Madness Hides Within the Clouds

A story prompt to think about while listening to this piece:

On May 17, 1943, the B-17 Old Scratch’s Glory reported entering an “odd storm” that had formed over an unidentified portion of the Pacific. Twenty minutes after entering the storm, the pilot described seeing purple and red lightning arcing across the clouds and requested to abort the mission and return. An hour after receiving permission to abort, the radio operator sent a frantic message indicating that they were lost in the storm and that the crew had to restrain the tail gunner who had attempted to open the bomb bay doors so that he could let his wife board the plane. No further communications were received.

How I made it

This song was made with the OP-Z, Korg Volca Keys, and Empress ZOIA. The OP-Z was sending MIDI to the Volca. Both devices’ outputs ran into a Mackie mix. The send 1 of the mixer went to the left channel of the ZOIA for reverb. The send 2 of the mixer went to the right channel for delay. The stereo output of the ZOIA was returned to its own channel.

The song was recorded in one take into my Zoom H4n Pro.

Beat in Reason

I have been trying to spend more time making loops lately. A quick beat in Figure or Korg Gadget on my phone can be a replacement for mindless flipping on Instagram. I am still debating what method is best for sharing. Soundcloud is pretty straightforward and lets me control the CC license. But, Allihoopa is in some ways more integrated into the apps I use.

Here is something I made in Reason and then pushed to Allihoopa. Let’s see how nicely it embeds.

https://allihoopa.com/s/BeRUTQXK?embed

And, it looks like the WordPress auto-embed feature breaks Allihoopa’s embed. I guess click on the link above to hear the beat.

I also made this other song and put it in Soundcloud. Does it embed properly?

OK. That decides what service I will be using to share my sounds…

GarageBand and the Beat Sequencer

GarageBand hasn’t always been my jam, so to speak. I started my music-production fiddling with a cracked copy of Cool Edit Pro (manually slicing wave files) in college, moving on to actually buying Logic (before Apple bought them), Reason, and eventually Ableton Live.

GarageBand felt like kiddie stuff compared to those programs. Not that I am an all-pro music producer. I don’t know more than I do know in all those programs. But, when there is something that I want to do in one of those program, I can almost always do it. (Except for destructive waveform editing in Ableton. I hate not being able to do that).

But, recently I have been enamored with GarageBand for iOS. Specifically, I am in love the the beat sequencer. Most DAW’s have a form of piano roll grid for entering notes. Some are easier to use than others. GarageBand’s is my new favorite. It is easy to read, doesn’t require much zooming around, and is perfect for touch screens.

Here is a bit I was fiddling with the other day:

At a glance, I can read my beat with no scrolling around or squinting. The interface also has a couple cool features that I haven’t seen in my other programs. First, the velocity and note repeat buttons at the bottom make those particular edits a lot easier and faster to implement. Second, each drum can have its own loop length. In the above example, the bottom row (a rim click) is only three 16th notes long. That cycle repeats independently of the rest of the hits which are a full measure long.

Will I ever write a full song on GarageBand on iOS? In the past I would have said no. But, little features like this make me reconsider that thought.

Ableton Live Non-Song

What makes a “non-song?” In this instance, it is the lack of overall structure. Here, I am, somewhat randomly, adding and subtracting loops that I recorded.

Most of the sounds come from samples of my 8-string guitar. The techno bass is the Novation Bass Station plugin. The drums are from the Ableton Live sample set.

I enjoy putting tracks like this together. They are pieces of something else. Maybe a story. Maybe a video. Maybe something that just sits there while you are doing other things.

Let me know what you think.

Things You Should Know This Week (05.07.16)

Movies

I saw Captain America: Civil War. Twice. I loved it. If you like movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you will too. Here’s a review on io9.

In a couple years there is going to be a young Han Solo movie. Harrison Ford is too old to play him, but Alden Ehrenreich isn’t.

Music

DJ Shadow has a new album coming out in June. It’s his first since 2011. This week, a video for The Mountain Will Fall was released and it is beautiful.

Law

WhatsApp was shut down for 3 days in Brazil. Why? Well, law enforcement wants access to messages. WhatsApp employs end-to-end encryption, meaning that they can’t get at the messages even if they wanted. So, a court got mad and told the 5 Brazilian wireless carriers to shut them down for a few days.

Copyright and Trademark law can be incredibly obnoxious in the hands of the wrong dead musician’s estate. Frank Zappa’s family highlights this as they get into a dispute with one of their own, Dweezil Zappa, over the use of the band name, Zappa Plays Zappa.

Ending on a Happy Note

The 100% Human Candidate will not be the Republican Presidential Nominee. He will, however, be a source of entertainment for days to come…and then hopefully fade into obscurity.

Ted Cruz Elbows Wife

Things You Should Know This Week (04.22.2016)

Law
The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in the Google Books case. For a number of years now, Google has been scanning millions of books and making them searchable (but not freely available). The Authors’ Guild sued them for copyright infringement. Google won the case in the 2nd Circuit using the defense of fair use and now that ruling will stand.

Surprising no one, the FBI wasn’t able to get any useful information off of the phone of the San Bernardino shooter’s phone.

Gadgets
More augmented reality is on the way. This time from a company called Magic Leap. Where Microsoft’s Hololens seems pretty cool, Magic Leap sounds revolutionary. As I’ve said in the past, I am more interested our world with AR than VR.

Music
Prince died this week. We all know that he made lots of great music, but not everyone realizes that he was also a ridiculous guitar player. Seriously, go search around for some Prince live performances, You might have trouble finding them, though, because he was super protective of his copyrights and hated the Internet.

TV
Doctor Who has a new companion. I really wanted to love his last companion, Clara, but she just wasn’t written that well. Hopefully they will fix that with Bill.

Ending on a Happy Note
Harriet Tubman is the new face of the $20!