The Practice Room for Electro-Acoustic Music

So as I begin to write I can’t help feel the pressure between my last post long ago and this one here. It’s a rather heavy burden of attempting to write “consistently”, but let’s get it out of the way. Sorry. Important and glorious work has been happening and I’m excited to share.

Ok. So now I’ve been busy and here’s the reason why.

I have solved an issue in the musician’s practice room. It’s a problem that happens when a musician wants to practice electro-acoustic music or “Tape” (+ instrument) music. There are many factors really, but this post solves a crucial and daily problem. That is, if you practice everyday. 😉

Considering the description above, the musician must use some sort of music player. It could be cassette, a CD, or audio file via “insert your favorite mp3 player here.” Since those are the only tools we have at our disposal we must work with the correlating user interface. This usually means audio is represented by an arbitrary “bar” that represents your “place” in the music. You also get play/stop buttons, etc. Other than that, it’s not efficient.

Does everyone recall the scenario of finding an approximate location numerous times? Did you feel like you were attached to say, iTunes leaving your cursor in precisely the “right” spot on that little bar?

So I built The Practice Room. This new tool basically allows you to create Presets which can be recalled at a later date. So if you make 2o Presets for the current piece you’re working on (“You gotta get those difficult parts precise, yes?”), you can have the audio playback at precisely the right position every time. And while there are “hotkeys” that allow for efficient workflow, I’ve also made it possible to use an “interface” on my iPhone.

Check it out in this video. PLEASE. let me know what you think!

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A Little Max

So here’s what I’ve been working on. Many of the objects in the picture are ones that I’m sure you could name. There are at least a few. The buttons that you see such as “normalize,” “Save,” “Record,” “Play,” etc are somewhat fancy buttons. You can create one using the ‘textbutton’ object.

Fig 1.

Simple Recorder

You’ll notice in the next picture that I’ve used several patcher objects (contains more objects but allows for organization.) I have “colored” these and provided a legend for you so you can see how it’s organized. Working with these “sub”-patchers means that I can find a problem quickly if needed, or to focus on one small task and isolate it from the rest of the patch.

Patch Edit Mode

If you can find the RecSelectorLights sub-patcher, that’s awesome. It’s at center bottom; it also has 6 LEDs below it with the 1st being turned “on.” The following picture is what it looks like on the inside. This sub-patcher has also been organized & includes a legend so you can see how each LED selection will automatically turn off any other LEDs. 😉

RecSelector LEDs

Let me know if this is helpful.

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A Process towards Electro-Acoustic Music

It begins with my youth and being fascinated with sound. I was about five. And my sister was a young teenager who listened to all the Top Hits on the radio or 8-Track Tape!! So, I soaked up the sounds not knowing that I would be getting well-acquanted with sound and music a few years later. Here is just a snippet of my evolutionary process towards electroacoustic music.

The Strongest Memory Award goes to Steve Miller.

Let’s start with good ‘ol Steve Miller. “Fly Like an Eagle.” It is one of the best grooving songs ever. Ok, maybe that’s my 6yr old ears talking but you have to admit. I had good ears at 6. 😉 Anyway, the intro was played on the radio back then and often. Each time I heard it begin playing I basically froze like a…. well …. nothing else existed for those few minutes. Have listen…

Steve Miller – Space Intro / Fly Like An Eagle

… as I listen to the tune above I get chills and listen to the musicality as I once did as a kid. So awesome.

I was also captivated by Michael Jackson. Seeing him on TV was inspiring, but he didn’t have any surreal experimental music that I had heard. I still had to mention him too though. There was lots: the Doobie Brothers, Eric Clapton, … I could go on. I really enjoyed the music in 70’s and the 80’s. Yeah I don’t care what you say. lol!

Eventually I found AC/DC; and that led to Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd (See!! The 80’s did have great bands!)  and so many other greats. But Aerosmith had Sweet Emotion with another interesting “space” intro-like piece. Captured Again. I stopped and listened to every nuance in that Sweet Emotion intro. As a side note, Toys In the Attic on 8-track tape became my friend!! 😉 I was around 7 years old.

Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion

Yeah… so that was a snippet of my childhood in music terms. Of course there was things like the best cartoons EVER in history with all the classical music, but again this post is about the “electro-acoustic” stuff that was happening.

Then the following interesting album revealed itself to me after I had gone through many others by Pink Floyd. Umma Gumma was VERY different from what I had ever heard. My ears completely blew off the side of my head!

I became interested in Pink Floyd after hearing a recording of a partially backwards drum solo by Nick Mason!! It’s actually what led me to check out Pink Floyd a little more. And now that I’ve done a bit of research finding pictures I need to check out his book with the “fitting” title: Inside Out much like his solo.

Pink Floyd in January 1968 Left to right: Maso...

Pink Floyd in January 1968 Left to right: Mason, Barrett, Gilmour (seated), Waters and Wright (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That was so weird at 12-14! Oh man. How did I come across that? My older sister’s boyfriend who was a drummer and he made an awesome tape collection of drum solos. 😉 Fast Forward a couple years later and I come across…. Pink Floyd’s Umma Gumma.

Pink Floyd Umma Gumma – several small species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a pict

That album is so psychedelic. As I was writing this I was listening and remembering some great stuff about that album. I’m going to have to plan a listening day in the near future. I need to hear that album again and decipher some of it with my new set of ears. Maybe you can join me in some way?

Well, that should give you an idea of how I came to be interested in different sounds and electro-acoustic music. I find it fascinating and I’m continually looking for more. It’s just more different now but all part of the same journey.

Happy Listening!

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