Last Wednesday’s meeting was most excellent! Nathan ran tings in every sense of the phrase, bringing along his guitar, laptop of course, a (Korg?) synth that he was using as a MIDI controller, and an M-Audio sound card demoing the offboard sound processing that’s so important in what we do. We hooked these up via 1/8th to my studio monitors (certainly not the best choice for hi-fi signal routing but we forgot the RCAs, ironic considering our attention to detail in general.) The team got to sit back and flow as we had the laptop mirrored on an overhead projector.
And from there Nathan ran us through a cool 25 minute journey through his life progression with different sequencers, focusing mostly on Reason. This was pretty eye-opening to most everyone, as most of us tend to be either into the Live or Logic philosophy (not mutually exclusively, of course.) We all had a big laugh at the GUI for the rackmount hardware semi-modular vibe that Reason brought to the table (the 1/4ths even have pseudo-physics processing!!). (hint hint wink wink NI/Cycling ‘74…as for you, PD, well, one step at a time, yeah?)
So, continuing/establishing a MuTech tradition, here’s our bulletpoint of important themes discussed/thoughts released into the noosphere during both the presentation and discussion:
- The Nathan Analog Special!! - My weekly favorite. Nathan has such a dedication to sound that he’s developed his own aesthetic and process for using out-of-the-box audio processing (way, way, way out-of-the-box for 2010, some chip-heads might snark close-mindedly). Nathan fuses DSP algorithms and natural analog compression/harmonic fingerprinting through recording digitally, line-outing to a tape machine, manipulating the device, and then flowing the sound back into a sequencer environment and its internal digital algorithms (not to mention sound card/operating system level IO). Thus, the finished product results in a signature layering of properties, very subtle, but incredibly profound in terms of the scalpel of sound manipulation/signal processing necessary for high/next-level pro production that we’re incubating here.
- Sequencer philosophy: traditional multitracking vs sequencers as music shapers//i.e. treating sequencers as their own new musical tool and soul versus as an adaption of multitrack recording— a little evolution vs revolution, perhaps.
- MIDI and OSC: huge philosophical parallel, practically part of the same thread of discussion— open paradigm or closed industry standard? dynamic vs static? what do the people really want/need anyway? As was quipped on the VCCM listserve a few weeks ago, Line6’s “MIDI Mobilizer” (quotes deliberate) certainly represents the pairing of two giants and MIDI’s perpetuation.
- Sidechain compression!— So overlooked! We went from the hackneyed tech bass sound which represents quite an extreme use of compressor sidechaining to applying the compressor subtly to remove harmonic overtones and sharpen the attack of the kick, if that’s the situation. While audio compression in general is such a huge and partisan debate, its use permeates production. I got a feva, and the only prescription is more kick! (via sidechaining)
- Ground-up sound synthesis VS using the recorded as sound putty: Naturally, as a skilled guitarist, Nathan opened up a few demo projects wherein he had augmented his guitar through heavy (and I don’t use that in the derogatory sense at all) effects and processing along with other tracks midi-sequenced synths and samplers. We explored the relative advantages and disadvantages of both.
- Samplers: From post-wavetable synthesis to the MPC to Yamaha Pianos, this oft-quoted, hideously misunderstood Swiss army knife of audio philosophy is everywhere. While this meeting we certainly stayed more focused on the mainstream MPC thread of the discussion, I know this is going to come up like mad in the future. Bring it!
Additionally, all were super jazzed to have a bunch of new people along for the wonder and excitement of our collective. Dr. Burtner, our Music Dept sponsor and general jack(matt)-of-all-trades go-to man, sent out my digital flyer to the listserve which stoked a few individuals’ interest and sent the e-mails flying to my inbox.
And you know I’ve gotta peace with a quote from my main man Igor S., “Harpists spend 90 percent of their lives tuning their harps and 10 percent playing out of tune.”