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

Sound-A-Day 22.03.2011

Well, once again a bit of catching up to do!

Has been a full on last few days. Not only have I been slaving away on finishing several tracks for things, but also getting prepared for a gig at the start of next month. I've also spent a lot of time trying to find myself a new job. Funds are running low and it's getting pretty desperate! A couple possibilities though, so fingers crossed.

A few sounds to upload though, here's the first.

Was just noodling about with the 101, running it into my laptop and processing it pretty heavily. Not really any particular aim, just having fun! I'd just finished the first steps for a patch idea I had. The concept was a constantly updating buffer which takes the input signal, scrubs forwards and backwards at different speeds, and then refreshes itself and starts again. I thought it could be quite a fun way of  creating some sort of interactive sound art thing.

Anyways, I'd combined that with a delay and reverb effect which are being faded in and out to create swells of sound. Then I mapped a bunch of parameters to a midi controller, and ran some heavily modulated SH101 lines through it.

As I said, just doodling really, but luckily enough Id remembered to hit record, and this is one of the sounds that came out:

HEAVY-PROCESSED-101 by Noisy Neighbour Sound

I wish I had recorded the dry signal too in order to offer up some comparison. At the moment its quite difficult to tell exactly what is coming from the scrubbing and what is the effects.

This is something I hope to finish up into a download though, so you can try it out for yourselves. Its not so much musical as sound scape I suppose. Good for intros and breakdowns though! 

Monday, 21 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 21.03.2011

Really happy to put this up here.

A while back I was approached to make a remix for a forth coming release on a brand new label. The original is a fantastic track from Hecq and Exillon entitled "Spheres of Fury"

The video has been doing the rounds on the Internet for some time now, but through various issues the release has been delayed quite a bit!

Hecq Vs Exillion - Spheres Of Fury from Tim.Chris.Film on Vimeo.

Finally it's out now, and it is fantastic!

In addition to the original, there are remixes from The Teknoist, Duran Duran Duran, and yours truly!
Ben Hecq has made a little tasty taster mix for you to sample:

Spheres Of Fury Compilation by HECQ

It's available from the Ad Noiseam online store HERE and I'm hoping to have a handful of sweet vinyl goodness very soon! Enjoy!

(btw, sound a day will be back to the normal proceedings tomorrow. I really wanted to share both things, especially the Red Cross fundraiser, and this is my only soap box, so to speak!)

Red Cross Tsunami Appeal Compilation Sound-A-Day 20.03.2011

A bit more important today than usual.

A friend of mine took the initiative to put together a compilation release with the aim of raising some money for the Red Cross Tsunami Appeal. I think it's a really great idea. There are tracks from Kanji Kinetic, Dev Null, Parasite, Chevron, Baconhead, aswell as myself and many others.

Links are below, I hope you enjoy the tracks, and please give generously!

Words from Guy

"The situation in Japan is unbelievably desperate. Here at Wrong Music there isn't much we can do to help in practical terms, but we can make a horrible noise. This compilation collects 19 exclusive tracks by Wrong Music artists and friends and represents an attempt to raise some money for the Red Cross.
Due to the speedy nature of how this album came together (and not wanting to divert funds from this release to a third party distribution company) the album is set as a free download, with a donate button below (this also means that the funds get straight to where their needed and don't sit in a bank account / paypal account). However! We implore you not to download it or share it without making a contribution to the Red Cross Japan Appeal"

British Red Cross Tsunami Appeal

Wrong Music Japan Compilation

Sound-A-Day 18.03.2011

Unfortunately, there is no sound for today..

Spent the entire day trying to piece together a set at the last minute. Some friends where organising an event and found themselves a slot short for their line up.

With perhaps a slight amount of sarcasm, Henry suggested that we put together a four man live PA. A friend of ours was down visiting for a couple days, and another friend was passing through on his way to a gig in Bristol the following night.

I love playing with other people, rehearsed or improvised, it's always fun! Was a real honour to get to play with these guys. Thom Hoonboy has been a long time friend and his live sets are always quite spectacular, Henry Shitmat is the consummate entertainer and getting a crowd going is in his blood, and Ed Duran Duran Duran is by far and away one of the most talented producers around, his tracks are unreal! Was absolutely stoked to get to play with these guys!

None the less, as I'm sure you'll know if you've ever tried, syncing laptops for a jam is a technical minefield. When time is short, headaches are pretty much guarantied!

So this got me thinking (and I guess this is the real subject of today's post) about what could be done to improve this situation, and what it could mean for the general idea of "a laptop musician"

I am certain that a lot of people do not view laptop performance and musicianship as comparable to that of a guitarist/pianist/vocalist etc, and just speculating, but perhaps this is something to do with the "pick up and play" element of more traditional musical tools. No doubt anyone who can play an instrument has had the joy of playing with others, and the immediacy of it is such a buzz. Just pick up an instrument and join in. No need to worry about midi channels, clock routing, mixers, sync issues, latency differences, tempo drifts an so on.

Laptops offer a world of opportunities in terms of what sound can be made, and how it can be played.  But as everyone knows, sometimes a lack of limitations can be the most destructive thing, in terms of immediacy at least. You see software and hardware developers creating new and exciting ways for computer users to interact with their equipment in more immediate and intuitive ways, but I would dearly love to see steps in developing ways for computer users to interact with each other and all types of musicians too!

I think if a laptop setup could be designed in such a way that it could be integrated into a jam as quickly as any other convectional instrument, then perhaps it would be received in the same way too.

I've a few ideas for some things to try, but I hope that somewhere there are some super clever people who have the technical know how to really make something good. Its becoming increasingly apparent that product developers do pay attention to current trends in the music world (as well as vica versa) so fingers crossed that some day an engineer will pick up on the perfect way to implement such integration. What would be great if it could become as universally accepted as midi has.

There are a few small things that help with multiple laptop jams. If trying to keep everyone in sync, you get far better results having one bit of kit dedicated to running a clock signal to everything else. Something like a drum machine with a clear tempo control and a midi output. You'll also need a midi splitting box in order to send the signal midi out to several people.

This helps because it means all laptops are receiving clock events simultaneously, as opposed to one laptop generating them for itself before sending it to the others, which results in a slight but noticeable delay. Similarly it's important to ensure that every laptop has the same size latency.

Another thing that can be really helpful is a small external mixer for everyone to plug in to. DJ mixers are OK for the job, but nearly always have a limited number of channels, and many many features which are surplus to requirement. The same goes for most studio mixers too, and besides, how many people would be happy to remove their mixer from their studio and take it to a club? 

I would love to have a small box, about the size of a sound card with about 6 stereo inputs with level control, and a stereo pair of outputs. It should also be able to generate midi clock, with a big "stop/start" button on top and a large dial and LED display for tempo.. and nothing else!!! If such a thing exists, link it and I'd buy one tomorrow!!

As it stands, people still raise an eyebrow and seems bit surprised at the idea of several people using laptops to jam together. It would be great to see it become a more regular occurrence!

Incidentally, the show went really well. Unfortunately due to a few bits of kit failing on us we couldn't all sync together. Tom and I manged to stay in sync with midi, while Henry and Ed Punched in with the space bar, like a conventional DJ would, using the Cross fader on a DJ mixer to build things up. In spite of some very sketchy sections and occasionally messy transitions the crowd really seemed to enjoy it. I think people really picked up on the live and in the moment nature of it which really made me smile. After all that is what LIVE music should be all about!!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 17.03.2011

Carrying on from yesterday I suppose,

So yesterday I had a bit of a fail after trying out an idea I had for a Reaktor patch. Didn't work out nearly as well as I hoped, but not to feel discouraged I decided to have another look and see what I could get out of it before calling it a total loss.

A bit more successful today!

So the patch is essentially a wave table style source running through a delay and reverb. I decided to try out a different delay module to before, used one of the grain delays instead. I also redesigned a better feedback circuit which had more accurate control over spill. The grain delays are great because of the pitch shifting options. The synth has more or less become some hybrid wave table/feedback pitch shifting effect now..

I redesigned most of the envelope settings and also made the tracking through the wave table smoother. Suddenly the sound was a lot smoother sounding, and far more usable.

I ended up using some step sequencers assigned to each parameter, and a button to step through the sequence rather than running. By entering lots of random values into the sequencers and stepping through I could hit upon lots of different sounds, one completely different from the last. Very satisfying to do!!

I think I might try and turn this patch into something of a dark abstract sound scape generator. Set very slow random modulations to the sequencers and so on, might be interesting.

So I recorded the output of the synth, and loaded that into Absynth for some extra tweaking. I layered 2 different sounds with filters to accentuate the parts I liked and remove the clashing bits. Finally a bit of reverb and it's done.

PITCHSHIFT ERROR by Noisy Neighbour Sound

Pretty cool sound I think, not the greatest ever, but I feel happy to have got something out of what was yesterday a failed effort! 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 16.03.2011

So really odd moment this morning.

I woke up a little later than usual, stayed up kinda late last night, and almost instantly got a really vivid idea for a patch I wanted to have a go at building.

Not like an idea for something to try, but more like "if i do this, then this, and make that, it WILL be awesome" So I leaped out of bed, made some coffee and got stuck in!

The first part of what I wanted was a synth engine built around a Wave table type deal. So I went to work making some wave forms of various complexities. From a simple sin to some very complex additive ones. I made about 40 in total, each a perfect cycle at the same frequency. I put these together into one long wav file and loaded into one of the sample modules in Reaktor.

Set up a macro to define the correct loop point as so on, and soon enough I had a lovely scanning wave table. I made a duplicate, and a small mixer macro to mix and blend the 2 oscillators in a bunch of different ways.

The next part of my idea was a way of sequencing numerous aspects of the synth engine. Rather than a sequencer lane for pitch, amplitude etc.. I thought it would be fun to make large value tables for sending to envelopes, and sequencer lanes to select from the tables. Essentially meaning you sequence the modulation shapes. This took a while, defining a good selection of envelope profiles and then modifying the envelope generators to redefine those values based on master tempo.. took a very long while to be honest.

Anyway, once that was done I duplicated the macro and attached them to lots of different parameters. Amplitude, pitch modulation, table position etc etc.

I also thought it would be interesting to include a stereo delay with the delay time also being modulated, and so I built that in too.

Well moment of truth, fired it all up and..... hmm, well not what I had expected!!


The envelopes are far too severe, the delay just didn't work, and the whole thing was so hard to sequence in any way that it is more or less impossible to use! I'm sure that there are some aspects which can be rescued, and I'm sure the envelopes idea could work, but I really need to re evaluate the method I tried here, come up with something better.

So all in all, not quite sure what to say about this sound. I guess sometimes what feels like a great idea can turn out to be a shoddy one. But I'm glad I gave it a go, it's given me some more ideas for the future and definitely doesn't feel like a complete waste of time!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 15.03.2011

Finally back to the blog!

Dear oh dear oh dear. A week with no sound a day. Actually pretty pissed at myself for having left it so long..

To be fair though, I've not exactly been sitting on my ass doing nothing. Been super busy with so many bits and pieces, that finding an hour or so to make, upload, and waffle on about a sound has been just too much of a stretch.

Still, like the guilty feeling sap that I am, I hope to make it up with presents!!!

A little while back I uploaded a short loop from a synth I'd been working on. One of the things that I had hoped to improve on was the interface, it was a touch confusing. So I started rebuilding that whole thing and went off on a bit of a tangent. Loads of ideas about interfaces and what not.

I ended up making a far simpler version of the synth, same engine etc, but far simpler control layout. I also built a TouchOSC template to go with it and finished off the Reaktor panel in a style matching the Ipad layout.

I think it looks really cool!

Here's a pic of the Reaktor panel..

And here's one of the IPad panel..

The synth is built around a fairly straight forward 303 style engine, and 16 step sequencer. You have control lanes for Note, Octave, Gate, and slide. The synth as you'd expect, has the choice of Square or Saw tooth wave shapes, and a nice rubbery filter, just like a 303. There is also a distortion macro for driving the sound some more. In addition there is a pair of resonant filters, and a frequency modulation effect. These are probably my favourite parts, and lead to some really unusual sounds. Each of these post effects has a dedicated XY controller. There is also a control for each XY which runs the output through a S&H module which steps the output in sync with the master clock.

Here's a little audio clip, straight out of the synth with just a little bit of reverb.

GRID-LOOP-2 by Noisy Neighbour Sound

Of course this synth can make classic Acid line sounds, and not just the unusual sequences like the one above. But I think it's a good demonstration of what else can be done with this ens.

I did encounter several obstacles in making the Ipad interface. Due to limitations on both TouchOSC and Reaktor, I've had to change the way many of the synths functions work, particularly with the sequencer. None the less, I plan on revisiting this in the coming weeks and hopefully re introduce some of the functionality of the original.

I have also begun making an 808 synth drum machine to partner up with this patch. The eventual aim is to have 4 or 5 instruments all running from 1 Ipad interface and Reaktor ensemble for making Acid/electro type stuff in a fast and intuitive way. Will be sure to upload and revise each part as I progress!

Here's a link for the Reaktor Patch and Ipad TouchOSC template.PAD SYNTH

Of course, if you do not have an Ipad, then do not worry, because as well as working really hard on that version, I also tweaked and finished the original!

The interface is still the same web of confusion as before, but honestly, it doesn't take long to figure out. This version has quite a few more features than the Ipad version. As well as everything listed above, there is also a separate automation lane for almost every parameter, with dedicated amount controls. Visual feedback of automation data on the controls, and pattern offset control.

The interface is split across both A and B panel views. A view displays note, gate, and slide information, while B shows Parameter automation, post filters and FM.

Pattern offset is controlled by the scanning boxes at the top of both views, just start clicking about and you'll figure it out!

Reading back through my "description", I cant tell if I have had any success in explaining this patch. Really I'd recommend just clicking around and trying things out. If anyone wants though, send me a message and I'll put together an instruction guide or something to help you out! (Same goes with anything on this blog btw)

Here's a link for this Reaktor patch.. GRID SYNTH

To get the panel elements working the way I wanted them to, has meant that changing them would take quite a while. I will do it at some point, but for now this one doesn't look quite as cool as the Ipad version. Still stay posted for that!

Anyways, sorry for being so behind in keeping this updated. Hope to get it all back up and running over the next few days. Lots of interesting things to show and tell coming up though, a couple more downloads, and maybe even some videos!!!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 07.03.2011

Unfortunately no weekend photos this time. I've got a pretty brutal deadline to meet for some tracks I've been working on, and just simply couldn't afford to take time away from working on that.

Doesn't mean that I don't have time to keep up on the blog though. I figured when I started this that there would be moments when I'm really busy, but I also promised myself that I would keep this up!

So today's sound is something along the same lines to a thing I did last week, making dark modern scary sound effects and atmospheres. As I mentioned then, one of the things that really comes to mind with that type of sound is string effects, almost mandatory for scary films.

This time around I thought that rather than starting with synthesised ones, I'd begin with a string sample and see where I can take it.

DARK TWISTED STRINGS by Noisy Neighbour Sound

The sample came from a CD of Elgar's Enigma Variations, a piece called Nimrod, which if you're not familiar with I really recommend you check out. I opened the sample in Sound forge and got to work with the EQ, just trimming away the frequencies that I didn't want, low stuff especially since I planned to put that in myself later on. Once that was nice and tidy I topped and tailed it, and then loaded it into Absynth, as usual, in one of the granular channels. Loads of messing about with the various parameters, little bits of pitch shifting as well. I was aiming to get something atonal with the characteristics of strings, but without being instantly identifiable as such.

Next I opened up Reaktor and got to work on making the low end stuff. Initially I tried using Steam pipe, since I thought that it would complement the string sound well, but I just couldn't get quite the right sound. I ended up using Carbon 2. Using all 3 oscillators with some heavy modulation, and the Band Reject filter. A bit of chorus, managed to get a nicely brooding angry synth sound.

I then recorded this out, and again EQed in Sound forge before loading into Absynth. I spent quite a while getting the two sounds to mesh together in the right kinda of way, and lots of small little automation tweaks in the envelopes to keep things flowing properly. Last up a bit of light filtering and some reverb.

I really like this sound, definitely dark and creepy. I'd like it more if there where less granular artifacts perhaps, but that more down to my heavy handedness than anything else.

Now back on with these tracks! I've got to have 12 minutes of audio, all written, mixed, mastered and ready for sync by Thursday!!? Wish me luck!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 04.03.2011

Here's something a bit different.

Something that has always interested me is generative music, but I've never really tried to make anything like that so I thought I'd give it a bash.

What I found hardest was finding the balance of input. As in how much is the patch doing completely autonomously, and how much is from my suggestion.

I started off by building a fairly simple sample based drum machine, which I split into 3 parts. One sequencer lane for the kick, one for snare, and a third for percussion noises. Next I spent a couple hours making short snappy drum sounds with an SH101. Made about 50 in total, I also made one straight up kick drum sound, and one snare sound.

I loaded the kick and snare into their own sample modules, and the remaining samples all got loaded into one sample module. I also built a automation channel for sample selection. This meant that I could sequence a solid Kick Snare pattern and allow the percussion to wander around.

Next I made a couple of randomising LFO's which sync to the main clock. One of these was assigned to percussion sample selection, the other to percussion sample pitch.

Finally I built a comb filter and ran the entire drum mix through it. I assigned another Tempo synced LFO to control the pitch of the comb filtering. Put the output through a heavy compressor, and that's about it for the drums.

This was sounding pretty cool, but needed something more to make it a bit more musical.

I loaded up an old FM synth I built a while ago, and sent the trigger from the snare pattern into the gate of the synth. Then another random LFO to control the FM interval. Finally I built a pretty complex macro for controlling the pitch of the notes played based on a few other things going on in the patch. Ran this through the compressor too, which gave quite a nice side chain style pumping.

Lastly, I brought up the recorder box, hit record and then pressed play, this is what came out.

GENERATIVE 1 by Noisy Neighbour Sound

Pretty cool I think. Reminds me quite a bit of Autechre, although a long way from the complexities they have in their music. Some similarity for sure though. I do really like its completely emotionless mechanical quality, definitely something I couldn't have written if I had tried, but I do feel that I still could have had less involvement in the composition. Certainly going to give this another try!

Sound-A-Day 03.03.2011

A little late uploading the last of this weeks sounds.

Yesterday I was really ill, ate something that disagreed with my stomach a fair bit. The only sound I was capable of making was a techni-coloured yodel which I don't think anyone would want to have heard!

Never the less, I've made a couple nice ones this evening to make up for it.

I suppose my current interest is trying to get some interesting sounds from simple sources, really stretch things to their limit almost. So that got me thinking, what is the most simple source available? Probably a sine wave...

So with that in mind I started playing around with stuff. I built a Reaktor patch based around a simple constant sine wave and assigned the XY of a Korg Nanopad to controlling the pitch across a really wide range. Next I started adding some effects in, there's Stereo pitch modulation, comb filtering, retriggering, time stretch, and bit rate reduction. I assigned one of the pads to each effect macros On/Off, and assigned various effect parameters to the same XY pad as the pitch.

Then just started playing around and seeing what noises I could get out of it. Some really interesting bleeps and whirrs. This is a recording straight inside Reaktor, no additional editing what so ever.

SINE MASHING by Noisy Neighbour Sound

The sound quality is a little shoddy since the effect macros I built are very simple, no smoothing etc, but still some cool sounds and something I think I might have another go at, build the effects a bit better and hopefully improve the quality etc.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 02.03.2011

So carrying on from the previous post. I have been wanting a modular synth for ages. It's full on gear lust of the highest order. Just thinking about spending my day patching and tweaking makes me smile.

The trouble with gear lust though, is that not only can it be incredibly distracting, it also makes you less appreciative of what equipment you do have. Sometimes to the point where you haven't even explored half to possibilities of one piece of kit.

But today, I found this can be a bit of a solution to keep the wanting at bay. I've got a Novation KStation synth, and while its not exactly a Buchla 200e, it's still pretty versatile and fun to use. So I decided I'd really try and push it, get the strangest and most complex sound out of it that I could manage. An attempt to really explore all the functionality of it.


The patch is using all 3 oscillators. Osc 1 is generating a sin wave, Osc 2 and 3 are both generating Square waves, and combined for FM. The output of Osc 1 and 2 are also run into the ring mod. Osc 1 is getting pitch modulation from the Mod Envelope, and Osc 3 is getting pulse width modulation, also from the Mod Envelope. Osc 2 is getting pulse width modulation from LFO 1. All sources are running through the 24db filter. The filter is on full resonance, and the cut off is being modulation by LFO 2.

I took the headphone output and routed it through a noise gate and back in through the mic input to get some feedback going. I allowed just a small amount of signal back through at the mixing stage. I also used it as the modulator for the Vocoder which gets some really interesting timbres going. Tweaked with the settings a bit, and dialed in a bit of delay, chorus, and reverb.

So that was sounding kinda cool, so I recorded a few runs out into sound forge. Next I messed about with the settings some more, mostly on the filter to get a few different squawks and squeaks out of it, and recorded these too.

Finally I opened these all into Logic and messed about with them, turned them into soundscape type thing. Lots of pitching down and heavy reverb. Here's the result.

KSTAT SOUNDSCAPE by Noisy Neighbour Sound

I really like this one, exactly what I set out to do. Something really abstract, complex, and not at all typical of a small VA synth. It's certainly given me some food for thought, and some more ideas of things to try with it. While its still not a 2500 or a Synthi 100 it's more than capable of making some great weird sounds, what more could I ask for?

Gear Lust

Just a little something extra for today.

At the end of last year I was lucky enough to go on a little tour of North America. Something I'd wanted to do for a long time. I got to meet some really friendly people, go to some cool places, and play some really fun shows too.

Earlier today I was sorting through some of the photos I'd taken while I was over there, and found a few that I thought would be worth sharing.

While I was in Calgary I got to visit a museum called Cantos, which houses a huge collection of keyboard instruments. Some absolutely drool worthy things there. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in the area, just be warned, you will leave with a chronic case of gear lust!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Sound-A-Day 01.03.2011

Maybe it's just that I'm getting soft in my old age, but more and more recently I've become increasingly interested in pads, nice thick chords and involving chord sequences.

I'm sure I didn't used to be like this, I was more obsessed with mashing breaks to infinity and back (which I still am) than getting all emotional and stuff...

Still, whatever the reason, I like pads, and today's sound is exactly that, a nice pad part.

I've spent most of this evening working on a commission track for a short film, which thankfully has a pretty easy to understand brief, and conveniently requires some pad sounds. I wanted to create a soft warm atmosphere, quite relaxed and contented type of feeling, and because of the setting of the film, a little bit of texture or grain as well.

DUSTY PADS by Noisy Neighbour Sound

The sound is made using a patch I made in Reaktor, built around a comb filter for a kind of Karplus-Strong style synthesis. However, rather than using the noise as an exciter only, I thought it might be worth allowing some of it through the filter chain to fuzz the edges. I think it works quite well. There's a lot of subtle modulation in the patch in an attempt to keep it interesting, but without getting excessive, and just a little bit of saturation too. The reverb is coming from one of the Lexicon PCM plugins.

Maybe it's a bit of an easy way out, but I think that a good pad sound can do so much for creating atmospheres. With something complex like NI's Absynth or Green Oak's Crystal, you can make some really abstract, uncomfortable environments, or with more standard methods, some really soft  and comfortable ones. To be honest though, I think this is one area where analogue shines through. The pure power of an analogue polysynth is just incredible. All the tiny impurities, distortions and so on all combine to make a really rich sound, something very hard to do with digital kit.