As detailed in my previous entry, I endeavored to create a song in Csound using only a very basic oscil/linen instrument and a simple sine wave ftable. Attached is the mp3. I certainly learned a lot going through this process, and I’m eager to begin work on next month’s track.
I’m fairly pleased with the end result, though not so impressed with myself as to go share it with everyone I know. My Csound work always seems to end up rather slow and depressing, I’m not sure why. I suppose I should be glad to be developing a personal style.
So I began this month by filling up the keyboard arbitrarily with bindings to all different frequencies and durations (using skwrk), and then banged on the keyboard a while searching for anything that caught my ear. The obvious problem when working with pure sine tones is that they’re just… boring. By playing several tones together, however, they mixed and matched to do some interesting things. It was a discovery process to progress from randomly happening on interesting sounds, to understanding why those things occurred and gaining some control over them. Unfortunately, little from these early sessions ended up in the final song.
The next task I set to was creating a groovy beat. This was most frustrating. I just couldn’t get the rasp-iness one might expect from a drum or cymbal. The best I could do was to use short notes with near instant attacks and rapid releases. I created several different beats but was never really satisfied with any of them.
I am currently taking a university course entitled “The Physics of Sound”. We were discussing beat frequencies (when adding two tones close in frequency), and I resolved to use the concept in my track. This was a resounding success, and I think that you’ll agree that it makes things considerably more interesting.
The track has a very raw feel to it. I composed entirely on my cheap Sony headphones, and I’ve noticed it doesn’t sound quite the same through other speakers. I get strange buzzing with my earbud headphones, and my built-in laptop speakers butcher the lower frequency sounds. On a home-theater system, the low sounds are almost overpowering and yet the quick beat pattern is hard to discern. I’m not really sure where to start when addressing these sorts of issues. Honestly, I didn’t really make an effort to address it this time around, mostly because I didn’t want to manually change a hundred amplitude values. Hopefully I will get better at anticipating these sorts of problems with more experience.
My timing also feels off. The bass line, beat, and melody don’t mesh quite right. I know there are probably mathematical principles that apply to timing, but this is something again I hope to develop a feel for with more practice. I was able to produce this track entirely in skwrk, but I don’t know how much longer I will keep that up. I’d like to compose portions using skwrk, and then move them into a sequencer where I can easily duplicate, move, and adjust the volume of different sections. I admit to doing some finger counting and manual score editing this time around, and, though my data entry background leaves me less averse to making tedious text changes en mass, I suspect this has negatively affected the end result.
For next month’s track, I’m limiting myself to essentially the same instrument, but now I’m introducing complete freedom with function tables. Hopefully with all those square waves and sawtooths at my disposal I will come up with something better. Any tips or comments would be appreciated.