Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Singing bowl and drum anxiety

So after quite a break I'm back in the music now. Over the break period I started to feel uneasy about a few things in recent sub-sections. This is the result of listening to it (and in a sense I'm getting ahead of myself in the production cycle, editing should come later). Anyway, I felt that the pseudo-heavy-metal part in Chemistry (2.2.3) needed tightening up. So I played with the guitar and some noise gates (these things are designed to cut off when the sound gets below a certain level) to give it a crisper edge. I eventually came to the conclusion I didn't like the drums. i found a drum patch I liked (as it happened a heavy rock one) and migrated. Unfortunately the new patch was arranged differently across the keyboard from the old one, so migration took some time. I also did some work on the latter part of Chemistry, to bring out the rhythm guitars a bit more. I also felt like I needed to eliminate the drumming gap between Chemistry and the next section, so a snare riff was added.

And then onto the Rhythm sub-section (2.3.1) - I was unhappy with the toms which had a rattle on them like a slight snare. This had been driving me nuts so I spent a while working through tom sounds and choosing new ones. This now turns out to be the third edit to this drumkit patch I have made and I'm in danger of getting too attached to the one patch. Good that I like it though because I intend to use if for the next two sub-sections also.

Speaking of which, I have started on the Harmony sub-section (2.3.2). I have gone through many different thoughts before settling on what I am actually going to do, there are a number of slightly experimental things I want to try. First up is simple harmonic relationships: octave, 5th, 4th, major 3rd, minor 3rd and tone. It just so happened that my in-laws have recently visited China and my kind Mother-In-Law brought me back a "singing bowl" from Shangri-La. This is a bowl that you gently tap with the wooden stick, and then rub the outside gently with the same stick to make it "sing", a bit like a wine glass. It's a really nice, pure tone and ideal for demonstrating harmony. At least it would be if there was more than one note.

Oh wait on, I have a whole world of technical shennanigans at my disposal: resampling, pitch shifting and time stretching. So I have the bowl singing along to itself in harmony, using "pure tones" - relations with exact mathematical correlation of frequencies (eg a fifth is 2:3). This is something that sounds really nice, but also a little odd to western ears because we are so used to the equal temperament scale, where the relations are cheated slightly to make it all fit neatly.

And the hardest bit was when I wanted to slide the note. this is not an easy process with direct manipulation, but when you load a recording into a sampler and use a keyboard to play it, you can use the pitch-shift wheel to bend the note. Nice.

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