Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ambient Music Generator -- Modes



Above is a video that we did as part of what I wanted to be a series of Mini-Documentaries on the band. The Mini-doc idea got a little lost in all the other progress the band has been going through. In the last 2 months, we've moved Micah to the Saxophone, and Molly to the beat creator I built. I also Finished "A Farout Indian" and sent it to be mastered. We've been busy.

In the video, I do a poor job of explaining how my Ambient Music Generator works. You may have seen it at The Elron Hubbard release party in my yard, or perhaps heard it on WCBN.

As I say at some point in my ramblings in the video, it was my interpretation of Brian Eno's Discreet Music. On the back cover of DM, there is a diagram and an explanation of the album.
































I figured I could do something similar but in my own way.

and so I built the Ambien Music Generator.

To clarify what I try to say in the video: Each of the 4 players has an identical CD with 63 tracks. Each of the 63 tracks is a single monophonic tone in the key of C (there is exceptions to this rule. 5 of the tracks are noise or trills). The players are all on Shuffle mode and the tracks are randomized. The tracks play and combine in the mixer where they get fed to a long Delay. The Repeating of the Delay, gives it a sort of tempo and musical quality that it doesn't have with just the sounds coming together.

what I try to get across in the video but gets lost somewhere is that shuffle mode isn't really random, it's an algorithm, and sometimes, on different occasions of using the machine, I feel like the algorithms repeat, but it's hard to tell because humans have a hard time seeing or hearing "true randomness" because true randomness isn't an even distribution of results, and so I may hear repeating themes, even if it was real randomness. Listening for randomness is also a bizarre concept. it's like looking for proof that there is no God, and all you can find is circumstantial evidence that God does exist.

I've had the machine for a lot of years now, maybe 3 and my friends have all seen it in action at parties and what not, and not much has come of it, except a tape that Dustin and I recorded during our short roommate situation. it can be found here on his tape label site . it's called Mellow Marsh. The tape cover is a Diagram of the machine, Similar to Eno's, of coarse.

While recording "A Farout Indian", I thought a lot about recording an Ambient record. The problem I've always had with recording an Ambient album is the idea has always lacked an encompassing vision to bring a whole albums worth of ambient music into a focus. I need a story or theory of some kind to tie it all together.

This week, while walking home from work, I arrived at a theory. I'd like to take this time to announce that I will begin recording tomorrow on what I am calling "Shuffle Modes In C", My Ambient album.

the music that the Ambient Music Generator creates is full of SCI-FI dissonance. At first, I thought this was a property of the Synthesizer tones and the lack of timing, but I realized it was because of the notes I choose and how they were spaced on a keyboard; although they are all in the Key of C, they ascent in a single octave, which means they are sometimes--on a piano-- located directly next to each other. for example C will sometimes play with a D, or A will sometimes play with B. the biggest dissonance comes from when E plays with F or B with C. Because I have no control over what notes are played when, if I were to try to affect the "mood" of a piece, I would need to change the bank of sounds, or what I have begun to refer to as "changing the rules".

So, the album will basically be an attempt to create "moods" based on idea's I have for a set of "rules". My hope is that I can set "rules" with predictable outcomes. Such as rules for "happy". or rules for "nostalgia".