending war & pestilence.

harshmellow_disquiet0538

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I tried to make each resolution become the tension of the next step:

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Hey all.
Hope this find you all well.
Few boundaries and goals I set before starting out…

  • I would end my journey on E1 (41.2Hz). Been reading about frequencies our
    brain fires on and its close to 40khz or bottom E on a bass guitar.
    Now you know why you like funk music.
    Brain responses to 40-Hz binaural beat and effects on emotion and memory - ScienceDirect"
    -I wanted it to be 10 minutes long because that seems to be the sweet spot to achieve some sort of meditative state. I can’t find a reference for this
    so I may have made this up.
    -I wanted it to be improvised live. You should feel me searching for the
    solution and the timing should be orgainic and human. No quantizing.
    Just my poor playing.
    -tempo would be 60 to match resting heart.
    -it should be musical (subjective).
    -I am not to add the kitchen sink when mixing.
    -it should work.

I hooked up a Deluge to the Grandmother, the Grandmother to the DAW
triggering a Massive synth and a piano, DFAM clocked by the Minibrute who was
also running some sort of sequence. The DFAM and Grandmother went through
a Mimeophon.
The Deluge battery died half way through, couldn’t have planned it better.
Does it work?
Peace.
Jeff

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Happy to join the Junto project! This is my first submission and such an excellent, deep prompt.

I decided to try out the idea of “crossfade compositions” that I’ve been thinking about lately. This assignment fits the bill perfectly.

And I didn’t want to deal with harmony and melody so I decided to focus on sound design, timbres, and other musical parameters to accomplish the challenge.

Here’s what the process looked like.

I started with the tense part.

  • I used just 1 voice - Noise Engineering BIA and recorded 10-15 different loops of various lengths: a few drum beats of varying intensity, a few basses, a few plucky percussive sounds, etc.
  • I placed all recorded loops on 3 different tracks in the Session view of Ableton Live
  • then I found a mix of 3 tracks (all playing different loops) that I liked the sound of. This would become the tense part.

Then came the chill part.

  • for the chill part, I decided to try another simple idea: make new audio material from the old one with effects and processing. And then maybe another time, treating the result of the last step as the raw ingredients for the next one.

In theory, one can repeat it forever, always coming up with new ever more abstract timbres and textures further away from the source material.

  • I created 3 voices by processing the original parts from the tense part: with a wavefolder, spring reverb, and tape delay emulation.
  • then I used the same approach: came up with a few loops, placed them on separate tracks in Session view, and found a combination and mix that I liked.
    Occasionally I turned on the tense part to see how well they fit together.

After 2 loops were ready, I moved over to the Arrangement view and composed the piece there: let the tense voices in, modulated them, then crossfaded to the chill voices.

Then I thought of automating the BPM from fast to slow - thankfully there’s always some rhythm going on in both parts.

Oh and to compensate for the lack of volume and high frequency content in the 2nd half, I added a layer of white noise, like wind or waves, synced to BPM which added to the calming effect, reminding me of the ocean waves that slow down as the track progresses.

I cut it down from 5 mins to 2:30 to illustrate the concept and keep it from being boring.

Do I like the end result? Hmm, not exactly.
But it was fun and I learned a lot from doing it and by listening to other submissions.

So thank you all and see you next time!

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Hi Jeff @33per,

I don’t feel to be in any position to dish out musical advice or judge if it “works”, I’m an evolving learner like everyone else here. But I can provide some feedback of how I experienced the piece and what left me with questions.
I liked and enjoyed it. I guess the crux with all ambient music (especially making it) is finding the balance and rhythm where borders between active and “background” listening is washed away and just works. @ 5:32 the notes disappear very quickly and I was brought out of it. I was confused whether the track ended, my Firfox tab auto muted or SD was buffering. When I paused/unpaused I noticed I “felt” the sub frequency and perceptually didn’t link it to the music (my flat window was open), which is good, but had the bass level (floor) been a bit more audible I suspect the transition would have been less noticable. The engineer in me would either look at the front/mid/back transition times (e.g. how it relates to the established rhythms) or the bass level at those junctures. I’m in no way saying that it couldn’t change throughout a piece. Maybe it’s just some form of continous element that needs to bridge the change, could be some reverb or delay perhaps, just something to hook and carry the ear.

I was listening on my headphones (Beyer DT250), in my “studio” with a cracked window, filling my flat with non-busy morning traffic. These are not the best headphones to judge low-end on, but I know them well. Mixing especially, getting the bottom end right is always something I have challenges with, but I experience most of my ambient listening on headphones/earbuds doing the dishes or something. So I always pay attention to dynamics, given that most people, me included, are listening in un-ideal environments. Personally that’s where I believe ambient works best.

Silence is a powerful tool and it usually works best when signposting it. How one implements it in clever unimposing ways is part of the storytelling. I tend to use rhythm, note progression or tonal change.

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I was a bit stressed yesterday and forgot to post this in time. How fitting for this week’s theme.

As these things usually go, the instructions can be a starting point, but what we create ends up being our own, and perhaps something a little different. I didn’t really start with “intense stress”, but I started at a higher tempo, with lots more going on. I played these “African drum” kit sounds on the e-drums during the work day (I work from from home), when my mind was busy and filled with multi-tasking thoughts and perhaps a little stress. Then later, once the work week was done, I made the second half more chill part, later at night, and it seemed like something I could chill out to, though haven’t really tested it yet.

Randomly stumbled on this guitar sample on the hard drive, and chopped and played with that until it eventually became the focal point. Have a drone going underneath, hope I picked frequencies that are calm-ish.

Would this take someone from stressed to chill? Not sure, but was an inspiring idea to try out, and had some fun creating!

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Hi Thomas,
Your feedback is very much appreciated. I am genuinely humbled that you have taken the time and energy to express your thoughts in such an eloquent way and will be stealing your phrase “evolving learning” as it sums up my music practise beautifully.
I went back and had a look/listen at the part you had sign posted (5.32) and even visually you can see something drastic has occurred too quickly. I should have a beautiful wedge shape. Instead I gave my diver the bends.
Thank you for the reminder we are all storytellers here. I think sometimes in my haste I forget this and have either mixed/cut important signposts out or what happens more often due to inexperience have never thought to include them in the first place.
Like you I am having major issues with my bottom end as well. I get to a point in the mixing/editing process each week where I am happy with a track but then have to begin the sad task of making it legal to avoid the algorithm clipping on upload
or worse destroying listeners speakers like I have my own.
This process involves me cutting away a lot of the bass energy which made the piece enjoyable in the first place. A balancing act which at my current learning is not very evolved.
You have given me much food for thought.
Thank for your time my friend.
Jeff

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You’re welcome Jeff!

I’m happy if it helped you in any way. I have enjoyed your previous outputs and look forward to the next :slight_smile:

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