January 20, 2024

20 January 2024

I met a new musician buddy, and they asked what I play. We are both synth people, and while I primarily play guitar, I had to give them a bit of my background, so that they'd understand when I said "I play computer". What I do is different than synths and different than using a DAW. Though I use both of those daily as tools, I'm also building tools with code to process signals, generate then shape musical ideas, interact with all the off-the-shelf and custom stuff in novel ways.

It made me think of the first time I got any positive feedback for what I'd done with my computer-as-instrument. I was working day and night in the UW's computer music lab (room 12) and finally presenting what I'd made - something straddling Ligeti, Nancarrow and Squarepusher. My prof responded to one of my sections and said "good: that's chops".

You have to practice to make these things sing - this winter is full of exploration. Here's a clip from that 1999 piece I slaved over. It starts with random drum samples from a Yamaha keyboard I had, then assembles them into an expanding and contracting tempo canon (like Nancarrow), where each line is at a different, fractionally related tempo. I think it's 60, 90, 120, 150, 180 bpm, or something along those lines. You can hear them start at the same point, diverge from the starting point at different tempo, then rejoin as the lines come back in phase.

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