Audio Cookbook https://audiocookbook.org Recipes for Sound Design Mon, 18 Sep 2017 14:48:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 77802374 Live Coding with Improvised Piano, Bass, and Electronics https://audiocookbook.org/live-coding-with-improvised-piano-bass-and-electronics/ https://audiocookbook.org/live-coding-with-improvised-piano-bass-and-electronics/#respond Mon, 18 Sep 2017 14:48:57 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12237 Continue reading ]]>

This recording from August 23, 2017 at Jazz Central Studios was made during Sound / Simulacra: A monthly series that I do in conjunction with bassist/composer Cody McKinney. The intent is to explore musical improvisation as a “faithful and intentionally distorted” representational process. On this occasion we featured Minneapolis-based Mike Hodnick, aka Kindohm.

…[Kindohm is] widely known for his live-coded dancefloor interruptions, wringing algorithmic rhythms and textures from a text editor using the open source software TidalCycles. Combining analog synthesizers and samples, Hodnick’s improvised performances encompass an array of styles from glitchy IDM to odd-time techno. In 2016, Kindohm released “RISC Chip”, an 8-track LP released on Conditional. Receiving positive criticism on Resident Advisor, Lisa Blanning writes: “Hodnick has a way of teasing inhuman funk out of his evolving patterns. RISC Chip succeeds in escaping its programmer’s niche, launching Kindohm’s work into the realm of music that exists for its own sake.” – www.residentadvisor.net/reviews/20249

Mike and I both played solo sets earlier in the evening, but for the finale we formed a trio with Cody McKinney on bass and electronics. My setup included acoustic piano, Rhodes, Novation Circuit, and various processors. Both Hodnick and McKinney are expert improvisors so participating in this performance was quite a pleasure. Please have a listen and let us know what you think!

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Drone Trick with Arturia KeyStep and Novation Circuit https://audiocookbook.org/drone-trick-with-arturia-keystep-and-novation-circuit/ https://audiocookbook.org/drone-trick-with-arturia-keystep-and-novation-circuit/#respond Fri, 01 Sep 2017 21:32:06 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12225 Continue reading ]]> Look, ma! No capo!

Lately I’ve been using a capo (yes the kind for guitar) to hold down a note on the KeyStep in order to drone a note on the Novation Circuit’s Synth 1 while playing notes on Synth 2. It’s awkward but works. Today while prepping for ISSTA.ie I stumbled on a way to drone a note on the Circuit with the KeyStep and no capo necessary! Here are the steps to drone Synth 1 and then play new notes/sequences/arps on Synth 2:

1. Make sure the KeyStep is setup in Keyboard Play mode by pressing Shift and Oct+.
2. Enable hold by pressing the Hold button.
3. Put the KeyStep in pause mode so that the pause/play button is flashing.
4. Hold Shift and press the low F to set the KeyStep to MIDI channel 1.
5. Play and hold the note(s) you’d like to drone (anything but the low Gb because you’ll need that key to switch channels)
6. Keep holding the note(s) and switch to MIDI channel 2 (Shift + the low Gb).
7. Un-pause play/pause and release the note(s)

Once you’ve lifted the note(s) you can re-pause or play arps or seqs on Synth 2 because essentially you have a stuck note on Synth 1 (just double tap stop to unstick the note). If you don’t want to hear Synth 2 when un-pausing, just make sure it’s down in the mix. This trick works while the Circuit is stopped or playing and will continue until double tapping stop on the KeyStep. It’s even possible to change the existing stuck note(s) by following the same steps. It’s easier than it reads, as you will see in the video below:

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Upcoming Concert at ISSTA September 8, 2017 https://audiocookbook.org/upcoming-concert-at-issta-september-8-2017/ https://audiocookbook.org/upcoming-concert-at-issta-september-8-2017/#respond Thu, 31 Aug 2017 21:55:42 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12217 Continue reading ]]>

I’m pleased to announce that I will be performing a version of my piece Vocalise Sintetica at the ISSTA Festival and Conference on Sound. The conference will be held on September 7th and 8th, 2017 at the Dundalk Institute of Technology in Dundalk, Ireland. Please check the website for details.

I have developed new content and features for the AVGM (Audiovisual Grain Machine) which I’ll be using during the performance. I also be triggering samples and playing patches with a hardware synthesizer to accompany the audiovisual content. Here’s a video that demonstrates some of the new media:

A post shared by John Keston (@jkeston) on



The conference includes numerous talks, workshops, and installations. The two day concert schedule was recently shared with me and reads as follows:

Thursday, September 7th, 2017 at the Mac Anna Theatre
Concert Begins 5pm. Ends 6:30pm

Sequence:
Amble Skuse Balancing Act
Paolo Gatte Senhalte
Chris Malloy Cold Light
Andrea Guterres Solipsistic Slumber
Richard Molloy Epochs Movement 1

Friday, September 8th, 2017 at the Mac Anna Theatre
Concert Begins 2pm. Ends 4pm

Sequence:
Robin Parmar 25 against 30
John Keston Vocalise Sintetica
Eiliya Nicholas Kelly Improvisation
Alexander Senko Object and Line
Jenn Kirby Phonetics

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45 Delusions with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company https://audiocookbook.org/45-delusions-with-the-merce-cunningham-dance-company/ https://audiocookbook.org/45-delusions-with-the-merce-cunningham-dance-company/#comments Mon, 26 Jun 2017 18:20:31 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12160 Continue reading ]]>

45 Delusions was commissioned by the Walker Art Center for an event with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) as part of the Common Time exhibit and performance series. The piece was performed and recorded with the dancers on March 30, 2017 in the Perlman Gallery at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis. My setup included Rhodes, Moog Sub 37, PreenFM2, Korg KP3+, and a Moog Minifooger Delay. Graham O’Brien performed on percussion and electronics triggered from his drums.

John Keston's Setup for the Common Time Event

My Setup for the Common Time Event

The score is two pages. The first page (pictured at top) is the timeline for both performers. The timeline is vertical and made up of cells that last between one and five minutes each. Frequently the cells correspond with each player, but they are arranged so that at times they overflow. Rests are also included as cells. Each cell includes brief instructions and/or graphics that give suggestions to the musicians. Some of the instructions are expanded on the second page of the score.

Graham O'Brien's Setup for Common Time

Graham O’Brien’s Setup for Common Time

The second page also includes a list of forty five delusions. These include terms such as alternative facts, capitalism, corporate culture, equality, freedom, fossil fuels, greed, justice, and so on. There are also a few technical delusions such as erotomania (belief that a celebrity is in love with you) and lycanthropy (belief that one can turn into an animal). The second page explains the delusions and what to do with them:

DELUSIONS
Anything that might be considered or is delusional. These are not necessarily medical or technical examples of delusions and may involve individuals, societies, or organizations. Prior to performing the piece, each musician chooses one “delusion” applied to each cell within the score.

Take a look at the PDF at the end of this article to see the complete list of delusions as well as expanded instructions for some of the cells. Obviously this is an improvised piece of music, but this approach steers the improvisation in directions that would be unlikely to occur freely. Particularly the timing. As one performs or listens to the piece it is possible to discern distinct variations as the musicians transition from one cell to the next. If you are inclined to listen to the piece in full, try following along with the score and placing a SoundCloud comment where you hear the cells change. The timing on the recording doesn’t exactly match the score, but it’s pretty close.

The reasons I took this approach are multi-faceted: (1) It keeps the piece moving. Often free improv tends to stagnate as ideas are repeated and refined. With this approach the challenge is to express ideas with concision and then move on to the next (this is possible, albeit rare, in free improv – we call it channel surfing). (2) It is possible to strictly define the length. We used a timer that counted up to 30 minutes. One quick glance at the timer illustrates the need to move on to “High Speed Arps” for example. (3) Mood, dynamics, and theatrics can be injected to create a narrative with scope and meaning. It is a way to ask questions, discover sounds, explore, and experiment. (4) It enhances my musical engagement. I am influenced by my collaborators and surroundings, but I’m also interpreting the language of the score, and hopefully to the benefit of the musical output.

45 Delusions by John C.S. Keston (148K PDF)

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Un:heard Resonance at Northern Spark, June 10, 2017 https://audiocookbook.org/unheard-resonance-at-northern-spark-june-10-2017/ Fri, 09 Jun 2017 00:51:05 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12143 Continue reading ]]>

This Saturday, June10, 2017 I am participating for the sixth time in Northern Spark. The project I’m directing is called Un:heard Resonance. Also involved are artists Mike Hodnick AKA Kindohm (music), Chris LeBlanc (visuals), Lucas Melchior AKA MKR (music), and Aaron Marx (design). I’m am also fortunate to have the help of several student / former student volunteers inlcuding: Mike Brooks, Mike Miller, Meg Gauthier, and Justin Maki. The piece will be performed at the Weisman Art Museum from 8:59pm to 5:26am. Yes, that is eight hours and twenty-seven minutes!

The piece is comprised of a series of electronic sonatas composed in real time with micro-sonic signals crowdsourced from the audience. A variety of microphones and sensors will be used to capture rarely heard vibrations emitted by geological, biological, and technological processes. Three movements chronicle the stages of the planet’s evolution: Geology, Biology, and Technology. The project will bring awareness to sonic activity rarely experienced within the environments we live in and exploit. The combination of micro-sonics and accompaniment will non-verbally stress hidden geological processes, the fragility and jeopardy of the ecosystem as it faces climate change, and the rapid, global expansion of technology.

It will also imply that technology may eventually replace the geological and biological states of the world. A precedent for this idea resides in the concept of “Computronium” theorized by Norman Margolus and Tommaso Toffoli at MIT, a hypothetical state of matter that would yield the most efficient and powerful atomic arrangement for computer processing. The Geology and Biology sonatas represent the first two sequential stages in the evolution of the planet, while Technology suggests the dystopian possibility of the world becoming a giant computer that no longer supports life as we know it.

Northern Spark attracts more than 100,000 visitors to experience hundreds of interactive art, music, and performance projects throughout the Nuit Blanche. This year the overall theme is Climate Chaos | People Rising. All the projects will be shown along the “Green Line”, a light rail line that stretches from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

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Revisiting Dogmatic Music with the Novation Circuit, PreenFM2, and Moog Sub 37 https://audiocookbook.org/revisiting-dogmatic-music-with-the-novation-circuit-preenfm2-and-moog-sub-37/ https://audiocookbook.org/revisiting-dogmatic-music-with-the-novation-circuit-preenfm2-and-moog-sub-37/#comments Tue, 16 May 2017 17:54:01 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12137 Continue reading ]]>

I composed this track and performed it live while limiting myself to using three electronic instruments: Novation Circuit, PreenFM2, and a Moog Sub 37. Afterward I added a recording of a Tibetan tingsha bell that I captured using a matched pair of Rode NT5 condensers. The instruments were sequenced using the Squarp Pyramid, which might technically be considered a fourth instrument, but it is not a sound source.

I continually revisit dogmatic approaches to making electronic music and this approach in particular may yield some interesting results. The last collection I made like this was back in 2013 and can be found in the post Builders of the Fauxpocalypse: a Dogmatic Approach to Music Making.

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Programmable MIDI Foot Controller for the Korg KP3+ https://audiocookbook.org/programmable-midi-foot-controller-for-the-korg-kp3/ Fri, 12 May 2017 20:54:35 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12111 Continue reading ]]> MIDI Foot Controller

The Korg KAOSS PAD KP3+ is a powerful beast. It’s great for realtime processing and sampling, but it’s not the best choice as a loop pedal. For one, the loop record length choices only include 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16 beats. You can adjust that after recording, but not on the way in. One shot samples can be any length, but they need to be triggered manually or via a sequencer. Furthermore, it’s not a pedal. If you want to trigger or record samples with your feet you’ll need a MIDI foot controller to do that. And not just any controller. It will need to be programmable so that you can send specific note values to the KP3+ that trigger each of the sample buttons.

This is the issue I decided to resolve for my continuously evolving live setup. More often than not I use a Rhodes electric piano with the KP3+ alongside a modest family of other gear. Playing two-handed while capturing Rhodes loops without audible gaps is impossible if you have to use a “spare” hand to do it. There are a number of programmable MIDI foot controllers on the market. Unfortunately, most of them are not fully programmable and are designed for changing patches versus triggering MIDI notes. An exception to this is the Behringer FCB1010, however, it’s quite large with twelve switches and two expression pedals. I only need four switches and can’t afford the space the FCB1010 would take up.

Highly Liquid MIDI CPU

People are making all sorts of custom MIDI controllers and there’s tons of microcontrollers that can be used for this purpose. I won’t get into all the options, but a few examples include Arduino (perhaps with a SparkFun MIDI shield), Teensy, Livid Brain V2 or Brain Jr, and Highly Liquid’s MIDI CPU. It just so happened that I had a Highly Liquid MIDI CPU on hand that I was sent to me as a sample years ago. I had used it for a few experiments, but nothing on a permanent scale.

Following instructions on the Highly Liquid website I was easily able to reprogram the MIDI CPU via sysex and start testing it with the KP3+. In minutes I had a prototype working that was triggering the sample buttons properly. With that piece confirmed I ordered four momentary foot switches and a sturdy aluminum enclosure. I measured and drilled all the holes for the four switches, DC power, MIDI in, and MIDI out. I soldered it all together and started using it immediately. I’m very pleased with the results and hope to use the foot switch for years to come. To an extent it is future proof because at anytime I can reprogram it via sysex through the MIDI input. A second reason the MIDI in is useful is because I can still send the connect device MIDI from another source (MIDI clock for example). This works because the MIDI CPU can be configured to mirror the MIDI in to the MIDI out while merging messages that originate from the circuit board. Handy!

This was an inexpensive, easy, and elegant solution to a frustrating problem. Custom MIDI controllers are getting easier and cheaper to build all the time. I’d love to hear about your DIY MIDI controller projects in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

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The Taming of the CPU 4.0 https://audiocookbook.org/the-taming-of-the-cpu-4-0/ Wed, 19 Apr 2017 16:37:47 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12096 Continue reading ]]>

This Friday, April 21, 2017 will mark the 4th event we’ve affectionately titled, The Taming of the CPU. This time we have the privilege of being hosted by the Icehouse Minneapolis. Tickets are on sale now and available at the doors (opening at 10:30pm). The performers include myself, Mike Hodnick (Kindohm), Lucas Melchior (MKR), and Chris Leblanc with Michael Lund doing their famous modular-analog-video-liquid-light show. Expect to hear a broad range of electronic music from Kindohm’s virtuosic live coding to MKR’s Ableton prowess. I’ll be towing an all hardware rig including Rhodes electric piano, Moog Sub 37, a Pyramid Sequencer, and several other bits and pieces. Here’s the official spiel:

Taming of the CPU 4.0 brings together three award winning electronic musicians with two like minded visual artist to create a futuristic, immersive multi-media experience. Huge sounding hardware synthesis is combined with intricate live coding, and lush laptop arrangements while modular video synthesis and liquid light shows are displayed and synchronized to the music.

Read on for more information about the artists including bios and video examples:

JOHN C.S. KESTON
John C. S. Keston (aka Ostraka) is an award winning composer of electronic, experimental, and instrumental music. His work embraces the chaotic ambiguities of environmental and sensorial influences providing context within unpredictable and everyday events. His unconventional compositions convey a spirit of discovery and exploration through the use of graphic scores, chance, generative techniques, analog & digital synthesis, sound design, signal processing, and acoustic piano. His music appears in The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (2012) and sound recordings in Pacific (2016). He also composed the music for the short Familiar Pavement (2015) presented at the MNKINO Film Score Fest. He has appeared on more than a dozen albums including two solo albums on Unearthed Music. His latest album, Isosceles (2016) has drawn comparisons to the Stranger Things soundtrack. John has exhibited original work at Northern Spark (MN); the Weisman Art Museum (MN); the Montreal Jazz Festival; the Burnet Gallery (MN); the In/Out Festival of Digital Performance (NYC); the Eyeo Festival (MN); The INSTINT Festival (MN); Echofluxx (Prague); WMC (Miami); and Moogfest (NC). John is also a professor of interactive media design at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

KINDOHM
Minneapolis-based Mike Hodnick, aka Kindohm, is widely known for his live-coded dancefloor interruptions, wringing algorithmic rhythms and textures from a text editor using the open source software TidalCycles. Combining analog synthesizers and samples, Hodnick’s improvised performances encompass an array of styles from glitchy IDM to odd-time techno. In 2016, Kindohm released “RISC Chip”, an 8-track LP released on Conditional. Receiving positive criticism on Resident Advisor, Lisa Blanning writes: “Hodnick has a way of teasing inhuman funk out of his evolving patterns. RISC Chip succeeds in escaping its programmer’s niche, launching Kindohm’s work into the realm of music that exists for its own sake.” https://www.residentadvisor.net/reviews/20249 In 2014, Hodnick received the Minnesota Emerging Composers Award from the American Composers Forum, funded by the Jerome Foundation.

MKR
Since 2006 MKR has been writing and performing electronic music in the Twin Cities. Winner of the Minnesota Emerging Composer Award in 2012, his music exists at the intersection of dance music and more ambient and experimental styles. Oscillating between extremes, lush downtempo break beats evolve and yield to breakneck rhythms, melodies, and bass. At times warm, simple, and human and at others cold, digital, and impenetrable, the music of MKR revels in its influences and exposes a broad spectrum of timbres and moods.

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Merce Cunningham: Common Time with John Keston and Graham O’Brien https://audiocookbook.org/merce-cunningham-common-time-with-john-keston-and-graham-obrien/ Mon, 27 Mar 2017 14:12:14 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12084 Continue reading ]]> Suite for Five

VIOLA FARBER, CAROLYN BROWN, MERCE CUNNINGHAM AND BARBARA LLOYD (FROM LEFT)
PERFORMING SUITE FOR FIVE, 1963

This Thursday, March 30, 2017 I will be performing two 30 minute sets of music with Graham O’Brien at the Walker Art Center as part of the Merce Cunningham: Common Time series of events and exhibitions. Our performances start at 5:30pm and 8:00pm in the Perlman Gallery and feature former Merce Cunningham dancers. Here’s a one minute teaser recorded during a recent rehearsal. The concert is free and open to the public. Visit the Walker Art Center for more details.

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Sound / Simulacra: Cody McKinney & Jeremy Yylvisaker https://audiocookbook.org/sound-simulacra-cody-mckinney-jeremy-yylvisaker/ Sun, 26 Mar 2017 18:50:10 +0000 https://audiocookbook.org/?p=12090 Continue reading ]]>

The Sound / Simulacra series is hosted by myself and Cody McKinney at Jazz Central Studios in Northeast Minneapolis on the fourth Wednesday of every month. If you haven’t made it any of these shows you’re not entirely out of luck. They are all being recorded and I’ll be sharing excerpts here on AudioCookbook. The first event in the series was a duet with Cody McKinney and Jeremy Ylvisaker on January 25, 2017. Their gorgeous improvisations were faithfully captured by sound recordist, Dave Kunath. Enjoy!

Jeremy Ylvisaker is a multi-instrumentalist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a member of the indie rock bands Alpha Consumer (with Michael Lewis and JT Bates) and The Cloak Ox along with Andrew Broder of Fog, Mark Erickson and Dosh. He plays guitar in Andrew Bird’s touring band alongside Martin Dosh on drums and Michael Lewis on bass.

Cody McKinney works with sound by actively theorizing, organizing, practicing and challenging its properties. He studied bass and improvisation under many luminaries including: Johannes Weidenmueller, Bruce Gertz, Jim Black as well as composition under Kirk Nurock, Rory Stewart, Steve Lehman and Diane Moser. Cody’s group, Bloodline, along with John Keston and Pete Hennig, have recently recorded an album due out mid 2017.

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