… purveyor of funky beats and assorted electric treats …

How To: Algorithmic Music with Ruby, Reaktor, and OSC

Posted on | November 20, 2009 | 2 Comments

The basic idea is to use a simple OSC library available for Ruby to code interesting music, and have Native Instruments’ Reaktor serve as the sound engine. Tadayoshi Funaba has an excellent site including all sorts of interesting Ruby modules.  I grabbed the osc.rb module and had fun with it.

I’m giving a brief presentation at the Bay Area Computer Music Technology Group (BArCMuT) meet-up tomorrow, un-officially as part of RubyConf 2009 here in San Francisco.

Here’s a link with downloads and code from my talk.  It should be all you need to get started, if you have a system capable of running Ruby, and a copy of Reaktor 5+ (this should work with the demo version too).

Ruby mono sequence example:

reaktorOscMonoSequences-192 MP3

Ruby polyphonic drums example:

reaktorOscPolyphonicDrums-192 MP3

Leave a comment below if you have any questions, or cool discoveries!


Machinedrum Recursive Sampling Test 02

Posted on | November 16, 2009 | 4 Comments


So this is another example of using the MD’s internal sampler to create a recursive “feedback loop” of sampling and resampling and resampling…. This has a tendency of psychedelically twisting the underlying beat.  The way this stuff sounds has really surpassed my wildest dreams.

MD Recurse Test 02

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Machinedrum Recursive Sampling Test 01

Posted on | November 4, 2009 | 1 Comment

This was a first test at using the Machinedrum’s internal sampler recursively.  I was trying to emulate my fractal wavetables sounds in hardware, as closely as the MD could do it.

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Cool Tricks For Better Mixes

Posted on | September 3, 2009 | No Comments

I recently slugged through mixdown on my track Super Broken and found the following 5 tips invaluable:

1. Mono Is Awesome

I’ve heard this one a million times, but never actually tried it. This article does a great job describing the hows and whys: The Secret Benefits To Mixing In Mono. Among other great insights — if you sum to mono and listen through a single speaker, you get less room and cross-speaker interference.

2. FX Halos

This is a great trick for time-expanding effects like delays and reverb. In a word, duck your effects sends by the signals feeding them.  The gradual release of your ducker / compressor creates a “halo” around the dry sound, as the effected tail glides up into the mix. This article does a great job describing how to set this up in Ableton Live.

3. The Law Of “Common Fate”

Learned this one from John Chowning, the father of FM synthesis, at BArCMuT talk.

Gestalt psychology turns out to be a goldmine for some making abstract works of art (like electronic music). The law of “common fate”, according to Wikipedia, is: “Elements with the same moving direction are perceived as a collective or unit.”

Chowning’s example had to do with applying vibrato to FM string sounds, but it has applicability all over the mixing process.

For example, when “pumping” pads, hi-hats, and basslines in syncopation with the kick drum, the principle of “common fate” suggests your brain will gel them into a unit — providing more contrast between the upbeat and downbeat.

4. Embrace Subtle Delays

This is related to the previous point on “common fate”.  I’ve found it’s very useful to use a short “ambience” ‘verb, and send low levels of many parts of the song in order to “seat” everything in an acoustic space.  Again, this is an old trick, but I found this article illuminating in knowing what my brain wants to hear.

5. If You Make Dance Music, You Need To Be Able To Monitor Down To 28 Hz

And unless you’re in a really, really well-setup room with no neighbors, that means getting a good pair of ‘cans.

After extensive research into every pair of headphones I could find, I narrowed the field down to the Ultrasone HFI-550’s. Got mine off Amazon for $89.  All I have to say is — 50 mm drivers (they don’t make the 550’s anymore, but the HFI-580’s are similar).  I feel these come the closest to replicating the sound of your track playing over a nice club system — especially in the bass department.  They didn’t sound great when I first got them (compared to a 4 year old pair I’d borrowed from a friend), but I’ve been burning them in with medium-loud pink noise and the bass extension is loosening up nicely. Update 2011: I don’t love the sound of the HFI 550’s after all.  I found my old Sony MDR-V7506’s actually seem more faithful in the bass department, despite their smaller (40mm) drivers. The insight still stands — if you want to rock the subs, make sure you can hear the lows with your monitoring setup.  A good pair of cans can help you check your mixes: you can hear the bass without the distractions of any room modes or other free-air acoustic problems.

If you can hear the sub-bass, you can mix the sub-bass. Simple as that.

Fractal Wavetables

Posted on | March 20, 2009 | No Comments

floatfractBased on work by composer Terran Olson, I’m releasing a Processing applet that lets you play with recursive/fractal sound synthesis by setting a few sliders.

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The Plant

Posted on | July 10, 2008 | No Comments

Tech-house mini-album The Plant is out on Harmonious Discord.

Sparrowlizm (Preview)

Check out the full release at any of these fine locations:

Pacific Beats

Posted on | January 22, 2008 | No Comments

hd09scaled1My moody / funky/ drum-heavy track Pacific Beats appears on this lovely sampler album put together by Harmonious Discord Recordings.

Head on over to the HD site for samples of all the fantastic cuts on this release, or pick up a copy at Beatport.

Cactus Girl

Posted on | April 13, 2007 | No Comments

hd051This four-cut release features an in-depth vocal ride through abstractions and moods with a bass-heavy electro rework by Philidelphia-based glitch head KiloWatts.

The B side throws some funk into the well with a dancefloor rework by California sound-nut Rithma (OM, Tweekin). Distant bells and jackin chords makes this remix an instant body mover. Chakaharta rounds out the EP with a deep and minimal “Funky Dub”.

Samples are up at Harmonious Discord Recordings, or head over to Beatport to pick up the EP.

Nuco Daze

Posted on | March 3, 2007 | No Comments

I’m finally posting an album of tunes I wrote while part of the NUCO downtempo improv collective back in 2001-2003.  It’s available for free on Bandcamp.  Let me know if you like it, and please share with your friends.

Dancing Spirals

Posted on | January 3, 2007 | No Comments

shapeimage_33D Screen Saver for Mac OS X, complete with customizable settings and full source code.

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