Song #07 - Week of Feb. 14-21, 2011

"And Down"

(Right-click or ctrl-click to download the song, or just click the link to play it.)

"And Down" Song 07 - MP3 File

"And Down" - Length: 3:28

Track count: 9 Tracks

Instrumentation: Human Voice, Human Heart, Stainless steel sink, Ballet Barre, Peak Pro, Korg Radias, Ableton Live

Original concept: I had recorded an early rehearsal of Rachel Tess's section of the "Stravinsky Project," hoping to get some sounds of the dancer's feet and other body movements. What I got instead was some raw material of her voice as she taught the choreography to the dancers - which I slowed down and manipulated with various processes in Peak Pro - and a rhythm sample of me tapping on the barre in OBT's studio 1 while the dancers were taking a break.

For some reason, I added to this the sound of me moving a dish around against the wall of our stainless steel sink (which Robyn, bless her heart, heard me doing over and over and suggested I record) and some purely electronic sounds that I made rapid-fire, using several effects plugins - probably Pluggo, a granular synthesis plug, and some of the effects from SFX Machine Pro. I also had a drum part that I processed for a class I was doing with a music therapy client, using the Buffer Shuffler in Max for Live -he liked it, but didn't want to work with it. These materials seemed to go together well.

I'm looking for a dark, dirty slide down into some vaguely frightening - yet oddly attractive - sonic vortex. There may or may not be small critters there to keep you company.

Tuesday, Feb. 15: Got the elements together in Live and added a heartbeat (my own, recorded with a baby monitor) and then got the vortex idea. THEN realized that I have a rehearsal tomorrow, and better work on that instead.
Wed, Feb. 16th: Another OBT rehearsal! These have progressed to the point where I basically put together a mini-studio inside my studio, and for rehearsals I break everything down, move it and set it all up in 20 min. for rehearsal. Then repeat the process after. It's a lot of finagling, but pretty interesting exercise. Every show I do requires me to design a new performance studio - it's actually a big part of the work for me.

One cool part of this is that I usually get to zoom in on my gear and instruments in new ways, and I always learn a ton. I also find new things to try in other work. This week's obsession, at least to now, has been mixers. I have a perfectly good studio mixer, a Soundcraft Spirit which is arguably a "better" mixer, but I like my smaller live-performance Mackie mixers better. It's a quirk, but I am giving in to it. I need more aux sends than I can afford! So I spent a long time researching mixers today.

OK, yeah - "aux sends." For those of you that aren't audio geeks, the aux sends allow me to route sound out of the mixer and send it other places - like all the effects gizmos I'm using for this show. I pipe the effected sound back into the mixer to put through the main sound system. I would love to have 6 stereo sends, since I love to send sound to effects gizmos - but what I can afford are 4 mono sends. There are other ways to get the sound out (like pushing a 1/4" cable into an insert to the first click to "tap into" individual channels - but they aren't as flexible as aux sends. And now you know why I am so spaced out all the time. I'm thinking about stuff like this.

Thursday, Feb. 17th: Working in the studio all day, but not getting much done. I did toss the MicroKorg into the mix, we'll see what happens with that. Even though the Radias has a better vocoder, the MicroKorg's vocoder is special to me.

And then I went out to see some bands at Mississippi Pizza tonight, and there was a MicroKorg on stage! They seem to be ubiquitous, and there's a reason for that. They are pretty fun, and very useful. But I hate programming Korg stuff. Which is funny because looking around, I have a ton of Korg gear. It just sounds great, and the interface designs - at least for playing and interacting with the things - are always fun. Kaoss Pad. I rest my case.

Friday, Feb. 18th: Rehearsal! While the dancers were getting notes at today's OBT rehearsal, I made up a fun little ditty I can play live using the Kaoss 2 Pad, the Micro Korg and the AirFX. I might take a left turn and make that into this week's song - or next week'sÉ.

Also, really enjoyed taking a spin through all the presets on the Kaoss and the AirFX. I have never gone through all of them in depth - usually they are so good I find what I want pretty quickly and stay there, but for this project with OBT I am trying all kinds of new sounds and techniques. Some of the Kaoss sounds are incredible - a whole new layer to the instrument!

Back home, though, I did take a few turns through this week's song. And Sylvia Hackathorn is doing her own version of this project, a song a month - and just sent me a song to listen to, which I'll do tonight before I turn in. COOL!

I actually think I am almost finished. I added some synth drum and additive synthesis elements, layered a little, brought in some effects and did some crazy panning, and I like that it's simple and clean. No guitar solos, people!

Saturday, Feb. 19th: One bit of audio in the song is a long piece of audio that I called "FMZ," and I honestly have no idea how I made it. I was working really quickly, the same day I processed the drums, which must have beenÉ. November last year? I know there was some granular synthesis applied, it just has that sound - I think it was one of the new "Max for Live" effects. I need to find out how I did it! I outwitted myself again, looks like.

Crazy day, rehearsal and last minute changes. Trying not to wig. Luckily, this song feels finished. I like that it's relatively clean and simple. I will publish this one early! Final mix tonightÉ.next week is going to kick my hinder. I will be doing my song for next week in the Keller, I think. See you there!

Here is a picture of part of the Live session, showing the Buffer Shuffler.

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