the deep end - day 117: ioflow - mnml autmn
kamimono. reflections. creation.

josh saddler
date: Nov. 17th, 2011 @ 9:06 pm
subject: day 117: ioflow - mnml autmn
visible: Public
tags: creative.thing, gentoo, mcrp, monome, music, software
new music: ioflow - mnml autmn.


a track i submitted for mcrp 11: monome community remix project "all keyed up" edition.

performed and sequenced with a grayscale monome 128, rove, renoise 2.7, ardour 3, gentoo linux.

the process

this mcrp's theme was the key of G/E-minor, so all musical samples had to be in this key. participants submitted two samples each: an instrumental sample in G/Emin, and a field recording, more or less autumn-themed. this was my musical sample, and my field recording was of waves slapping the shore at a nearby bay.

as usual, participants had to create their tracks using only samples submitted. no additional instrumentation. we could use as many of the samples as we wanted, but we couldn't use our own submissions. the idea is to remix other folks' works into something completely new.

"mnml autmn" is composed of just four samples: antiphon's snorting dog, hlp's field recording, and melodic instrumentation from phortran and stax67. the bass is a single-cycle wave from stax67's E-minor sample. the higher-pitched percussion comes from various parts of the dog snuffles; the kick is from hlp's outdoor recording. the chords and melody were from the same cut of phortran's instrumental, just with different effects, envelopes, and processing.

i heavily modified the samples, doing everything i could think of to warp, stretch, repitch, filter, and generally twist out of recognition the original sounds. despite the fact that the musical samples were nominally in G/Emin, i had a hard time matching musical sounds. i ended up narrowing down to single-cycle waveforms for the bass, often taking one sample and building a few different instruments from it, giving it a different acoustic treatment each time.

renoise isn't much of a live sampler, though it is good for sequencing. for this mcrp, i finally used renoise as a tracker, completing a song for the first time in tracker mode. normally i just use renoise for pre/postprocessing and effects. this time, it was an integral part of the complete process, from preparation to live performance (as an FX host) to mixing/mastering.

i sequenced the samples with renoise, then exported the resulting loops and loaded them into rove. i performed each section of the piece live on the monome with rove, recording those bits into jack timemachine. i sliced those clips using renoise to make sure they were just the right length, then arranged them with ardour, which was also my first time using ardour's traditional linear arrangement view to complete a track. renoise's "snap-to-zero-crossing" and ardour's "grid" snapping proved invaluable at making sure things lined up just right.

made for an upbeat groove, much dancier than i expected it would be. it was a lot of fun to make! i'm still practicing the piece, since i want to do a live remix video. it's been way too long since my last monome performance.

for this track, God gets all the glory. i had nothin' to do with any of it. it just suddenly happened, after going a few weeks without coming up with anything creatively. and then it was done in just a day or two. the same thing happened with my first MCRP. complete creative block, and then some One intervened, and stuff just happened. in this case, it wasn't until after i recorded this improvisation for rhodes and piano that i had an idea of what i wanted to do. i took the simple motif from that, and applied the samples to it, and built it from there.

for most of the time since submitting my samples, i was very frustrated. i became so increasingly agitated with my own lack of knowledge, the lack of tools on linux, and the the seemingly effortless workflow other participants had, that i seriously considered dropping my efforts at making music on linux, and just buying a mac + ableton live. but i'm glad i didn't. the limitations forced some creative thinking -- limiting oneself when making music always leads to better results, for the end results and one's own internal processes.

i hope you enjoy "mnml autmn." the rest of the album is quite fantastic. i've even heard my submitted piano samples used in the various tracks, including the absolutely stunning closing track by pauk.
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