Tomorrow’s piece will be a culmination of this period of my research into two areas: delay feedback and audio panning.
When I first began experimenting in Max with delay feedback I had intended on using the patch in some form of live music production piece. I am big fan of complicated breakbeat music, particularly such artists as Enduser, Aaron Spectre, Richard D James, Mad EP and Raoul Sinier. After following Baz’s tutorial I noticed similarities in the beats produced using the patch and the sound of AFX’s Hangable Auto Bulb. A little research into this period of James’ career revealed that he was at this time experimenting with “Jungle, DSP, and laptops” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphex_Twin), tools and media I have been experimenting with recently myself.
However, where the delay feedback technique really became interesting was when I started experimenting with live audio. After creating the huge, complicated multi-sampler that was the breakcore machine (see previous posts), I wanted to make something much simpler. I have been particularly interested in vocal audio looping and editing, a technique used extensively by the producers referred to above.
By connecting a live microphone into the delay feedback patch, the resulting patch has two clear uses in music performance and production. The first of these is as a beatbox drum computer. My sessions in the studio and at home showed that the patch could effectively be used to create a rhythm of found sounds. When the higher keys are pressed, the effect is to loop short audio samples into long rhythmic sounds. The effect when whistling is particularly interesting. Delay is widely used in Dub music and this patch would be very effective in a live dub performance.
Tomorrow’s piece will also utilise techniques I have been researching in audio panning. Though the surround sound effect of using the piece in stereo, and particularly through headphones, was interesting, I felt the piece would best be realised as a multi-channel audio installation. Many thanks to Jamie for introducing me to the spat patch. In order to make the most of the system I decided to write a series of automated actions resulting in pan and reverb effects using using lines and ramps. This is particularly effective when used alongside a random number generator sequence to create a rhythmic bouncing sound.
I am eager to try integrating further audio outputs, and possibly even the area of live dub production with ‘surround sound’. I am also intending to use the sounds created during my recording session as part of my studio-production.
Last night I was experimenting with part of the piece i am exhibiting on wednesday and I ended up having a long recording session, just jamming using the bits and pieces on the table in front of me and the delay-feedback patch. All sounds were recorded using the internal microphone on my laptop and Quickrecord. I have cut the overall piece up into a collection of smaller recordings which I have attached.
Tonight I have booked out the studio live room from 9 to midnight and intend on making lots and lots of noise. I am planning on recording some of the session and will post these recordings up here soon.
Update: Recordings now posted at http://www.myspace.com/homemadeorganicjam
I was watching some Max tutorials on youtube and I came across this neat little video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-RfRExdpR0
With my penchant for all beats broken I found this patch really, really good fun. What you’ve got here, with just jongly and this patch, is the foundation for a ‘live’ dance music machine, something I wanted to work on during this course. So I copied some breaks from my database and started experimenting. Loads of fun for any breakcore fan. But it needed developing. I felt like I was kind of ripping off Baz.
So I took the patch away and started making modifications. I rigged up another sampler with buffer and groove and loaded some fresh breaks at corresponding bpm. Basically, for dubstep/breaks I used sampled breaks at 140bpm/70bpm, and for drum and bass/breaks I used 160bpm/80bpm. What you’ve then got, if everything is synced up correct (more on that later) is two breaks running at the same tempo, one of which you can create delay lines with. In order to make the buffer break a bit more interesting I came up with a few controllable triggers that looped certain sections of the break using a simple equation:
File (break/sample) length / Number of beats = length of individual break segments.
So, using the set loop feature, I can control individual beats/phrases whilst creating delay lines. Put another buffer groove with some bass samples in it, another with some rhythmic sections, and put a volume slider on each channel. What you’ve got now is a primitive multi-sampler which can be used for live electronic beat noodling. Fun fun fun.
The patch is not without its flaws…sfplay tends to delay a bit when loading samples so you’ve got to cue up the delay feedback before you start bringing in other loops if you want the whole thing to sync up. What I found useful was coming up with a key controlled interface, syncing up certain actions with certain keys, linking new split objects into the patch. This has also helped me learn a bit of ASCII code, which can’t hurt.
The only problem now is that the patch is huge…a spider’s web monstrosity of objects and cables. I’m now going to start dismantling and rebuilding the patch, removing all non-necessary objects to get it to run a little bit smoother. I also want to devise some sort of BPM calculator so I can be a little bit more experimental and a little less confined to the 140/160bpm setup I’ve got going at the moment.
More to come soon
For the upcoming exhibition I have been working on an automated panning system in Max MSP for use in my piece. Although I am intending to base the piece on a surround sound / multi-channel audio output, I thought that it would be important first to devise some automated system for use in stereo.
By running the two audio output channels into multipliers I have been able to control the two channels’ volume independently. I then used a series of ramps to change these volumes from 0.00 to 1.00 and back again in a specified time. As the left volume reaches its peak the right sequence is triggered and vice-versa.
This sequence works nicely when plugged into external speakers, but a better effect can be experienced using headphones. When using headphones, the sound sweeps around the head, giving the impression of surround sound. Though not really ‘surround sound’, the effect is an audio illusion interpreted by our brains as ‘surround sound’.
I have tested this patch by running the internal sound card of my laptop through a number of home stereo units with some success. The next step is to find a way of creating multiple audio outputs in Max and testing the patch on a bigger system.