Project III Draft I | James Murphy

A friend of mine told me about a form of art called “databending”, where you take a piece of digital data (like a photo) and reinterpret its bytes as something else (like audio). In parts of this piece, I’ve loaded a picture (as well as a .exe and a .pdf) into Audacity and used the resultant sound to create beeps and hums.

I’m also using some old musical experiments which I made in Audacity with a tone generator, and some guitar work. There are even a few pieces of my soundwalk present.

I expect I’ll be throwing some of these features away and changing plenty more, but I wanted all my ideas in one file to start with.

Barndance Remarks

I had a pleasant time at the barndance. I didn’t realize my piece was going to go first until I picked up a program, but I think it’s cool that I got to set the tone (and also not have to live up to expectations set by any preceding pieces). I received little feedback of any kind on my work, possibly because I scared off anyone with a pocket full of business cards with my bio stating I’m a computer science major.

I enjoyed Michael James Olson’s “Along the North Shore” immensely, both for its sonic properties and its title — it and my piece (“To a Distant Star”) each had titles of the form “{Preposition} {article} {Adjective} {Noun}”.

Moreso than performing my work, I appreciated the opportunity to work the venue at its mechanical level. Setting up Pollard’s concert hall and taking down the Digital Auditorium’s equipment was a more social experience than I’d anticipated.

Synth Final Draft | “To a Distant Star” | James

Logic has a strange habit of changing the pan on tracks whose panning configuration I haven’t touched. Seems to be a bug with their automation interface. I found a way to correct it, but it would be nice if it didn’t happen in the first place.

I removed the track-doubling from the previous iteration because it sounded too muddy. I replaced it with twin vocoder tracks an octave apart which mingle with the melodic track of the final section. I also reduced the distortion on the final melodic section and added some subtle feedback effects to other tracks.

Synth Draft III | James

I’ve included some more panning effects and additional tracks to fill the sonic space. I made minor use of chorus and reverb effects, and I doubled a track to play on two different instruments to make the outro sound more full without masking or interfering with the melody part. There is now a slight gap between the end of the vocoder synth solo and the outro since overlapping it stopped sounding good after I listened to the song three or four times.

During the middle section, there are five tracks, two panned left, two panned right, and one center. Four of them finish and one of the panned tracks moves to the center of the sound space.

Synth Draft II | James

Per Levi’s suggestion, I softened the ‘not a guitar’ synth. I added a middle section which isn’t rhythmically aligned to anything but has some narrative properties, I think. I experimented a bit with the vocoder synth and I’m rather satisfied with the result. Here’s the track in its current state:


Synth Draft I | James

This sounds like I’m pretending/attempting to write a guitar solo with a synth. I really enjoy shiny atmospheric sounds, but I might be getting carried away. I don’t know if I’ll keep the melody bit, but I definitely like the twiddling I’ve done to make the intro and the pulsing chord progression. I think I might let the piece fall into a less rhythmic section following this, and add more dissonance.

Software Blog | James

I’ll definitely be using Logic Pro. While I’m barely able to give the impression that I could potentially be minutely competent with it, I definitely know it better than any of the other software options we have at our disposal (all of which I’ve never used, and most of which I’ve never heard of).

I have already begun tinkering with the ES1 synth. I feel like a dog operating a roller coaster control panel, but I’m liking the output.