Field + code 01 (+ Max patches)

Hello Friends,

I’m happy to be able to announce the first part of a new personal project: field + code.

The aim of this is to produce new works where field recordings are composed with, and around - as part of generative systems.

This is something of a first release for me. Over the last few years I’ve been gradually writing more music, but have never quite had the impetus to actually finish a release, or to find a format that really worked for me. A move to a more rural area got me back into going field recording, and more time inside (on account of a string of Covid lockdowns…) got me thinking more about building generative patches as long running ambient music or sound systems. When I unpick that a bit, I think it’s the process of working on a generative things that appeals - the way it runs while you build or design it, and as a result you never listen to the same few bars of music over and over…

Another part of this is placing some creative restrictions on myself. So, the tracks need to include field recordings in some way. They also need to be finished completely in the patch or whatever system the track is playing from, so no eq or mixing later in a DAW. I also want these to be released not just as recordings, but in their actual form - as free running patches, racks, projects or whatever. So every release will be both a recording, and whatever patch or code created it. I’m hoping these will be seen as another way to just listen to the music, but also a way to share the processes within them. Hopefully this may help or be of interest to others and we can discuss it here. Perhaps also releasing the patches will also encourage me to develop my own sound design approaches along the way! I find it easy to get a few techniques or approaches down, then to keep using them over and over. Hopefully this will help me break out of that and try a few new things.

Here is the bandcamp page for the release:

The b track should have been a single file, but unfortunately Bandcamp won’t let me upload one that size until I’ve had a few purchases! If you can add it to your collection (even for free) it will help!

A bit about the tracks:

field + code 01 a:
The field recordings for this track are taken from an evening of recording in the middle of January this year. They are from around the river Bure in Norfolk, UK - after a period of unusually heavy rain turned the (usually very sedate) river into a slightly faster flowing thing… One recording is taken close to the water from a bridge over the river, the other in a neighbouring field. There are quite a few notes dotted around the patch as comments that help explain what is happening in the various stages of the patch. I’ll not reproduce all of that here, but will expand a bit on the process around the track.

At the core of the Max patch, there are a set of recordings taken from a eurorack involving the 4ms Spectral Multi-band Resonator (SMR) running through various filters and effects. When experimenting with the system, I find that I often create patches that have a sound which I like, but the structure is not really sequenced enough to make it a standalone track. These are often self-playing and I’ll record them out in 10-20 minute takes to do something with at a later date. This was one of those recordings, and I have then selected parts of the recording, shaped these further in a DAW and created a bank of samples from it. These samples are played back using three simple players that randomise the order of playback from one file to the next. All the files are slightly different lengths, and this helps to generate fluctuating phase relationships between the samples - sometimes they swell in sequence like a slow arpeggio, sometimes together. I remember at some point listening to a Brian Eno where he spoke of a early installation piece he designed, where he used a set of (I think 6) CD players on shuffle, each with a CD of small sections of music. It struck me then as being so simple, yet effective, and it is something I’ve tried to re-create here. The two field recordings also work in the same way, and based on chance it is possible to hear all or none of these sounds at any one time.

Alongside the field recording and SMR sounds, there is also a bank of randomly generated percussion sounds from an Intellijel Plonk. These are triggered throughout the track. They are connected to metronome with a variable clock, so there is a randomised rest time between each. At the left of the patch a set of sounds play from a non-linear sample player - that either meanders around or jumps through the sound file, with playback in both directions being possible.

Another more general approach across both tracks, is to (a) fan out the audio to work in parallel often, and (b) to add in many subtle fluctuations where possible. You can see (a) over the structure of both tracks, and it is something of an experiment to try and create soundscapes that are subtly complex and slowly shifting at all times. And in terms of (b), at many points there are gentle detunes or changes to amplitude that shift very slowly. Many of the settings for these instantiate between a range (ie cycles between 30 seconds to several minutes) so every time the patch is loaded up, these settings are different and the modulation runs at different rates.

field + code 01 b:
This track has a single field recording that runs the full length of the composition. It is a dawn recording made at a friends house, I think around August 2019. I was initially a bit disappointed by the level of mic noise in this recording (it is from a borrowed Sennheiser Ambeo, decoded here to binaural) but I think it has found a place here as a low volume bed for the track. A nice thing about mixing recordings into a composition like this is that you can set the level against other instruments - so less chance someone is going to listen to a recording at the wrong level if it should naturally be quiet.

The pitched instrument here actually has a bit of Lines backstory…. a while back we explored these noise generating patches over a thread. With the help of @rajaTheResidentAlien we created some variants of (an incredibly luxurious) velvet noise patch, and these became the basis of the pitched instrument - impulses from the noise pinging multiple pitched resonant filters. Here is the thread if of interest:

As with the approach to track A, there are a few slightly different implementations of this noise and filter pinging combination in the track - some using fffb~ others with reson~ running through similar processing chains structured in parallel. These are sent through slowly shifting filters, some subtle distortion and a couple of instances of the vb.mi.clouds~ external (Mutable Instruments Clouds port by Volker Böhm - thanks @geplanteobsoleszenz - here they are in the wild : ) before the final mix stage. In a sense it’s very freeing to work in this parallel way in software - where your cpu is really the only limit.

On a final note this time, I’m going to be documenting these patches, field recordings and development here:

Quite a bit of this text is duplicated there.

And here is the link to the Max patches from this release:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/14FDkRPV9XveZlBXu2Qh5G2Ot2MGqxvop?usp=sharing

These are functioning fully on Mac, but due to some externals not being available on Windows they will not run completely.

I’m hoping to field any discussion on the patches or release in this thread on Lines.

Thanks @Raoul_Papazorgl @Voiron27 @ruaridhTVO & @mheton for helping to test the patches

Thanks for listening.

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Superb album! I’m really enjoying listening to this :slight_smile:
Glad to see our experiments in that thread are finding such beautiful use :smiley:
I’m actually using much of what we created in that thread, too(starting from my ‘Velour Cluster’ version :joy: :man_dancing: ), it makes some interesting snare drums(using it to trigger a noisier excitation through comb/allpass/reson-filters, etc.)
That thread was quite a fun one.
I’m also honored to be mentioned in the same description as Volker Böhm, he helped me immensely on the c74 forums recently(i was mostly having a crisis of faith in myself, haha, thinking i couldn’t understand how to conjugate towards higher orders of Chebyshev polynomials, and all he had to do was tell me to take a second look at the equation and i figured it out, it was great to get that encouragement as that was all i needed in that moment), it’s wondrous how so much of this beauty in the world comes about from people helping each other out and working together :earth_africa: :hugs:

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i very much love the idea of releasing music along with the tools used to make it - gonna listen to this / check out the max patch asap, great work!

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Thanks for the kind words @rajaTheResidentAlien and @mei - pleased you are enjoying listening.

Yes, isn’t it. Wonderfully said.

For me it really made sense to do it this way - as I enjoy sharing that side of it. Wasn’t it the original idea of what generative art was supposed to be?

A shame it’s not possible to get a Max patch running in a browser or similar for this, then they could be run without a Max install.

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Really enjoying this release and will play the first part of B on my show Void Filler tomorrow on Dublab probably around 7 am pst.

Thanks for the patches as well.

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Thanks, please to hear you are enjoying it.

Will listen in… actually I think that might be about now!

had not seen this
thanks for tunes, patches and detailed production notes

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love seeing how other people set up their patches! thank you for the detailed descriptions of everything that went into these amazing pieces

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I appreciate this concept. Nothing connects with me more than nature and sound. I love this.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment @glia @24Franks and @acajide - really pleased you are enjoying the release and patches : )

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@_mark your release is awesome… (especially that you provide your patches for the interested) I just wish my max/msp chops were a bit better, because I would like to write some patches using algorithmic ideas …

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Thanks, so pleased the patches are of interest.

There’s quite a bit you can do without going super deep in Max - especially if you work with a set of audio files with some interesting sound design baked in. Eg: if you look at this bit of the patch from track a:


Conceptually, it is designed like a set of three tape machines that pick from a set of files at random. It would not take much to make this a separate patch for this where you could load in your own sounds. I could cobble that together if helpful?

The other thing would be to start using a set of abstractions, perhaps like the Upshot max package. This way you can make satisfying things a bit quicker, then start looking inside the modules and altering them as you pick things up.

I also recommend the Chirs Dobrian blog for a really nice overview of control systems you can apply:

So many ways you can apply these to simple sample playback or synthesis patches…

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I’m giving a short presentation on this today here:

Come say hi if you’re at a loose end

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just wanted to bump this as I stumbled on it and it’s a really beautiful piece of music and a super neat and well annotated set of max patches!

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Same! I love seeing how other people patch, thank you OP for sharing the patches.

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Thanks for the kind words @mutedial and @stringbot - pleased the music and patches are still of interest.

This was always supposed to be an ongoing project / series but was a lockdown project, so it is interesting to see this was now over a year ago. I’ve got one patch finished for field + code 02 but still need to get another one together… regular life is (it seems) somewhat all consuming!

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