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Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

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Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Feb 27, 2020 6:34 pm

We are now two rehearsals into this project and it has been revelatory on many levels! I have learned a LOT over the past couple of weeks and am integrating that into the music as well as the Soundtrack Machine’s design. Below is my boring technical list of lessons learned and course corrections.

This is just me thinking out loud as it were.

LESSON 1. The first thing I noticed is that, when working with creative people, sometimes two heads are better than one. My usual modus operandi is to have everything written ahead of time and rehearsals are just that — running down the songs, working out breaks, etc. I decided to change that to a “greatest among equals” approach. That, of course, changes everything and nulls all of the work I have done to date (though we can repurpose as needed).

Working democratically based off of my core concepts turned out much better! New ideas were formed, the sections overall are stronger, and there’s more investment.

LESSON 2. My original concept was better in terms of scope. It just sounds more vast and more organic. The biggest issue is the MC-500: its limited memory makes it very difficult to have epic lengths without having to stop the performance to load floppies, resync, etc.

LESSON 3. Performance. Having a swathe of synths playing at once is amazing, but ... it felt a little robotic, and stuck on rails.

My combined solution for this was to repurpose a piece of kit I already have: the BeatStep Pro. By setting it up to play pads and ostinatos, it allows us to extend a section indefinitely and get some very complex results.

These lessons impacted the whole process, from writing to systems design and implementation, rehearsal, recording. The entire thing is looser and more generative in approach, definitely more of a Musique Concrete/Systems Music approach than having a finished composition from A-Z. Instead of writing a piece from soup to nuts, we have a virtual bucket with pieces that can be combined live in any order.

The end result is way more engaging and fun! More updates to come!!
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:23 pm

All sounding very positive Ben :-)

If you're into hardware sequencers, then you could do worse than look at the Squarp Pyramid. There is an SOS review of it here.

It's not the easiest device in the world to use at first but it's very powerful and has a number of live performance features. I bought mine for improving the variation when jamming with other people while at the same time providing a reproducible overall structure.

That and for messing about with in the studio... it's happy in either role.
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Feb 27, 2020 8:37 pm

Wow, that looks amazing! I will have to look into it, that may be my synth purchase for next year!
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:43 am

Your LESSON 1 sound good to me too Ben - my music making was radically altered once I started working with my now collaborator, particularly since he majors on live performance and making quick decisions, whereas I previously tended to get stuck into the minutiae.

Between the two of us we come up with loads of fresh ideas that neither of us would manage by ourselves.

And it's more fun too! 8-)


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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Feb 28, 2020 2:06 am

Tested the BeatStep Pro playing string pads/drones today. It sounds great!
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Feb 28, 2020 3:24 pm

Here's the demo from our jam on Wednesday night. Much closer to my original vision, I think!

https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... one-demo-1
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby blinddrew » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:15 am

Enjoying this. :)
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Ben Asaro » Sat Feb 29, 2020 3:14 am

blinddrew wrote:Enjoying this. :)
Thanks so much for checking it out!!
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:05 pm

I don't quite know why, but while I was listening to this the two words that stayed in my head were 'statuesque simplicity' 8-)

It was also well worth waiting for the change at 5:25, and its slow disappearance at the end :thumbup:


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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:16 pm

Martin Walker wrote:I don't quite know why, but while I was listening to this the two words that stayed in my head were 'statuesque simplicity' 8-)

It was also well worth waiting for the change at 5:25, and its slow disappearance at the end :thumbup:


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Wow, thank you, Martin! For some reason I am reminded of Jean Michel Jarre when that first note comes in; no clue why!

Today is a sad day in my house: I had to figure out how to get the modular paired down to a single 104hp/6U case for rehearsals. :)
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Re: Soundtrack Machine revisited — Mk3 iteration

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Mar 01, 2020 5:44 pm

UPDATE: I cannot edit the earlier post, but I updated the demo to include the last bit that we worked on: vocoder spoken word. :P

UPDATED LINK:
https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... one-demo-2
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