My friend Kurt launched a podcast, called Welcome to Geek Town, in which he tries to demystify all the background info it feels like you need in order to enjoy just about anything these days. He asked me to write a theme song.
We agreed that it shouldn’t be too esoteric. No odd time signatures, no twelve tone rows, no climbing inside a piano to play the strings with my teeth.
Here’s what I came up with. It’s way too long:
If you're looking for the dance remix by Zephyr, that's over here:
Anyway... Go give Kurt's show a listen, and then hit him up with some questions.
Way back in the day, my sequencer (I want to say Master Tracks Pro, but it might have been Cakewalk at this point) had a function where I could stretch a block of MIDI notes to any duration, independent of traditional measure divisions. So, effectively, you could make parts of your ensemble play at different tempos than each other (marching to the beat of their own drummers, as it were).
“Why would you want that?” is the obvious question, and I don’t really have an answer for you except “I was at CalArts.”
I made a piece there, where every instrument in the orchestra (split into pairs) was playing Bach’s Invention #1, at independent but very slow tempos. (At full speed, it would have been an impenetrable mess. But at a glacier’s pace, the chaos feels like deliberate choices.)
It’s hard to describe, really. Your mind would pick out repeating motifs, but couldn’t identify a looping pattern. New melodies would emerge, and feel like they’d always been there. If you left and came back, you’d hear something completely different. But if you’d stayed to listen, you wouldn’t have felt a transition from one realm to the next.
I believe the experience lasted for seventeen days from beginning to end.
I was never able to convince human performers to take on this challenge. And even if I had, there was no media capable of recording it back then.
I’m sure the only version that exists is on an unlabeled floppy disk (which I no longer have drives to read), in a proprietary file format (for software that doesn’t exist anymore).
Software doesn’t really let you do that anymore.
So, I built something this morning which restores this ability.
Again, the “why” part is harder to pin down…
There’s a few things to clean up, still.
I’ll share the device when I deem it “not dangerous,” and make a video when I figure out what it’s for.
Meanwhile, what do you think I should call the thing?
(I’ve been going with working title “Transporter”, because it acts as a surrogate for Live’s transport. But dad jokes aside, that’s not what a transporter is…)
You guys, I’m really proud of this one. It’s great footage from the best show I was ever part of, my whole setup comes into play, and the song itself has always been important to me. You can read the story behind that here, if you’re curious.
Just an exploration of simulated physics-based audio controls. The video explains itself somewhat better than I can in text.
I programmed this back in 2011, but am planning to revisit the idea soon. The big change being, rather than four prerecorded audio loops, I’d like to dynamically generate those loops with a grid based step sequencer interface.
Anyway… if you’re a max/msp user with first generation monome arc hardware at your disposal, and want to dig into several drafts of my ancient source code for some reason, that can be found in this forum thread.
(I would be “greaterthanzero” there)