Wednesday, 29 August 2007

mtf - week 5 - circuit bending

I didn't seem to have much luck with this, other than being kind of impressed with my soldering :) I managed to do some fairly fine work !

Apart from that mmm.

The two toys I've been working with have proved not particularly helpful.
Following on from my post last week about the lion king thing, Seb suggested that the voltage regulator would prove useful :( It didn't work, so sad, I've tried it 3 different times so far - probably one of the components.

That said I also talked to Seb about using a pot to control voltage, he drew me a picture, but still again no luck :( Here's a photo with a bit of annotation showing how I did it.

Then I attacked the xbox - here the main problem was repetition. I found a number of cool effects, but they wouldn't repeat with any consistency. I think they all sort of depended on shorting out between something and one speaker connection or lcd connection, which makes me think that the short result may depend on the voltage output of the speaker or lcd at the time.

One sound involved a short noise, that I could manipulate into a crackle by shorting out appropriate buttons. This left me with not enough hands so I decided to try and make an automatic button pusher..For this I used a slot car with the spinning axle as the alternating contact - I figured that it constantly spinning would regularly break any connection.
It worked, but was far too noisy.. apart from the fact that the noise I was trying to manipulate so was so bloody hard to make anyway (lack of repetition).

Haines, Christian. Music Technology Forum workshop. University of Adelaide, Engineering Dept, Electronics lab. 23 August 2007.

Tomczak, Sebastian. Music Technology Forum workshop. University of Adelaide, Engineering Dept, Electronics lab. 23rd of August 2007.

cc - week 5 - midi sequencing (2)

the challenge - to humanise a downloaded midi file featuring guitar, bass, drums.. obviously classic instruments but not to midi.

My first thought was to look for some AC/DC, in particular, Jailbreak.. a classic !
However it didn't translate that well without vocals, but in the process I had discovered a few Black Sabbath tracks so I chose NIB.

I went through one track at a time, in fact one bar at a time, looping. Drums, then bass, then guitar (ooops, I mean batera, baxio, then guitarra - I think it was a spanish file perhaps).

Drums were fairly straight forward, modifying the velocities for different beats, shifting a few notes sideways - now that I think of it, I meant to programme in a minor tempo change but I'll save that for the next one.. Not particularly impressed with the ride, nor the hat sound, would have like more variation.

I put a bit of a pitch bend/slide in the bass which i quite enjoy, a bit of distortion and a LPF with a bit of resonance to make it a bit honkier.

The guitar I up and downed velocity, shifted, and there being two - classically panned, I delayed one whole side by an extra couple of ticks. Also a bit of distortion.

I bounced down the bass seperately so I could effect seperately to the guitars (only two VSTi's),
then again the guitars because the distortion I was using was mono and couldn't work out if Cubase could split a stereo pair to seperate effects..

Here is the pre version.

and here the humanified.

Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 05 lecture. University of Adelaide, 23 August 2007.

Future Music. Tutorial - Making it Real - Emulating Bass, Computer Music Magazine.pdf

Future Music. Tutorial - Making it Real - Drums, Computer Music Magazine.pdf

Future Music. Tutorial - Making it Real - Emulating Guitar, Computer Music Magazine.pdf

Monday, 27 August 2007

aa - week 5 - sound art

music for sleeping | soundinstallation - chris amey

"We had it set up in a room at a festival," Amey explains enthusiastically. "At night it was lit only by a few candles, and otherwise it was pitch black. There were beds on the floor and they would all have people on them. They'd either be asleep or very quiet, not talking or only whispering very softly." [1]

this was an installation of 8 speakers surrounding 7 beds. Playing throught the speakers was a 30 minute repeated loop of a series of simple sine waves, these were based on the overtone series with a bit of variation for beat frequencies (60 - 121 - 182 - 243 - 304 - 365 - 426 - 487 - 548 - 609).
"Finally each of the twenty tones is designated independently to one of the eight speakers in the room so that each speaker is catering for either two or three tones at all times." [2]

This was a piece designed for relaxation, the beds and simple sine waves created a quiet space where people would quietly experience the sounds. In the examples I found it was presented as an installation, but it's apparent short duration (30 minutes, but that could be have been variable depending on the particular installation) also leans it towards being a piece as such.

In this example the distance between an installation and a composition is quite small. Compared to the work of Felix Hess and his atmosphere interactive devices, it comes across as an almost DJ experience: you come in, music gets played, you listen.
Nonetheless a piece of sound design, working with a created environment and a specific playback system.

"Chris Amey runs London-based sound-arts collective Limited Noise." [1]
"limitedNOISE is Britain's first sound art collective... limitedNOISE seeks to search out the reality of the British sound art scene through opening communication with fellow sound artists and whoever else has a view on the subject." [3]

For a brief sound excerpt

[1] Poole, Steven. 17 Nov 2001. Prick up your ears.,,596122,00.html
(25 August 2007)

[2] Middlesex University Gallery. 2001.
(25 August 2007)

[3] (25 August 2007)

other sources;
Ostberg, Anders.
(25 August 2007)

pp 59 - 61. Hess, Felix. 2003, Light as air, Bilingual edn, Kehrer Verlag.

Haines, Christian. Audio Arts week 05 lecture. University of Adelaide, 21 August 2007.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

cc - week 04 - midi sequencing/cubase

Well I just happened to purchase a new firewire audio interface which just happened to come with Cubase LE. I thought what a coincidence, so I installed it.

Then after being distracted, oops i mean having fun, with the baby (who is just starting to smile and is almost interactive), I got to work.

I've been using Cubase since about 1993 on an Atari, and sporadically since then so it presented no major challenges. However with this LE version I only get 2 vsti slots, so i visited Mr Universal Sound Module. After all, you can programme 16 voices (possibly more, I havent read its particulars), and I've always been a sucker for general midi.
The other synth is a freeware organ I'm quite fond of, Oddly Ogran.

I also had to sort out my sound card latency as I've got far too many devices attached and the current major audio interface is a griffin iMic which has occasional problems with using ASIO. I got around that by just using the built in audio with the very handy ASIO4ALL universal ASIO drivers (even though I do have a brand new firewire interface presently acting as a firewire hub for my external drive and it would have involved some rooting around for cables and patching, and even potentially a restart).

The major challenge was remembering how to play real time, I so rarely do so, and trying to get the hang of the minor latency and quantisation is always fun.
Also not working in loops, which I made a conscious choice to make most of the voices non-looped.

As you can tell from the picture, the first voice (harpsichord), is a repeated loop, but all other voices are not. I went through various sections and moved notes around in the midi editor (mainly the drums), played with a couple of volumes, did some spatial positioning and then bounced it down...

cubase whimsy.mp3

Carlson, L. et al. 2003. "Cubase SX/ SL: Music Creation and Production System - Getting
Started". Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH, Germany.

Monday, 20 August 2007

mtf - week 04 - circuit bending I

For circuit bending I went to a local op-shop and invested in 5 McDonalds toys for a total of 20c each, woohoo. 2 were cars which had nothing but engines in them :( but at least I have 2 engines :) The other 3 all made various noises, and had little speakers/piezo's, so I figured even if they're all crap I still scored!!!

The lion king below makes a growl noise when you push a button, but the entire circuit board is smaller than a $1 coin, which made getting any wet fingers in a difficult proposition. And in terms of exposed circuitry, there's one resistor and a black lump... but still woo hoo said I and started connecting different sections.
I managed to make it pitch up, by bypassing the resistor (first part of the sample). So I decided to try and try variable voltages to its other side. It used 3V as standard, so I decided that if I connected a 3V source in parallel to a 1.5V source it wouldn't be 3V anymore, it made a different noise !!
Then I whacked in the 1Mohm pot in with the voltage (3rd section of mp3), only a very small section of the pot made the lion roar or make any noise so I probably need a lesser pot

here's a sample of the lion king.mp3

or try

Below is a basket ball game, it bipped when you scored a goal, about 1 second after you pushed the button. I managed to make it vary its pitch (bip) but didn't get enough value out of to even bother recording it. I'll have to try it again with some three way connections :)

Below is an xbox, you can see the green cross :)
It made a constant tune which made it a bit easier to do something with, but again just seemed to be able to vary it's pitch. this one also had the largest circuit board so I could get a wet finger in there, and hold a wire on the other end to get a 3 way connection.
And I enjoyed waggling that finger, tremolo :)

Also in the picture is a walkman I pulled apart. I couldn't get the radio to make any noise other than radio (it is only fm with a digital receiver - I think), but looking at the tape mechanism makes me think of manipulating the power to the motor to vary the playback speed .. should be straight forward and quite easy but I need to work out what sort of pot to use for varying the voltage.

here's a sample of the xbox.mp3
you may well notice a baby crying in the background, that's either a) because my fingers were too big for the tiny circuit boards, or b) just another ambient noise that I hardly notice when I'm amazingly engrossed in having fun....

or try

Haines, Christian. MTF - Electronics, Instruments and Improvisation - Outline (Mod 1) (Comp).pdf

pp 3-23, 103-129. Reed, Ghazala 2005, Circuit-bending : build your own alien instruments, Wiley
Publishing, Indianapolis.

pp 59-63. Collins, Nicolas 2006, Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking, TFROUTL.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

AA - week 04 - scene sound

Uncle Ben's Express. Some sort of instant rice product.

Marketed as a quick and easy gourmet please the discerning consumer style product.
Visually everything is quite nice and clean, nice apartment - i'd say the character's are meant to have a lot more $$$ than I do.

That said, the pace of the ad is quite fast - you can cook gourmet style in 2 minutes.
So, tight editing between scenes, which means quick sound bites such as cream pouring, footsteps, which tell a sped up story.
The sounds initially setup the scene, with the focus on a sleeping man who hears a car door and keys jingling to realise his wife is home, quick shot of his wife (from above) to let us the audience know his wife's home and has to come upstairs (which could take, oh maybe 2 minutes).

uncle ben rice thingamy time line

0.00 : background city murmur, car door, man grunt, key jingle, footsteps
0.03 murmur stops. product put down in microwave, music starts (funky hihats). microwave beeps then whirrs.
0.06 music really starts (funky everything), footsteps up the stairs
0.10 cream pouring
0.11 fish slicing
0.14 sauce bubbling in frying pan
0.15 microwave beeps ready
0.17 key open door
0.21 voice over : uncle ben blah blah blah is the best!!
music finishes

The ad is a bit cinematic with the initial city ambience (very quiet really) disappearing when all the action now takes place inside.
The sounds of food preparation are intermittently overlayed onto the music which makes them quite subtle at times - and an interesting choice in which sounds to use, slicing fish but not shallots.
The 'real' sounds disappear once the wife arrives, the voice over starts (quite relaxed after the rush of the scene editing), the voice over happens to end at an appropriately musical moment to bring the volume back up after the ducking, then the music finishes the add.

This ad features mainly characterisic sounds but added afterwards, the sauce bubbling actually sounds like something frying. Apart from the music and voice all sounds can be considered as diegetic, but hyper-real.

The other ad was at another end of an extreme.

Nice 50's light orchestral scenic music, relaxed and showing an unstressed life in the suburbs.
No sound happens except for the music and voice over, which is quite restrained given the potentials - a child on a bike gets hit by a car backing out of a driveway... and after listening to other ads with all sorts of whooshy noises whacked in all over the place.
The voice is also quite an unexcited voice, a serious (but not too serious) sounding woman.

With the visuals being an unbroken scene til the logo at the end,verall it gives the impression of another average day, and the average potential for danger - so we must save our kids !!!

kids foundation time line

0.00 music starts
0.21 voice over starts
0.25 music stops
0.29 voice over stops

In this case there was no real interaction between the music and the visuals, the voice over kicked in at the appropriate moment to suggest that running kids over, while being statiscally an average event, is really not necessary.
All sounds were not diegetic.

Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 01 lecture. University of Adelaide, 14 August 2007.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

cc - week 03 - more complicated synfasizer

more fun with bidule.

Well, I got offended by the constancy of the LFO amount. By using the base frequency of the note as a multiplier, I got a much more pleasing LFO that modulates around more of a constant pitch rather than frequency. Of course this was before I got to the end of the tute where there is the cents to freq ratio bidule :) I think mine works quite well so I've left it there out of hubris.

Spent quite a while on the filter LFO, it just wouldn't work. Tried copying and pasting the bidules from the tutorial but they would't work in mine.. finally tracked it down to an early variable I used to, an initial LFO level (0 to 1) as a multiplier of the note amplitude. Hmmpff, go figure.

And now I realise why he was putting the amplitude envelope after the filter (to get that noise osc), where I initially put it to modulate the oscillators themselves (mo good for the noise osc with no amp input).

And now all I've got to say for myself, is bleh.. It's so easy to confuse oneself in the myriad of options. I just spent the last 3 hours trying to get the 'finished' bidule to behave itself...ha.
You can see in the picture, how I'd somehow managed to connect that PWM osc (compared with the other oscillators), that in combination with some mute buttons made me restart 3 times:)

I think I might have to start again.

enjoy it all i sez.
the mp3

or go to

the bidule

Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 01 lecture. University of Adelaide, 02 August 2007.

Bidule Tutorial 2 : Improving the synthesizer, 2006, 10/7/2006, viewed 15/08/2007.

Bidule Tutorial 3 : Filter modifications, 2006, 10/7/2006, viewed 15/08/2007.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

mtf - week 03 - oscillator circuit

well i built the oscillator circuit with a variable pot in it [1] and woo-hoo a widdly noise... it was great :)

then in the readings it mentioned that seeing as how the chip was 6 seperate inverters you could create 6 different oscillating circuits[2], that got me interested so in I went.

not really polyphony at all

It didn't sound like polyphony as this sample will demonstrate, but it was reasonably cool in an unstable wobbly noise.
It seems, with this bread board style of circuit connection, that I can never quite get all the attachments to work properly and consistently. There's generally a bit of non-commital noise, or massive fluctuations in the tone generated that don't match any sort of input.
So with this circuit not working, I was curious. Then I read the bit, "Don't jumper the oscillator outputs together... probably cause them to stop running."
I'd looked at the pretty pictures (circuit diagrams) and, not noticing the resistors, decided that you could do just that :)

I felt lucky that I'd got noise mayhem rather than nothing :)

Then I attempted the ring modulating circuit, it didn't work.

this didnt work either... oh the humanity
It worked at forum when Seb came and adjusted things[3], but at home everything looked great, but all I got was an unmodulated signal. The square wave was working, I tested that, but the circuit as a whole just didn't.
I did try setting the square wave at quite high and quite low frequencies but no modulation, oh well.... at least I got that non-polyphonic crazy noise.

[1] Music Technology Forum handout. Week 3 - Digital Logic Guide.pdf.

[2] Collins, Nicolas 2006. Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking, pp 111-133.

[3] “Music Technology Forum – Week 02 – Modular Electronics". University of Adelaide, Engineering North, Electronics Lab. 09 August 2007.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

AA - week 03 sem 02 - sound scene

The selection I chose was from the movie 'Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone'. [1]

It starts with the train, the Hogwarts Express, pulling into Hogwarts station with the sounds of the train on the tracks and steam hissing. Music features bell noises which initially mix with the train noises (trains have bells) then turn into obvious melodic information.
There's a general murmur of voices and footsteps and door carriages as the students get off the train and mill about. With critical listening, the door noise in particular seem a bit exaggerated, and the footsteps a tad heavy.
All sounds are appropriately diegetic and continue to be so for the excerpt I chose.

The music swells and moves around and does interact with the visuals. In the next scene, the first years are travelling by boat, the music is big and swelly, there are two moments when Harry and Ron interact and comment 'wow', during these moments there are lulls in the musical arrangement.
Also as the students arrive at the castle the music changes into a more mysterious tune, with a much smaller ensemble. During this scene Draco Malfoy (Harry's antithesis) offers his friendship with a handshake, the music chooses this moment to return with appropriate drama.

It sounds as if a lot of the voice recordings were done on location, with some mildly hyper effects added, for example Professor McGonagall taps her fingers on a stone balustrade and makes quite a loud sound, but not excessively so, more of a quick zoom into the sound then away again- this features through out the film in other scenes.
It was also in this scene that Neville found his lost toad, through the introduction of a toad croaking, rather sweetly :) It didn't really sound like a toad, but I'm not a toad expert and could well have been appropriate.

There is a moment in the next scene; as the students enter the dining hall, they are again overawed and the music expresses such. There is no ambient noise, until just before Hermione says something, the ambience fades in so her voice is accompanied with footsteps and robes swishing (and music), and when she has finished the ambience fades out.

Overall the sound is done very well, with good diegetic sounds and some nicely managed micro sounds. There are some moments, as with the carriage doors, that they've exaggerated the sounds a bit too much. And I feel, as with most movies, the music is overdone and could do with switching off :)

[1] Dir. Chris Columbus. Motion Picture. Warner Bros, 2001.

Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 01 lecture. University of Adelaide, 07 August 2007.

Knowles Marshall, Jane . 1988, An Introduction to Film Sound 2006. (11 August 2007).

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

F - week 2 sem 2 - piezo buzzer

This week was all about the piezo speaker/buzzer being a lovely contact mic. Oh also about soldering.[1]

I tried various techniques with the then 'contact mic'.

I tried attaching to a large sheet of glass/tabletop which I just happened to have lying about, the idea was to see what sort of ambience it would then pick up - not very much was the answer, I think the glass is just too thick.

Attached it to a cardboard box, this was kind of cool, the flaps flapping made kind of nice wobbly noises.

Then attached to the bottom of a tin can, wacked a rubber band around and started playing. You could almost make an instrument out of this :) This was where I noticed at some frequencies the mic vibrated physically against the tin - this may have been a good noise, but I was after purity of rubber band so I got annoyed :(

Then tried it as a contact on accoustic guitar, really noticed it's lack of bottom end, also again it buzzing against the body. This could be rectified by a different mode of attachment rather than the straight taping it to the object I did do.

And ooops, where are all my audio files? No idea :) I'll just have to do them again.

[2] “Music Technology Forum – Week 02 – Input and Output". University of Adelaide, Engineering North, Electronics Lab. 02 August 2007.

CC - week 02 - symple synfasiser

Follow a tutorial and make a synth. [1]I can't follow instructions without getting sidetracked, this wasn't a problem until I forged ahead with the second of the plogue tutorials [2] and started adding the LFO's.

But getting back to the 'basic synth'. I've been interested in phase cancellation for quite a while, and last weeks exercise featured four oscillators all designed to interact with each other in the mono or stereo world. So I added another oscillator to the basic synth with a variable for its starting phase position, and then added an LFO to the same variable.
When you enter a high enough LFO amount it effectively turns in to pitch modulation, so I thought, I'll apply to the phase reset and make exciting new wave shapes :) This didn't work out so I abandoned for the interim.

Then I added an LFO to the pitch, I managed to use a few less blocks than the tutorial :) But I can't quite remember why/how. I just must be clever - except when it came to the LFO for the filter, I spent quite a while playing with variations on this, modifying how the LFO would react when it did go below zero. Eventually I just deleted it all :) Will have to explore further later.

Not sure why there's distortion, except it's when i choose sine for the two oscillators, and it's from the delay...and I like it !!

polysynth 01.mp3 or just press play___
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the bidule itself is at

[1] Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 01 lecture. University of Adelaide, 02 August 2007.

[2] Bidule Tutorial 1 : A Simple Synthesizer, 2006, 10/7/2006, viewed 02/08/2007.

Monday, 6 August 2007

AA - week 2 sem 2- environment mapping

Environment mapping / soundscape. [1]

So I recorded a carpark :)
I sat down next to an open drain where I could get a bit of nature.

Apart from the incessant car noises from the freeway about a kilometer away and pasing car noises from Main Road 100 meters away, noises included water, frogs (sound a bit like crickets in the recording), birds (chirping and flapping), the doorbell style noise and the refrigeration unit from the bottleshop, a distant horn type sound, a gate, wind in the trees (and wind over the microphone - oops, forgot about that aspect of outdoor recordings).

Before I started recording there was an amount of action in the carpark, a refrigerator truck, someone loading a ute, but when I started it all became reasonably quiet, except for someone manipulating one of the gates.

I live next door to this carpark and am well aware of the constant traffic noise. I considered various times of the day (possible varieties of traffic/animal sounds - actually recorded at 11.40ish am), and eventually just decided to do it.

Various sounds were easy to identify location wise, eg bottle shop door dinger, but others such as tree/windyness, distant horn/siren, were ambient to the point of being everywhere.

[1] Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 01 lecture. University of Adelaide, 26 July 2007.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

mtf - week 1 - the victorian synth

So, how interesting a noise can you create with a battery, speaker, and some wire ? [1]

When I first opened up the readings, I was a bit sceptical, I thought that I'd given up hardware years ago.
Then when we were given a big pile of stuff to rip apart I let go of my negativity, scepticism and concern for the environmnet and jumped in :)

I did have fun. The most enjoyable bit with this 'synth', is using the speaker itself as a switch in the circuit thereby the creation of constant tone of an almost kind of constant pitch.
I thought that perhaps some soft of lever style may help in continuity of tone, so I eventually settled for a knife ( it also has the serations for extra scritchiness ).

Also in the picture, is a small plastic lid between the speaker and the knife. This added a bit of timbral variation, and by effectively raising the height of the speaker movement was vaguely useful in conjunction with the lever idea in an experimental way.

This is a poppy with a bit of constant tone (almost):

This is a scritchy style sound sample :

And here's a not particularly exciting photo of a spark :)

[2] “Music Technology Forum – Week 01 – The Victorian Synth". University of Adelaide, Schultz building. 26 July 2007.

cc- week 01 - plogue bidule

I like modulation, I like being able to modulate modulation, I like being able to modulate the modulation that is being modulated... etc.

I may well like Plogue Bidule :) [1]

I pretty much made a wind chime.
First I made a basic synth with control over it's phase.
Then I linked two X two synths out of phase into 4 X note generators.
Then I added a bit of LFO pitch modulation, some delays and reverb :)

mmmm, nice...
the mp3 is at
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the bidule is at

EDIT @5:35pm. I realised my synf with LFO wasn't working. I think it was just adding the LFO rate to the note freq, I needed to add a binary operator to sum them :) As such have updated the bidule, but not the mp3, it's nice both ways ?

[1] Haines, Christian. Creative Computing week 01 lecture. University of Adelaide, 26 July 2007.