Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SuperCollider Project

I have been learning SuperCollider this semester, and just finished up my final project. It is an algorithmic piece and uses some basic additive and subtractive synthesis to make bell and percussive sounds.

The main idea is that some large bells will play notes chosen randomly from a set, and when certain notes are played, other sounds will be triggered and play short segments.

The pitch material is all based on ratios for synth bells that I found in a SuperCollider tutorial: 0.5, 1, 1.19, 1.56, 2, 2.51, 2.66, 3.01, 4.1. In other words, if your bell plays 100Hz, the harmonics will be 50, 100, 119, 156, 200, 251, 266, 301, and 410 Hz.

I made a set of frequencies - a scale if you will - based on these ratios, starting at 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200 Hz. The harmonics of each overlap, so when the bells play, their harmonics won't have these exact ratios anymore, but they still sound very bell-like. Each time through the algorithm, the bells will be chosen from a subset of this main scale, so there are slight modulations. Also, since the notes are chosen randomly, they will trigger the other sounds differently each time.

For those interested, I have uploaded the code (in HTML).

I recorded a few versions of the piece. This is the one I liked best:

You can listen to some alternate takes here, here, and here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Jury Pieces

Next Monday I will have my first composition jury at UF. I am not sweating it, having done composition juries at GSU for several years. These are apparently more low-key - one-on-one (one-on-three?) with the faculty, as opposed to a public reading of the new works.

Sounds fine, except one thing: everyone keeps using the term "jury piece." Surely I'm not the only one who wrote pieces for the sake of writing pieces. Surely people aren't composing just to get a grade.

Anyway, I will present Ghazal and Wedge Issue. You can peruse them below:

Ghazal score
Ghazal mp3 - tape part with MIDI flute

Wedge Issue score
Wedge Issue mp3 - MIDI rendition

Friday, December 3, 2010

still alive!

I made a promise to myself to keep up with this blog when I started back to school, but it looks like I've been up to my usual rarely-updating tricks.

Major projects of late:

Saxophone quartet - now officially titled "Wedge Issue." I am hoping to get some saxophonists here at UF to read through it before the end of term. Will post if that happens!

"Full Circle" hip-hop-ish project. I got pretty close to done, then decided I would never be really happy with it if I didn't go back and redo the backing tracks. So I denoised and quantized a little. Really hoping to get this done by the new year, which essentially means by the end of this semester. Hmmm....

SuperCollider etude. Originally I was calling this "Phony Morricone" and using instrument samples to evoke a Leone western. Due to various factors (processing speed, not-too-great samples from freesound.org, etc.), I decided to go an all-synth route.

So now I have some bell, organ, and percussion sounds. It's pretty "moody" and "dark." I'm still very much a SuperCollider novice, but I'm getting better with programming and general knowledge of its capabilities. Will post this when I'm done, as well - even the code, because I'm sure you're very interested in that part!

ok, back to it...