Serial band and project starter, synth player who considers himself a guitarist, compulsive weekly composer.
I had a thought to do all-in-the-box this week, partly thinking of Daft Punk retiring their collaboration, but then departing from that initial idea. There's still 808 as the drum machine (via Ableton's 808 Startup Kit), 4-bit Redux on the handclaps, and Ableton's Analog for bass and two synths. I also went for WaveTable (Juno Organ Wave, with the filter cutoffs brought way down).
Inline processing: I made use of Live 11's clip randomization with a narrow range of velocity variation in the drums here and there, as well as some in the bass. It might not be very audible. There's also a touch of Max Humanizer on the drums, which kind of defeats the purpose of using drum machine voicing...but maybe not.
Sends: Hybrid Reverb (the jury's still out on how useful I'll find this; I think I just prefer convolution reverb alone, rather than blended with an algorithm, and I'm not all that sold on the impulse I used here), Delay, Echo with LFO Auto-Filter in front, and Spectral Resonator, which is responsible for that little sparkly mechanical flourish every so many bars.
There's also the usual multi-band compression on the output.
Title comes from 61's status as the smallest proper prime
Running maybe a bit late on this one--hey, it was Thundersnow weekend--but I've been uploading at the start of deadlines, not the finish. So...going to say it's all good.
This one started with some syncopated drums (64 pad kit rock) and a couple (Ableton Grand) piano chords...and I thought to add Epiphone bass (usual P-J, EQ-8 low-end rolloff and reverb send) and...instead of regular guitar, just pedal steel (no effects other than passive volume pedal). I fleshed it out with a few more piano bits, added and removed hand claps, and added some sends: Delay, Valhalla Supermassive, Echo (Dub Syndicate preset), and convolution reverb with high-pass auto-filter in front to avoid low-end buildup. I went back and added some Max Humanizer on drums to reduce the mechanical feeling, and did alternating sends to delay and echo.
The title comes from the ziggurats of the Sumerians, who gave us the 60-minute hour, among other 60-based things.
A little later than usual with this one, but...the timing of the challenge works in my favor here.
This week I (mostly) finished restoring a 70s (maybe earlier? but the pickups seem to be 70s) pedal steel, built from a kit, and out of commission for quite a long time before it came to me. I've put on new tuners, cleaned things up, made adjustments, and...it's a playable instrument! I've wanted to play a pedal steel for years, so it's nice to bring that to life. So this week's track had to feature it. (Inline effects: a bit of Auto-Filter for high-pass, and Auto-Pan for faint tremolo.
I did start with a couple syncopated patterns I came up with using Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz, with some Max Humanizer. After tracking pedal steel and Epiphone bass (usual EQ-8 rolloff), added two tracks of home-built Res-O-Glas guitar (through the Balls Effects KWB and Vox Wah, then inline high-pass Auto-Filter and Cabinet for some air).
Sends: two Echo channels (Tape Reverb and Dark Fade presets), and two convolution reverbs with high-pass Auto-Filter.
There's Master Full-Chain (flat) on the stereo out.
The title comes from there being 59 stellations on a regular icosohedron.
Once again, I only devoted time to this one very late in the week, with the syncopated drum and percussion lines. I'd had a thought of emphasizing bass, and having the guitars be more of a background wash...and a number of things claimed time during the weekend, so what I'd had tracked...had to fit together somehow, so here we are.
Drums: Ableton 64 Pad Kit Jazz, Ableton Percussion drum rack. Bass: Epiphone P-J with EQ-8 low-end rolloff. Guitars: PureSalem Mendiola through Balls Effects KWB for some grit, and also through high-pass Auto-Filter. There's one track of bridge pickup, one of neck pickup (output to send only), and another track of output to send only. Some clips are reversed.
Sends: one convolution reverb, one Valhalla Supermassive, and one delay. There's another convolution reverb I almost used--a large space--but it ended up sounding too mechanical on drums here.
Title from M58, a barred spiral galaxy.
I'd had no ideas for this week's track until late Saturday evening, when I thought of a couple rhythms, and the idea of having bitcrushed and natural drum samples together. I put down some patterns in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz, and bitcrushed some complementary patterns from Ableton's 808 Core Kit with Redux (4 bits), avoiding the long tails with Gate.
Bass is just low notes on Ableton's default settings for Electric, though I also rolled off a bit of low end with EQ-8. Other keys: another channel of Electric, Operator's Organ2 Clicky preset (reverb send only), and Spitfire Labs Soft Piano.
Sends: Ableton Echo, a convolution reverb, and Valhalla Supermassive. Max Humanizer on the drums, and full-chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
Title comes from the Ring Nebula, M57.
This week...there's been a lot to do, so I only spent a few minutes Friday night coming up with an intuitive drum line. On impulse, I went for one of the drum racks I did using Ableton Operator to generate the drum sounds. Saturday, I tracked bass, initially thinking a bit of 70s electric jazz (after reading Ethan Iverson's interview with Keith Jarrett from some years back) the one drum loop I'd written, and then thought to track more bass against it, higher up the neck. Then...rather than writing guitar, I added some ostinatos with Ableton's Analog, and electric piano lines with Ableton Electric. By this point...there wasn't any jazz left in it.
Inline effects: EQ-8 with different amounts of bass rolloff on each of the two bass lines, Max Humanizer on the drums.
Sends: one room-sized convolution reverb on bass, Valhalla Supermassive for keyboards, and Ableton Echo for occasional rhythm on the drums and keys. There's Full-Chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
The title comes from Aristotle's notion of the number of layers of the universe.
This week started with some rhythms in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz (ultimately with Max Humanizer)...and then I didn't touch them for several days. Friday evening, I had a chord progression in mind that was a lot slower than the rhythms, so...ended up rejecting that, restoring it to just-faster than what I'd originally written.
I did several passes with the PureSalem Mendiola through the Balls Effects KWB, some with the bridge pickup (left channel, with Glue compressor), and some with the neck (right channel, which also gets some auto-filter bass rolloff). Next a pass with the Epi P-J bass, getting some EQ-8 bass rolloff.
Sends: Ableton Echo, room-sized convolution reverb, and Valhalla Supermassive. Full-chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
The title comes from NGC 55, a galaxy in the constellation Sculptor.
Turn of the Wheel
The first idea I had this week was to concentrate on bass and drums, emphasizing toms and avoiding the snare. Initially I wasn't sure if I'd include guitar at all. I'd come up with some syncopated rhythms in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Jazz drum rack, and put a long-decaying Echo send on it. (At the end, I gave the drums a bit of Max Humanizer.)
I put down some bass lines with my usual Epiphone P-J bass (with EQ-8 roll-off below 120 Hz), and then realized I wanted another track of bass, higher on the neck, to respond to the first track. (That second track of bass got EQ-8 bass rolloff with a higher shelf.)
Then I'd thought I should have something else in there for sonic variety, but wanted to change things up a bit from recent tracks. So I grabbed the Heit Deluxe I keep in Turkish baglama tuning (Gg DD Aa), and put down two tracks of improvisations against the bass lines. (It's going through an EHX LPB2ube with the left and right channels cascaded into one output.) One channel got some high-pass Auto-Filter with drive, and the other didn't have any additional in-Ableton processing. Both got sent to a room-sized convolution reverb (along with the drums and bass).
In arranging, I thought to do some reversing of some of the Heit chords, and sent that track to a return channel with Valhalla Supermassive. And the stereo mix got multiband compression with Ableton's Full Chain effect rack.
Title comes from the number of years in three Saros cycles of solar and lunar eclipses; this is apparently called a Triple Saros or exeligmos--the turn of the wheel.
Welcome to 2021's challenge! And apologies for the date/time confusion! (Looking on the bright side, those of us who've been working toward Sunday evening submissions...now get a chance to submit first thing instead of right before the deadline.)
I started this track late in the week, having a few rhythms in mind, but not much else, I put up some MIDI loops in Ableton's 64 Pad Kit Special (with Max Humanizer), and then responded to them with two tracks of guitar (home-made Res-O-Glas, direct into the Focusrite, with some Ableton Auto-Filter for tone-shaping). The initial thought around the guitar line was related to Miles Okazaki's weekly scale-shape project for 2020 (on Instagram), though the scale I'd started with...I ended up moving away from. Ultimately, I ended up filling in some spaces with reversed clips.
I used the usual Epiphone P-J bass (with low-end EQ-8 rolloff) in response to those guitar lines, and...really, that was about enough. I just needed four tracks.
Sends: Two convolution reverbs (one large, one smaller), one Ableton Delay, and Valhalla Supermassive. Full-Chain multiband compression on the stereo mix.
I'm picking up last year's naming scheme (number of week for the year, starting at 53). The title comes from port 53 being the port for DNS services.
Lots going on this final week with the holiday, but I did manage to complete a track...even with a power outage Sunday night.
Part of the concept this week was to include instruments and effects I accumulated in 2019, so we have an acoustic guitar part (vintageparlorguitars.com size-2 parlor) and two electric parts (PureSalem Mendiola, courtesy of Premier Guitar's Mystery Stocking), one of which went through the Balls Effects KWB pedal. Otherwise...this started first as a kind of dub dirge, but got a bit funkier. Other instruments: two drum racks (Cassette 606, Ableton Cyndal kit), Ableton Operator (Funky Organ preset), Ableton Electric (MkI2 Crunchy preset).
Sends: one convolution reverb, one tweaked Echo.
Title from Ernest Rutherford's coinage of "alpha" and "beta" for different kinds of radioactive emissions. (Element 104, the last in our weekly element-related tracks series, was named for him.)
Join us for 2020 over on Weekly Beats!
A long track. This past week included a show on guitar, through a new Max/MSP patch. The signal chain is a Waves Factory Cassette VST, four parallel tapin/tapout pairs with variable lengths and regeneration, and convolution reverb. Delays and reverb also had variable bleed back to the input, and I set up message objects with fixed delay amounts so that I could snap the delay suddenly to new values. It's a work in progress, but I'm into the direction in which this is going. (UI work is important here; I'm using the Mira app to give more immediate access to the controls.)
Still, kind of a cool wintery vibe here.
Guitar (the Res-O-Glas) is going through a MOYO passive volume pedal and into the Focusrite. I pseudo-mastered this in Live with the Full-Chain Master effects rack.
Title from the unexpected volatility of this week's element, Lawrencium.
Lots going on this week, including patching for an upcoming show. But here's a track, built up in response to a vague sense of syncopated rhythm. Drums: Ableton's Brush Rack, Acoustified, 20, Impulse of handclacps. Keys: Ableton's Electric (MkI2 Crunchy), Simpler Grand Piano, and bass.
Title from the symbol for this week's element, Nobelium.
A week with a lot going on, so here's an all-in-the-box track with five instruments: all of them FM synth Ableton Operator. There's a drum kit, two bass lines (triangle and filtered sawtooth) and two sine-like voices--one for a staccato voice, and one for a pad/drone. There's some auto-pan and Full-Chain master, and an Echo send, but that's it.
Title from the gold target used in the production of this week's element, Mendelevium.
This one came together kind of unexpectedly--I'd wanted to use my new(-ish) acoustic guitar, a size 2 parlor guitar from Vintage Parlor Guitars. The unexpected bit was that the first rhythm I had in mind worked best with a simple kit built up from Ableton's Operator FM synth--so the track first seemed to have a kind of Autechre direction. I threw in some Operator bass, and some Simpler with grand piano and prepared piano samples, and put in a return channel of convolution reverb with the Fort Worden cistern impulse response.
While I tracked several electric bass lines, I didn't end up using them--they weren't quite working with the rest of the track.
At the end, I impulsively put acoustic guitar in the second half (recorded with a Karma Mics condenser-in-XLR-body), and it pretty much worked, especially with some normal-room convolution reverb on a send. There's also some Waves Factory Cassette plugin on the grand piano. I'd initially had it on the guitar, but it just mainly made it sound bad.
There's some Full-Chain Master on the output, a bit of automation to the sends, and an additional send with Ableton Echo. And that's about it.
Title from the half-life of the longest-living isotope of Fermium (element 100).
A reactive piece built up from a general sense of drum groove. One realistic-ish drum rack (64-pad rock kit), one 808 (mostly kick, with occasional obvious drum machine snare), hand claps, two channels of Epiphone P-J bass, and three channels of Epiphone Moderne guitar (through Vox Wah). I'd had a line of keyboards I took out. Auto-Filter with drive on one guitar channel, Auto-Pan on 808 and high bass, Drum Buss on the rock kit.
Sends: two convolution reverbs, and a channel of Echo.
Title from the property of this week's element, Einsteinium, which is radioactive enough to damage its crystal structure just by existing.
This week was an exercise in cutting to make something kind of ordinary potentially interesting. I had a chord progression in mind that was fun and satisfying to play, but which sounded...pedestrian. Rather than throw it out, I went for cuts. While I tracked it in a straightforward way, in this rendering, the first half of this piece disrupts the progression by emphasizing off-beats, and the second half restores the cut sections, but removes the parts that are audible in the first part. Two other guitar lines get a similar cutting treatment, without the restoration, and parts of the bassline are cut as well.
Drums: one track of 64-pad rock kit (every seventh beat dropped), and one track of 808 samples. Guitar: three tracks of Res-O-Glas recorded through the Vox Wah, with different sets of low-cut and high-cut Auto-Filter to simulate amp drive. Bass is the usual Epi P-J with EQ-8 low-cut, and a bit of air with a convolution reverb send. Guitars get that send, too...as do drums. There's also a delay send that the drums go to. There's flat full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from the use of this week's element (californium) to start nuclear reactors.
Travel had me starting very late on this one, only doing some initial beats in 6/8 (Ableton 64-pad rock kit) and bass on Friday night, adding a bit of Operator (1st and 3rd partial) late Saturday. Initially I'd thought of adding guitar, but...I found myself enjoying the sparse dub-like quality of this, even though it's not that heavy on the dub delay. It needed something else at the end, so I added three tracks of Simpler with different field recording samples.
Sends: Convolution reverb (with Auto-Filter bass rolloff), Echo (Dem Ducks, with tweaks). Full-chain master on the 2.
Title from a quality of berkelium, this week's element--it emits low-energy electrons, so it's safe to handle...but on the other hand, it decays into the very-radioactive californium, so...if you have the opportunity to handle any, just don't.
An all-in-the-box yoctonaut track this week. Two drum racks: one percussion (Plena kit), and one 808 (Kit-808 Classic), an impulse kit of hand claps, and three tracks of Operator--one with just one oscillator, and two with two. I had two return channels, but just used one of them, the Echo. There's some Drum Buss on the 808, and some Auto-Pan on some tracks. Full-Chain Master on the stereo master.
Title from the anecdote that Seaborg revealed the existence of this week's element (Curium) on the radio show Quiz Kids. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
This week's track, done in a few quick passes...and with a day-long pause while the laptop was in the shop.
I had four Drum Rack lines (Kit Carbon, two Muttkaste, Altered Kit), three of which were severely filtered, one of which boosted (one of the Muttkaste). There's also Electric and Vibes, two Res-O-Glas (different Auto-Filter settings), and Epiphone P-J bass (EQ-8). Putting it together...my sense of the "one" kept shifting, so there's a weird floating feeling to this one. I kept needing to cut parts that got cluttered.
Sends: two echo returns, one convolution reverb.
Title from the crystalline structure of Americium, this week's element.
Early in the week, I had a funky drum beat in my mind, and threw it together with Ableton's 64-pad rock kit. I didn't have a chance to put guitar on it right away, so I temporarily filled the track in with a looped field recording from my back yard. Gradually, keys went on (filtered Analog), and I added bass. Finally, late Sunday, I had a few minutes to put guitar (Res-O-Glas, Vox Wah) on, and then I cut down the field recordings significantly, as well as slowing speed and dropping pitch.
Drums: Drum Buss, vinyl distortion. (I'd got it into my mind that this would add character.)
Bass: EQ-8, with bass rolloff.
Guitar: Auto-Filter high/low pass with drive.
Field recordings: Auto-Filter high/low pass, auto-pan
Sends: convolution reverb, Echo ("A Bit Tipsy" with time changed and noise/wobble reduced). Full-chain master on the 2-bus.
Title from Fermi's name for element 94 (plutonium) when he'd thought he'd discovered it--"hesperium." (He didn't.)
Suddenly, instrumental power pop. This week started with the little legato line you hear in the left channel, and the rest followed along: drums (the Ableton 64-pad rock drum rack, percussion from a maraca sample), three channels of Res-o-Glas guitar (a couple of them through the EH LPB2ube), and Epi P-J bass. A fair amount of auto-filter on guitar, and EQ-8 on bass. Sends: two convolution reverbs. Full-Chain Master on the master channel.
Title from this week's element, Neptunium.
This piece came together from some syncopated drum lines and little compositional direction. I put down some Electric and Operator lines, tracked bass around a few repetitive figures, and guitar (Res-O through Vox Wah) on top...which didn't coalesce until I copied the guitar lines to another channel and reversed all the clips in that channel. Then it kind of came together. Very little inline processing except for M4L Humanizer and Drum Buss on the drums, Auto-Pan on the keys, Auto-Filter with drive on the forwards guitar. Sends: two convolution reverbs, Delay, Echo. Full-Chain master on the master channel. Kind of floaty.
Title from associations from this week's element, uranium. I'm a fan of the work of the late sculptor James L. Acord, who was the only private individual to have earned a license to work with radioactive materials, including uranium (which he initially gathered by leaching it off of mango red Fiestaware). He'd planned a series of sculptures--reliquaries--designed to contain radioactive materials, which he'd wanted to install at the Hanford Reservation, a project he didn't live to complete.
This week's track was an in-the-box kind of thing. I'd been thinking of doing something house-influenced, so put together 606 samples, percussion samples, hand-claps, Ableton Analog synths (bass, lead, pad), and then threw some Simpler grand piano through a low-pass and high-pass Auto-Filter with drive for a tiny-speaker feel. Sends: one convolution reverb and one Echo (tweaked to be less noisy and wobbly, and with a longer delay period.) Master channel got some pseudo-mastering assistance from Izotope Ozone 8 (free at the moment) on the more-depth preset.
Title from the crystalline shape of one isotope of this week's element, protactinium.
This week's track was about playing with some syncopated rhythms, which then coalesced into something funky. Drums: one Drum Rack with the Crossroads Kit preset, one 808 Status Quo, one with some tabla samples, and one set of handclaps. Operator on the Funky Organ preset. One track of Epiphone P-J bass, and two of Res-O-Glas guitar (one clean with Vox Wah, and one with Reuss RF-01). A bit of Drum Buss and M4L Humanizer on the Crossroads kit, and EQ-8 on the bass.
Sends: one convolution reverb, one Delay, and one Echo. Full-Chain Master on the mixdown.
Title from the way that thorium-treated lenses will darken over time.
While busy weeks are common now, this one was notably busy. But here's a track anyway. I had kind of a dub idea in mind, thinking of space and interplay...which I kind of got away from, but perhaps not unlistenably.
Drums: Ableton's Borella kit, with Drum Buss, little tiny synth noises from the Ableton DrumSynth kit, and hand claps with Impulse. Epi P-J bass, and Epi Moderne guitar (through Vox Wah). Operator for the organ part. I tracked some fretless guitar that I didn't end up using...but the fretless will probably reappear soon.
Sends: two convolution reverbs, one Delay, and one Echo.
Title from the etymology of this week's element, actinium.