Archive for the 'Music' Category

Sep 23 2016

Music For Frank Moore Documentary

Published by under Instrumental,Music,Studio

Some months ago my friend and musical ally Robert Douglas (aka Carl Off) was asked to contribute music to a documentary project about American performance artist Frank Moore. His circumstances wouldn’t allow his participation, so he connected me to the producers, Linda Mac and Mikee LaBash. Carl and I had collaborated, previously, in the improvisational studio and performance duo known as Ain Soph Aur, and he’d tasked me with creating music for From The Heart of Brahma, a film he made about Prumsodun Ok, a queer Cambodian American dancer who’d drawn upon traditional Khmer dance to create new, inclusive, narratives.

The Let Me Be Frank documentary morphed, rather quickly, from a feature film into a series of shorter pieces based on Moore’s book, Art of the Shaman. Since Moore had been born with cerebral palsy, he was unable to speak, so many wonderful fellow artists, collaborators and friends were asked to read sections of the book. My job was to create musical beds beneath these readings. Most ended up being very ambient, though some were more rhythmic.

It has been a really enjoyable and collaborative process.

To watch the episodes (currently 4, so far, with many more planned), visit frankadelic.com or Vimeo. You can also read the text the series is based on, and explore a vast collection of Frank’s other work on eroplay.com.

Here is a playlist of some of the tracks I created for the project:

 

For those who are interested, here are some very scant production notes about the tracks:

Affected Infected – Voice
A New Free Love – Trombone
A Tribal Body – Cambodian Buddhist Monks, etc
Back Brain – Live Looping Synth & Guitar
Death Tickets – Electric Guitar
Destructive Games – Acoustic Grand Piano
Elementary Acts – Acoustic Guitar
Feedback Cycle – Imagined Psychoactive Ritual
Flesh Pleasure Creatures – Jazz Odyssey
Inside The Ritual – Rock Odyssey
Into The Volcano – Toe Tapper
Jump In – Jazz Odyssey
Magical Action – Recorders, Ocarina, Cat
The Braided Path – Guitar Suite
The End of Evolution – Guitar Suite
The Holy Obvious – Piano
This Hidden Yoke – Trombone
Trance Myths – Kalimba

Listen to the music I created for From The Heart of Brahma:

 
 

      Brahma Suite

No responses yet

Aug 25 2015

Found: 80’s Synth Pieces Created at Long Beach City College

In the early 80s, I spent quite a bit of time in the Synth Lab at Long Beach City College. It was a fairly small room, packed with two Moog 15 racks, a 35 rack, a sequencer, and a keyboard. There were also two Oberheim 4 voice synthesizers, an Apple 2e system with an AlphaSyntauri digital synthesis system which I grew quite fond of. In the lab, there was also a Mini Moog, a drum machine of some sort, an 8-track 1″ reel to reel, a 1/4″ stereo reel to reel, a mixing desk, and a rack with a spring reverb unit mounted in it. I believe there was also an Arp String Ensemble in the studio, too, which is used on one of the tracks.

None of these devices were capable of storing or recalling preset sounds. Every sound had to be created from scratch. Also, this was pre-MIDI, and we had no time code system. All tracks were recorded one at a time, track by track, played by hand on a keyboard. (There’s one exception that I’ll address in a moment.)

Tracks

      Afanasevo Steppe
– This track was recorded, most probably, using the SEM based Oberheim 4-voice synths. It is clearly an attempt by me to be musical.

      Bypass
– This track was recorded, I believe, exclusively with the AlphaSyntauri computer-based synth and is probably the most abstract of the four recordings.

      Edifice Falls
– This track features voice (me), lots of modulated voice (Moog modular), the Oberheim 4-voice, and the Arp String Ensemble.

      Tripadation
– Without even the slightest bit of embarrassment, I’ll confess to enjoying a bit of chaos and dissonance. This rather frenetic track was primarily created with the Oberheim 4-Voice synths, I believe.

      Not Sputtered Hot Horn
At the time, and perhaps still, this was one of my favorite creations. It was created, I believe, entirely with the AlphaSyntauri, which lends it a rather charming edge. Based on a rather simple set of 4 note clusters (without nuts).

      Ether Binge
– This track was found on a different tape, at a different time, but I thought I’d include it here because it was also created in the LBCC Synth Lab. My good friend Rychard Cooper, now ensconced in academia at CSULB, and I went on a bit of a synth bender, and created this rather wild and wooley tracks. In addition to using nearly all the patch cords for the Moog modular systems, it also features the AlphaSyntauri, tape loops, Frippertronics, recordings of ash trays, bathroom ambiance, and just about everything else we could throw in there. The recording is the result of hours of experimentation captured on 8 track, then mixed to stereo, then mixed to cassette.

No responses yet

Dec 10 2012

Nord Micro Modular Patch Demo

I’ve been fascinated by modular synthesis ever since I discovered what it was. Back in the mid 80s I had the good fortune to have nearly unlimited access to a massive Moog 35, two Moog 15 racks, a Moog sequencer, and a keyboard. These massive racks contained discreet purpose built modules that shared a common power source but, other than that, were completely independent of each other. One connected them with a series of 1/4″ audio plugs, sort of like one of those old fashioned telephone switchboards. While you were limited to the modules and patch cords on hand, there was a nearly limitless set of connection possibilities, some of which were never intended by the designers.

Without delving too deeply into synthesis, I’ll explain the four main tools: VCO, VCA, VCF, and Envelope Generator.

A voltage controlled oscillator creates the sound one hears. It usually can create a number of different wave forms, each with a specific and distinctive timbre. The pitch of the tone is controlled by knobs for gross and fine tuning, but can also be controlled by a voltage (+/- 5v, for example). The keyboard connects to the input of the oscillator and sends a specific voltage for each note that is depressed. It is also possible to send the signal of another VCO, or even an Envelope Generator, to the VCO to alter the pitch.

A voltage controlled amplifier is a simple tool to control the amplitude of a sound. As the voltage drops, the loudness decreases, and visa versa. Often, the VCA is modulated with a VCO to create an effect similar to a tremolo on a guitar amplifier. It can also be controlled by the EG.

The voltage controlled filter helps to shape the tone or timbre. It can do this by removing or boosting specific frequencies, or sets of frequencies, from the sound. Because the filter is voltage controlled, the amount of filtering and set of frequencies can be modulated independently, creating, for example, a ‘wah wah’ sound.

The envelope generator was not intended to directly affect the sound created by an oscillator but, rather, to produce a control voltage that can be used to alter the way other modules behave. The typical EG has four controls: Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release. These relate to how many acoustic instruments produce sounds. For example, if you pluck a violin string, the sound starts immediately. The attack is short, and sharp. If you bow it, though, the sound grows gradually. With a plucked note, there is no sustain, so the sound decays quickly and the string soon is back to rest. With a bowed string, though, the sound can sustain indefinitely and, when you stop bowing, the sound fades out. The EG helps to create these kinds of dynamics artificially, when triggered by pressing a note on the keyboard, or through other means.

One last thing about EG: If you listen carefully to a plucked note, you will notice a few other things. 1st, the pitch goes slightly sharp for just a moment, because the player is pulling on the string. Also, the set of frequencies, the harmonic content or timbre of the sound, changes very quickly, from bright to dull. One can use the EG to control both the VCO and the VCF to simulate these variations, and create amazingly realistic sounds. That, though, has never been my interest.

Clavia is a Swedish company that was at the forefront of Virtual Analog Synthesis. VAS uses computer processing to create models of electronic circuits. Their Modular synths are similar to the massive Moog synth, above, but benefit from having a larger set of modules, and the hardware being about the same size as a paperback book. The modules are laid out and connected on one’s computer, then transferred to the unit for performance. Not only can it be used to create sounds, but also to process or effect sounds, something I intend to explore further in the future.

In preparation for an upcoming performance I spent about a month creating patches from scratch and, in some cases, heavily modifying existing patches. I used a Korg Kaossilator Pro as the primary controller for the Nord Micro Modular. This device sends midi note and controller info to the Nord, much like a keyboard, but instead it uses a touch screen with assignable key and scale settings. Although the number of control signals, via midi, is vast, I chose no more than three for each patch, because that’s how many the Pro can manage easily.

Here are some screen shots of the patches, audio demos for each, and a brief description of the other controls. [Note: The controls are as follows: y=up and down movement on the touch controller; 93=a slider next to the touch screen; 94=a knob above the slider. Each is assignable to a single, or many, parameters in each patch.]

Hear 4-8-16. Control: y=Filter, 93=Bits, 94=OD

Hear Diso Deep Mod. Control: Y=Filter, 93=Phaser Depth, 94=Clip

Hear Diso Harm.

Hear Fat Triangle. Control: Y=Filter, 93=Chorus, 94=A/R

Hear Fat Triangle 2. Control: Y=Filter, 93=Chorus, 94=ModSpeed

Hear Filt Seq. Control: Y=Filter, 93=FReso, 94=Speed

Hear Orbitron. Control: Y=Filter, 93=Bits

Hear Pedal Steel Strum, and a slightly different version. Control: Y=Filter, 93=Speed/A/R, 94=Detune

Hear Space Race. Control: Y=Filter, 93=OD, 94=ModSpeed

Hear Spitty Grit. Control: 93=A/D

Hear Sweepy Time, and a slightly different version. Control: Y=Filter, 93=OD/CH, 94=ModSpeed/FM

Hear VocoLead Control: y=Filter, 93=Octave, 94=Vibrato

You can also hear a rather thoughtlessly constructed demo that features about two thirds of these patches.

Please feel free to ask me any pertinent questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

2 responses so far

Oct 06 2012

Live at the Health & Fitness Expo – October 5 & 6, 2012

The Arts Council for Long Beach was given a space at the Long Beach Marathon’s Health & Fitness Expo, and they contracted my Toaster Music cohort, Sumako, to curate it. He gathered a talented group of local artists to body-paint lovely bikini-clad models while I performed my unique brand of lap steel & synth based live looping. There was also a muralist working directly behind me. All in all, it was a really enjoyable experience, with everyone working at a high level, and sharing a sense of collective comraderie.

On Friday, I performed for just shy of 5 hours, and on Saturday I performed for 6. It was, ironically, a musical marathon of sorts.

I used two main sound sources: 1) My custom built Indy Rail Lap Steel Guitar, and 2) My beloved Novation Nova Digital Modeling Analog Synth.

The guitar runs through a series of effects: MXR El Grande Bass Fuzz -> Marshall Vibratrem -> Home Brew Electronics Psilocybe Phaser -> Danelectro Surf & Turf Compressor -> Ernie Ball Volume Pedal Jr -> Digital delay. On Saturday, just for variety’s sake, I swapped the El Grande for my cherished ZVex Wooly Mammoth. It was tasty.

The Nova is a great synthesizer, made by a company called Novation in the late 90’s. It is a computer based synth that simulates analog circuitry. It doesn’t have a keyboard, so it was being controlled via MIDI by a Korg Kaossilator Pro. This is a musical instrument in its own right but, in this case, I was using it as a ‘keyboard.’ The Kaossilator Pro can be programmed with both scale and key settings and, when I move my finger across the touch screen horizontally, it sends only those notes to the Nova.

Both instruments go into a GigaDelay, set for 8 seconds, via a Mackie mixer, where I do lots of stereo panning. You can see a photo of the rig, more or less, below.

Anyway, before I blather any further, here are excerpts from both days:

Craniundulant – Part 1

Craniundulant – Part 2

Part one consists of excerpts from Friday’s performance. I selected several complete movements and strung them together. It reflects more accurately what I do.

Part two was created differently. I divided the 6 hour performance into 10 minute segments and, from each segment, took a two minute chunk. These chunks have a 30 second overlap, where they fade into each other. Thus, you get a brief snapshot of the evolving performance without ever hearing a complete movement.

Here’s a crappy photo of my rig:

HFExpoRig

And here’s a photo, taken by Gertrude Erin Grayson IV, who is the talented artist that is painting the mural behind me:

Artist Village - Day 1

Here’s a shot of the Saturday crew:

Here’s a shot of the Friday crew:

Here are other photos, posted on facebook, and a bunch more posted by Sumako.

I must say that everyone really stepped up, and brought their ‘A’ game to the event. Everyone was really kind and supportive, and it was a real joy to be a part of the event. Mad props and kudos to Sumako for pulling this together with very little time. It was great.

No responses yet

Nov 24 2011

Room Recording: Scott Heustis, Orlando Greenhill, and Me @ Zephyr 11/12/11

Published by under Live

The amazingly talented electric guitarist Scott Heustis embraced a rather odd challenge I tossed his way: To play an entirely acoustic set. He confessed that he’d not even owned an acoustic guitar in 10 years but, shortly after my query, ran out and purchased one. Orlando was hesitant that his upright might not carry well without support, but he left his amplification in the car. I, for some reason, felt inspired to tackle the upright piano that had, according to reports, been recently tuned.

Despite the late hour, and the chill in the air, the room was fairly packed with friends new and old. We stepped off the edge of the cliff, with no rehearsal, discussion, or planning and just played.

I made a room recording which, unfortunately, didn’t capture Scott’s guitar as well as I’d hoped. Still, if you listen you can hear everything.

      Part 1

      Part 2

      Part 3

      Part 4

      Part 5

      Part 6

      Part 7

      Part 8

After a rather boisterous romp in Part 5, I was overcome by melancholy due to some dear friends experiencing a personal tragedy. This was expressed in Part 6.

Anyway, it was quite a ride, and we were all sweaty at the end.

No responses yet

Oct 03 2010

SoundWalk2010 Performance

Published by under Live

I have been curating music performances for art openings at Sipology Village Gallery in Downtown Long Beach for several months. The performances take place in the cafe next to the gallery. Sumako, the art curator, invited me to do this because I have some experience bringing interesting artists to Long Beach, and have worked with him both at the now sadly defunct Koos Art Center, and at the first Experimental Music show I produced at The Puka Bar, which led to the creation of Ain Soph Aur.

October’s art show was scheduled to be a visual retrospective of the past 6 years of SoundWalk, and the event was scheduled for the 2nd Saturday, the 9th of October. Normally, art openings at Sipology Village are on the 2nd Saturday of every month but, because of some logistical challenges, the event was moved to the 1st Saturday, the 2nd. Thus, I moved the planned music for the Gallery opening to the 2nd.

I planned a series of performances, one flowing into the next, with several combinations of artists interacting. I recorded all but one performance, missing that one because my PA wasn’t used for it. So, here’s the line-up, with links to MP3s of each.

The Second State

5:00 – 6:00:

      Jeremy Morelock + Sander Roscoe Wolff

6:00 – 7:00:
      Sumako

7:00 – 8:00:
      Mike Weber + Jeremy Morelock + Sander Roscoe Wolff

8:00 – 9:00: Orlando Greenhill
9:00 – 10:00:
      Sander Roscoe Wolff

Instrumentation

Sander Roscoe Wolff – Voice, Guitar, Bells, Environmental Recordings, Recorder, Penny Whistle, Bone Samples, Effects
Jeremy Morelock – Midi Guitar, Ethnic Samples, Voice, Lute, Effects
Sumako – Custom Fretless Fernandez Electric Guitar, Kaossolators
Mike Weber – Lap Steel, Delay
Orlando Greenhill – Upright acoustic Bass, Electric Bass, Voice, Antics

One response so far

Feb 17 2009

Music for Trombone and Voice

I volunteered to do some sound design work for a fledgling theater group’s 2nd annual 6 play festival. One of the plays took place in Heaven, Earth, and Hell. I created a soundscape for Heaven using trombone and voice, and one for

      Hell
using audio from a live performance by sound artists SMGSAP. The director decided not to use the tracks I produced, but I rather liked the piece I created, so I thought I’d share it here:

      Music for Trombone and Voice (A Heavenly Soundscape)

I’ve received quite a few mixed reactions from folks who have listened to it. Most find it pleasing, but decidedly unheavenly. That’s ok. It feels reverential, peaceful, and heavenly to me.

Please feel free to leave comments.

No responses yet

Nov 14 2008

Some Better Sandblaster Pix

Published by under Guitar Project 1,Sandblaster

I was unhappy with the photos I took a while back of the completed Sandblaster guitar, so I gave it another go:

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Nov 01 2008

New Cabinet for Kalamazoo Series 2 Amp

Published by under Kalamazoo Series 2 Amp

Some time ago my dear friend Mike gave me a non-functional Kalamazoo Series 2 Amp. It is a small thing, just 8 watts, made by Gibson in 1965. It was a low-end, entry level, guitar amp that used a British style tube design, and was made with the cheapest materials available. The box was particle board, the covering was a paper thin tolex-like material, and the speaker was probably made by CMI.

I handed it off to Mark Cox of Anything Audio and he rebuilt it, making a number of modifications I requested along the way.

After I got it back, and began to realize just how much of a wee screamer it was, I decided that living in it’s cheap and disintegrating particle-board home was just too sad. I knew a fellow, Larry Bott, whose artistic wood creations I’d greatly admired. I asked him if he’d be willing to fabricate a cabinet from scratch, and he said yes!

It’s not quite done yet, but it’s very close. He used beautiful African Mahogany, and is finishing it with a classic French shellac. I took a few pictures just so I could show it off, and here they are:

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

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

Next »