The music journey – Making an album (week 11)

Another week flew by, and this week I didn’t do much in the way of working on the musical project that is making the album. My music hours were spent on reading manuals and listening to music. I amassed a fair backlog of music that needs listening or re-listening with focus & attention. I sometimes just listened parts of albums or didn’t really take my time for them. So this week it was all about the Elektron Digitakt & Autechre EPS 1991 -2002.

Elektron Digitakt

The Digitakt has long been on the wish list and I borrowed one for a while to check it out. After my Motu sound card stopped working I went on the search for a small sound card & got the idea to buy the Digitakt instead. It can also be used as a sound card after all. Very handy indeed.

I never dove into the manual as it works pretty intuitive, but after reading and diving into the Machinedrum last week I also started reading the manual for the Digitakt. And I must say, that’s not a bad idea. Especially the bit on the MIDI tracks which I never really use had some nice insights which triggered a lot of ideas for the combination with the modular & sequencing hardware samplers. I haven’t finished reading but I have months worth of ideas too explore.

I never really read any manuals before I got more or less forced into reading them and it’s simply highly recommended, you always learn something and pick up on interesting avenues for exploration.

Autechre EPS 1991 – 2002

I am a big Autechre enthusiast, and I am always trying too complete my collection. So when EPS 1991 – 2002 was released I bought it straight away. But never really listened to it as a whole. Partly because I have some of the EPS’s which are floating around my collection, somewhere. And I don’t have all of them. I have been listening to some of the EPS, but not from start to finish.

The beauty of this collection is you can listen too the development of Autechre’s music trough the years, from the more rave oriented tracks going towards the more abstract work. I really find it very nice how the music despite all the structural shapes retains it’s open and dynamic character. Every time I listen I hear different things or listen in a different way. It really helps sitting down for it and focus on listening. And not just put it on as background music. Although for me it works very well as background music while working. For people just starting out with Autechre and want a nice beginning of a collection this box is an excellent point to begin.

The week

The real work on the album wasn’t for me this week. I did however spent my allocated time for music on music related topics. Working on technical knowledge & inspiration. This keeps the momentum going which is important.

The music journey – Making an album (week 9)

Finally back making sounds, instead of just reading manual & books. Making sounds and noise is the fun bit really. Got a few short modular recordings in this week. Still very slow progress and my project is going to take much longer than I originally anticipated. Which I won’t let in the way of having fun. It’s about the journey after all.

In order to keep the structure and momentum going I am planning a few smaller projects along the way. Just making sure I release music while working on the bigger album project. Although I am still a bit reluctant putting stuff out there.

Every time I listen too someone else’s music I am thinking, that’s far better than my stuff. So I really need to get over this hurdle and start putting stuff out. Only things I am happy with off course , and I am not there yet. But I will.

Really missed the actual music making and really hoping I can get back into my rhythm and keep at it. Practice makes perfect after all.

As well as being back at making music, I also listened to some music. Amongst others the DJ Kicks mix by Andrea Parker, a very good mix in the outstanding series that DJ Kicks is. Released in 1998 and massively important for me in discovering unknown artists & music at the time. And the mix still holds up and sounds futuristic nowadays. Recommend listening.

In my planning I added a moment in my week for listening too an album, mix or a few EP’s for inspiration and enjoyment.

Onto a new week!

The music journey – Making an album (week 8)

Another week gone by, and this week not much happend in the way of music making. Still have problems with processing sound in my brain. So this week I had to shift my attention back to reading manuals and books on music.

Which is fine but overall progress in my album project is stalled at the moment. As this sort of periods go with the territory of my brain damage I started looking towards ways in which I can write or draw ideas down in a systematic way.

So I can still work on music without the sound. I already write down lots of ideas and draw as well. But my method keeps varying , then when I come back to an idea I can’t always figure things out. So it has to be via some sort of system that works quickly in use and I can recall easily after.

That isn’t as easy as it looks. My second option is working on non sound stuff , in comes Max MSP, which is lot’s of programming without sound necessary and has a systematic way of doing things because of the nature of the program.

I am not yet fluent with Max, but in the period I am currently having , working on Max & the system for writing down ideas is a good alternative to keep going.

The music journey – Making an album (week 7)

Week 7 is done, en another week with adaptions to my plan. Still some trouble with my brain damage so no music making activities this week. Mostly been reading about music theory and some manuals. Especially the book Electronic music and sound design volume one .

An absolute recommendation, It’s based around theory on the subjects sound design and Electronic music. Based around Max MSP patches to make it hands on. Every chapter starts with some theory on a subject and right after that you start working with that subject in Max and learning how to apply the concepts and theory within Max. At the start of each chapter there is an overview of the learning goals. Very handy indeed.

You can use the book to learn about specific subjects within sound design , syntheses and ways to edit sound. You don’t need to get into the Max parts to make good use of the book. The book is very convenient as a reference as well.

It’s very well written and all explanation is very clear. The book has a nice layout as well. I just started at the beginning and I am working my way through the book, learning Max MSP at the same time as learning about synthesis and sound design.

Another week without adhering too my original planning but still working on music, which is starting to become a habit , a routine. That’s very nice.

Onto next week.

The music journey – Making an album (week 6)

Week 6, quite a different week compared to the last few weeks. My brain wasn’t cooperating and I couldn’t stand sounds. Which makes working with music pretty difficult. It’s part of having brain damage so I had to make due. And try keeping busy in other ways.

First part of the week was mostly getting some extra rest in, and after that period I mostly been trying to read manuals. Albeit slow I stil got the feeling I was working on the project. And in a way this was the case.

Hopefully I have recovered enough into next week and I can start working on my music project according to plan.

The music journey – Making an album (week 5)

This week was a week of adapting to my possibilities, after being away for a little while most of the week was comprised of rest & recovery. Late Wednesday afternoon was the first moment in the week the energy levels were sufficient enough for my music activity.

So I got off course a bit.

Planning

My original planning consisted of the following:

      • Ableton Live & Samples.
      • Freeform patching with my Eurorack.
      • Reading manuals.
      • A coaching session.

Execution

My week started on Wednesday afternoon, just started working on a patch and pressed record. Without taking any notes and wondering about how to reproduce the results later on. Just recording some variations.

Practiced a little in taking samples out of the recordings and processing them. Not done a huge amount of work, but that’s all part of it. The good thing is I did some work and kept the consistency. Which gives a solid base and will yield results later on.

Got together with my coach for a session and the end of the week and got some new assignments in going around the fatigue which makes working with actual sound strenuous for me. Brain damage sets the pace in my case. Things I would never come up with, this alone makes having a coach worthwhile, on to next week.

The music journey – Making an album (week 4)

Another week done, this week I realized that my initial goal of making an album might be reaching too far for the timeframe I have at the moment. Especially given the learning curve I still have. Now I have the idea to take on a smaller project as an intermediate step.

This is one of the biggest benefits of having my coach as sparring partner, talking about ideas to keep the momentum and keep the process goals intact. Without getting distracted too much in pursuit of the bigger end goal. So this week I have invested time in learning Ableton and coming up with an idea for the smaller project.

The planning

planning was as follows :

      • Ableton Live & Samples.
      • Working on a standard patch.
      • Sketching the idea for the smaller project.
      • A coaching session.

Execution

First part of the week was working of the overflow of activities from the previous week. The standard patch is thought out and written down. I’m almost there on a method to write patch ideas down pretty fast and being able to perform them later.

Most of my time was spent on learning how to work with samples in Ableton.
I took my time on that so that cut into my music making hours. Just to get some extra milage on the learning objectives.

I have also come up with a few notes on how to put together a smaller in between project. To set me up for a good effort in going trough the whole process going from idea to finished project. Without it having to be a complete album.

Fun event this week was meeting up with my coach and another student at an event for a workshop and small live performance by my coach. We had some fun and interesting conversations as well. Thanks for the fun people ! It’s always fun to get out and meet people.

The music journey – Making an album (week 3)

The past week I have focussed on going through the whole proces. My planning consisted of the following parts.

      • Building a patch on my Eurorack synth.
      • Programming sequences for that patch.
      • Recording it.
      • Making samples out of the recording.
      • Making a composition with the sample pack
      • Finishing the track.

As a study and research subject I took scales, tonality and musical notes.

Execution

My planning was pretty clear, now onto what really happend. The patch I partially finished and I started doubting my choices surrounding the layout of modules in my cases. So back to the drawing board and trying to downsize a bit for this project. In order not to get lost and keep patching. Less is more.

After this rebuild I have recorded a small drone and got on with it. I was way out of my planning as a result. So for next week my planning remains roughly the same. Learned a lot though and had a reaffirmation that my framework is solid.

It’s just not that straightforward , it will remain a search to what works and what doesn’t.

And given the limited time I get to spend on this project every planning I don’t meet automatically means a delay. Just as it was the case last week. But that in itself isn’t a real problem. The end result will still be there.

I will keep making (and adjusting) my planning and try sticking with it. It gives a very nice structure to the whole proces , and it has a build in continuity , ever since I started working this way I have been at it every week for that set amount of time. Which in itself is very important.

The music journey – Making an album (week 2)

Week 2 in the house, time flies when you’re having fun. And fun it is. Week 1 resulted in my project framework for what I want to achieve. For this week my goal was to start building my sample library for my tracks.

Firstly, I want to talk about time management. I don’t have a lot of quality time due to my brain damage , so I can’t be at it for hours on end or listen to a lot of sound for a long period of time. So my schedule is an hour of intense activity at a time.

Which means making actual sounds for sampling , listening to loops etc. Working with sound basically. Learning and reading is easier on my brain so I can do that more often. So it’s preparation , and then making the noise.

Things like building my Max MSP patches, Eurorack ideas and learning both Max MSP and Ableton are at the forefront at the moment. And about 2 hours of sound design and sampling.

Another thing I got to do, is make a moodboard of my influences for the album. Which is fun to do, it has also brought some new angles to the project in ways of getting it all together.

One thing I have noticed is that it’s way more fun to have a goal. I enjoy simply sitting with my gear and making sounds, this really gives it an edge. Being not solely a tool to escape but to really create is something I have never done.

Not all the planned stuff got finished this week, and maybe my initial goal is something I need more time to accomplice , but for now I just keep at it.

Max MSP project – Looper design

It’s been awhile updating my looper project, mostly because I have been busy learning MAX.

The looper project has reached the design stage. Building the looper by following the YouTube video’s by dearjohnread is done and now I have a functioning looper patch.

Now it’s time to start designing my own looper. In my Eurorack system I have an Expert-Sleepers ES-9 with a few audio inputs. 16 to be exact, now keeping track of 16 loops is a bit much whether it is in a live set or a jamming session. The start will be 4 tracks, inspired by the old 4 track recorders. I can always expand later.

The 4 tracks need to controllable by a midi controller, these functions must be available:

    • Start and stop recordings
    • Start and stop  playing the recorded loops
    • Mute and unmute of the loops

This will be the basic controller wise. Besides the loops I have several ideas for applying effects , like stutter, reverb distortion and whatever else comes to mind.

Functions need to be :

    • Effects per loop channel
    • Add & Delete
    • Turn on & Off
    • Building effect chains per channel

These functions also need to be controllable via a midi controller. I own an old Push 1 , which should be enough. I will start with that and make it customizable later on.

This is the basic concept for the design, I will post the more expanded design notes on my GitHub. Here I will go into the whole learning process.