Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the sound of the piano. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and I’m starting to notice the little things. It has been said that early and late in life is when you start to notice things that would normally be insignificant i.e., shapes, colors, smells, and sounds. Maybe this is happening to me musically. I have a large music and sound consumption rate. Maybe I’m going back to basics… Who knows.
A contributing factor is the beauty I have found in the sampled piano sound. The Atmosthing project using the Atmos piano plug in was the start of it. That distant Harold Budd “piano underwater or on the side of a misty mountain” sound intrigues me. I got this free plug in (because of my purchase of the Focusrite digital audio interface) called Addictive Keys. It allows for virtual arranging of microphones around a piano providing a (slight) differing ambient sound to the piano. This made me excited, as variations on the piano sound is my latest fascination. Here is an image of one of the many Addictive Keys configuration pages. This will aid in visualizing what is going on with this plug-in. These microphones can move AROUND, IN, UNDER, or OVER the piano drastically or subtly altering the sound of the piano.
So, using 4 different settings of this along with the Atmos piano plug in from Atmosthing, and a synth/sample plug in called the Orion Sound Module which also provided YET ANOTHER piano sound variation, I charged into the fray.
If you are counting that would be 6… count them SIX different piano timbres being played, hence the name PIANOSPLOSION!!
All of this was done as MIDI files except for the 3 synthesizers toward the end. They were played in live with the MicroKorg synthesizer as analog wave files.
This was done in a total of 12 tracks. Let me know what ya think.
OK! I admit. This was rushed. It started before I got the Novation Launchpad Pro. This was all done (linear) in arrangement view and just banged out and improvised. There are 3 drum patterns here. The 2 most used are recorded at a completely different BPM and then FORCED painfully into a different BPM and it made this crunching glitchy affect which I thought was neat. This messing with the BPM caused the first drum pattern to have almost a breathing sound in it that I did not expect. The beauty of errors! The third drum pattern I just threw in at the end. The Conet Project samples are responsible for the counting radio voice. I butchered the crap out of those to make it a little more bizarre. Good in headphones though.
The track sort of falls apart at the end where I gave up. I just descended the stupid chord I was pounding on this arpeggio that was completely out of time and then shoved it through a grain filter to make is fall apart and end abruptly.
It was nice when it started. But I gave up. Giving up was never so much fun!
I created this one in Ableton using the Korg MicroKey MIDI controller keyboard.
The haunting Harold Budd piano is the Atmos VST. The Grand Piano and Bass are stock sounds from Ableton. These were played in as clips and launched from the Novation Launchpad Pro. The haunting voices pad was a stock Ableton sound as well, but was played in LIVE in real time in the arrangement (winged it). Quite happy with this one. Ties well to the image above. (Atmosthing1.mp3 was done with a more synthy bass I didn’t like and didn’t have the improvised haunting voices pad).
2/11/2017 UPDATE !!!
OK. I confess, this track is something I am very proud of. I don’t know why but I listen to it a lot. One of the things that bothers me is the volume of the ghostly chorus. It seems to overwhelm the Harold Budd type loop going on from the very start. It seems the calm set up at the very beginning is immediately shattered by the ghostly chorus. I went in and remixed the levels a bit and dropped the chorus back more so you could hear the Harold Budd-type piano loop. Here’s the results.
Well, here it is. This really isn’t a new album exactly. It’s more of a collection of things, doodles, and some seriously intentional music that I had made all by my little self. Most of this stuff is posted on this blog, but NOT ALL OF IT. This album compiles everything I’ve done on my own that I found worthy to put together in an album offering. The interesting part is some of this stuff dates back to 2013. I have acquired a lot more equipment, moved a lot, learned a lot, repaired a lot, failed a lot, but at least had fun along the way (with frequent backups). I just bought another piece of equipment that may change everything a bit (Novation Launchpad) and I wanted to compile everything I did personally up to this point and put it in an album.
Credits? Well, ALL ME!!!! I PLAYED AND DID EVERYTHING HERE.
Song List and commentary (Also known as “liner notes” because I miss the day of vinyl record album sleeves):
Charging Ahead, Blindly (1:56) This was formerly named wowneewow project. I have no idea why.
Red Box Hotty (3:33) I have always loved this track and it managed to slip off of all the CHOB and Hozpitality albums. It’s a drum loop from the Kaossilator tortured lovingly through the Mini KP (red box) effects unit. This is reminiscent of Brian Eno’s Over Fire Island track (in my opinion at least).
Arpeggiate Your Ass Off 2 (4:09) Because one of these was simply not enough for me. You get to decide which you like better (or not).
I’m Keeping This (This One is Mine) (4:14) Selfish little robot voice.
Out of Sync (5:25) Rhythm was never my strong suit but I try.
The Stinky Finger Boogie (4:59) This was paired with an animated GIF of Donald Trump pointing his finger nearly rhythmically in time. Inspired by the GIF not by the “man” himself.
Out of Time (6:48) Companion piece to Out of Sync. Pick a winner.
Volca Waves (11:40) I feel that this is one of my best stabs at doing something melodic and “mellow”. It is one of my favorite experiment results. Love this.
The One Measure Masturbatory Jam (3:38) This one barely made the cut. It is a bunch of instruments piled on one 16 beat measure then subtly (or not) altered throughout its’ repetition. Patience and a keen ear are required to understand its’ purpose and existence.
Fugue U (10:54) A fugue piled up like a mile high jenga tower. Collapse eminent.
Wooda Womp El Grande (9:27) This title came from the sound of this song. Part march, part hat dance, part goose step.
The Black Keys Thing (12:23) Played on all the black keys because, why not.
Jamola Number Three (14:23) Obviously Jamola Number One and Two just weren’t worth it.
Those Three Notes (9:26) An experiment built on three notes.
Behringer Mixer’s Last Stand (So Long Sucker) (0:16) This may be the very last recording done on my old Behringer mixer. At this point it had become so caked with dust, it had to warm up a good 10 minutes after power up. It became an investment of frustration and canned air. The hiss and uncontrollable distortion were a disaster at the end. New Audio Interface now in operation (THANK GOD!).
So I bought a Novation Launchpad Pro for Christmas (From me to me). This is a controller for digital audio software (mostly Ableton). I have always complained about the learning curve in Ableton and how it does things differently. Well, seeing that it IS an industry standard in an industry I lovingly call my “hobby”, I decided to invest in the software and force myself to learn it. This device helps that learning and makes understanding of it a lot easier.
I have started stealing drum sounds from Neil Peart (from Rush) and using them as my drum foundations on this project. These drum sounds and the riff are respectfully sampled from the song by Rush titled “High Water” (from the album “Hold Your Fire”). Admittedly, the groove/shuffle of the original drum pattern are lost a bit as I quantized it. It made it more robotic and less human which I think adds to it in an odd way. I called my version “High Water Pants” “High Mystic Water Rhythms”.
This is my first second stab at this, so be gentle. I am amazed at the simplicity and power of all of this technology and my mind has been blown multiple times in the past 48 hours. I’m in love with this stuff.
Check out my first second shot at a LaunchPad Pro mix with Ableton. Not too shabby. Take special note of the groovy drum solo break in the middle. I’m so nifty! 🙂
I have decided that one Rush song was not enough to destroy, so I also diced up Mystic Rhythms and added a whole new segment mixing the drums from this song along with the song mentioned above (High Water).
I’m sure Neil Peart will be completely pissed, but I am learning a lot and having fun! Let’s face it. The man’s drum sounds, sound awesome! I basically sampled each of his drum sounds separately (to a very short wav file), then assigned each drum (wav file) to a button, then wailed away on the pads and tried to make my own drum patterns out of HIS sounds. I put another nifty drum solo type break near the end. THIS IS JUST TOO MUCH POWWWWWERRRRR! I’m blowing myself away here!
This is compiled from sessions recorded in 2016. Bob and CeMeGo had things scattered all over the hard drives. It has taken a while to compile all of this together. Some you may recognize from this blog, others were created and never posted.
Oh It’s a Harold Budd Start (2:36)
Start The Reactor (3:11)
The Surface (7:07)
Overmodulated M F’er (3:45)
The Big Test (0:52)
A Serious Dialogue (Noise Your Dick Off at 300bpm) (4:24)
Breakfast Project (1:56)
Chob Gives Up (1:14)
Our Own Girls (7:20)
That Darn Delay Thing (4:42)
It Builds to Something Special (3:44)
Oh It’s a Harold Budd Ending (1:16)
Bob & CeMeGo (and occasional Nguyen Chaney).
Ableton Live (The great learning curve)
Adobe Audition (too useful unfortunately!)
Korg Kaossilator Pro
Sony Acid Pro 7
Korg Volca Bass
Korg Volca Beats
Korg Volca Keys
Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator PO-12
Nguyen Cha’ney came by last nite and we collaborated on this little bit. I’m not sure if I’m done with this song yet. I think there’s more that could be done/added/rearranged. Either way, I wanted to post it so I could hear it in the car.
Korg Volca Bass
Drums from a phone app
Random audio bits (the “Start The Reactor” and “Play That Funky Beat” voices).
Ableton Live (also known as “the great learning curve”)