Here is the remix I am submitting for the Sunchase “Moulded” remix competition. I spent a lot of time on this and feel good about how it turned out. The two main things I wanted to do was expand on the excellent moody vibe of the original, and also focus on the “futuristic” elements. It’s funny, but to me anything that sounds futuristic reminds of the “old” analog synth sounds – stuff you hear in 80s sci-fi classics like Blade Runner. Or stuff you would hear from artists like Jean MIchael-Jarre or Vangelis. The irony is that these synths have been around for like 40 years, and yet to me they still and probably always will sound futuristic.
I did this in Sonar, and I am still learning my way around the features and quirks of Sonar. All in all, I think it’s a great piece of software, which is why I bought it. However, there are still intricacies I am trying to wrap my head around. The good news is that I learned a lot during this. So regardless of the outcome, I am better for having done it.
I had my doubts about the little guitar and classical segment that I close with. I wasn’t sure that it “fit.” However, as I was working on building up elements for the song, this theme would not leave my head… and I’m a big believer in following inspiration whenever it rears it’s head. So, I spent a lot of time transcribing it from my head, the way I heard it and I decided to go with it, for better or for worse.
I am busily working on another remix competition. This is for another Drum ‘n Bass tune called “Moulded” by Sunchase. The original track, a nice minimal moody number, is released on the Camino Blue Recordings label. Details of the of contest can be found here.
With the release of DJ Hero and other DJ oriented apps and games, I know there are plenty of DJs and hobbyists out there that view these types of apps with skepticism. I have to tell you, though, DJ Player, by iMecht Ltd. is a fully functional mixing app for the Ipod* that offers a number of impressive features. Having played around with it for the past couple of weeks, I can tell you, this thing is a serious mixing app. One of the things I like most about DJ Player is that the developers made a very intuitive interface that shows they are familiar with what a DJ expects, from a DJ’s point of view. In fact, if I were to develop a mixing app, this comes pretty close to what I would try to offer.
One of the key features that DJ Player offers is the ability to monitor a channel in your headphones. I did have to buy some additional cables and adapters to make this work, which I will detail below, but once the cable setup has been sorted, the ability to do pre-fader listening works like a charm. Also of note, is the ability to tap and store BPMs. Now, many of the tracks that I have purchased from places like Juno and Beatport already have the BPMs calculated, but for tracks that don’t have this, the tap ability is helpful… especially for DJs just starting out trying to learn the craft. Sure, there was a time when I would have considered this cheating, and I still believe nothing is better for learning the art of DJing than beatmatching by ear. But let’s face it, most DJ apps and many mixers already have BPM detection or matching already; the cat’s been out of the bag for some time now. The DJ Player developers would be foolish not to incorporate such a feature in today’s market.
Now, I’m not saying that this is going to replace a complete DJ rig, yet it is definitely robust enough in terms of the features to perform a complete set. For casual gigs such as house parties or just going to the beach with some friends, not having to lug around a bunch of gear and crates, this is where an app loke this can really shine. I also think this is a great set-programming tool for established DJs. Certainly mobile DJs can make use of this type of app and I think it’s a great learning tool for people who want to learn about mixing, but can’t afford a full rig.
Other notable features:
1. Ability to upload songs to your Ipod over Wifi with the included winsync program. I haven’t seen any other app that is capable of this. Just create a playlist in ITunes called “DJ PLAYER” and if your Ipod and computer are on the same wifi network, run the winsync program and input the IP address of your Ipod and hit sync. This will then upload the playlist and all associated songs to the Ipod. Pretty cool!
2. Multi-touch crossfader, pitch sliders, and pitch bend to make realtime adjustments. All of these are customizable in terms of scale and resolution and the curve of the crossfader can be adjusted as well.
3. Several effects including delay, reverb, high-pass and low-pass filters and EQ. These can be triggered via multitouch, or even controller via the Ipod’s accelerometer!
4. Low, mid and treble EQ sliders.
5. Tap function to calculate and store a song’s BPM.
6. Ability to set and save cue points on tracks. This is beneficial if you have a track that has silence, spoken word or ambience prior to the first beat.
7. Sortable playlist. You can sort by title, artist or tempo.
* When I refer to Ipod I am including Iphone and Ipad. I imagine this app would be even stronger on the Ipad with the additional real estate available.
Required cables for PFL monitoring (Headphone cueing):
1. Mini-plug to RCA Y adapter. This will plug into your Ipod’s headphone jack.
2. 2 RCA Y adapters. One for the red and one for the white ends of the mini to RCA adapter listed above.
3. Plug a normal RCA cable into the RCA Y-Adapter attached to the white side of the mini adapter. You may need RCA barrel couplers. This cable will go to your input on your amp, stereo, mixer, etc.
4. Your headphones will plug into one of the RCA connectors on the red side of the mini plug to RCA adapter. You may need one more mini to RCA adapter (not a Y adapter) or 1/4 inch to RCA adapter, depending on what type of connector is on your headphones.
The following video demonstrates real time mixing with this app. Yes, I used BPM syncing to speed things up for the sake of the video, but I still needed to monitor the speed and you will see me make bend adjustments to keep the beat-mixing proper.
Summer is here and along with it an opportunity to recharge, refresh and get working on some stuff that the extra time available from not having school will afford me. That includes more frequent posts to my blog here; I know I’ve lagged somewhat but this last quarter was pretty brutal for me.
Things I’d like to get working on this summer:
1. Make a couple of new mixes. Discogs is now a media partner with Juno, so they are an excellent source of digital media along with Beatport which I have also used in the past. I love vinyl, but there is no denying the ease of use and efficiency of time and cost that mixing with digital media offers. Reading some of the comments in various forums there seems to be some animosity by some DJs and vinyl heads towards the digital media and it’s a debate I’d like to engage in, but that is for another post… Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments if you have an opinion.
2. Work on a couple of remixes. There are a number of remix competitions out there, some of which offer some pretty cool prizes. I’ve done one so far, but I definitely want to get cracking on some more and continue polishing and refining my production efforts. The findremix blog is a great way to keep track of all of these competitions.
3. Do some more work with TouchOSC and PureData.
4. I downloaded the VST Software Development Kit from Steinberg a while back, which allows you to create your own virtual synth instruments. I just haven’t had the time to work with any of it. So I definitely want to take a more serious look at that.
5. Start reviewing some more music/DJ based apps for the Ipod/Iphone/Ipad here (Yes, I want an Ipad, dammit!). Like the vinyl versus digital format debates, there seems to be some apathy by DJs and producers towards these emerging tools. Again, I see no problem with looking for new tools to work with and technology is merely about providing new tools to work with. Again, another debate to post about in depth another time. But since I have an interest in developing apps myself I guess you could call me biased on these issues. Main thing preventing me from serious app development is Apple’s requirement that apps be developed on a Mac… which I neither have nor can afford any time soon. So I might have to look at starting with droid app development.
6. There are still a number of other music development platforms I have been exposed to recently including Max, CSound, Super Collider and something called the Synth Toolkit. Obviously, I can’t delve too deep into all of them, especially with all the other stuff I am trying to get familiar with, but definitely want to play around a bit with each of these. That’s always been one of my problems, overly ambitious with too broad a focus. Something that’s hindered me in the past, but something I am working to improve as I get older (and school has definitely helped with that!)
7. Last but not least, I would like to add a section to this blog that focuses on the history of electronic music. I’ve been fortunate to be exposed to a lot of interesting information over the years; stuff that I think would be interesting to share with other folks who are into synthesis, electronic music of all styles, music production, DJing, music technology and everything that goes along with all that. There are so many interesting precursors and influences to today’s electronic music that I believe are important to share. So maybe something like a wiki or just a “spotlight of the week” type thing.
I’ve been messing around with an Ipod app called TouchOSC which allows me to send data to my computer from my Ipod Touch. I can hook this up to PureData on my laptop so that I can control sound frequency and MIDI information thus allowing the Ipod to trigger and manipulate the sounds on my computer. Right now I am just playing around with this on a basic level, so I don’t have any video of it, but it is working great. Should be able to use Puredata to output MIDI which would then allow me to control my virtual synths or even outboard MIDI gear from my IPOD. All over Wifi.
Blog posting has been and will be light throughout this month. I am battling Assembly Language for a Machine Organization class this quarter and it is taking up a lot of my spare time. The good news: I am taking the summer off and should be able to increase post frequency as well as kick off some other projects I have been considering.
Several weeks back I posted about the grand-daddy of analog synth emulators, Propellerhead’s Rebirth, which emulates a Roland TB-303 synth. The 303 is known for producing the “acid” sound in various forms of electronic music and the Rebirth software does a great job reproducing this sound. The Rebirth also provides TR-909 and TR-808 drum machine emulators to provide a nice little mini studio package for those who want to explore these classic sounds. Well now, Propellerheads has ported the Rebirth into an app for the Iphone, Ipod and Ipad!
This video highlights the development of Skinput, a project that uses the bodies’ surface as an input mechanism. A bio-acoustic sensor device is used to capture and decode taps made on the body, with a high degree of accuracy. Pretty wild and there are a number of applications in a wide variety of industries where such an interface would be useful. Obviously, I see music and performance capabilities…
There are many online remix contests that allow aspiring DJs and producers an opportunity to remix songs by well-known labels and artists. Aside from the potential attention this can bring someone, there are often very cool prizes associated with these contests.
The only problem is that it is kind of hard to keep track of where all these competitions are. Diego Iglesias has the perfect solution at his blog Find Remix. This site lists all current competitions in a central location – what a great idea! In addition, Diego posts tutorial videos on production techniques in such audio platforms as Ableton, Reason and Logic Studio. Very cool blog, go check it out!
As a follow-up to my previous post about Physical Modeling Synthesis tools, I am presenting the following fixes that I discovered for the Tao library. The source code can be downloaded from here.
While working with Tao for a project at my university, I had some issues with compilation under Ubuntu Linux 9.04. I was able to resolve the issues and wanted to offer the following tips to anyone else who may be having similar problems. Apparently in GCC 4.3 some of the C++ headers were removed for cleanup purposes. Therefore I had to edit a few of the source files to add includes for <cstring> and <cstdlib>.
The requisite files for adding #include <cstring> are:
I am currently taking a special projects in music technology class. The emphasis for this session is on instrument acoustics and we are each tasked with a project to build an instrument based on research of the principles and phenomena involved. I will be working in the virtual arena trying to emulate a unique instrument in software that can emulate the physical properties or characteristics of real instruments. This process is known as physical modeling.
I have currently been surveying a variety of platforms to work as the only music programming I have done so far was in Java and a little bit of C# in the earliest iterations of my wii theremin project. I will most likely end up working with Max/MSP as it is a modular, object based system with a graphical interface – and I need to get up and running as soon as possible. I am also looking at the following languages/platforms which I’ve found along the way:
Csound – “…a sound design, music synthesis, and signal processing system, providing facilities for composition and performance over a wide range of platforms.”
SuperCollider – “…an environment and programming language for real time audio synthesis and algorithmic composition.”
PureData – “…a real-time graphical programming environment for audio, video, and graphical processing.”
Steinberg’s VST SDK– allows developers to develop plugins that can operate within Steinberg’s Virtual Studio Technology environment.
Now, these comprise just the basic platforms I am looking at to get started and they are just general synthesis and digital sound processing type programming environments. For physical modeling itself, I have discovered the following packages:
PMPd(Physical Modeling for Pure Data) – PMPd offers a collection of objects for Pure Data , and also ported to Max/MSP, which provide real time simulation of physical behaviors.
rtcmix~– rtcmix is an open source audio programming language written in C/C++, however the component I am interested in is the rtcmix~ object for Max/MSP which the developers have provided.
Tao – “… software package for sound synthesis using physical models. It provides a virtual acoustic material constructed from masses and springs which can be used as the basis for building quite complex virtual musical instruments. Tao comes with a synthesis language for creating and playing instruments and a fully documented (eventually) C++ API for those who would like to use it as an object library.”
Percolate – “…an open-source distribution of a variety of synthesis and signal processing algorithms for Max/MSP.” Percolate is based on a port of the Synthesis Toolkit, another system I am looking to work with. Unfortunately, the Max/MSP windows port link for this seems to not be working…
Modalys– Developed by Ircam, this seems like it would be the holy grail of physical modeling tools for me to work with. Unfortunately, it is for Macs only (although it looks like some folks have tried to get it running in Linux) and to gain access to it one must become a member of the Ircam forums which costs a decent chuck of cash, so this is out of reach for me; at least for the time being.
The following videos show Modalys in action. What is amazing about Modalys is its accurate representation of actual instruments. These aren’t samples or Wavetable lookups, these are synthesized emulations that completely capture the timbre, characteristics and even peculiarities of the instruments, right down to reeded instruments such as the clarinet or saxophone squeaking.
A few months back during my discussions of cover bands, I mentioned Easy Star All-Stars dub/reggae cover version of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Well, game programmer Brad Smith has turned out his own version of this great album, done 8-bit style as you would hear on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Nice work!Download the album here.
Here’s my entry for the Knowledge Magazine remix competition. The tune is called One Hundred Teeth by Sabre and it is a dark and atmospheric drum n’ bass track. This competition was done in part to promote Sabre’s latest album, A Wandering Journal. Knowledge also interviewed Sabre about his inspirations for the album.
Music has been a fundamental passion for me since childhood. Growing up, I was a woodwind player. In high school I learned about the WX7 wind controller which broadened my musical interests into MIDI, synthesis and sampling. Subsequently, I was introduced to electonic music and started mixing in the early 90s in the Los Angeles underground dance music scene under the moniker DJ Mojo. I was rewarded with several high profile residencies including What? afterhours, Insomniac and F.A.M.I.L.Y. and have also been a featured guest for many other Los Angeles event productions including Fresh Produce, Audiotistic, as well as the early Nocturnal Wonderland and Electric Daisy Carnival festivals, to name a few. I've gigged in several other cities including Denver, Dallas, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Writing record reviews for the magazines Net.Werk and Lotus was also an honor and a privilege.
I still DJ recreationally and work on music in my spare time. I enjoy a very eclectic taste in music which spans multiple genres. I grew up on classical, jazz, classic rock and yes, even some disco. I came of age with new wave, funk, punk, industrial, hip hop, reggae and alternative. I've spun a wide variety of styles including breaks, downtempo, house, old school techno and drum & bass. And I've matured by both opening my mind to good music regardless of style and trying to follow the history and roots of all the music I love back to the influences and roots. For me, a good set isn't just about mixing good records well, but taking the listener on a journey and telling a complete story.
I'm currently working in the IT field and am working towards finishing my B.A. in Computer Systems with a minor in Recording Arts. Programming music software and developing new music interfaces is of interest to me now. This blog is intended to highlight some of my project work, including the virtual theremin software I programmed in Java using the Wii remote, as well as anything interesting and techy related to music software, performance, programming, production or the DJ craft. This will also serve as a repository for me to showcase my mixes and tracks and pay homage to some of the artists and DJs who have been influential to me along the way.