Video: 70 Crowdsourced Scores Performed in 9 Hours

On June 13, 2015 I collaborated with a team of nine students and nine musicians on a project I directed for Northern Spark, an annual, all-night, art festival In Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. We titled the project, Instant Composer: Mad-libbed Music and the intent was to engage the audience into instantly writing musical compositions for an ensemble of improvising musicians.

I discussed the concept here in-depth and also announced the project last June. I had no idea what to expect, but was thrilled with the outcome. Around 115 crowdsourced scores were entered into a database via our mobile application. During the nine hour performance we interpreted nearly 70 of those pieces for the audience.

ICMLM Sandwich Board

This video should give you a sense of what went on that night, but no media can fully represent an event like this. I can say that it wouldn’t have happened without the student collaborators, our collective of excellent musicians, the Northern Spark organizers, Art Institutes Minnesota, and the hundreds of people in our audience willing to engage in the process. Please see the video for the full project credits.

Using Tidal to Control the Roland System-1M

Roland System-1M

This is Mike Hodnick with my first article on audiocookbook.org. I recently added the Roland System-1M semi-modular synth to my studio and live setups recently, and as with any new instrument in my studio I wanted to take it to extremes and see what it could do. It was the perfect occasion to document on audiocookbook.org!

I’m not your typical producer or performer. I write computer code, often improvised, to produce sound both live and in the studio. I use a language and live-coding environment called Tidal to trigger samples, play MIDI devices, and create sequences. Instead of a DAW or sequencer to create sound, I use a text language.

My first real experiment with the System-1M was to automate all of its MIDI Control Change parameters from code simultaneously. It’s kind of like running a few dozen LFO’s at once. I like to do this with all of my instruments to take them to an extreme and maybe even get some interesting sounds out.  As an added twist, I thought it would be fun to also live-patch the modular inputs and outputs on the System-1M while the MIDI automation was taking place. Here is the result:

The source code used for this performance experiment is at the bottom of this post. The only parameters that were not automated in this example were the Oscillator 1 level (kept at 100%), the Mono/Poly toggle (kept on Monophonic), Legato toggle (off), amp crusher (off), and LFO key retrigger (off). Details about the System-1M’s MIDI implementation can be found at roland.com/support/by_product/system-1/owners_manuals/8789.

There are some brilliant sounds coming out of this thing!

By far, my favorite features of this synth are the two oscillators and their controls. Each oscillator supports multiple wave forms, modulation control (oscillator 2 can be ring-modulated from oscillator 1, and oscillator 1 can be cross-modulated from oscillator 2), and a “color” parameter which can be modulated from the LFO or filter/amplitude envelopes. Oscillator 2 also has a fine-tune control. With all of these combined, the possibilities are enormous.

Stay connected at kindohm.com, @kindohm or facebook.com/kindohm for info about Mike’s studio experiments, releases, and performances.

Here’s the source code used to control the System-1M:

-- play a m9 arpeggio, starting from MIDI notes 45, 33, or 57
m $ slow 2 $ (|+| note "[45 33 57]*4") $ mel m9 10 "0*16?"
|+| dur (scale 0.05 0.2 $ slow 1.9666 sine1)
|+| rlpcutoff (scale 0 1 $ density 1.01 sine1)
|+| rhpcutoff (scale 0 1 $ density 1.132 sine1)
|+| rfilteratk (scale 0 0.5 $ slow 1.2 sine1)
|+| rfilterdecay (scale 0.05 0.5 $ density 1.5181 sine1)
|+| rfiltersustain (scale 0.1 1 $ density 1.277777 sine1)
|+| rfilterrelease (scale 0.05 0.5 $ slow 1.523 sine1)
|+| rres (scale 0 0.7 $ density 1.313 sine1)
|+| rfilterenv (scale 0.1 0.9 $ density 1.111 sine1)
|+| rcrush "0" 
|+| rampatk (scale 0 0.5 $ slow 1.213 sine1)
|+| rampdecay (scale 0.05 0.7 $ density 1.333 sine1)
|+| rampsustain (scale 0 1 $ slow 2.313 sine1)
|+| ramprelease (scale 0.05 0.3 $ slow 2.877 sine1)
|+| rpitchenv (scale 0.2 0.8 $ density 1.987 sine1)
|+| rport (scale 0 0.5 $ slow 1.77777 sine1)
|+| rpitchatk (scale 0 0.5 $ density 3.4111 sine1)
|+| rpitchdecay (scale 0 0.5 $ density 1.2222 sine1)
|+| rosc1 "1"
|+| rosc2 (scale 0 1 $ slow 2.6665 sine1)
|+| rosc2tune (scale 0.2 0.8 $ slow 3 sine1
|+| rsub (scale 0 1 $ slow 1.919 sine1)
|+| rnoise (scale 0 1 $ density 3.71771 sine1)
|+| rnoisetype "[0 1]*3"
|+| rsubtype "[0 1]*5"
|+| rlegato "0"
|+| rmono "0.5"
|+| rosc1type (scale 0 1 $ slow 1.77777 sine1)
|+| rosc1range (scale 0 1 $ slow 2.8888 sine1)
|+| rosc1color (scale 0 1 $ density 1.4344 sine1)
|+| rosc1xmod (scale 0 1 $ density 1.30010010 sine1)
|+| rosc1mod (scale 0 1 $ density 3 sine1)
|+| rosc2type (scale 0 1 $ slow 0.9999 sine1)
|+| rosc2range (scale 0 1 $ slow 3.151 sine1)
|+| rosc2color (scale 0 1 $ slow 5.131 sine1)
|+| rosc2ring "[0 1]*9"
|+| rosc2mod (scale 0 1 $ slow 3.141 sine1)
|+| rosc2sync "[0 1]*7"
|+| rlforate (scale 0 1 $ slow 2.17717 sine1)
|+| rlfofilter (scale 0 1 $ slow 3.3333 sine1)
|+| rlfoamp (scale 0 1 $ slow 1.21 sine1)
|+| rlfotype rand
|+| rlfokeytrig "0"
|+| rdelay (scale 0 1 $ sine1)
|+| rdelaytime (scale 0 1 $ slow 3.888 sine1)
|+| rreverb (scale 0 0.4 $ density 1.2331121 sine1)

The First Annual Rhodes Summit

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It’s no secret that one of my preferred instruments is the Rhodes electric piano, which is why I am very excited to be one of four Rhodes players for the first annual Minneapolis Rhodes Summit at the Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404. This concert is happening tomorrow night (Monday, December 7, 2015 at 9:00pm) as part of JT’s Jazz Implosion. JT Bates will be joining us on drums for the second set. So who is us? We are four keyboardists belonging to the Twin Cities scene including, Martin Dosh, deVon dVRG Gray, John Keston (that’s me), and Bryan Nichols. The four of us are known for playing Rhodes electric pianos either frequently, or most of the time. What does it sound like when four Rhodes players go at it all at once? I have no bloody idea, but I’m looking forward to finding out! Please join us for this experiment in Rhodes overload. $8.00.

Making Music with the Internet’s Most Reviled Synthesizer

IMG_20151122_133032

I recently bought a Red Sound Systems DarkStar eight voice, polyphonic, tabletop synthesizer. This feature packed virtual analog (VA) was released in 1999 by the British manufacturer. Despite a glowing review from Sound on Sound on arrival, the instrument didn’t quite take off and was discontinued, along with its younger sibling the DarkStar XP2, after just a few years in production. Even more curious than that is the amount of vitriol amassed for the DarkStar on forums all over the web. I could go on, but suffice it to say that “piece of shit” was among the milder comments.

So why bother trying to make use of an abandoned device that broad swaths of the community dismiss while more zealous members condemn? Well, digging a little deeper led me to discover that although the instrument does have its shortcomings it also has its strengths and at least a handful of people seem to appreciate the character and flexibility of the DarkStar. Five part multi-timbral, two MIDI clock sync-able LFOs per part, low-band-high pass switchable 12db filter, full MIDI implementation, and loads of modulation routing add to the depth of the synth. It also has some quirky features like a formant waveform on oscillator 2, ring modulation, and a random LFO shape that interpolates between the values.


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