Song 14 - April 4 - 11, 2011


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

"Tinnitus" Song 14 - MP3 file - Headphones or good speakers, please!


Length: 3:28

Track count: 5 Tracks

Instrumentation: Ableton Live, Max additive synthesizers, NLog Synth (iPod app) - Will sound best on headphones or good speakers.

What a crazy week. This song was actually - again - not the song I was originally working on. In fact I began and discarded at least three other songs on the way to this one. The first abandoned song was the white noise fiesta I got distracted from last week as well, the song which will (someday) be called "Rush, Break, Recede." I was also working on some pieces that were derivations from a live improv class I was part of ("Score" with Tracy Broyles and Meshi Chavez).

But while working with the additive synthesizers in Max for Ableton Live, I got distracted again - this time by the lovely, yet almost painful, ringing sounds and overtones of the synths. Hence the title "Tinnitus." Or maybe I just wanted to make friends with the ringing in my ears.

I ended up creating the structure of this song while in a hospital waiting room. (Robyn had a heart procedure, and this kept my mind occupied while I waited.) And I thought I hated it, and was freaking out when I hadn't been able to stick to anything else I worked on since. Truth be told, I was just kind of freaking out in general.

But then I went back to this, and liked it. Except for one track done on the iPod app Nlog, it's entirely created playing Max for Live's additive synthesizers, using a computer keyboard as a trigger. And the NLog sounds are very, very deep and bassy - hence my repeated admonishment to use headphones or good speakers. The built in speakers on a computer won't handle the bass.

Part of my aim with this is to create something that breathes - the chords and layers are meant to be as if sound itself were breathing. It was an emulation, or a prayer, for calm-amid-the-chaos. So that felt good when I got close.

Geek gripe: I hate to say it. But. I loved the idea of Max, a super cool music programming environment, being married to Live, my favorite composition environment. But in practice, I am not at all happy with the marriage of the two. Until this iteration, Live has been rock solid. It's almost never crashed, and when it has, I've always been able to retrieve my session. And it's also been fast, accurate and seamless. But the addition of Max has finally made Live into a bit of a hog, just like all the other software out there. Bleah.

Add anything complex to Live from the Max realm, and Live becomes very sluggish, even on a super fast Mac. And to make things even more annoying, when I wanted to do a final mix and opened up this particular session, I found that the Max synths had all mysteriously set themselves to zero. Not only were all my changes and edits to the synths wiped out, but their default settings were wiped out too - they made no sound. I had to re-load them all and then try to remember how I'd changed the sounds. Not good.

I am not sure what I'll do next - I may post a working version of the collaboration I'm doing with Tracy for "Ten - No Five! - Tiny Dances." It will be called "Technology Monster." It will involve forcing myself to learn deep programming on the Korg Radias. Wish me luck!

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