15ips Archive: Posts for January 2010
OK, so I haven’t shown any pictures of my equipment and my setup/studio/whatever. There’s a lot of ground to cover here, and many articles will be written about the restoration, repair and upgrade of my equipment. So to start, here is a list, followed by a whole gaggle of pictures.
It’s a total mess right now, because a lot of stuff is being repaired.
I reworked the demo from the last post. I like this version a lot better.
Demo Clip Demo Clip Demo Clip:
It’s been nearly two weeks since I last wrote. I’m a bit bogged down in projects right now and I haven’t had much opportunity to make music.
A few technical issues have sprung up and I’m taking care of them as best I can. I was really hoping that I’d be out of the woods by now, equipment-wise, but it looks like I’m not there yet.
After eliminating most of the hums and buzzes from my studio, I hooked up my Tascam 48 eight track machine to the console and started recording. On playback, however, I noticed that four of the eight channels were producing weak signals. The needles on the VU meters looked right, and it wasn’t an issue with the mixing console. Something is happening in the amplification stage in the tape deck.
I opened up the machine and removed the amp cards to clean and inspect them. After putting them back in, the problem was still there and it appeared to follow the cards. That means that there’s something wrong with those individual amp cards. Maybe. I’m waiting to pick up a calibration tape, and I’ll start from the top and work to the bottom to find the problem and (hopefully) its solution.
Also, with my secondary Tascam 34b quarter-inch four track machine, I noticed problems with the reel motors on playback, fast forward, and rewind. When a tape is loaded, the motors will run at normal speed and then grind to a halt. So, I opened the deck, removed the motors, and gave them a full cleaning. I will also replace the bearings once I find a bearing puller to remove the old ones. I also replaced the belt, which I was going to do anyway.
This doesn’t touch on the issues that I’ve had with other equipment, but I should fix these two things before I move on to other projects. The eight-track is my primary multitrack, and the four-track machine will be very important for editing loops and for doing echo and delay. I kind of need them to work. You know.
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I had a loop sitting on the bench, which I left there after I discovered that my eight track was broken. I put it on the working four-track deck and recorded it into Audacity. The original sound is a guitar chord, and I cut off the attack and made a loop from the remainder. This is one of my favorite techniques because the sounds that it produces are very glassy, and often sound like chimes. This was recorded in my bedroom, and I purposely EQed it to bring out the room sounds: my dehumidifier, street traffic, and general environmental white noise. It’s great as a demo, and I will eventually do it again in a proper studio for a more polished result.
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I have a couple of building and design projects on my plate, too. I’m designing a loft bed for my bedroom. Underneath the bed will be a workspace, which means that I can get all of my broken tape decks off of the dining room table and into my personal space. I am also designing a shelf to go over the meter bridge of my mixer, which will hold a couple of lamps and my monitors. Finally, I’m designing a normaling RCA patchbay to handle the accessory send/receive jacks on my console. I will be writing a few posts about that later. Let me just say that it’s going to make this thing a LOT less messy:
Anyway. Enjoy the clip. I’ve got some stuff to do.
My friend Alex posted this on Facebook. It was released on tape in 1987 by a German group called Cranioclast. I don’t have any other information on this group but I will definitely write more when I find some.
This piece is hauntingly beautiful. Let the video play and listen closely.
Edit: A Cranioclast album can be downloaded through this blog post.
I found myself slightly bored after work today. To kill some time, I made a cut-up loop.
I do this sometimes for fun, sometimes to create something interesting. This time, I took a recording from NPR and used it as source material. Here’s the loop all spliced together, shot with my crappy digital camera:
… The same part (a repetitive phrase) is played on two musical instruments, in steady but not identical tempo. Thus, the two instruments gradually shift out of unison, creating first a slight echo as one instrument plays a little behind the other, then a doubling with each note heard twice, then a complex ringing effect, and eventually coming back through doubling and echo into unison.
In the following sound clip, I took the most obvious example of this concept, and looped the particular passage:
I took this even further, and doubled up the tracks until I hit four stereo pairs. I mixed that down to two tracks, and then recorded them onto my 1/4″ four-track machine. I repeated this once more, and ended up with a recording of 16 stereo pairs of the initial recording. It’s chaotic and it sounds… interesting, maybe? After a while I thought it sounded absolutely irritating.
This experiment yielded nothing valuable. Here’s one, though, that I liked. I put this together in November last year.
My ears are fatigued now, so I’m going to kill this boredom with Chinese delivery and Netflix.
It turns out the solution was as simple as replacing a fuse:
Sorry it took me a bit. Luckily, the problem was just the fuse connected to the transport section of the machine. Replacing that also fixed the weird timer problems i was having.
That’s all there was to it. I could have used a multimeter to check for continuity on the fuses, saving everyone some time and money. Learning curve? Right here.
I’ll post more pictures of this thing when I get a chance.
The new year has begun, and I’m building a library of sounds and textures for future pieces. I’m starting with what I call the ‘background layer’. Think of it as the ambience/pulse/backdrop/undercurrent: eliciting a particular mood and providing structure to the piece.
I’ve heard this instrument in many performances but I didn’t know what it was… and I’ve always been curious to learn more. This particular instrument has many names, but the name I hear most often is the Singing Bowl. It’s a hard metal bowl, either hand-hammered or machined, and it is typically used in meditation routines. I really like its sound… the attack is somewhat diminished compared to other tuned percussion instruments and it produces a very nice, sustained tone with a long decay. The harmonics and overtones are very pleasing. It’s perfect for manipulating on tape.
This particular recording was made through a very simple process. First, I found a singing bowl performance on YouTube:
I used Audio Hijack Pro to extract the audio, and edited the resulting AIFF file in Audacity.
Step 1: Edit track for length, reverse the track.
Step 2: Copy and paste audio from step 1 into a new stereo track, speed up by 33%
Step 3: Copy and paste audio form step 1 into a new stereo track, decrease speed by 33%
Step 4: Mix, render, export as mp3.
It was a fun exercise to see what’s possible with this instrument. I want to get my hands on a few of these bowls, and explore this further.
3 January 2010 in General
I started this blog in October and sat on it before making it viewable to the public. I was working on a bunch of projects and I didn’t have the time to dedicate to blogging. The studio is now mostly complete, and I have more spare time to dedicate to other projects, i.e. this blog. Thus, the blog lives.
Expect more posts soon!