Friday, October 13, 2006

Beckman debriefing

Congrats everyone on a successful performance! People in the audience liked it too. Let's get going on some followup performances. Here are some things to consider for the next gigs:

- Instead of doing 5 acts on a gig, let's try some breakouts: maybe one or two different acts per gig, which means you can play for longer.

- We need to elevate the main speakers, so they're at ear level or higher - more than anything else, doing this will help the overall sound.

And now that we're getting sound to work, and our Max patches aren't blowing up, we need to start thinking about some musical issues:

- One of the potential problems with laptop gigs is that it can be impossible to tell who's actually playing what at a given moment. While this can be cool, it quickly (for me anyway) gets tiring. When you're making your patches and planning your pieces, try to keep clear who is making which sound.

- Similarly, if you add too much processing to instruments or vocals, it starts to sound muddy. Ideally every sound file and processing should have a reason for being. It's like orchestration: if everybody plays all the time, the result is a gray, washed-out sound.

- Finally (this is more related to your final project) if you're creating a patch for improvisation & munging sound (like Kenaxis, a few posts below), you're really making an instrument, or a hybrid between instrument and composition. Keep in mind that traditional instruments such as pianos and guitars have developed over hundreds of years, and represent the pinnacle of instrument design. In other words, making an instrument is a non-trivial exercise. Figure out what you need your instrument/improvisation tool/composition to do, and plan carefully. We'll be spending some class time on these issues in the coming weeks. Good luck!

4 Comments:

Blogger Keith Manlove said...

Gray like this?

Cy Twombly

If so, I'm fine with this. If not, I've got a million more examples. I think (as you suggested before) we should discuss these issues in class. "Gray Music" or "gray" associated with music is unfortunate (and possibly wrong) analogy. Gray is beautiful. All of the colors are beautiful. What are we supposed to do if we no interest in the binary oppositions that more modern thinkers have hoped to move beyond? What about those interested in tiny music? If this is gray, then my music will be happily gray.

(Don't think I was attacking you, Steve. I think this needs to be discussed, especially in electronic music. Much of the aesthetic would be dismissed with this. I think people use this phrase without thinking about it, and this was a good opportunity to bring it up)

1:48 PM, October 14, 2006  
Blogger Steve Taylor said...

Comments well taken, Keith, and the Cy Twombly image is beautiful. Actually I was thinking of PlayDoh - when you mix all the bright colors together, you end up with a bunch of brown PlayDoh - so maybe I should have used brown (which is more like mud).

I think if you're specifically going for a gray sound (which can be taken in all kinds of ways) it's better to create the sound with gray in mind, rather than arrive at it accidentally by mixing too many bright colors together, if that makes sense.

And also to keep in mind the space in which you're performing - several people were using highly reverberant processing, which in the Beckman space just made it sound confused, imho.

2:19 PM, October 14, 2006  
Blogger Keith Manlove said...

Here's a successful PlayDoh, I think.

Guston

I do agree, if you're going to make music like the Guston painting, you must realize that you are, like Guston, playing a dangerous, frustrating game. Some people have just began acting like you can't do anything with the brown.

7:34 PM, October 14, 2006  
Blogger Colin Holter said...

Well, whether Twombly and Guston worked with colors like brown and gray is kind of beside the point: In any case, they both thought carefully about what they wanted to accomplish and developed strategies for achieving these goals. If our performances (technical demonstrations?) at Beckman suffered from one major problem, I don't think it's grayness (although the gig was certainly plagued by poor sound, which was mostly not our fault) - instead, I think we just need more well-considered concepts and better executions thereof, and both of these things take time to percolate.

11:12 AM, October 15, 2006  

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