So, having hit a small stumbling block, things with the modular are moving forwards again. Sought some advice from others more experienced than myself (shoutout to Cody @Equinoxoz) and starting to get myself back on 'a' track again. Currently doing some more experimentation's with the modular, this time focusing on smaller elements of sound design. The last couple of sessions have been focused around FM (Frequency Modulation) using two different analog oscillators (the slave and the modulator). It's amazing how many different sounds can be generated using a small handful of modules, with a couple of oscillators FM'ing each other at the core of the patch.
To be completely honest, I'm having a bit of hard time working out what I actually want achieve with the modular synth. It's all good and fun to create melodic sequences and such, but when you really get down to it, I can write more interesting and complex musical material without using the modular. I spent several hours over the last couple of days working on large patch, with multiple melodic voices and patterns. While the results were reasonably satisfying, and fun to create, there remains a niggling feeling that I could create something similar, and more complex without the use of the modular. In some ways, it does feel like you're trying to push past the limitations of the modular format (difficulties with having multiple voices etc) and trying to things with it that are really beyond the scope of what the instrument was designed for (and what can be done far easier and sound almost as good using software), in trying to patch structured and melodic material with it. I'm starting to think that using the modular in the context of trying to create melodic/composed music (especially within the scope of the size of my setup, which limits the amount of complexity and diversity that can be achieved) is in some ways a disservice to the vast amount of sonic possibilities lurking within the format. While the melodic material can be pleasing to listen to, it pales when compared against composed music. It appears that structure, while possible in the modular realm, in my case would not be considered a strong suit. Rather, it would be the wealth of possibilities to be explored regarding timbres, sounds and noise that allows the modular to shine forth. Some of my more enjoyable experiments with the modular so far, have been in creating sounds that have little to no melodic meaning or formal structure. Sounds that would be extremely difficult to create through other means, yet within the facilities provided by the modular format, are within easy reach. Maybe it is time to switch focus in my experimentation with modular. To move away from trying to create complex, structured, melodic and harmonic patches, and start moving towards the vast sound-scape possibilities of synth noise!
Experimentation continues with my modular setup. I've started work on a patch to be performed at the 'Shock of the New' concert at WAAPA next Friday. Going for a blend of melodic, rhythmic and electronic material. Worked out a new method of control using a MIDI pad controller to control pitch and other parameters. Looking at having 4 main elements to make up the patch - a melodic, dual arppegiated synth; a bass/lead line controlled by the pad controller, including rhythmic elements; a lead from the Ribbon controller, again with a rhythmic element and lastly a heavily modulated random electronic noise part.
Taking some inspiration from the modular work of Alessandro Cortini, mainly his two Sonoio albums which were created predominantly with a Buchla 200e series modular synthesizer.
After some successful conversations and discussion yesterday I am all set to write for the WAAPA Sax Ensemble for my recital. Head of Saxophones, Matt Styles, is enthusiastic about the ideas for the creation of the pieces. I sat in for a bit of the ensemble rehearsal as well and have gotten a good idea of the sound and some of the capabilities of the ensemble.
I've been feeling a bit rusty in the composition department lately, especially for ensemble writing, so I believe the best thing to do is to just write something. Had several ideas pop into my head on the way home from WAAPA and have started developing and arranging these into a piece for Sax Octet. Definitely good practice, and it's shown up a few areas I need to work on. Also reminded me of the satisfaction in the writing process itself, which is a good thing I suppose...
Music for the Lost and Forgotten Places
Music inspired by images of abandoned buildings being retaken by nature. Images collected in these blog posts are the trigger for the initial idea:
The core idea for the piece is to write a suite of short (1-2min) pieces, with each piece created around and accompanying a single image of an abandoned place.
The plan is to chose a set of images. Each image will then form the creative impetuous for a short piece utilising the WAAPA Sax Ensemble. From each image a word map will be created, outlining ideas/feelings evoked by the image. This word map will then be structured into a word score for each piece. Musical ideas/motifs/etc will be developed from the word score, appropriate to intentions of the words. From here the actual music can be written.
Also looking at the possibilities of some spacial processing for the live ensemble. I've got the capabilities to do some interesting reverb processing using some Eventide effects. This may be useful in effectively conveying the larger spaces represented in some of the images.
Other possibilities to consider:
- pure Sax Ensemble, additional processing, other instruments
- extended saxophone techniques,
So begins my rambling, possibly long-winded, on the development and progress of my compositions of my Honours in Music (Composition) degree that I am studying this year. Another year and more music to write. What to write for, what styles to write, what techniques to explore, what on earth do I want to do?
Ideas are starting to bounce around now, bubbling up from the depths below or triggered by random chance meetings and conversations.
- Modular, modular, modular. What to do with the modular. Lots of interesting possibilities within itself, slef generating patches, controllable patches, alternative controllers. Then there's the possibilities of putting it in an ensemble context with other instruments. Piano and modular duet? Still learning the possibilities of my setup to begin with so I'm sure there will be plenty more ideas to develop from this.
- Saxophones, saxophones, sax. The possibility of working with the WAAPA Sax Ensemble.
- Music for the Lost and Forgotten Places??? With picture accompaniment. Reverb processing of the instruments?
Ideas are starting to develop. Need to spend some time in the studio mucking around.