Composer, electronic musician, improviser

INI Workshop prototype instruments Pt. 1

LLW in Action 1

LLW in Action 1

In preparation for our workshop at Artspace, Brian and I met to quickly put together a few prototype instruments out of wood, screws, springs, etc.  We basically wanted to see what we could do with next to no materials (and no preparation.)  The following prototypes are the results of this first meeting.
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Filed under: El MuCo, , , , , , , , ,

Evolution 1 Series

I am pleased to present the first pieces recorded and produced in my recording studio. This set of pieces, Evolution 1a, 1b, and 1c were recorded over a period of 3 weeks. The works themselves are a blend of musical intuition (experience), planning, and chance. They are one-time creations and have not been edited. The basic premise of the series is an exploration of a single idea until another idea is introduced by chance. Each additional element is explored and either incorporated or discarded. The time scale and rate-of-change is extremely slow. Each piece employs extensive use of extended techniques.

Evolution 1a 14’44
Violin Improvisation – Bowed

Evolution 1b 9’10
Sequential Two-part Violin Improvisation – Plucked

Evolution 1c 15’09
Sequential Three-part Violin Improvisation – Scratched

Filed under: Music, , , ,

Raspberry Pi: first impressions

Getting the Pi Baked

I got my Raspberry Pi in the mail yesterday — a long anticipated event. My excitement was slightly deflated when I realized I didn’t have anything I actually needed to make the damn thing run: micro USB for power, an hdmi-dvi adapter so I could actually see and control it, and a fast SDHC card with lots of room*.
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Filed under: El MuCo, Phase 1, , , , , , , , , ,

IBeam Laser Show (2011)

It has been almost five months since MuCo performed for the 2nd time at Ibeam and for one reason or another the recording has sadly sat neglected on a hard drive since then.  I finally dug it out, mixed the tracks together (output of kane + scacinto) and here it is for your listening pleasure.

(Just in case you are wondering what the laser-gun sounds are that occur at the beginning and, even more noticeably, during the middle of the recording [11:18 ->], they came from a magical black box that Kane made and I played without knowing how it worked. Hilarity.)

El MuCo @ Ibeam May 28th, 2011

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MuCo in Miami: the recording

Here is the somewhat-delayed recording of our set on the Subtropics festival in Miami on March 20th. I took some video, but it was terrifically dark and the audio was useless as well. I know Gustavo recorded the audio from the room, but I haven’t gotten my hands on it yet. The recording below was recorded internally (and separately) on our two machines and combined afterward, so no room on this one.  If I get a good room recording, I will post it here.

Also, I think there are some good pics from the event that I haven’t gotten yet either, so I’ll post those if and when I get them. Until then, enjoy the show!

(headphones or a system with a subwoofer is highly recommended!)

Improvised Feedback Systems I (30:55)


Filed under: El MuCo, , , , , , , , , , ,

FNT III: Pics and Sound

Hey FNT fans, here are a few pictures and all of the recordings of everyone’s pieces from FNT III. Many thanks to all who attended and to all who made a piece. The tracks are even sweeter than I remember. Hopefully we will see you next month at FNT IV where Fritz Horstman will present some of his work!


Filed under: FridayNightThing, , , , , , , ,

FNT III: The 68k Classic Clash

... it calls to you... ...do you hear your name?..

March 25th

  • Be the first on your block to write a song for the Macintosh Classic II!!!
  • Learn Super Studio Session!!!
  • Have your music performed in public!!!
  • Get your hands on a clicky single-button mouse!!!
  • Drink beer!!!
  • Bolster your geek cred!!!
  • The keyboard!!!  Whoa!!!

If you want all of the above I guarantee there is only one place to get it this coming Friday night! FNT III!!!! You don’t know how to write music? Ha! With Super Studio Session you don’t need to know anything about music to write a hit song! Simply click on some lines to insert an instrument and then click in notes at random! It’s easy! Also, it’s fun! Also, who cares?

Classic Computing!

This computer is 20 years old ladies and gentlemen! It is not going to last forever! Get your hands on it before its capacitors pop! Make your impression on the world before it’s too late!

FridayNightThing III:
Friday March 25th, 8pm
667 Whitney Ave #11
New Haven, CT 06511

So easy even Kane can do it!

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FridayNightThing II (2011)

Here are some pictures and a short video from FridayNightThing II (Feb. 25th.) A big thanks to Heather for taking all the pics and video, editing them together, and putting them online. As always, a big thanks to all who came, participated, and spectated. The next FridayNightThing will be on Friday March 25th. Get out your pots and pans and plan on joining us!

FridayNightThing – February 25, 2011 from hstryk on Vimeo.

Scott explains bleeps & bloops


Investigating Scott's Matrix Mixer

Anne & Carl go over each other's composition

Anne & Carl setting up

Carl & Anne talk after their performance

Carl & Anne's compositions


Carl experiments with the clangpot

Carl enjoys the clangpot

Simon treats us to some classical guitar

Simon, Scott & Anne

Simon and Scott

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Virtual Matrix Mixer (yes, in SuperCollider)

Screenshot of the Waz Matrix Mixer in action

Kane and I recently dropped $170 at JameCo on potentiometers, switches, diodes, project boards, and more in anticipation of several MuCo projects we have been planning.  The main project now after some op-amp FAIL last night (the FAIL being Mimms’s op-amp.  Yes, there is a free version on the nets.  No, we will not help you torrent it illegally) is a classic 3×3 matrix mixer which we intend to use a la David Tudor to make feedback music of the most splendiforous nature.  As some of you may have noticed, I have been slightly obsessed with feedback of late, and for good reason: feedback, like Frosted Flakes, is better than good, its great.  It’s great to make, great to listen to, great to cover up the drunk, sleeping neighbor’s DVD menu music that runs for hours and hours after he’s passed out on the couch.

I plan to post a little “Fun with Feedback” post this weekend (maybe tomorrow), but I will jump the gun and get to results before I do.  In anticipation of the analogue matrix mixer, I decided to spit in the eye of convention and model an analog (make an analog of…) device digitally first because I wanted to see what my results with the analog device might be.

This was an interesting experiment because it highlighted the reality that, while creating digital analogs of analog equipment may be useful on a basic, conceptual level, it breaks down completely when it comes to the actual implementation/realization of the object.  This may seem obvious to some of you (congratulations), but one wouldn’t suspect this with the tradition of modelling analog equipment in electronic music studios the world over.  Not to mention all of the digital synthesis software that models even its appearance.  (Yes, Reason, I’m looking at you… with disdain.)  I’ll make a long story short and say that approximately 2 minutes after I sat down with idea the matrix mixer in my head to start coding it up, I was conceptually far enough away from the analog instrument that looking at my notes one might not even guess it was supposed to be a simple 3×3 summing mixer.  This is partly because of the nature of programming itself, and partly because of the idiosyncrasies of any programming language.  If one were to mock up the 3×3 in Csound, SuperCollider, and ChucK, it would become very clear very quickly that one cannot think the same way about the same object when coding in different languages.  I now digest.  (yes, digest.)

After some headbanging and with some help from Kane and HJH (on Nabble) the Waz Matrix Mixer V.1 was realized last night.  The SC3 code is below so you can see how it is constructed.  The mixer is simple: it routes 3 input sources (in this case, either the built-in microphone or a sine oscillator) to 3 outputs each.   At the outputs is some processing, a delay line, distortion, etc.  The output from the processing can then be routed back into any of the inputs including itself, thus the feedback.

In the following picture, the blue knobs represent the 3×3 matrix.  Each row routes its respective input to outs 1, 2, and 3 individually.  The red knobs control the input volume, and the yellow knobs control the amount of outs 1, 2, and 3 that are fed back into the chain.

janky gui -- needs work, but works...

As promised, here is the code (provided Scribd ever finishes processing it…)

Here is a recording with the mic as the input source.  I’m not actually doing anything with the mic, I’m just letting it hum and collect room noise and the output from the speaker which is right next to it in the laptop.  The delay line’s delay time parameter is being dynamically changed using the mouse position (x axis) which results in pitch-shifting.  This is responsible for the “glitching.”  Additionally, I am using the mouse position y axis to control the decay time (in seconds.)  When the decay time is over 3, the processing synths begin a sometimes irreversible pattern of self destruction.

Here is a recording of the sine oscillator inputs.  There are three sine tones around 440, 1000, and 1400 Hz respectively.  The rest of the processing is as described in the example above.

Filed under: Code, Current Projects, El MuCo, Music, SC3 - Code - Music - More, , , , , , , , , , ,

Mixer Feedback Music: 1204FX Improvisation 2


(every good post should begin with one!)

Following any of the steps below to create feedback loops with mixers can harm your gear and more detrimentally, your ears.  The results are often unpredictable and almost always extremely loud.  The pulse waves created by these kinds of setups and heard in the recording below are very hard on the ear mechanism (as you will be able to tell by listening.)  Please take all precautions to limit the amplitude of your speakers and, if listening on headphones, to start with the volume very low and turn it up as needed.  If you plan to attempt the following setup or one like it, start with all volumes at the minimum and raise them once you know what your results are going to be.

Note: the piece begins very quietly, the first loud sound is around 1:26.


The following is a list of equipment used in the above improvisation.

  • Dell Latitude D620 (1.6gHz, 1GB RAM) running the latest PureDyne distribution
  • Jack and Ardour to record the improvisation
  • Behringer XENYX1204FX mixer for all sound generation
  • 4 1/4 TS cables
  • 4 RCA cables
  • Headphones

Kane recently played a few recordings for me of experiments he had done with feedback systems created using his 1204 mixer.  The sounds were appealing and I thought it would be fun to see what it was like to make music with only a mixer for an instrument.  My 1204FX has on-board DSP that Kane’s model does not.  Normally, I do not use the processor at all, but for this exercise it was useful in adding variation to the signal flow and achieving a variety of sonic results.

Last night I experimented for about 2 hours with different routing schemes and to get used to controlling the mixer as a sound-generator.  I recorded 8-10 tests and ended up with about 45 minutes of pretty good material which I may use at some point in the future.  I then recorded 1204-10-29 in one take, using only the 2-channel output from the mixer.  There is no additional material in the recording, nor any post-processing aside from normalization.  The following is the routing recipe I used.

Routing the 1204FX

The first pair of feedback loops was connected as follows:

Alt 3 output –> channel 1 input (trim at +60) –> sent to Alt 3-4
Alt 4 output –> channel 2 input (trim at +60) –> sent to Alt 3-4

The second pair of loops was connected like so:

Aux Send 2 –> channel 5/6 L (+4) –> Main Mix (no Alt 3-4) –> Aux Sends 1-2 alternately as desired
Aux Send 1 –> channel 7/8 R (+4) –> Main Mix (no Alt 3-4) –> Aux Sends 1-2 alternately as desired

Aux Sends 1-2 at +15
Aux Returns at +5 to +10
Aux Return 1 to Aux Send 1 at +5

The reverberation heard is the built-in “Chapel” reverberation, program 19 on the mixer.  I used the Control Room R & L output channels to route the audio to my laptop for recording.  I monitored the sound using the headphone jack on the mixer with the volume as near to zero as I could get it.  (At some points this was not enough and I had to quickly pull the phones off.)

Useful parameters for making music

There are many ways to achieve sonic variation within the mixer.  The controls I used were the “pre” buttons for each channel, which control signal flow to the main mix and the aux sends, the faders for each channel plus the ALT 3-4 and Main Mix stereo faders, the “ALT 3-4” buttons, the AUX 1-2 faders, the pan controls, and the 3-band EQ for each channel.  (Is that everything, you say?  Almost, I didn’t touch the trims, the low cuts, or the aux send knobs below the DSP area.)  The controls I used the most were the volume faders and the 3-band EQs.  All of the frequency variation (thumping lows to screaming frequencies around 12k) was accomplished by turning down two of the three EQ bands, and playing with the remaining band while simultaneously working the volume fader for that channel.

If you are interested in experimenting with a mixer like this, trial and error will be your best guide.  Try making the channel settings similar for all channels and then changing them one by one to clearly hear the results.  Or try using only 1 or 2 of the channels and later adding the rest one by one.  Most of all, play with the levels a lot: I noticed that in several instances minute changes to a single channel produced startling results.  Also get to know your routing: changing the ALT 3-4 stereo faders will affect all of the channels using the ALT 3-4 pair, while playing with the gain of an individual channel will only affect other channels that share its signal path.  By bypassing the aux sends (the DSP) you can have two layers of sound, one processed and the other dry (you can hear this clearly in my piece), so experiment with foreground and background layers.

Here, again, for your edification is my improvisation… I know you don’t want to scroll all the way back to the top of the page.


Filed under: Current Projects, Music, Phase 1, , , , , , , , , , ,

G O I N G S O N : L O C A L (ISH)

fritz Art of Fritz Horstman
kane Music of Brian Kane
fritz Hartford Phase Shift
fritz Hartford Sound Alliance
Lique Art of Philip Lique
Lique Music of Matt Sargeant
strycharz Art of Heather Strycharz
uncertainty Uncertainty Music Series

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INI new haven

Handmade instruments by Scott Petersen and Brian Kane at Artspace New Haven