3.07.2017

Automata

Most of my job involves automation.

Yep, I have an actual job outside of doing music things. I spend all day nose deep in code, developing logic for computers to reliably create fairly complicated reports, over and over again, with dynamic variables that provide different results.

The work is incredibly front-loaded; I spend far more time developing an engine to run a report than it would take to make the report manually. But once it's created, ideally all I have to do is push a button and future reports conjure themselves out of the ether.

Lately I've been fascinated with applying this concept to music.


When creating music, especially electronically, a large challenge is avoiding blandness. If you make a beat, a synth riff, bass line, etc. you're essentially telling a computer to loop the exact same thing however many times you require. That takes a lot of the humanity out of the sound, and (unless that's what you're going for) it can be noticeably... bad.

My current fixation is making organic progressions out of stale, machined compositions. I develop front-loaded logic within the music program that will change the sound I create over time. This outputs a result that's similar, but slightly different each time it is played.

On synths, that could mean adding several LFOs to different modulations that change the tone over time. It could mean patching a drum loop through my guitar's pedalboard, and re-recording it as I screw with the pedal knobs. In Segue To Sleep, I took an arpeggiated synth riff and added a valve delay that echoed infinitely, slowly distorting and mangling itself over time, that plays throughout the entire song. I just faded it in and out at times, because listening to that uninterrupted for four minutes would be horrible. Then again, I like noise.



Essentially, I'm searching for ways to color the sound, add imperfections, and modify a musical phrase that would otherwise sound exactly the same throughout a song. It's kinda funny, using automation to ultimately humanize something--but like all live instruments, computers are just another tool that we use to create sounds we hear in our heads.

...at least until computers inevitably take over the world and we have to join the human resistance against our cold, unfeeling overlords. Then I guess we'll go back to acoustic guitar and hitting things with sticks.

No comments :

Post a Comment