Archive for the 'Gratitude' Category

Mar 15 2018

The February Challenge – 2018

Thanks to some online music groups, I discovered an annual effort where musicians record 10 to 15 songs during the month of February, with the intention of releasing them as an ‘album.’ After some careful thought in January, I decided to join in, but with a slightly modified vision. I decided to compose and record 1 new original music track every day. Before I started I knew that I’d work ‘inside the box.’ Everything would be created in Cubase (on my PC) or in Korg Gadget (iPad)¬†using software synthesizers and mostly original sounds.

There was another challenge that is reflected in some of the tracks. It is the ‘A Synth – A Song’ challenge, where all parts in a track are created using just one synth. The idea, of course, is to push the capabilities of the synth AND one’s own programming skills to create something interesting.

Some of these are completely realized recordings, and others are sketches. Overall, I’m fairly happy with what I created. I didn’t end up meeting my challenge. I really only recorded 26 tracks. Also, I’m still working on one that I started in toward the end of the challenge. That will be a full fledged song, played with some ‘real’ instruments, and will have me singing.

Below, you will find a player that has all 26 tracks (and one alternate version) in alphabetical order. Below that, you’ll find individual players for each track. Also, you can download a playlist of all the tracks. It should open in your favorite music player.

You can also view the site where the challenge originated.

 

 

 

 

      Three To Win
Produced in Cubase using a variety of virtual synths.

 
 
 

      Countdown
Produced in Cubase, this track has an ever shifting time signature, which gives it a floaty sort of feel. All of the synth patches were created by me, using a variety of inbuilt and free VST instruments.
 
 
 
      In Seine Rapids
Here’s a tune to dance to as you skip and stroll along the river Seine. Watch your step, though, as it is in 7/8.
 
 
 
      Walking in Central Park
This is a simple song that evokes a feeling of nostalgia… Created using one Steinberg VST, HAlion, in Cubase.
 
 
 
      A Non-Gender Specific Object Being Consumed by Fire
Another track created in Cubase, using just one synth: the free Eclipsis VST.
 
 
 
      Lullabye
Music to make sleeping children dream of ghostly apparitions. This track was created entirely on the iPad, using Korg Gadget.
 
 
 
      Circular Thinking
Produced in Cubase using just one synth, the free VST, Eclipsis.
 
 
 
      A Broken Vessel
Produced entirely in Cubase, using just one synth, the free VST, Matrix 6000.
 
 
 
      Double Jointed
Here’s a dance number for people with two left feet.
 
 
 
      Changmai Escape
Produced entirely on iPad, using just one synth: Korg Gadget’s Changmai.
 
 
 
      Sweeping The Steppes
This is a recording of a live looping performance on the iPad using just one synth, Wolfgang Palm’s amazing Wavemapper inside Michael Tyson’s AudioBus3 and using his LoopyHD for Frippertronics style looping. All sounds were created by me in Wavemapper, using samples that I recorded. No editing or effects were added after the fact.
 
 
 
      The Empty Mirror
This song was produced on the iPad, using Korg Gadget, and inspired the following lyrics:

“The empty mirror reflects a sadness I cannot see. It politely refuses to let me be.
It asks me to look but nothing is there. It’s hidden the last of me.”
 
 
 

      Dust Devils
An imagined landscape of reds and browns, with swirling winds and plucked strings.
 
 
 
      Love Is (For Shari)
This is an allegorical piece, telling the story of how love brought me out of chaos and into peace and joy. It was composed on Valentine’s Day, for my beloved wife, life partner, and friend. It was produced entirely on the iPad using Korg Gadget.
 
 
 
      Above The Kermadec Trench
As one moves lower, into the deep, the last glimmers of light from the surface begin to fade, and darkness becomes blinding.
 
 
 
      Discadance
This is a musical thought experiment using a systems-based composition technique. No effects, other than reverb on the master mix, were used. No dynamics were manipulated. This track was created using Cubase, and one synth, am early virtual analog synths made by Steinberg. Best heard on speakers.
 
 
 
      Baracha Nada
This one is is kinda groovy in a vaguely latin way, when the band has had one too many to drink, perhaps.
 
 
 
      Point Fermin Fog
A spin-off of the systems-based approach of Discadance, with a much more relaxed, languid feel and a bit more variety in the tones.
 

It inspired a brief poem:

The horn howls like Ginsberg,
cold as the light-knife cuts through
the darkness.
A cloud blanket softens the night,
dampens the forgotten spirits
that haunt Angel’s Gate,
forever waiting for imagined
invaders.
I ache for that softness,
breathe it in,
but the edge remains.
 
 
 

      Sistema Sac Actun
This is a recording of a live performance, made entirely on the iPad, using Korg Module and Loopy HD running in Audiobus 3.
 
 
 
      The Flemish Cap
The Flemish Cap is an underwater ocean area East of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. It is best known because of the collapse of previously abundant sea life due to over-fishing by EU member states in the 1990s.
 
 
 
      Kaddish A Requiem for Humanity
The creation of this track proved to be surprising. A friend was discussing the value of watching the footage of the evacuation and rescue that took place in Florida after the recent shooting. I found myself responding rather passionately and, immediately after, recording tonight’s track. Here’s what I wrote.

When I was 12, my Hebrew School showed all of the students at least three big reels of 16mm Nazi death camp footage. Most of it was filmed by the Nazis before the liberation. It had no sound. It was just silent b/w moving images of horrors that, as a child, I could not previously imagine.

There’s a part of me that feels injured by that experience. There’s another part of me that cherishes it. I think we can too easily look away from the horrors of the world and, in doing so, believe that we are disconnected from them.

As we know, though, safety is an illusion. We know that none of us are immune from the pain and suffering that others feel. We are not separate from each other. Your pain is my pain, and we need to see the truth so we can understand the problem and work together toward a new paradigm.

Gun control is one small part of the problem. We’ve allowed ourselves to isolate the others, those who make us uncomfortable, when we should be reaching out to them and bringing them closer. We have a systemic cultural problem, and there is no easy fix for it.

BTW, ‘Kaddish’ is the Jewish prayer of remembrance for the dead.

Translation:

May His great name be exalted and sanctified in the world which He created according to His will! May He establish His kingdom and may His salvation blossom and His anointed be near during your lifetime and during your days and during the lifetimes of all the House of Israel, speedily and very soon! And say, Amen. May His great name be blessed for ever, and to all eternity! Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, above and beyond all the blessings, hymns, praises and consolations that are uttered in the world! And say, Amen.
 
 
 

      The Great Wall
This piece was created in Cubase using one synth, the free VST, Sonigen Modular.

Lyrics:

What’s so great about a wall?
What is their beef, those Mongol hoards?
With beards and swards
Sweeping the steppes
With dissonant chords.
Why do they install
This monumental wall?

Strong fences make good neighbors
but the hooves and neighs of foaming steeds
bear no quarter but those hung and drawn.

These effortless sketches stretch South and West,
but I’ve forgotten all the rest.
 
 
 

      Bang Header
This tune is really just an excuse for a tune, rather formulaic and sad, except that I like it, kinda. It was fun creating the beat, and I quite like some of the patches. Some are stock and others more custom.

Lyrics:

Head your bang, your bang diddy bang bang.
Head your thang, your thang diddy thang thang.
 
 
 

      Frederated
Here’s another fun odd time signature for all the counters out there. Also, this track used just one synth for all of the sounds, the free VST Sonigen Modular. The track was created in Cubase. The title refers to one of my favorite musicians.
 
 
 
      Whitney Winds
This is a recording of a Frippertronics-style live looping iPad performance using an app called Yonac Steel Guitar.
 
 
 
      Disco Fever
Dance, everybody! Everybody dance!
 
 
 
      Worthy
A song about the struggle to embrace love. Recorded in Cubase with virtual drums and organ, real guitar courtesy of the Sandblaster, the Industrial Guitars Indy Rail lap steel, and my Japanese Fender Fretless Jazz bass with custom humbucking Seymour Duncan pickups and Aguilar preamp.

Lyrics:

Worthy
by Sander Roscoe Wolff

I’m not too bad. I’m not too good.
I’ve not done all the things I should.
This road is rocky. I stumble and fall.
I can’t get up, so I just crawl.

The darkness calls. It knows my name.
My forgotten goodness is hidden by shame.
I look to the depths and decide to go.
But you tell me one thing that I did not know.

You say, “You’re worthy. Worthy of my love.”
You say, “You’re worthy. Worthy of my love.”

Your words, they shake me. I start to cry.
I feel unready to live or die.
I turn to leave but I’m caught by surprise.
I see the truth in your blue eyes.

I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of your love.”
I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of your love.”

Some days are dark, and some are sad.
Now, through it all, my heart is glad.
Some days are dark, and some are sad.
Now through it all, my heart is glad.

I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of my love.”
I said, “I’m worthy. Worthy of my love.”
 
 
 

      Walking in Central Park (One Synth)
– This track uses the same note information as the original, but is realized entirely with one synth, Arturia’s Moog Modular VST in Cubase. Some of the sounds are stock patches, some were tweaked, and some completely original.
 
 
 

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Aug 07 2008

Ain Soph Aur Studio Collaboration – Work in Progress

A few weeks ago Carl, my collaborator in Ain Soph Aur, emailed me a short audio snippet with the request that I come up with some parts that might sit well with it. The part was strange, with an unusual meter and a chorused bass part that felt elusive. I immediately recorded several guitar tracks, burned them to a CD, and gave them to Carl within the next few days.

Several weeks passed and, to be honest, I’d pretty much forgotten about it entirely. In my email in-box came an MP3, where Carl had taken his original loop, my guitar parts, and added several more tracks as well. I began to get really excited. He then gave me 14 stereo WAV tracks that made up his mix of the tune, and I began playing with those, adding more tracks, processing existing ones, and generally going crazy.

The result is a 33 minute epic of sonic goodness. Now, Carl hasn’t heard this long-form version yet, and it really isn’t complete. I have no doubt that, when he hears it, he’ll be inspired to respond in some way. I can’t wait!!!

Still, he’s away right now, and won’t be back for a while, so I felt moved to share this as it is, knowing that, down the road, it may change significantly.

So, without further ado, behold “Dancing Upon A Foaming Sea.”

[note: this is a very large, 31 MB, file. People with small hard drives or dial-up connections should wait for the CD release]

The title, which comes from Alister Crowley’s description of the Princess of Cups in his Egyptian Tarot book, The Book of Thoth, may change too, btw.

I’ve also posted a screen shot of the project in my Cubase SX3 audio software.

To the best of my knowledge, the track contains the following: Bass, organ, guitar, cornet, recorder, tin flute, bells, voices, plastic tubes, shakers, metal bowls, dog collars, field recordings of seals and birds, a live performance snippet, kalimba, hand drum, synth drums, and a few other things. See if you can find them all!

One response so far

Sep 23 2007

SoundWalk2007 Recap

Published by under Gratitude,Sound

I have to say that SoundWalk2007 was amazing. There was a HUGE turnout, and a very diverse mix of young hipsters, folks about our age with their kids, and older folks too. There were about 50 works and/or performances spread out over 4 square blocks. Some were in cars, or in the backs of rented U-Haul trucks, some on roof-tops, in store-fronts, alley ways, on the sidewalks, and in galleries.

Some works were astoundingly simple. For example, an artist took 100 music box innards and mounted them all in one large wooden box. Somehow, there was a main mechanism that would hold them in check. You could wind up any number of them then release the master mechanism and they would play. The effect was actually quite pleasing. There was also a performance of “Napping Music,” in which 6-12 people lay, with blankets and pillows, on the stage. At one point several children wandered by and decided to lay on the floor next to the stage. This same group also did a performance where the musicians would only play if you touched them. Sweet.

On the other extreme, there was one piece that looked like a beautiful delicate sculpture of wire and lights but, upon closer examination, one realized that it was actually a very complex electrical circuit that responded to changes in light and sound. People were interacting with it, and it was quite delightful to see the looks of wonder on their faces.

As for me, I’ll give you a brief description of what I was doing. I was talking on my Cel Phone. There were two parts to this. The first part was, as I strolled around, me saying complementary things about folks as they walked by, as though I were sharing this with the person I was speaking to on my phone. “There’s a woman in front of me who has the most beautiful hair.” or “I’m looking at an older man who has the nicest face.” I was intentionally trying to communicate positive, and specific, statements about people in the area. The 2nd part was using my cel phone in places that might be seen as inappropriate, for example during the napping music performance. Some people responded by ignoring me, obviously so, to the point where I called it “Cel-Phone Shunning.” Even friends of mine would act this way. Others would glare at me and, once, someone pointed toward the door, suggesting that I leave.

Overall, I’d say that what I did was a success, but I felt myself being somewhat timid and not really pushing things as far as I could. For example, there’s a very nice restaurant in the area, and a friend suggested I go in, stand at the bar, and talk on my phone. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, though.

My friend Dennis brought his video camera, and I rented a wireless microphone system that allowed him to stand fairly far from me and, hopefully, capture some of the interactions. I’ve not reviewed the tape, but look forward to doing so. If we captured anything good, I’ll post it.

My sincere thanks to all the folks at Flood, who invisioned, produced, and sustained this amazing event, and invited me to participate. Thanks to Marco, Shea, Kamran, Frauke, Shelley, and all the amazing artists who participated this year.

Well, that’s about it for now.

xoxo

srw

One response so far

May 02 2007

Titano Dandy

We all have moments of weakness, when we do things we know we shouldn’t. We make choices based on motivations we really don’t understand and, sometimes, the consequences of those choices can be unpredictible. Such was the case a few months back when I went to an auction to sell some stuff. Here are some photos of what I left with:

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4 responses so far

Apr 03 2007

More Flowers!

Published by under Art,Gratitude,Photography

I took my dslr to the nursery today (H&H!) and took some flower shots:

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Feb 16 2007

My Father’s New Hat

Since I was travelling North to celebrate my father’s birthday, I wanted to give him a gift that he’d find both practical and a bit luxurious. I pressed him for suggestions and he confessed that he needed a new “crook’s” cap. I did a bit of research and discovered that the British Ivy Cap was what he wanted but, when I began to explore the marketplace, I didn’t find anything that knocked me out. Long Beach, my home town, is fortunate to have a fairly good hat shop, and they stocked something similar to the Ivy caps my father favored, but from Italy. The brand was Borsalino, one I’d never heard of, but the hat I found was really nice so I got it.

When I gave it to him, he was thrilled. He explained that, as a kid in Brooklyn, all the Italian ‘made’ men wore Borsalino hats.

Dad Enjoying his new Borsalino

At his birthday party, he enjoyed a moment with his grandson, Max Hardgrave.

Dad Enjoying his new Borsalino with Max

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Nov 23 2006

Various Pix of Lauren

When I can, I love taking pictures of my friends and family. This post will be, from now on, where I post nice shots of Lauren. For example:

Lauren in the Lakewood wilderness

One response so far

Nov 20 2006

My Horse Friend, Rodeo (pronounced: ro-DAY-yo)

Published by under Family,Gratitude,Photography

Lauren’s been taking riding lessons, and I go with her and hang out with the horses. One, in particular, is my bestie. His name is Rodeo. I’ve taken a bunch of pictures of him, and here are some:

Rolling in the Dirt

Rodeo gets a Carrot from Shari (Yum!)

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Nov 13 2006

What’s in a name?

Published by under Family,Gratitude

As I’m sure you know, when a parent saddles a child with an unusual first name, it is considered good form to provide the child with a fall-back middle name, one that, if the first proves to be too problematic, can be used safely and without controversy.

As you now know, my first name is Sander. Although not entirely unknown (younger people tend to associate it with Xander of Buffy fame), it isn’t exactly standard. Also, because it confuses people, I am often called strange variations, like Sanders, Sandler, Sandlers, Saunder, Saunders and, more meliciously, Slander.

So, keeping all that in mind, care to venture another guess for that ‘R’ middle name?

Ok, so I won’t keep you in suspense any longer… The middle name for the Jewish lad from Manhatten is:

ROSCOE!

There were two especially problematic things with Roscoe. First, when I was very little, my mother called me Sander Rascal Wolff. As a result, I adopted my Father’s sister’s married name: Katz.

So, from the ages of about 3-7 I was Sander Katz Wolff. The other problem was The Dukes of Hazzard. That TV show featured a character by the name of Roscoe P Coltrain. The association was inescapable so, even though I recovered from the Rascal issue, my middle name remained a deep dark secret.

It wasn’t until my late 20s, when I started doing some journalism work, that I decided it was necessary to ressurect my middle name. If you want to know about that, go here. Be prepared, though. It is Twilite Zone freaky.

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Nov 10 2006

Corporate Namaste

Published by under Art,Family,Food,Gratitude,Photography

I love my wife dearly, and am especially grateful when she poses for me, as in this picture:

Corporate Namaste

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