Cambridge, days 9 – 12


19 December 2011

Day 9

That day, I set up the Fireface UFX for a combination of 2×2 channels of headphones plus 4 channel surround sound. Interestingly, it features multitrack recording onto a usb device out of the box. Eventually, we used this feature to record the performance. It made life a lot easier.

I also experimented with visual input to Betablocker but after discussing it with Tom, we decided together to not go further into this direction for now.

Furthermore, wince I am at a creative music department, we thought that it would be good to do some more sound studies. I immediately got into that and started the first one in which I gave myself the task to create a spatial, rhythmical sound, based purely on bblockers.

For this, I wrote this little Program:

(
q.rhythm = BBlockerProgram([
	ORG, 		// set relative 0 here
// A pulse to maximum for 8 steps, then decreasing to value in slot 100
	DEC, 		// decrease value on stack, so in step 2, will be 255
	NOP, 		// nothing
	NOP,
	NOP,
	NOP,
	NOP,
	NOP,
	NOP,
	PSHL, 100, // push the (random) value that is residing on adress 100 to the stack
// negate value of slot 100 (as slot value is 255)
	ADD,		// add the two first item on the stack (popping), and push the result
// push additional 6 random values, filling the stack completely (as there are already two values in it)
	PSH,  101,	// push the (random) value adressed by slot 101
	PSH,  104,	// push the (random) value adressed by slot 104
	PSH,  105,	// push the (random) value adressed by slot 105
	PSH,  106,	// push the (random) value adressed by slot 106
	PSH,  107,	// push the (random) value adressed by slot 107
	PSH,  108,	// push the (random) value adressed by slot 108
// sample and hold for 2 steps
	NOP, 		// nothing
	NOP,
// write value to heap, just testing...
	POP,  123,	// pop top value to slot 123
	NOP, 		// wait
// If values adressed by slots 107 and 108 are the same, jump to adress 124, else jump to 1
// Side effect is that stack is temporarily filled with values of 107 and 108.
	PSH,  107,	// push value adressed by slot 107
	PSH,  108,	// push value adressed by slot 108
	EQU,		// are they the same? (pops values, pushes result)
	JMPZ, 124, // if top of stack is 0, jump to adress 124
	JMP, 1     // else, jump to 1
]).fillUpRandom_(true);
)

Slight (automatic) alterations of that code resulted in some very nice sounding programs which I saved for later use.

Day 10

Wednesday. Mostly rehearsals and fine-tuning of the performance system. Did a second task, this time trying to create a program which changes its pitch over time.

We also bought an icon i-stage to trigger sounds. I integrated it into the modality setup (as good as it was possible) and wrote a custom performance system for it.

During the performance (Tom and I played together), we used a combination of a Korg NanoKontrol (mainly for mixing), a Launchpad, and the i-stage (both to change programs on the fly, resp. change computation rates).

Day 11

Thursday. Performance day. After some rehearsals and testing of the setup, three students showed up to help Tom and me with preparing the room for the performance. As we used the DPL headphone performance system (28 headphone sets) and the pre-installed 4 channel sound distribution system, there was quite a lot to do in the 1.5h we had allocated for it. Eventually, everything went fine, so we started on time with the performance.

For the performance/talk, an amazing number of about 30 guests showed up; quite a lot, given the highly experimental sounds we were aiming for.

After the talk (well, I was more explaining the system), we had an interesting discussion. I think, we managed to mediate the basic idea behind my betablocker research.

Day 12

On Friday, we cleaned up the DPL and started to look at the audio recordings. Luckily, I remembered that I have Ableton Live on my machine, which I used for general cutting and combining the binaural recording with the headphone tracks and the recorded video. Part of the result can be listened to here.

Wrap Up

All in all, I am quite happy with the 12 days in Cambridge. I had a lot of fun and new insights, especially into composition and performance practice, but also into living and working in Cambridge. Thank you for making this possible, Tom and Kate. Without you (and the travel grant from the medialab helsinki), this would not have been possible. I hope that you also got something out of it.