Ingenuity Fest 2011 – Cleveland, Ohio

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ingenuity
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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focus
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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blimp
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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pianoTop

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.

pianoMid

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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Tools

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.

Love Back Through the Wire

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bdaytrees

over the last week or so, i have been trying to spend some time learning a new piece of music software. it has been somewhat frustrating because it is so different from what i am used to. i wanted to make up a quick project that would allow me to work on a bunch of tracks that are unrelated sonically and thus had me exploring different aspects of the software.

here it is: thanking the nice peeps who wished me a happy birthday electronically last thursday (fb, myspace, txt, twitter etc) with little pieces of music. bday diddies for each of you, yo. nothing is over 3 minutes. pardon any possible errant frequencies, uneven volumes, lack of endings etc.

01. b. lashua – kent street technique
this track would be 100x better with your drumming. i miss working on music with you but i am grateful for all the music we did together.

02. a. melling – star power
i tried to do something semi-dark and with a groove, a la fbk but it didn’t really turn out that way. i like it tho. thank you for believing in me and all your kind words over the years.

03. t. fleming – the hopeful machines of salt lake
those machine recordings you sent were amazing. whats the machine i used for this track do? it sounds awesome. i was trying to make something uplifting sounding on top of it instead of the obvious industrial route. thank you for taking the time to collect and send them. we gotta do some collaborating soon.

04. c.a. shim sham – bunny hop flim flam
thank you for all the collabs. i am your fan and am looking forward to more collective awesomeness. bunnies of the world unite.

05. p. mcnulty – poets practice warmups
well, i started with son clave. so that automagically makes it latin? sweet. thank you for being an amazing person and for your true friendship.

06. m. rangel – crossing ohio cold
this was an attempt at something shoegazery but it just went in its own direction. i hope you like it anyways. thank you for the birthday wishes.

07. j. sas –
thank you for always being so nice and thoughtful and for the birthday wishes. you get something that sounds in the spirit of the holloween to me. i was working on this track while handing out candy =)

08. j. rockwell – adventures of black
i could hear you spitting a gritty verse on this. is it within ettiquite to request a verse line? if so, ‘more ox than cannibal’. maybe something about hannibal for other half =). you are a good friend, thank you.

09. y. price – bass practice
i was trying to do something that was screaming for a bassline but couldn’t resist putting the bass in there.

10. s. cooper – contiguous gaming fields
you get the spy sounding stuff.

11. s. murray – trips
something to mellow out to perhaps.

12. k. minadeo – tracing a line of stars
thank you for being who you are.

13. m. kropf – frank lloyd discotech
something along the lines of one of the reoccurring  rhythms of  booty shaking loveliness often heard at the legendary kropf parties.

14. a. kim – late october pre dawn bus stop
i was sorta trying to capture the feeling of  the dark late fall early mornings that we had to catch the bus in.. not necessarily the part where i would jump out from behind a tree to scare the crap out of you. sorry about that.

15. c. o’brien – geauga lake view
something to dance around to perhaps.

16. c. schuerger – professional systems support
youtube provided some cheerleader yells, a police scanner provided some akron law enforcement action.. there is even a skinny puppy sample (that bed of noise that starts and ends the track) in there.

17. s. felix – floating bridge technique
somewhat built around the samples recorded from the bridge project.  i am looking forward to future collaboration.

18. a. scola – approved groove
i remember dancing around in the helio control room if we were listening to something (homemade or otherwise) with an approved groove. i can imagine your voice doing something along the lines of the lead synth line. twood be sick.

19. k. tortora – rheenso rabbit
all the rabbits of the world unite. rabbits are the best of friends. rabbits are filled with love. i am filled with love for all rabbits. i look forward to lifelong collabs with the truest of rabbits.

20. d. lashua – mew nork van ridezz
some kinda sad attempt at something heavy i guess. i wasn’t even using a real guitar amp and yet i still managed to come up with what sounds like shitty mic placement. needs a d-train guitar overhaul.. and a b-bomb drum overhaul for that matter.

21. b. jaykell – world coast
was trying to get something vacationy.. i was checking out your amazing vacation pics.

22. l. flate – i was thinking of revamping that track you and i did together but i think i lost the source files and it didn’t seem right to use anything old since everything else was a new creation. you get this instead.

23. s. bonvenuto – lullaby for lexi

24. m. minadeo – lullaby for leah

Woodland – Two Note Wonders

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twonotewonders

A couple of tracks on an upcoming release on Infraction Records. The project is Woodland, the album is Two Note Wonders and the music is mellow.

[audio:pb13 – woodland – two note wonders/woodland – pb13 – summers ago.mp3] Woodland – Summers Ago

[audio:pb13 – woodland – two note wonders/woodland – pb13 – this time tomorrow.mp3] Woodland – This Time Tomorrow

Two Remixes

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A couple remixes. First is an older remix of a Infinite Number of Sounds track, Artificial Light. The other is a remix of Set in Sand’s In a Sense a Flowers track.

[audio:misc audio/infinite number of sounds – artificial light – patternbased remix.mp3]

 

[audio:misc audio/set in sand – patternbased – in a sense of a flowers and.mp3]

Aprilisms

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studios

Left: Gear arranged for creating a new live set. The first show is at Square Records in Highland Square on April 18th. I am using a Boss RC50 loop pedal to loop real time from guitar, bass, prophet 08, iPhone (noise.io), Nintendo DS, gameboy and some thrift store finds. The plan is to have a very rough map that I can sometimes follow and sometimes veer from. I will be playing at 2pm and 6pm and will likely have an interactive video system set up that people in the record store can mess with.

Right: The construction of a small three room recording studio in my basement to make the winters more enjoyable and hopefully get some one-off collabs going. I am not looking to start any long term projects at the moment but I would like to bring friends/collaborators in to work on a single track at a time. I think the space is going to be perfect. I am still looking for a pinball machine and a working electrified player piano. Hit me up if you know of anything.