… 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 | 2 Comments

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 | 1 Comment

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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