Herding Random Behaviors

After playing Precambrian Resonance for a few people and explaining how the arpeggiator was creating a randomness to the output I was asked how that randomness made it sound different from previous playback. This was easy for me to imagine since I had heard it rendered several different ways, but difficult to explain. Therefore I have re-rendered the piece to illustrate how it changes.

This brings up an issue that I have encountered on several occasions. When audio processing creates some sort of randomness in a mix, how can you get exactly what you want? What if after you export the audio there’s some chunk of randomized audio that just doesn’t quite work?

My solution is to render the track that has the random processing on it several times. For Precambrian Resonance 0.2 I rendered the processing eleven times. After that I’ll listen and compare the renders, or if I hear one that I like during the rendering, I’ll just choose it. Ableton Live makes this easy with the “Freeze Track” option that essentially renders the track while allowing you continue making adjustments.

Sometimes it is not that easy. I have encountered situations where version after version of the randomized processing doesn’t quite fit. At this stage what I do is carefully listen to the audio for phrases that have something interesting going on. The next step is to sequence the selected phrases into a complete track, effectively herding the random behaviors into what I’m after. I suppose that this is similar to using genetic algorithms to hybridize the audio in a semi-manual way.

Precambrian Resonance 0.2