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One Day on Earth – United Nations Screening

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Scoring the feature film One Day on Earth was a wonderful experience that culminated with a screening on April 22nd, 2012 at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. The film also played in over 160 countries around the world that day, breaking records. The movie turned out beautiful and it was an honor to be part of it. I am most grateful for the many good folks I met while working on this project. It is a thought provoking film and very much worth a look-see. View Trailers after the break. – jm

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Bellows Holiday Loops

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The contents of my RC-50 loop pedal after playing a quiet show in support of Joanna Wilson at Akron’s Square Records on 2011/12/10. I brought the contents of the three loop slots into Ableton and drew some volume fades. I was using Kalimba, OP-1 and iPad into a Line 6 M9 processor into a Boss RC-50 Looper into two MINI3 Vox Amps.

The footage is of an installation at the Toronto airport that contained cubes floating in blue water. It is nice when something visually interesting is occurring behind glass because you can push your phone against it to stabilize the camera.

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One Day on Earth – Global Song Collaboration

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As part of an ongoing project called One Day on Earth, we are attempting to get musicians from around the world to participate in a global song collaboration this Friday, 11.11.11. I created a series of simple guide tracks that will allow musicians to stay in sync. We have a wide variety of musicians already set to participate but we want more. Please click here more information and to hear and download the guide tracks (one of the guide tracks is also right below).

11.11.11 Guide Track – HipHop by patternbased

Ingenuity Fest 2011 – Cleveland, Ohio

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Ingenuity Fest is Cleveland’s yearly festival showcasing art (mostly music) and technology. Patternbased and Akron’s Center for Audio and Visual Experimentation (CAVE, run by Rubber City Noise) teamed up to create a space at the festival. We had the weekend filled with electronic and experimental artists, hand-built walls of art and mobile electronic busking units powered by car batteries. Some of my favorite acts to bless our stage over the weekend were _node, Ondelette and Giant Claw. Two projects I am involved in, Low in the Sky and Bellows both put on their best shows to date. In general, it was a very positive event and even though we had a shoestring budget, our space and artists greatly added to the festival. Special thanks to Pat McNulty on the sound boards, all the artists, experimedia for the initial hookup and everyone who manned the merch table all weekend. If you missed it, Frank J Lanza’s Flickr contains some great photos of the festival. Up next on the festival front for Patternbased is the VIA festival in Pittsburgh, PA where Kendra Minadeo and I will be doing handmade film workshops and VJ’ing as Bellows for Tim Sweeny.

The Age of Timbre and the 2004 Ford Seat Belt Reminder Beeps

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How is it that the seat belt reminder beeps in my car match up with such a huge amount of the music being played on the car stereo? The beeps are F# at 243 BPM. Because most modern music is diatonic and concert tuned to the modern equal tempered western scale, I think simple math would tell us that there is roughly a 2 in 3 chance that F# would belong to a scale used to create (I am guessing well over 99%) of the modern music being created, distributed and played today. Other scales and tunings, bad file conversions and songs being played back at different speeds (the rare DJ spinning vinyl on the radio for instance) would account for some of that < 1% remainder. So the odds look good based on the harmonic content but what about the tempo? I am less sure how to calculate the tempo odds but I noticed I am usually giving a several BPM leeway on the beeps matching to the music. Also, the beeps can match in many ways. ie. the beeps become 8ths, 16ths, 8th triplets, 16th triplets or part of a more unsual poly-rhythm.

I feel like this helps to illustrate how we live in a musical age of timbre. An age that started in the 50s and 60s with the rise of electronics for music making and manipulation. For better or for worse, the 440Hz western equal tempered scale is essentially a world wide standard and has been for a while. Almost everyone is using the same twelve notes. Where much music generally feels like it is breaking the most new ground to me is in the timbre and sound design. Certainly people are still finding endless new ways to combine rhythms and harmonic content and always will.. not to mention that these thoughts are somewhat based on popular music (as opposed to experimental, classical, jazz etc) which is what I am usually hearing in my car but I feel that it is still timbre that is creating the most forward movement in music today and the beeps in my car will continue to sound like they are playing along with so many things.

Ode to 2004 Ford Focus Seat Belt Reminder Tones by patternbased

Playing with the Blimp

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Like any modern city, Akron, Ohio has no shortage of drones and noise. One of the more unique drones is the blimp which is often meandering around overhead. The goal of the exercise was to record a slice of typical blimp drone and create a chart of fundamental frequencies you would need to play along with the blimp in major and minor keys but in most of the slices of the blimp field recordings I analyzed, the blimp drone was generally concert tuned. At least, that is how my ears heard it. Below are two slices from the same field recording, G# and A were the fundamental frequencies. Things like Doppler effect, Blimp speed and humidity would all play into dominant pitch of the drone but generally, it seemed to be around G# and A in my recordings. So if you are a musician aching to jam with a blimp (and who isn’t?), those might be good starting points.

Here is a list of frequencies for the notes of a standard equal tempered concert tuned instrument (A = 440Hz).
Here is a cool tool to get the frequencies of notes relative to non concert tuned pitched (A <> 440Hz).

A harmonically complex drone that seems to have a fundamental frequency close to a concert tuned pitch can likely be forced to that nearest concert tuned note in the listener’s mind but without a reference point (ie music playing) this likely would not happen. The maximum deviation would vary from listener to listener. I remember reading about a blind french mathematician who studied note intervals and would drive his test subjects (mostly musicians) crazy with intervals so slight, most people could not detect them. I am having trouble re-finding the article. If you know who I am referring to, please let me know.

Here is a short piece of music that starts off with the blimp drone only. Four loops of blimp at 120 BPM in an AABA pattern where part A sounds the note A and part B sounds the note G#:
Patternbased – Blimp Drone by patternbased

The Piano

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The piano has been in it’s current form for over 150 years. It has been in development for over 300 years. It has a lineage that can be traced to the 3rd century BC through its keyboard cousins including the organ.

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Beethoven, Mozart, Liszt, Ellington, Chopin, Tatum and Melnyk; it has been the primary musical tool of some of the greatest musicians the world has ever known. Its hugely important in an almost endless list of styles and forms of music. Its warm, wood tones are inspiring to the composer as well as the listener.

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It’s weakness in the modern world is a lack of portability. This contributed to the ascendancy of the guitar which is now arguably the single most important instrument in worlds current musical landscape. Unfortunately, no true facsimile exists that accurately mimics the both the feel and sound of the piano despite the hundreds of pieces of hardware and software dedicated to doing so.

Give the Devs Credit

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I saw the slowed down Justin Bieber track in no less then a dozen places online when it first hit a month or so ago.. Twitter, email, Facebook etc and though the person who did the stretching often received credit for the idea, there was little to no mention of the software used. The software is the primary reason that the slowed track sounded as good as it did. Developers, gear designers and all the other people responsible for making the tools that artists then use to make new things often seem to get little credit when, in many cases, it is the tools doing much of the heavy lifting. Of course, this is not always the case. Les Paul and Bob Moog are household names (assuming the household is a musical one). But this IS one of those cases. Nasca Octavian is the person listed on the PaulStretch (the software used to slow down the Beiber track) page as having written the software. So here is to Nasca and all the other rad developers of the tools we sometimes take for granted. Where would the art be without yall.