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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition
Jekyll - meet Hyde...
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Octahedra



Joined: Nov 29, 2008
Posts: 149
Location: Cheshire, UK
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2009 2:52 pm    Post subject: Jekyll - meet Hyde...
Subject description: Struggling to combine different styles and influences
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Getting philosophical about composition techniques...

Over the last 3 years or so I reckon I've come up with fewer new inventions and spent more time consolidating. Looking at my favourite composing techniques, and finding ways to use more of them together in the same piece of music. Often when I think of a new idea I want to test it without too many other distractions. But after a while the originality sometimes seems to run out.

New ideas help to keep you really interested in the work rather than loafing about in your comfort zone. But I also think it's a good idea to develop your style gradually, to become expert in it. And allow old ideas (however good) to fade away if you've done everything you can with them.

After all this I seem to have ended up with two main styles I haven't yet reconciled. Fast music made with analog sequencer-style repeating patterns, and slow stuff mostly based on chord sequences.

I've taken the fast sequences and slowed them down beyond all recognition. I've forced the fast sequences to follow slow chord progressions by manually transposing hundreds of separate notes. But the finished music still only seems to come in two flavours, fast and slow. Up to now I've used the contrast to get more variety in each EP I make, but it's really starting to itch. I'm currently testing out ways of morphing between different speeds, by gradually changing the sequencer tempo or by fading in/out extra notes between the existing ones.

Only then will I feel I've got a single style I can call my own.

So enough about me. Anybody else struggling to combine different styles and influences?

Gordon
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Stream Operator


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra, let's cross-pollinate, lol!

Seriously, you seem to need exactly what I have which is a Boolean Sequencer. You'll find the complex rhythms and repeating subtleties to be fascinating.

Similarly, I can learn from your techniques. Perhaps if I show you some of my work, then you can enlighten me on the possibilities that it may have in regards to algorithmic music.

There are many ways to begin, what would you choose? Perhaps a collaboration of some sort?

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dewdrop_world



Joined: Aug 28, 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 1:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Jekyll - meet Hyde...
Subject description: Struggling to combine different styles and influences
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Octahedra wrote:
After all this I seem to have ended up with two main styles I haven't yet reconciled. Fast music made with analog sequencer-style repeating patterns, and slow stuff mostly based on chord sequences.


What about, fast music with slow harmonic motion, and slow music with fast harmonic motion?

Much so-called "minimalist" music is an example of the former, and a Bach chorale could be an archetype of the latter. Smile

Or, blazing-fast harmonic progressions (maybe generated algorithmically)? That would stand out in the crowd because the majority of electronic composers don't have the harmony chops to do it (but I think you do, based on snippets you've posted here before). How to get coherence... hmm... maybe sliding between various short harmonic cycles.

Just an instant reaction -- if I'm offbase, ignore me Razz
James

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Octahedra



Joined: Nov 29, 2008
Posts: 149
Location: Cheshire, UK
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
...a Boolean Sequencer. You'll find the complex rhythms and repeating subtleties to be fascinating.


That would be... this. I listened to it a few weeks ago when you posted your latest version - fascinating indeed! Smile Melody seems to me one of the hardest things to do by algorithm (especially at this speed) so you're being pretty ambitious here. It sounds like an improvisation but you've managed to keep the melody and rhythm variations under control so each line sounds like it's related to the last one. Cool!

As far as I can tell by ear I reckon your system uses all the black & white notes. It just occurred to me you might be able to make a bass drone which only changes pitch every several bars, and when it does it defines the current chord and thus the set of pitches that the other parts are allowed to use. Although getting the melody to lead into the next bass change would be, um, tricky! scratch

That's a very different working method from what I've been doing. I've never used a realtime system like ChucK. When I've coded my own music algorithms the output was always a sequencer file, so I could orchestrate it better or add other non-algorithmic stuff (I never really wanted to 'contaminate' the algorithm with manually composed material, but I had to to get good music). In the last year I've wanted to test new algorithms without having to write heaps of code to convert it to a midi file*, so once I'd got the result I entered it all into my sequencer manually. Took a couple of days but turned out to be worth it in the end!


* All the algorithmic programs that I've actually finished writing are ancient and can only output tracker files Sad . I use piano roll for basically everything now. A year ago I was building one big app to combine all the best features of my earlier ones and output midi files, but it was taking heaps of time and stopping me from actually writing music, so I shelved it for a while.


Gordon
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
Inventor wrote:
...a Boolean Sequencer. You'll find the complex rhythms and repeating subtleties to be fascinating.


That would be... this. I listened to it a few weeks ago when you posted your latest version - fascinating indeed! Smile Melody seems to me one of the hardest things to do by algorithm (especially at this speed) so you're being pretty ambitious here. It sounds like an improvisation but you've managed to keep the melody and rhythm variations under control so each line sounds like it's related to the last one. Cool!

Gordon


Thanks Gordon, you have such a thoughtful and elegant way of saying things. I find that I have to slow down and re-read your writing and then all the complexity of what you're saying becomes clear. Interesting.

The implementation that you heard is but one form of a Boolean Sequencer. That one is actually using the equations to walk up and down a scale, which is nice, but some people cannot detect the melody because of the complexity. Attached is a guitar riff with a more basic melody, actually it is two guitars with interrelated melodies. I can do that by making the two logic tables similar yet somewhat different from each other.

As to working with ChucK, once I explain Boolean Sequencing to you, you will be free to code it up in whatever tools you are familiar with. So it's a flexible system that you might enjoy. Just a suggestion. Enjoy the guitar song.


Guitar_Lab_Rock1.mp3
 Description:
A good guitar riff by a Boolean Sequencer

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 Filename:  Guitar_Lab_Rock1.mp3
 Filesize:  5.26 MB
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Octahedra



Joined: Nov 29, 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 4:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Jekyll - meet Hyde...
Subject description: Struggling to combine different styles and influences
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dewdrop_world wrote:
What about, fast music with slow harmonic motion, and slow music with fast harmonic motion?


When I saw the first half of that sentence I was thinking of Steve Reich straight away! Smile Actually some of what you suggest sounds like taking my current ideas a bit further. When I said...

Octahedra wrote:
I've taken the fast sequences and slowed them down beyond all recognition.


...I had in mind a recent piece with sequences running slowly at different speeds. So they kept going in & out of phase with each other and producing lots of different unexpected chords as a result. So that's a bit like your 2nd idea above.



So I really like your suggestions and I hope to go on combining techniques in this way. But I'm also hoping to take it even further...

Morphs: Some of my tracks have a structure that I call static and morphing sections. The static sections are quite short and you get a main musical idea of the piece repeated just a few times. Between these are the much longer morphing sections where each repeat is slightly different from the last until it's evolved into the next main idea, which then has its own static section, and so on. Often I write the music for the static sections myself and then use an algorithm to morph them.

Jumps: On the other hand when I'm working on an EP of 15-30 minutes of non-stop music, it's good to divide it up into movements, so that sometimes everything changes at once, to keep people interested.

At the moment, tempo seems to be one of those things that I only change in jumps, not morphs. You always notice the sudden change between chord mode and sequence mode - even if the sequence is faded in e.g. Tangerine Dream's Rubycon. I try to use that contrast as an artistic feature but it's begun to feel like something I'm just forced into. That's what got me writing about this topic.

So now I'm testing out ways to morph gradually between the two styles over a timespan of a couple of minutes.

Gordon
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
I find that I have to slow down and re-read your writing and then all the complexity of what you're saying becomes clear.


Sorry if you have to read my stuff 9 times before you understand it. I certainly have to proof-read it 9 times before I'm sure I've written what I meant! Cool

Slow writer, me... Probably one reason why I don't post as often as a lot of the regulars here.

Anyway, you started a topic on your Know Wave system so it'd be really cool if you could explain the boolean sequencing to us!

Gordon
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 5:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:

Anyway, you started a topic on your Know Wave system so it'd be really cool if you could explain the boolean sequencing to us!

Gordon


OK Gordon, I'll do my best to 'splain it. In a nutshell, Boolean sequencing means hanging binary logic off of a binary counter, and controlling the music with these logic expressions. You are free to use any logic expression you want, any number of bits in the counter, and anything controlled by the logic.

The main way I like to do it is to use a sum of products logic expression and control the notes and note frequencies with it. So you might have a logic expression like:

a0 & a2 & a4 | a1 & a3 & a5

and when that evaluates to true you play a note. When it is false, you do not play a note.

Another thing you can do is add up the number of product terms that are true to get a MIDI offset number. In the above equation we would have either 0, 1, 1, or 2 as possible MIDI offset numbers. Then you just add a MIDI base note number to it and tell that to your instrument.

You can also get fancy and control volume and other instrument parameters with different logic expressions. I usually arrange the sum of products expressions in a table like this:

00001101
10000111
00011110
00100011

and so on, where a 1 represents a clock bit that must be one for the expression to be true and a zero represents a don't care bit.

That's it! hope you like it, just let me know...

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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
Boolean sequencing means hanging binary logic off of a binary counter, and controlling the music with these logic expressions.


So you've got quite an open-ended system there - you should get a fair mileage out of it! (I was about to say 'years of mileage' but that would have been a mixed metaphor or something Rolling Eyes ).

It's all about the details of what you do with the binary data each time you increment the counter. I'd be tempted to try it without any randomness, and store a buffer of the notes already played. Then, on each step, your 'walk' up or down the scale can depend on previous walks - a bit like the infinity series.

Gordon
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I didn't understand that web page on the Infinity series.
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kijjaz



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hmm this is deep stuff. And very deep for me also.

I still haven't that experienced in combining styles effectively,
but i'm always inspired by the work of Paul McCartney.
both from The Beatles and Wings and so on.

For me, his music combine many styles and moods very effectively.
I couldn't believe how he can morph between very different music atmosphere in a sudden way however it sounds smooth and simple.

That's not so simple doesn't it heheh..

I'm thinking about songs like hmmm...
Distraction, Once upon a long ago, Live and Let Die, Golden Earth Girl.. <-- hmm maybe not that strong in this sense .. but with that lyrics .. it's unbelievable, No More Lonely Nights, Blue Bird

Hmm.. maybe this might not sounds like a perfect idea for an electronic music forum, but how he combine things and make it sound that simple can be a very nice source of inspiration for experimental projects.
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Octahedra



Joined: Nov 29, 2008
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for all your ideas, guys! I've actually been working on this problem since before I started this thread, and now have some kind of a prototype to show for it. This is my first go at morphing from slow to fast by fading in the tempo-doublings.

Some of my old music was based on fairly conventional melodies like Jarre's more popular stuff (often I wrote it on paper - no computer used until the arranging stage). But over time I found composing techniques of my own that were more experimental - some of them inspired by modern kinds of classical music that I didn't know a lot about when I was younger. Recently I thought I should test myself and see if I can still do it the old way, and maybe learn some new chord progression tricks while I'm at it.

So here's Arctic Circle, which starts off slow and ends on a faster version of the same theme. In the middle there's a morph between the two different speeds.

That's another step on the path. I'm definitely going to develop this kind of thing further...

Gordon


arctic_circle.mp3
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Octahedra - Arctic Circle

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra, I am listening now and it is so beautiful, so evolving, so delicate. Oh man to think I was listening to James Brown before, Hah! Get Down! such sweet melodies, ohhhh yeah! Nice work! Yeheheaugh! Oh it just keeps getting better!
Dam that's good!

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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
I am listening now and it is so beautiful


Thanks mate - glad you enjoyed it! Smile

That one was, erm, fairly hummable by my current freaky standards, so make the most of it 'cos you might not be getting any more for a few years! Cool

Gordon
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