Saturday, 31 December 2011

End of year, results are in!

...and what a catastrophic failure!!

Looking back now, last post was the 30th of March. Honestly quite disappointed with myself as this would've been a really nice thing to look back on at the end of the year had I kept up with it.

I think my motivation towards the blog was lacking towards April for a number of reasons. Primarily I felt as though much of the time I had been repeating myself. Initial I had hoped to post something completely different each day which, in retrospect was quite a foolish goal. It lead to regular frustrations, trying to think of a new thing to try or a new approach to take, and all the while having other projects going on which where perhaps more important and also in need of fresh ideas and motivation.

Ultimately I had to draw a line, which was more important and in need of all my focus? The tracks and releases I was scheduled to finish, the bits of commission work, the work applications and submissions, or this blog?

A no brainer in all honesty, a real shame I have to admit but a worth while decision. The rest of the year has been a really productive one. A new EP finished and released, numerous pieces of commission work completely successfully, and a huge amount of work done on a new album for early next year! The year has been a turbulent and mentally exhausting time as well, so looking back I actually feel very proud of what I've managed over all, with the exception of this blogs failings.

So, by way of making amends, I've uploaded a sort of end of year present bundle for everyone to share and hopefully enjoy. There is sound packs and sound design things, Reaktor Patches and some bonus images from an AV project Im currently working on for next year.

Here are the links:

Mac (.zip file):

Win (.rar file):

Please help yourselves, and share with all. I hope that you get some enjoyment out of it!

"And what of the blog?" I hear you ask.. well I can say with absolute certainty that the sound a day aspect demands a serious rethink!! However I'm planning to try to make posts still, here and there with no determined regularity. Im just as hooked on making noises as I was at the start of the year, maybe more so. I'll still try to document some of those experiments here for posterities sake if nothing else.

Anyway, waffling... Hope you all had a great Christmas period and best wishes for the new year!!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 30.03.2011

Spent the afternoon playing with Reactable again today. It really is starting to grow on me. It's still frustratingly limited in some areas, but there are still lots of fun little functions to try out.

One of the things I was quite impressed by was the scale quantise. Effectively, you select the scale and key you want, and all notes will be transposed to fit with in that scale, pretty neat. A particularly easy way to make use of this function is by using the randomising on the sequencers. You can set a rhythm and the sequencer will spit out random notes on the pattern you entered. When you combine these two little functions it can get pretty interesting.

The breaks are some I loaded in from my computer, running together into a compressor, both the bass an melody oscillators are ran from random quantised patterns from the sequencers, then through a low pass filter and reverb. I had the window for the melody sequencers rate, and was just switching between a couple different tempos.

REACTABLE RAVE by Noisy Neighbour Sound

So, OK, its not exactly the most inspired piece of music you ever heard, but still pretty neat for a little app. Anyone with an Ipad or Iphone who hasn't tried this out yet, give it a go, its awesome!!

By the way...

As I mentioned a while back, I've been getting really into the Arturia V synths recently, ARP2600, Moog modular etc.. They're all very powerful and great sounding synths, and all deserve spending a decent amount of time learning your way around. Last time I got stuck into the ARP2600, so next alphabetically should be the CS80V.

This synth is absolutely class, sounds incredible, cant really put it any other way. But here's the thing I wanted to talk about.

I cannot think of this particular synth without a specific person coming to mind. Just hearing the name, straight away they're in my head, melodies flying through my brain. The person is Vangelis, and coincidentally, it just happened to be his birthday yesterday. So, happy birthday Vangelis, and thanks for all the wonderful music!

What, to me, is one of his most memorable achievements, has to be the music for Blade Runner. Its almost certainly my favourite film ever, and the score is just epic!

So there I was, CS80v loaded up, thoughts of Vangelis and Blade Runner going through my head, ah... why not?!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY VANGELIS by Noisy Neighbour Sound

I'm sure that this is way off from the original, for a start I'm not so hot on the keys, and this is just from memory. But I think it's close enough to be recognisable. Thinking about it now, I remember the original having more strings rather than pads, ah well. But I guess here's my point, finally... Its such a memorable melody, simple and powerful at once. Unfortunately something that cannot be said about most film scores from recent years.

Oh also, one last thing. I read recently that some studio is considering making a sequel to Blade Runner. I think it might be worth considering first what made the original so great. One of the most influential science fiction writers ever (Philip K Dick), one of the most inspiring concept artists ever (Syd Mead), one of the most visionary film producers of the time (Ridley Scott) and one of the greatest modern composers (Vangelis). If whoever is planning this sequel can form such a team of collaborators to work on it, then maybe it is a good idea. Otherwise, PLEASE just don't do it!!! 

Sound-A-Day 29.03.2011

This is a pretty funny one to share.

I spent the day reworking a couple old tracks that I was planning to play in a live set I have coming up. One of them had a lot of fast break edits going on, with all manner of daft effect processing going on.

I figured I may as well continue in that vein as I reworked the track and stumbled across a cool sound which I figured I may as well continue with a bit.

So this sound actually started life as a kick drum from an Amen break, there's a whole load of stuff done to it, it's hard to remember the exact order I worked in, so wont go into too much detail.

WARNING SIRENS by Noisy Neighbour Sound

It's been EQed and compressed, then I used some stacked comb filters to give a weird twangy resonance to it, pretty high feedback dialed in with a little bit of automation on the delay time.I rendered that out before loading it into a sample and adding some loop points to get it repeating at a cool point. Messed about with pitch and speed till it was getting pretty siren sounding. Again, I rendered that out before loading it into Absynth for a bit of final tweaking. Tried it across the keyboard till I found a note that worked best. Rendered again before opening in sound forge to EQ a little bit and add a reverb.

I was hoping to get a sort of space ship warning siren, like the type that goes off in a sci fi film when the enemy ship is near by. Think I did a pretty good effort!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 28.03.2011

So, truth be told I made this one early Sunday morning, not today, but who's counting really?

This came from a thread on a forum I like to visit from time to time called "We are the music makers". Great site for geeking out over AFX and SP, also general web trash. There is also a sub forum dedicated to discussing music making.

Someone had started a thread on there about making an Acid track in 30 mins, full thread is HERE It's well worth having a look as there are some pretty cool tracks to listen too.

I'm absolutely terrible at finishing tracks, I will sit for hours tweaking and changing something over and over again. While I KNOW I should just take a step back and go "OK, it's finished!" sometimes I just cant. Decided that trying to make a track in such a short amount of time would be a good exercise for me.

First step was making a acid line. Fired up the SH101 and using the built in sequencer I tapped in some notes, without paying too much attention to what I was playing in. Did this a couple times till I had a line rolling that I liked. Turned out with 10 beats per bar, ah well, something different...

I left that looping and tweaked the synth till I had a tone I liked, hit record and ran through the sequence a couple times with different filter settings. Trim them to loop at the right length, done!

Next step was the drums. I've been working on a 808 style drum machine patch in Reaktor, so as good a chance as any to try it out in a track. Programmed in a straight forward pattern on the kick, snare, and hats, a couple off beats on the rim shot, 16th Maraca rhythm, finished!

The next thing the track needed was some kinda theme or hook. Figured some big stab type synth patch would work well. Found an old Jupiter style synth from Reaktor 2, loaded that up, tweaked it about a bit till I had the sound I liked, few notes in the Piano Roll, hmmm OK that's cool....

Running low on time now... should get the structure sorted. Best thing about acid is that it doesn't need to do a lot. For me it's more about having a good tight groove, a few simple lines working well together. All I needed to do was an easy build up, drop, a few extra sounds, drop out, finish. Didn't take long to get this part done, wow 4 mins?? hmm need a couple more bits.

Put a couple low notes in to cycle each repeat nicely, used a patch I made in carbon 2, thick moog-ish saw type patch. Chuck that into some reverb for fullness, yikes, 5 mins left!!!

Next I loaded up a multi sample patch I made of the PE1000, short plucked type of sound. Made a little pattern, into some delay, what else?

Last up, just wanted a sound to lead into the main section. Connected up the Monotron, turned resonance to full, fast lfo to the cutoff, and recorded myself winding down the lfo rate. Chop that up and nudge about till its sort of in time. Also dug out an old recording I took of a rave horn, drop that every so often, old school! Nice =D

Put the Waves C1 compressor and L2 limiter on the master bus, quick effort at "mastering" the track (ahem...), Save, Render, Done!!

Here it is in all its glory..

TEN STEP ACID by Noisy Neighbour Sound

Well, to be honest, I took somewhere around 40 mins total. Even so, that pretty good going for me! Would like to say that some of that time was spent getting annoyed at the power supply for the SH101, was making an irritating hum which I ended up just leaving. You can here it when the acid line starts.

Funny thing is, there's not really anything I'd like to change even if I had the time to do so. Perhaps I just regard the track as throw away, and so don't really care how it sounds. But strangely enough, I really like how it sounds!

Either way, I hope this will help me to finish the tracks I do care about! Would recommend the exercise to everyone, see what you can make in half an hour. 

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 24.03.2011

Sometimes all it takes is a silly idea. A "I wonder what happens if?" type moment. I had one this evening which turned out really well.

Was curious what would happen if you used the same signal for both carrier and modulator inputs on a Vocoder. Only with one of them playing in reverse. So what the hell, lets give it a go!

I took a chunk of vocals out of an anime series I'm quite into called "Serial Experiments Lain" and made 2 sample channels. Loaded the same sound into both channels but reversed the playback of the carrier signal. Ran them into a Vocoder and hit play...

Well, weird to say the least. Definitely some crazy harmonic stuff going on, but all goes a bit too fast to appreciate. For the second attempt I figured Id use granular channels rather than plain samplers. After playing about with the playback speed I ended up settling with a very slow playback speed and a pretty large grain size. It gives a really nice rhythmic overtone I think. Finally a large reverb and done!

INVERTED-VOCODER by Noisy Neighbour Sound

I really like this one! Really simple process to do, and such a cool result. Something I'm going to try and build into a self contained patch of sorts. What would be great would be to combine it with the real time scrubbers I mentioned a couple posts back, and some real time time stretching (time time?). A sound scape generator that works by vocoding yourself with yourself in reverse, could be cool!!

Sound-A-Day 23.03.2011

So, carrying on from the last one in a way.

Another sound made by sending an outboard synth through some heavy DSP type things. Different out come though.

This time I was playing with the Monotron. For some reason I really like noodling with it. I think the fact that it has such a simple interface, and immediate too, makes it a real joy to just mess about with! The sound is great, if it's the type of sound you're after, but not today!

I thought it would be fun to try out making some dark drone and ambient effects with it. In a way, I had in mind the idea of real time sound tracking almost. As I said, the interface is incredibly immediate, so it would be cool to alter the sound enough to make it suitable for some real dark thriller sound track and be able to play along to the visuals. I think with a bit of practice it could be surprisingly effective.

The Monotron is running into Reaktor, and straight into a Spectral resynthesis patch I built. This straight away has a massive affect on the tone. Really lush over tones and weird harmonics. With the LFO on the monotron going at full whack, and the resonance right up you get some really out there tones!

After that it's just a big old reverb patch from the Space Designer instrument, still one of my favourites! Then I just hit records and started tweaking. Most satisfying was quickly flicking the cutoff down to get a hit out of the resonance. Nice big Spectral twang!!

MONOTRON-DRONE by Noisy Neighbour Sound