“The Theory and Technique of Electronic Music”

I found this book today. The website is very plain and the information is a bit obtuse, but it is a complete 337 page book on everything you ever wanted to know about sound design and sound synthesis, although it is extremely EE/Math oriented:

The Theory and Technique of Electric Music by Miller Puckette.

If this looks (even vaguely) interesting, hop on over to Cycling74’s site. They’re the people who make SoundFlower and a whole bunch of other experimental music tools. Unfortunately, Max/MSP is stupid expensive.

Math + Computers = Music!

Synth Demo #2

Tonight, I spent an hour and change staring at little bars in an output window and comparing the bars to my frequency ranges chart and making changes — moving notes up and down octaves, tweaking compression, and adding in a little bit of low-pass and high-pass filter action. I also changed the synth voice so that it has this “flowing desert feel” and had it match the beat of the LFO to 1/2 beat.

The hats are mixed up way too high in the mix, but otherwise it sounds pretty decent now.

My second demo is here: Zebra2 Test #2.

Synth/Trance Demo

I am starting to work on the sounds to score a movie project, which is now sitting on the top of my project pile. I am fulling intending to use u-he’s utterly magnificent synth Zebra 2.1 for the main melodic trance lead and ambient pads. I don’t actually have Zebra 2.1, but I have the version of Zebra that came with this month’s Computer Music. While it isn’t as good it does make the same general sounds with the same general tools.

I put together a 49 bar demo tonight to show off what Zebra sounds like, which you can listen to here. It is really, really, really impressive. The demo has a few issues — there’s a little blurble at the beginning of the bar and there’s a little bit of frequency muddle at 200Hz. I am also trying to ween myself off EQ entirely and live on low-pass filters, gates, limiters and compression.

Anywho, in case you missed it in the blurble:

Demo: Zebra Test
135 BPM, Key of C
Uses Logic, the ES2 synth, Ultrabeat and ZebraCM.

Death Metal Uke Test Take #1

Be afraid.

Okay. This was one of three takes, and happened before leaving the house for Easter. Excuse the truly terrible playing. At least the uke was mostly in tune.

I have a bright yellow Flea ukulele (GCEA tuning) with a K&K Sound Hot Spot pickup. It was plugged into a BOSS ML-2 Metal Core guitar effects pedal and then out through a Soundtech Lightsnake 1/4″ to USB cable. From here it went into Audacity, since Audacity has the easiest recording facilities I’ve found for MacOSX. After that, I applied compression at 2:1 ratio, -12dB threshold and 0.2s attack time.

Also, there were chords involved.

Uncompressed is here. With compression, so you can actually here it, it is here.

New Song #12: Saltarello (Heavy Mix)

It is that time again! Time to unleash another tune upon the world!

Behold and tremble! Behold the unholy mash-up of a perfectly good, happy, and danceable Medieval tune and Heavy Metal! RenFest meets hair metal! Make with the clicky clicky and listen to Saltarello (Heavy Mix)!

It has been market tested on precisely one two year old! It causes small children to dance! It will take you more time to read this post than it will to listen to the song, so what’s stopping you?

You will be amazed.

I had been planning on mashing up Saltarello with a screaming guitar solo for some time simply because the song has a great pulsing beat and long runs of 16th notes which lend themselves well to towering solos.

First, the song went into Finale. If you want to do some real composing, not simply schlock loops together, Finale is the way to go. It’s a very expensive program, but if you actually write music on actual paper and use actual instruments, it’s a very powerful tool. Because the original song is in G, and G is a terrible key for guitars, it got transposed to something more guitar-friendly. Guitars do well in A, E or B, but B made it sound a little too sparkly, so E worked well. That ends up with the power-chord friendly chords of E/F#m/G#m for the bass riff.

Finale kicks out 103 measures of expressionless bit of MIDI. Logic pulls the MIDI in. Markers slice up the regions.

A few hours later and a drum loop pops out. Each drums part — bass drum, snare and hats — get processed differently with different effects. I use Ultrabeat’s multi-sampled rock kit since it has the right about of wumph without the heaviness of a TR-808 or TR-909 unit.

Once the drums begin to sit with the top, MIDI tools inject a little life into an otherwise lifeless solo. Parts get transposed up and down for dynamics. The (utterly amazing) Sculpture synthesizer models a single string of a Fender Stratocaster. It is largely a preset, but a little tweaking helps it perk up. Pitch bend signals simulate pitch bends, which causes us to exclaim like Jack Black doing Tenacious D, “I’m doing the bendy!” (“One Note Song,” for those who wonder.) The guitar amps is set to huge distortion with a big scoop pattern for that strat plugged into a stack feel.

The bass, a sampled fretless, sits against the bass drum.

Another sampler picks up the rhythm guitar. The sampler has separate samples for palm mute guitar and regular open chords. Somewhere in here, I spend 3 straight hours doing 103 takes of me playing the rhythm part, and I end up synthesizing it anyway.

Then I spend hours and hours and hours learning some hard lessons about mixing. It still isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad.

If you like Saltarello, Dead Can Dance produced a fantastic version on their album, Aion. If you do not own any DCD, this is a good introductory track. Hie to iTunes and hand over your $0.99 for awesomeness.

Name: “Saltarello (Heavy Mix)”
Genre: Metal
Key: E
BPM: 123bpm
Running Time: 1:47
Tools Used: Apple Logic 7.2 and my throbbing brainmeats