New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 8A. I won't get a chance to actually jam until later today, but I had another look at the RC-5 manual this morning and did some setup/testing work.

:: I set up 3 blank memory template slots so that I don't have to keep entering the same settings over and over again. :D

:: I set the default tempo to 60pbm; it's a bit easier to control the looper at slower tempos, and since nothing is sync'd, it doesn't change anything, it just makes it easier!

:: I finally dug into the fade in/out settings. This only affects Play and Stop, but it definitely smooths out the rough edges on the performance playback and stopping the loop at the very end. You can set either the start, stop, or both to fade in/out, and can set it between 1-64 measures, which is great. Right now I have it set to 4 (unfortunately, you cannot set individual times for fade in and out), and that seems to be fine, but I won't know until I actually play the thing in anger.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 8B. Recorded another 7 minute jam ... there's a performance starting to take shape now, slowly peeking around the edges of all this ... stuff. The fade in/out works great, but I think it needs to be a lot longer, probably 8-16 measures instead of 4.

That being said, I forgot how hard it is to get the Lyra-8 under any semblance of control lol; it's like an unruly dog! I have divided the L8 into two different drone instruments: Voices 1-4 are triangle waves tuned to a detuned unison; voices 5-8 have a touch of Sharpness and are heavily modulated by the AND function on the LFO, creating a staccato rhythm.

I am thinking I may be able to do something more with the L8 ... not sure how or what yet, though. A lot more experimentation will be required!
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by nathanscribe »

Had a visit from a Lyra 8 this afternoon. There was much head-scratching, and much going "ooh" and "what's happening", followed swiftly by the realisation that there's no way you'll ever get the same noise from this thing twice, and there's no way you'd ever be able to just tweak it back to where it was. Madness. Quite engaging.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

nathanscribe wrote: Sat Nov 20, 2021 8:53 pm Had a visit from a Lyra 8 this afternoon. There was much head-scratching, and much going "ooh" and "what's happening", followed swiftly by the realisation that there's no way you'll ever get the same noise from this thing twice, and there's no way you'd ever be able to just tweak it back to where it was. Madness. Quite engaging.

HA! EXACTLY! It's impossible not to fall in love with the thing, but it definitely makes you question your life choices when you're 4 hours in, have no idea where you are or how you got there, and don't care a whit! :D

Edit: Couple of tips, if you're interested:

AND LFO functions are like square waves, the sound is either ON or OFF; great for rhythmic stuff. OR LFO functions make the pitch vary on the modulated Voice, and are great for feedback drones. The higher the master pitch knob for a set of Voices, the more pitch variation you will get.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by nathanscribe »

It left with its owner, but this thing has been on my radar for a while, so it was good to have a dabble.

Seems like the way to work is to just hit record and get stuck in, and snip the useful bits for later?
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

That’s certainly one approach. When I’m making feedback drones, I just turn knobs until I get a sound I like. Those are fairly repeatable. If I’m making a drone to complement other instruments, I get more picky about tuning. It only takes a few minutes to tune, and it’s never dead on, so it’s more of a ballpark thing, and then if there’s an issue, I adjust the master pitch.

Unless you use an external filter, the L8 always sounds MASSIVE. So in that sense, it rewards recording first and editing in post as well.

However, as this is going to be a live recording of a performance, tracked to stereo, no going back, I’m trying to come up with strategies that will enable me to make pitch and timbral adjustments on the fly.

I personally find that the Voices are easier to get closer to pitch if the Master is quite high. However, as every unit seems to be unique, that may be idiosyncratic to mine alone?
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 10. Almost two weeks in and I feel that the performance is just starting to take shape. Pulling this project off is a bit like one of those pyramids acrobats make: each layer has to be solid, complement the one before it, made on the fly, and support the overall piece.

An overall structure is starting to take shape now, thankfully.

The Lyra-8 continues to confound, every time you adjust one Voice, it affects all the others and most times there's no going back to where you were, especially if you're using modulation. Once the modulation is changed by adding voices, I cannot go back. It's critical to not get frustrated because THAT'S WHAT THIS MACHINE DOES lol.

In terms of general composition, the best strategy for me seems to be to alternate between layers of L8 and SubH. Starting with something that has a rhythmic pulse without any real pitch helps get things into a semi-flow, but since nothing is sync'd and I'm doing the overdubs manually, there are all these wonderful little glitches.

Here is where the performance currently stands, https://drive.google.com/file/d/16Rwdq3 ... sp=sharing
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 11. I really enjoyed the jam I recorded yesterday so much that I decided to use that as my 'base' or experimenting layer additions. There is definitely a 'performance' starting to emerge, an optimal (to me) series of layers that seems to work best.

During my experimentation, I did notice one 'error' in this approach. I use quotes here because this is a product of my composer brain at work: the knowledge that this massive, evolving sound, is essentially one chord. Now, whilst the Subharmonicon rewards sonic experimentation really well, it does not reward deliberate compositional techniques such as chord progressions nearly as well.

So where does that leave you? Well, if you start building layers in C, you are stuck in C unless you want to add deliberate dissonance to the proceedings. And since my main compositional goal for the first movement is "consonance", that won't do. :D

And that's where my post-recording experimentation bore some fruit!

Since everything is passing through the RC-5, on it's long fade out, it's possible to crossfade between sections.

So, when viewed as an instrument, I can break the Lyra-8 into the following:

VOICE 1/2, rhythmic pulse
VOICE 3/4, drone in key center no. 1
VOICE 5/6 drone in key center no. 2
VOICE 7/8 drone in key center no. 3

That means I can also break the Subharmonicon into a similar 'compositional' chunks:

OSC 1/ SEQUENCER 1, key center no. 1 (re-tune for key center no. 3)
OSC 2/SEQUENCER 2, key center no. 2

+++++

Of course, being methodical by nature, I find this approach to be very appealing!

So my score now looks something like this:

Image

The plan for the performance is:

1. Record/loop the rhythmic layer
2. Record/loop the 'base layers' for key center 1
3. Improvise in key center 1
4. Save the current 'base layer'
5. Fade out key center 1 whilst fading the rhythmic layer back in
6. Repeat steps 1-5 for key center 2
7. Tune the Subharmonicon to key center 3
8. Repeat steps 1-5 for key center 3
9. Return to key center 1
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 12. Today's jam was an experiment to see if the idea I scored yesterday would work in practice. I started small, just one change/2 key centers.

I ended up having to change the Lyra-8's setup a bit because if I wanted something strictly rhythmic to loop, it would mean dedicating the first four Voices. It was work the sacrifice, imo, and I tuned the Voices thusly:

VOICE 1/2, rhythmic pulse
VOICE 3/4 na
VOICE 5, root note, key center 1
VOICE 6, 5th, key center 1
VOICE 7, root note, key center 2
VOICE 8, 5th, key center 2

The results are a little mixed. Overall, it definitely worked, but ... it feels to me like the time spent switching between memories could either a) be shortened or b) there needs to be something continuously playing to bridge the motives. I think this is easy enough to do, it just didn't occur to me at the time!

The jam, overall, was a bit rough round the edges bc I'm still figuring it all out, but as a proof of concept, it works.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1CGg027 ... sp=sharing

There are a lot of details to still work out, but I'm liking the journey thus far!
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 13A. After yesterday's entry, I continued experimenting to see how quickly one can switch between memories when I made a serendipitous discovery -- if you have something recorded on a memory, you can cue that memory to play directly in sequence after the current loop is complete, just like cueing up something on a step sequencer. I do not know if this is a design feature; I tried finding this in the manual and could not see anything like this referenced.

For example: if you have a loop in Memory 01 and a loop in Memory 02 and press play, you can continuously bounce between them in Play mode much as you can with a step sequencer.

What does this mean for me? If I change my approach slightly and prepare the rhythmic layer first, I can seamlessly switch between each motive without having to ever stop the RC-5.

Today's experimentation will be proof of concept.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 13B. Well, that mostly worked lol. :D

Switching between Memories is as easy as I thought it would be, but what I didn't consider was the fact that switching Memories without writing the loop means that when you return to a previous Memory, all I would have was the original layer!

So that caused a momentary panic as I had to rebuild the backing layers on the fly, but it was a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to re approach the piece from the ground up.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, DAY 14. I think I may have had something of a breakthrough today! For the first time I felt like I was in some semblance of control and actually performing. :D
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Eddy Deegan »


Live notes:

Opening is an interesting percussive clicky noise that makes me curious as to what's coming next...

1:05: Bass drone grabs the attention ... and it changes pitch to the classic 4th after just the right time

2:21: Bass finishes repeating the root-4th transition for a second time and something intriguing gently creeps in in the higher registers with a synth part

Shortly afterwards: additional atmosphere sound/pad? Subtle. I like that!

3:35: Attack on the high synth part becomes more legato. I like that too.

The original 'clicky' sound continues to serve as percussion of sorts and it's very evocative.

5:00: Not much has changed but I'm not struggling in any way to keep attention. The high synth part seems to be slightly more active than it was before which might have something to do with it.

5:56: Click and bass fade out ... then the click fades straight back, wetly (reverb-speaking).

... waiting to see where that goes ...

... it's teasing me ...

7:08: Bass slooooowly fades back in
7:15: A higher octave creeps in also
7:50: We resume click, bass and higher synth sound, gently but assertively
8:24: A little clocked square-wave lead motif emerges
8:50: Joined by another part ... sustained high note
9:17: Hints of a square-wave lead sound, again sustained
10:39: I do like the little motif in the outro ... and we fade out.

Summary: I had no problem listening to it in its entirety as a soundscape and I very much liked the timbres and subtle comings-and-goings within it. I don't think it would work for me musically in and of itself but only because I wanted more to be going on and I don't think that's the objective. As a backing/pad/drone/filler for something with more stuff going on I think it would be epic.

I genuinely admire the way you perform musical experiments Ben and I think it's something more of us should invest time in because it's a revealing experience both for listener and artist.

I also feel in some way as if I'm gaining something vicariously through the time investment you're making in your experiments and thank you very much for sharing the diaries, so to speak.

That was time well spent :thumbup:
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

Thanks, Eddy! :D
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Arpangel »

Always interesting to see/hear what you’re up to Ben, you’re an inherent part of this forum and you would be sadly missed if you weren’t here, and I’ve leant a lot from your challenges and explorations.
But I’m thinking, considering my approach is the polar opposite to yours, wouldn’t it be interesting, if we could do a musical Air B+B.
You spend a week at mine working my way, and I spend a week at yours working your way, should be very interesting, from my point of view, anyway.

:D:D:D
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

LOL possibly! :D
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Arpangel »

Ben Asaro wrote: Mon Nov 29, 2021 1:09 pm LOL possibly! :D

I’d probably be so blown away by NY I wouldn’t want to make any music, I can’t say you’d have the same feeling about being here.

:D
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM DIARY, UPDATE 15. I'm changing the wording on these updates from "day #" to "update #" since I am not working on this over consecutive days.

I've been going in whole hog on experimenting with using the first two Lyra-8 voices for lo-fi rhythmic sounds. Getting everything to line up just so -- the pattern, delay, and modulation -- is akin to catching lightning in a bottle so I've been recording the ones I like as the base layer on multiple Memories on the RC-5. This is a great jumping-off point for the improvisational parts and prevents recording the initial faffing around trying to design a usable rhythm on the spot.

I am achieving this by setting the Pitch and Tune knobs to their lowest setting, and Sharp and Mod to their highest settings, and then using the LFO as the modulation source. From there it's just a matter of dialing in the LFOs until I have a spacious sounding series of pops and ticks. After that I bring in the delay and experiment until there's a syncopation I like. This is usually the part of the process where I end up going to far, losing a rhythm that I liked previously forever, and having to rest the delays to zero and start over again. :D
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Martin Walker »

You're so structured Ben :thumbup:8-)

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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

Martin Walker wrote: Sun Dec 05, 2021 3:49 pm You're so structured Ben :thumbup:8-)

Martin

LOL that's about the nicest way to put it! :D
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM UPDATE 16. Today was my back-to-work jam (not the saddest return to work day bc I'm only working 2 days and then off on holiday, phase 2 lol) and the jam felt pretty good tonight!

There's a performance starting to trickle in by playing both sides of the Subharmonicon at the same time.

There are still a few perfomative issues I want to work out but things are slowly moving along. The first issue is to see if I can figure out how to get a seamless bass drone. Maybe it can be done by overlapping the overdub? Not sure, but that's next on my list. After that, it's trying to sort out what I'm doing with the Lyra-8.

It's getting there, though!
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM UPDATE 17. A little experimentation solved the ‘loop interrupt’ equation!

How to record a seamless drone on the RC-5: With the loop in Overdub mode, fade in the drone layer and record it past the point where you started. Then fade out the drone, which will seamlessly dovetail into the previous layer. (I suppose this will work for any kind of layer, actually). And, voila! Seamless drone!

This does create it’s own issues, however; namely, a sense of motion. But I have a couple of ideas on that front, too!

More experimentation!
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM UPDATE 18. Today was a good day! Recorded the 16th jam today and I feel like this piece is finally starting to move towards the goal post. :D

The 'big news' is that I figured out how I want to introduce the Lyra-8! That only took a month lol =P

The latest version of the piece is a lot more polyphonic than I thought I would be able to get using these two instruments. The rhythmic loop now starts off the whole thing which allows me to fade in the L8 and SubH together to create a massive chord. Then it plays away whilst I improvise on the SubH using another 4 oscillators.

All in all, today's jam was 14 uninterrupted minutes of music that didn't suck! :D

I think that this will be a solid basis for the first movement, Sun. Now to start working on the second movement!!
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Folderol »

That's a lot of minutes :shocked:
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

Folderol wrote: Wed Dec 08, 2021 8:21 pm That's a lot of minutes :shocked:

IT IS!
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM UPDATE 19. Yesterday was very interesting. I recorded three jams, and all of them were pretty 'meh'. And I think I know the problem areas:

1. In recent jams I have gotten away from panning the layers and have been keeping everything centered with stereo delays. I think that may be a mistake.

2. I have begun playing the piece wherein VCO 1 is a series of chord tone drones and VCO 2 is improvised over top. That works great, but I think I need to bring back simple sequencer melodies from VCO 1 as well; this will go hand in hand with point no. 1.

3. I have to STOP RUSHING. All 3 jams yesterday were totally improvised but all ended at almost the exact same length. Comparing yesterday's aborted efforts compared to the last jam I liked ... there is a definite rushing that has been going on.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

JAM UPDATE 20. Moved a few things around yesteday to better facilitate the workflow I want. This basically involved getting the RV-500 off of the pedal board and next to the Subharmonicon so I could pan layers. That worked well, but it was still missing something ....

So I tried something else. I removed the Rane parametric EQ and put an old Behringer 2-channel compressor into the signal chain. How old? So old it says Made In Germany on the back panel. :D The compressor definitely gave everything a much darker sound so I adjusted the EQ on the SSL a bit to compensate.

I then made a couple of tweaks to the note choice in Subharmonicon's sequencers.

The jam I recorded was 19 minutes long and much closer to what I am going for. The overdubs weren't perfect, but now that the RV-500 is up where I can get my hands on it it's much easier to manage.

Another day, another attempt!

In the meanwhile, I reached out to a couple of recording studios that look like they might be a good match for the music I am recording.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

Whew, new year! And time to dust this composition off!

I think I may have found a studio to record the piece in: Vinegar Hill Studios in downtown Brooklyn. The plan is to record and mix to tape there.

I also feel very good about the first movement overall, so whilst I will continue to play through it, it's time to start working on the second, darker movement of the piece.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Arpangel »

Ben Asaro wrote: Mon Jan 03, 2022 2:02 pm Whew, new year! And time to dust this composition off!

I think I may have found a studio to record the piece in: Vinegar Hill Studios in downtown Brooklyn. The plan is to record and mix to tape there.

I also feel very good about the first movement overall, so whilst I will continue to play through it, it's time to start working on the second, darker movement of the piece.

That’s a lovely studio, in a very interesting area, I’d like to record there.
Lovely piano too, that Steinway.
I’m itching to go to Grant Avenue, in Canada, but the sheer pain of travelling and testing makes it totally unacceptable, but I’ll make it one day.
Have a good session.

PS.

Don’t know what your experiences are, but always book more time than you think you’re going to need, and budget for that, the last thing you need is to worry about studio time, you don’t want to feel rushed.
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Re: New synth challenge -- the performance drone recording!

Post by Ben Asaro »

Yup, it's a 5 hour booking for a 30 minute performance. If I can't get it out right in that amount of time, then it's not meant to be! :D

It's just across town from where I live, I actually am in that area quite often for work!
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