ARTISTS

Learn how Tennyson translate between Ableton and percussion on kits

One of them likes to solve Rubik’s Cubes, blindfolded, on tour. The other is capable of executing elaborate drum programs programmed on a computer, on live percussion. Meet Tennyson and learn how they work.

As we saw before, Ableton Loop is a place not just for learning about a particular product for musicians, but gathering together ideas from the electronic music community as a whole. And Ableton have been sharing some of that work in an online minisite, so you get a free front row ticket to some of the event from wherever you are.

Tennyson is a good example of how explorations at Loop can cover playing technology as instrument – and everything that means for musicians. Watch:

Tennyson are a young Canadian brother and sister duo, with a unique musical idiom they tested together in live acoustic-electronic improvisations in jazz cafes. Complicated, angular rhythms flow effortlessly and gently, the line between kit and machine blurring. For Loop, they’re interviewed by Jesse Terry, who is product owner for Ableton Push (and has a long history working with the hardware that interacts with Live).

And the sample programming is insane: you get Runescape samples. A baby sneezing. The Mac volume control sound. It’s obsessive Internet-age programming – and then Tess plays this all as acoustic percussion and kit.

In this talk, they talk about jazz education, getting started as kids, Skype lessons. And then they get into the workings of a song.

The big trick here: the duo use Live’s Racks, using the Chain function, so that consistently mapped drum parts can cycle through different sounds as she plays. (I’ll review that technique in more detail soon.) 24 variable pads play all the sounds as Tess is playing.

Working with Chains in Ableton Live’s Device Racks can let you cycle through samples, patches, and layered/split instrument settings.

Part of why the video is interesting to watch is it’s really as much about how Tess has gradually learned how to memorize and recall these elaborate percussion parts. It’s a beautiful example of the human brain expanding to keep up with, then surpass, what the machine makes available.

For Luke’s part, there’s a monome [grid controller], keyboard triggers, and still more electronic pads. The monome loops chopped up samples, sticks can trigger more samples manually — it’s dense. He plays melodic parts both on keyboard and 4×4 pad grid.

The track makeup:

  • Arrangement view contains the song structure
  • A click track (obviously)
  • Software synths each have set lists of sounds, with clips triggering sound changes as MIDI program changes
  • The monome / mlrv sequencer

Here’s an (older) extended live set, so you can see more of how they play:

Here’s their dreamy, poppy latest music video (released March) – made all the more impressive when you realize they basically sound like this live:

More background on the band:

Welcome to the Magically Playful World of Tennyson [Red Bull Music]

New band of the week: Tennyson (No 14) [The Guardian]

Image courtesy the artists.

Check out a growing selection of content from Loop on Ableton’s minisite:

https://www.ableton.com/en/blog/loop/

Bonus: for a quick run-down on chains, here’s AfroDjMac:

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Hugo rattled Berghain’s enormous system, talked to us about sound

What do you do when faced with a sound system associated with a very particular techno sound? One answer: push the speakers until they scream, in a good way.

That’s what Hugo Esquinca did last month at CTM Festival – okay, under the watchful eyes of one of the club’s technicians. (That tech seemed happy with the results; I saw him leap over to Hugo after the show, grinning.)

It’s just another creative sound art experiment from Hugo and fits perfectly with the ethos of the collective he’s part of, oqko.

As part of our new series Cues, I’ll be talking to artists about musical creativity and live performance. And so for this one, we get an exclusive live performance – recorded in front of us at Maze, a club underground Kreuzberg – and chatted with Hugo about his work. Listen (I’ll have podcast subscription information for you next week, too):

If you’re tired of commercial boilerplate for electronics, feast your brain on this text Hugo shared on his creation:

Study on (in)operable rigour at this years edition of CTM @ Berghain was a site-specific composition in which the extensive differences and categories assigned as dimension to space and duration to time were but variables among variables in various algorithmic operations which precisely exposed those values to intensive micro temporal variations, where indeterminate modulations produced a multiplicity of events ranging from aleatory amplification of certain room mode resonances, errors in the sound card deriving from random oversampling which produced unexpected sonorous incidents to emerge, and where regarding a recursive mode in the programming where no halt was assigned, the composition could have potentially runned for an indefinite amount of time, as it was precisely by means of my intervention in ‘stopping’ the events that they were prevented and/or terminally halted.

Here’s a closer look at some of the Pd and Max mayhem:

For his site:

dekj.org

And we’ve covered oqko previously:

Transmissions from the magnetic ooze, in new oqko video premiere

How sound takes Lvis Mejía from Mexico to a collective unconscious

Check their site:

oqko.org

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Get that signature jungle filter sweep with Mumdance’s Euro module

Out with vinyl; now anyone who’s anyone releases on Eurorack? Regardless, the Akai S950-inspired module from Mumdance and ALM Busy Circuits sounds brilliant.

There does seem to be a new correlation between people pushing musical innovation and making their own hardware. And it’s no coincidence Mumdance, aka Jack Adams, would get into modules – the man is a certified Eurorack synthesizer nut.

Back in November, FACT were granted an in-depth look at the module and its inspiration and evolution, featuring both Mumdance and ALM’s Matthew Allum:

Mumdance and ALM Busy Circuits have made a Eurorack filter module that can “fucking scream”

Now, they’re back in the studio with Mumdance to have a look:

Unlike some muddled modules, this one is the model of simplicity: big cutoff knob, big resonance knob. From there, you have ample, complete control – dual audio ins, and the ability to control essentially everything via voltage, as you’d desire. Frequency, resonance, and the amplitude of incoming signals are all patchable. Also, standing apart from many modules, you get fine-grained attenuation of cutoff and resonance and a handy manual control for input level. (Sheesh, it’s almost like they think you may know what you’re doing or something.)

There’s also an internal control, as the video notes, that gives you the ability to fully close the filter – something the Akai couldn’t do. (That might be worth the adjustment, simply because now you’ve got CV control over cutoff and not only, like, your hand.)

This comes at a nice time, as Mumdance has made a fine name influencing every aspect of the scene around him in London. There’s his exceptional radio program, which has been on top of some of the best artists operating at the moment. There’s his ability to span genres, from grime to techno to hardcore (nicely embodied in this module, in fact). He’s made Roland presets for their relaunch. And there’s his label.

I point this out because, while it does require the luxury of time (gah!), these are things I think that can’t really be faked. Trying to fill all these different roles certainly isn’t advisable for every artist, but Mumdance does exemplify what’s possible in radical multitasking – when there’s a guiding sensibility.

I hope that this clears the way, meanwhile, for the weirdo modular builders outside of the music in-crowd to get some respect as musicians, too. It should be plainly obvious that the once-separate categories of musician and “modular builder freaks” are no longer distinct.

Keep an eye on Mumdance:

https://www.facebook.com/mumdance

And label (with Logos – more on that Chevel release that’s coming end of the month soon, as it’s brilliant):

http://differentcirclesmusic.bigcartel.com/

Equal credit to ALM Busy Circuits. They’ve stayed nicely focused – and this sort of filter just calls out for the modular treatment, as a color you might want to add to any particular place in your work.

The module:

http://busycircuits.com/alm018/

More of that:

http://busycircuits.com/

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Admina and the patriarchy-smashing edges of Bucharest’s underground

Call it a second post-Communist Romanian revolution: artists are reshaping the scene just as quickly as they can keep the clubs open. Meet Admina and Corp.

We were inspired by Admina’s performance on the Moogfest stream, and her musical reputation precedes her, as a kind of hero to similar counter-cultural scenes tucked here and there worldwide. Simona Mantarlian, a DJ/critic, Bucharest insider, and native Romanian herself, talks to Admina about the scene and how it connects to musical life . There, finding a space is a matter of personal, creative, real survival – but it’s also working, and that means there’s a lot for us to learn from Bucharest’s fringe frontiers. -Ed.

Bucharest is a fast-paced stellar ride, defying entropy, as its underground dance clubs open — and reach insolvency — and find another way to surface and go on. We’re talking about epic places like Ponton [see here and here for an impression], then Kran, and also the abrupt curve Control Club has followed after its rebranding, where underground bookings came back on the roster after a posh-makeover-phase — we’ll pass.

The constant that drives the process lays in the strong crews of selectors, who never compromise in the quality, levity, and obscurity of their finds. A new crew called Corp. caught our attention through its podcasts and intense activity around the scene. The female and queer collective, founded by [European supported] SHAPE platform resident Chlorys and DJ/ producer Admina, pushed a new generation of musicians whose voices challenge the male-dominated status quo. We spoke with Admina about the context of Corp.’s philosophy, and took a virtual trip to Bucharest’s queer parties, transporting us to a new post-Internet realm, and beyond.

Admina’s video: Destroy Patriarchy.

Simona: First, what is Corp., and what are you up to with it?

Admina: Corp. is a Bucharest-based project and platform. It aims to represent and showcase female-identified musicians and DJs in electronic music, while also being dedicated to acquiring and exposing obscure sounds, spanning from experimental and traditional forms to contemporary ones. Its activity is dedicated to broadening the focus on female-identified artists within the context of Bucharest’s local scene, as well as beyond the borders of the country.

The main urgent drive behind Corp.’s initiative is to open and sustain a studio where women will have the space and time to further develop their skills and communicate.

Corp. members: Admina, Beatrice Sommer, Chlorys, Cosima von Bülove.

A few weeks ago, you were part of the all-female-identified stream that launched Moogfest. What did it mean for you to be involved in this Moogfest stream, and in the lineup? Is it significant to you that they did choose to feature women and non-binary artists in this context of the stream and announcement?

Being part of [Moogfest] is a good opportunity for me and also for Corp. It’s great exposure; I’m really glad and excited that I’m part of the show.

Can you tell us a little bit about your live performance there?

I thought of myself being most of the time a nostalgic and melancholic person. Music was also a guide for me. It’s hard to show those feelings while you are playing a set for people to dance, but I always try to get that feeling on the stage. So maybe I will use this opportunity embrace this through dark and experimental sounds — a little bit of sadness and nostalgia.

So, “destroy patriarchy.” Is patriarchy at home in Romania? What is the society like?

Every society is to a certain extent patriarchal; each society “encourages” differences between men and women, in the way they are educated, treated, taught, etc. Romania remains a patriarchal society, where women are perceived mainly as wives and mothers and are denied access to more powerful positions in the business world.

How does Corp. as collective relate to that?

Gender inequalities are a reality in our country. Corp. is proposing an incipient ambition to construct a new language for sexual (gender) politics in the Romanian electronic scene and clubbing.

We want to establish identity as power, a collective visibility. Identity as a declaration of the self, identity as claiming and naming common qualities.

There weren’t many women DJing in Bucharest, say, two years ago, and we can rightfully say things have changed. What was the reaction of the guys in the scene? Were they helpful with putting up Corp. gigs at the clubs they were booking?

Parallel to Corp.’s foundation in Romania, in Western Europe and America, voices of women in electronic music began to be heard. And their gender equality statistics were worrying already for many festivals and clubs around the world.

So, when we started Corp platform, let’s say that the idea was well received, the promoters and organizers have begun to pay more attention to gender equality in lineups.

Watching “Destroy Patriarchy”, the video for your first single, I recognized a lot of new DJs from Bucharest who are getting popular right now, beyond the limits of Bucharest-universe (Beatrice Sommer, Paula Dunker, boivoid, Ana Secheres). Some of them learned their skills via Corp. crew. What made you decide to do the opposite of what everybody does – share knowledge instead of putting extra effort to make it even more inaccessible?

The project also aspires to go beyond the performing artists and to include studio musicians, producers, sound engineers, technicians, cover artists, distributors, promoters, and festival organizers. We want to share everything we know with others. It’s not a big deal to play music. It’s simple, you just have to enjoy music and have the pleasure to share it with others. Why not be accessible to everyone — especially women and queer people who did not have access to technology, or trust to do it? We want to build that trust together. Let’s remember that music is there to bring people together and to create a community.

Back to “Destroy Patriarchy”, where did you record and mix the music and what’s the gear you used?

“Destroy Patriarchy” is a reaction to an oppressive system, aiming to send out a clear and empowering message. The video was recorded at Kiseleff Park in the specially-designed space for outdoor fitness. The music I made it in Ableton using an Akai MPK Mini MIDI controller.

Your nickname has an early internet / message board-era ring to it. How did it find you? What is your connection to the Internet?

Everything started with the word admin, and that was my first idea of DJ nickname. At that time I managed Facebook pages to make money, and it was just funny to call myself like that. And because in English the word didn’t have a feminine pronoun, I only heard about administratrix, which sounds totally hot, but it was too long and I didn’t want that much to assume a gender since I identify myself as a non-binary. With all of that, my friends have found a way to feminize it. Putting an “a” to the end, made it sound more feminine in Romanian. After that I found out, that Admina is actually a name, a Hebrew name, and it means “Of the red earth.” “People with this name have a deep inner desire to inspire others in a higher cause, and to share their own strongly held views on spiritual matters.” I said it was perfect for me.

What is the earliest memory that you track your obsession with music to?

When I was very young, I wanted to play the violin, but I went to fine art school eventually, because my mother had no money to buy me a violin and it was impossible to go to the music school without it. Now I am very glad I didn’t. I consider my visual experience very useful and closely related to how I understood music now.

What is the starting place you’d recommend to someone who never got into electronic music before?

To trust themselves … I don’t know what point is best for someone. Just begin with what they have already, and they will learn on the way what they need. It’s good to have a limited number of tools; it makes you more creative.

Tell us about a fun club experience we missed in Bucharest.

It’s good to know that we have Queer Night. It’s the only fun club experience I really enjoy ever ytime, because we all can be ourselves. Also we intend to organize our own parties in Bucharest so — be prepared!

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Noise generator: a chat with Uchi, as LA celebrates electronic sound

Miami-born Uchi is a fresh face as LA collective BL_K NOISE meet up with Berlin’s Raster – and that’s a perfect time to catch up with her and reflect.

Dive in, commit. It’s that moment when the mixer fader is up and you start your live set, the let’s-screw-up-our-lives risk-taking bigger moments we make sometimes for musical passion. It’s the willingness to screw up live and screw up life, maybe.

That sums up why a lot of us are here as well as anything. And so that makes Uchi’s approach refreshing. Just as your email promo inbox is full of drab, sound-alike techno and washes of disinterested distorted ambience, Uchi kind of doesn’t follow any rules. Her DJ sets are diverse and daring, her live sets going deep and abstract and back again. And she talks to us a bit here about that abandon.

It’s also paying off. Uchi has gone from being known in Miami to becoming a regular at Berlin’s most sought-after slots – including Berghain’s upstairs Panorama Bar and its darker, weirder new ground floor Säule. But the best part is, I think we don’t know quite what she’ll do next. There’s a couple of EPs, a full-length album, and various podcasts coming and … well, the hell with predictability. The artists you want to watch are the ones that will surprise you.

January is definitely when we celebrate new music gear, thanks to Anaheim, California’s massive NAMM convention show. But then why not celebrate new noises, too? BLK_NOISE has assembled for Saturday a party made up of artists willing to push their electronic instruments until they hurt. From team USA, you’ve got Richard Devine, Surachai. From Germany, label Raster – the imprint formerly known as Raster Noton – Grischa Lichtenberger, and label co-founder Byetone. (Carsten Nicolai aka Raster Noton is going solo again, reverting his label to Noton.) And then there’s secretive BLK_NOISE anchor Belief Defect, who have feet in both Berlin and LA.

And then there’s Uchi. Let’s get a soundtrack: here’s a CDM exclusive debut, off her upcoming EP. Ingredients: KORG ElecTribe ER-1 [synth], Moog Minifooger [MF] Delay, Eventide Space reverb and “rat distortion.” (I think she means Pro Co RAT, but — this is New York, so…. it could have been, like, an actual rat.)

PK: What’s the set you’re preparing for LA? I loved this noise set that just streamed from Halcyon [in New York].

Uchi: I don’t know what happened there! It’s so weird! I have the recording of it myself; I gotta hear it and see!

I think for this show I’m going to use somewhat similar setup I’ve been using for most noise shows these days, a narrow selection of stuff, and complete improvisation — or zero preliminary sequencing. It’s the first time I’ll try an AV setup, which is exciting!

It seems like you’ve had some pretty significant shifts in your life, your musical direction … especially as some of the folks who will be hearing you in LA as well as our readers may not know you yet, what’s the trajectory been from Miami to Berlin? How did you get where you are currently?

Yeah, I guess there’s been a lot of changes the last couple of years. I lived in Miami since age 10, up until college. After I finished a degree in Computer Science, I took DJing (obtained from radio hosting at University) more seriously, as well as actually working on something I used to do for fun — (Ableton fiddling) making music.

The Boiler Room set came about from Juan Del Valle, now a friend. His influence was to convince me to make a live set. That being said, it was my first live set ever, and it was on Boiler Room – lol! BUT it was a great way to learn how to use hardware! Then Berlin came after the release on Plangent Records, which made the first gig in Panorama Bar happen. That made me decide not to get a flight home, basically.

The interesting thing is that just before I left Miami, everything had already started changing. I was pretty active in the noise scene, which was a whole different level of exploration in music, the exact opposite of composition and programming or what I used to make the Boiler Room set. Noise changed also the way I record, too. It seems I find single takes, and master out mixes more interesting than spending hours on a single detail or mixing down. I guess trying to finish ideas in one day if the case has a lot of details, otherwise just simple pressing record (mistakes included) and room recordings.

I made the album and the last couple EPs basically playing them. Since moving to Europe, which changed literally everything about what I knew, and also playing for promoters in different cities, I’ve had the chance to do something different. Nowadays, I’m combining all influences together — noise improvisation, changing patterns, speed, writing melodies or lack thereof, depending on so many different things. For instance where, when, and for whom each show is prepared for, relative to time, and where things are for me at the moment — it’s never the same. I’m still figuring it out, but if there is something to expect, it should be to expect something new.

These Saüle appearances have been great … in this age and (city!) people can cling to a somewhat narrow and clasutrophobic view of genre, so that’s a relief. Can you talk a little bit about you’ve been playing lately?

Well, I guess Säule was a bit of the turning point. It made me realize its not far-fetched to combine everything into one presentation. Funny you say claustrophobic view of genre! That puts it a bit better in perspective actually. I think the first time was probably one of the most liberating DJ sets of my life, the first time I felt like myself. The struggle of genre has been real for a really long time, but thanks to that lately, I reeeally don’t care for dance floor “rules” too much, and follow just, whatever feels right at the time. I’m curious to what you would describe those gigs as.

Mmm, eclectic? This is why I wouldn’t really call myself a music journalist, just a musician. So to that — what are you using to play for this live set? Not just to sort of get gear-focused, but instead — what does this mean as far as instrumentation, as composition?

For sure, it will be a Moog Mother [Mother-32 synthesizer] running, pitching it sporadically, plus vocal whale sounds … maybe some screaming. Also some Koma Elektronik noises generated from the Field Kit [“electro-acoustic workstation”] and BD101 [analog gate-delay pedal] as main effects, messing with any signal sent to the aux [input] of the Field Kit.

I guess as “composition,” I suppose breaking it down by frequency – the vocal stuff is a lot of mid-range melodic, of course, with a ton of reverb and delay, the Moog for low-end and the Koma stuff for texture, high-pitch screeching, and pulsating static. These have been my favorite pieces of gear to use for noise shows. I made the last album using the Moog heavily, so it’s kind of been my main instrument for almost two years, along with Koma stuff which is heaven for noise freaks — the Moog sounds on another level! And some classic reverb and distortion pedals, Boss DS-1 [distortion pedal, since 1978] and Eventide Space.

What do those instruments mean to you; how do they impact how you play spontaneously?

They are my children!!! I supposed their user interface totally affects how they are played. For example, the large knobs of the Mother and the semi-modular part for patching and combining it with it with the BD10 light sensor (which kind of acts like a theremin), and putting that in the Field Kit mixer, which has got a life of its own. The signals kind of bounce with each other. Feed-backing is waaay fun. Also, the continuity of LFO’s makes it easy to do multiple things at once. Whatever instruments I’m using at the moment play a really large role in every live set, if not the biggest role. I hope to be switching to full-on modular this year! Wish me luck.

Thanks, Uchi!

If you’re in LA, check out the event! I wrote about Belief Defect’s live rig here and for Native Instruments; now it’s America’s turn to get that live. Co-hosted with Decibel Festival:

[BL__K NOISE]: Raster Label Showcase

https://www.facebook.com/uchpuch/

Photos courtesy the artist.

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Here’s what artists in the 50-hour Moogfest live stream have to say

As Moogfest runs an international, 50-hour livestream of women and transgender artists, here are those voices talking about music, technology, and inspiration.

We’ll update this piece as we hear from more artists, so keep reloading in the next couple of days for more. (At top: Ana Paula Santana.)

See also our full writeup of this project and the first wave lineup announcement from the festival. All images courtesy Moogfest and the artists.

Ana Paula Santana (Guadalajara, Mexico)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it – and did you find any obstacles to doing so?

I started to do experimental sound compositions when I was working for a Mexican radio as an editor. In the beginning I was doing soundscape with some electronic instruments in Ableton Live, and then I integrated different keyboards and voice. After a wile doing this I went to Barcelona to study a master degree in sound art, and there I met electronic musicians with whom I collaborated. From this last experience I learned many tricks and techniques to create with.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the stream, and where in it do you draw inspiration?

I’m going to play with a Microkorg synthesizer, four contact microphones and one midi interface. I also do atmospheres with my voice and I use the feedback in the space as a frequency generator to play with in the midi keyboard.

I’m inspired by constant machine sounds, the sound of the city and the speed in contrast with natural and random soundscapes. I’m also inspired by love stories; ’cause what I do I think it has a lot of melancholy in it.

3. What does it mean to participate in this stream for you?

I’m very happy, it’s a great opportunity to share my work and I love the idea of it being a festival to celebrate the creation of female sound; also I feel very honored to share my work together with artist who I admire.

FARI B (London, UK)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it – and did you find any obstacles to doing so?

Through sewing and knitting I learned algorythmic thinking, and I studied acoustic music and later journalism which taught my how to edit sound. But at 12 I had a ZX Spectrum…! I used to load the games with a cassette player…
Obstacles were there was no culture among my friends to learn this stuff, or my schools or colleges, I had to find my interest group by volunteering at an arts music radio station called Resonance 104.4FM in 2004 as an engineer.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the stream, and where in it do you draw inspiration?

A whole load of found objects and hand made instruments and keyboard…inspiration comes from the many journeys and performances Ive done around the world, from Novi Sad to Isle of Wight.

3. What does it mean to participate in this stream for you?

That something’s shifting in interest and perception, about whose voices we are listening to. Mainstream can’t cater for everyone! Humanity is starting to reflect itself back at itself in media properly, at last.

Maia Koenig (Buenos Aires, Argentina)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it? Did you find any obstacle to doing it?

In 2008 I started playing in Mielcitas Trash Me where I played bass, I did not have money and I needed a distortion pedal, I found a friend who helped me build it, from there I relate to electronics in a very intuitive way. It’s a little complicated at the beginning, but after you let go, encouraging a new project “D.I.Y” is always an enriching challenge.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the broadcast and where is it inspired?

In the last few years I have been playing mostly Gameboy with the LSDJ tracker, I also incorporate a casio pt80 keyboard, a cacophonator (DIY), and something else that comes up in the moment, I like to improvise with the environment and energy that instant in the only one that I live, the present.

3. What does it mean to participate in this current for you?

The electric current, the action / reaction, an impulse, an expansive flare, the electromagnetic network that unites us in a sometimes very destructive world, where music and other arts are part of a transmutation, that’s why noise is necessary as a protest aware that we can change things a little.

Nesa Azabikhah< (Tehran, Iran)

1. What was your first access to electronic music technology? Where did you go to learn more about it? Did you find any obstacle to doing it?

My first access to electronic music would be purchasing a software by the name of “FL Studio“. I started working with the software and getting more familiar and involved with electronic music. Also, before I purchased this software I also started working with CDJ and DJ mixer. In addition, I also started learning from people around me who also played at that time. So I started using FL Studio, Logic, Reason, and now I work with Ableton.

2. What is your choice of instrumentation for the broadcast and where is it inspired?

What I have chosen for this steam is a one hour dj set from different music genre. I’m using my laptop, cdj and mixer. I’m not using any instruments, because I’m not playing live and I’m only playing a one hour dj set. Because, since I have more than one play I didn’t have the opportunity to prepare a live for this stream and that’s why my only choice was a dj set.

3. What does it mean to participate in this current for you?

Lastly, I have to say I am very excited and mostly honored to be part of the 50 artist for this live stream. I’m also happy to be part of this team. This a new and interesting experience for me. I am also looking forward to see even more growth and accomplishment for the women artists and artist who are part of the transgendered and non-binary community.

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Watch Moogfest kick off with epic 50-hour livestream, lineup – minus men

Women and transgender artists have too often seen their work in electronic music pushed to the margins. Moogfest’s launch this year puts them first.

Moogfest this year promises to have the mix they’ve been brewing in the latest editions: part music festival, part conference, with music and music technology meeting up with larger themes around science and innovation. The difference is, instead of the presence of female and transgender artists being just another box for curators to tick — “hey, look, we booked some women” — here, they’re leading the announcement. That includes both a 50-hour livestream of back-to-back sets from a pretty amazing and diverse set of artists, plus the first wave announcement of artists.

Here’s Madame Gandhi explaining the idea:

The result is a mixture of people you know really well (legends like Suzanne Ciani, Moor Mother) alongside a lot of artists who are almost certainly new to you – particularly as they’ve been drawn from disparate genres and geographies. Indeed, these are the kind of people who have been quietly pushing music in new directions, but who might get lost in the fine print of music programs, or pushed to the side in music headlines. In fact, I think the upshot is a potential victory not only for gender equality, but for independent and out-of-the-mainstream music, too. And knowing CDM readers, irrespective of your gender, I think that’s a value you’re likely to enjoy seeing represented.

As Ciani tells The New York Times:

For Ms. Ciani, the theme for Moogfest 2018 is only natural. “Women have long been intimately connected to electronic music, perhaps because it offered a path outside male-dominated conventional music worlds,” she said. “What has changed is an awareness of women in the field historically as well as a huge influx of contemporary talent.”

Moogfest Shines a Spotlight on Female, Nonbinary and Transgender Musicians

To that I’d add that it’s worth noting that the “influx” and “contemporary” parts are also closely tied to international artists. Our own CDM contributor will have a conversation with a fellow Romanian woman in the Bucharest scene for one link to that; I’ve also had conversations recently with a some Iranian artists about the situation for women making music there (and the resulting international scene as they travel), and … well, look down the list of countries below.

Moor Mother, the ground-breaking experimental project of Philadelphia’s Camae Ayewa, is one of many people deserving of first-wave headliner recognition – and now getting it.

We’ll have some interviews with artists shortly, so Moogfest’s lineup is your gain, wherever you are.

To watch the livestream:

You can watch from anywhere beginning at 12pm ET on Wednesday December 6 until 2pm ET on Friday December 8.
http://AlwaysOn.Live

Or watch here:

I’m also cross-posting to our CDM Facebook page.

The schedule:

The beginning is – starting very radical, in a nice way! Unfortunately, upstream bandwidth / encoding looks … very choppy. Hoping some of the artists sort that out better. (This is a real roadblock of livestreaming, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Livestream artists:

Admina
(Bucharest, Romania)
Adriana T
(Athens, GA, USA)
Alissa Derubeis
(Asheville, NC, USA)
Amy Knoles
(Valencia, CA, USA)
Ana Paula Santana
(Guadalajara, Mexico)
Andrea Alvarez
(Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Annie Hart
(Brooklyn, NY, USA)
Awaymsg
(Durham, NC, USA)
Aseul
(Seoul, South Korea)
Bells Roar
(Albany, NY, USA)
Caz9
(Dublin, Ireland)
Club Chai (8ULENTINA & FOOZOOL)
(Bay Area, CA, USA)
Despicable Zee
(Oxford, UK)
DJ Haram
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Dot
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Ela Minus
(Bogota, Columbia)
Elles
(London, UK, USA)
Emily Wells
(New York, NY, USA)
Fari B
(London, UK)
FOSIL
(Chile, Santiago)
Galcid
(Tokyo, Japan)
Jil Christensen
(Durham, NC, USA)
KALONICA NICX
(Bandung, Indonesia)
Kandere
(Melbourne, Australia)
Katie Gately
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Kim Ki O
(Istanbul, Turkey)
Lauren Flax
(New York, NY, USA)
Lilith Ai
(London, UK)
Lucy Cliche
(Sydney, Australia)
Lya “Drummer”
(London, UK)
Madame Gandhi
(New Delhi, India)
Mileece
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Moor Mother
(Philadelphia, PA, USA)
Nazira
(Almaty, Khazakhstan)
Nesa Azadikhah
(Tehran, Iran)
Nicola Kuperus
(Detroit, MI, USA)
Nonku Phiri
(Johannesburg, South Africa)
OG Lullabies
(Washington, DC, USA)
OTOMO X (Fay Milton & Ayse Hassan)
(London, UK)
PlayPlay
(Durham, NC, USA)
Pulpy Shilpy
(Pune, India)
SARANA
(Samarinda, East Borneo)
Sassy Black
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)
Stud1nt
(Asheville, NC, USA)
Sui Zhen
(Melbourne, Australia)
Suzanne Ciani & Layne
(Bolinas, CA, USA)
Suzi Analogue
(Miami, FL, USA)
Therese Workman
(New York, NY, USA)
Vessel Skirt
(Hobart, Tasmania)
Zensofly
(Durham, NC, USA)

Of course, even better than live streaming is – being there in person. (No buffering issues! Or… if there are, seek medical attention!)

Here’s the first-wave lineup announcement, including a couple of friends (and a couple of idols)!

Amber Mark
Annie Hart
Armen Ra
Aurora Halal
Bonaventure
Carla Dal Forno
CEP (Caroline Polachek)
Caterina Barbieri
DJ HARAM
Ellen Allien
Emily Sprague
Fatima Al Qadiri
Fawkes
Gavin Rayna Russom
Helen Money
Honey Dijon
Jamila Woods
Jenny Hval
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Karyyn
Katie Gately
Kristin Kontrol
Kyoka
Lawrence Rothman
Madame Gandhi
Maliibu Miitch
Midori Takada
Nadia Sirota
Nicole Mitchell
Noncompliant
Pamelia Stickney
Sassy Black
Shanti Celeste
SOPHIE
Stud1nt
Umfang
Upper Glossa

The post Watch Moogfest kick off with epic 50-hour livestream, lineup – minus men appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech

Deerful is the singer-songwriter imagined by mobile developers, found in real life. She’s not just another producer, but an earnest lyricist.

You can follow Emma on her YouTube channel, crooning covers to Game Boy accompaniment or deftly playing with a Novation Circuit in place of guitar. And now she’s got a full-length LP to her name, called Peach, released on London indie label wiaiwya (CD/vinyl/download).

Ed.: With Emma’s unique take on music production with apps and mobile gear, we turn over interview duties to the writer who turned us on to her work – and who foresaw just this kind of creative application for such tools. Ashley Elsdon, recently joining CDM and helming our Apps channel, having built the influential Palm Sounds blog on mobile tech, understands the advantage of mobile instruments, apps, battery power, and simple design empowering creativity. So, he’s the ideal person to lead this conversation with fellow UK resident Emma Winston. -PK

I’ve been following Deerful for some time now. Mostly people who make music with the kind of gear she’s using tend to electronic and dance genres, rather than the kind of singer-songwriter material she’s creating – producing more melodic output than you might associate with apps and mobile gear. And I’ve found her lyrics quite unusual, and her musical voice unique.

So, I took the opportunity to ask her about reflect her creative process, how tools fit in, and her sources of musical inspiration.

CDM: How do you make the decision to use a particular technology or instrument in your music?

Deerful: I am actually not very logical or rational about this. Almost every instrument I own, I own because I fell in love with it. (I think the only exception is the [KORG] Electribe 2 I use live – it’s a bit of a pain, but I absolutely could not find a practical alternative which wasn’t wildly expensive.) Consequently, my gear collection is pretty quirky. Nobody needs a [Teenage Engineering] OP-1 or a Pocket Operator or a [Critter & Guitari] Septavox or a Game Boy, but I adore all of them, and it makes me even more excited to make music. It’s also because I feel like a lot of staple gear can be covered by software much more cheaply, so if I’m going to buy hardware, I want it to be special.

You seem to use a lot of mobile gear in your music. Is that a conscious choice?

It’s more that I really love miniature things, and also producing in bed and on the sofa. I definitely like not having to think about wires/speakers. It’s cool to be able to get down ideas with very little gear, but I think it’s more that the tiny, compact, quirky gear I gravitate towards is often mobile, rather than that I consciously look for mobile gear.

Being able to run off batteries also helps when I’m dealing with a live sound engineer who’s never seen an electronic instrument before and wants to have as little to think about as possible, but again, a lesser consideration!

How do you approach the writing process in technology terms? Do you start with a device or a specific technology, or does the song / track come first and the technology support it?

It depends. Sometimes the song comes first, and I’ll decide later exactly how it gets made or arranged. But if I have absolutely no ideas and a deadline to meet, my first recourse is always to pick up a device and see where it takes me. Something always comes from it.

This also varies from device to device and app to app – Korg Gadget, for instance, is an app I pretty much always go to when I already have an idea and want to flesh it out fast – I use it pretty much entirely as an ultra-fast DAW. The Pocket Operators are the opposite – I think of them primarily as idea-factories and a jumping-off point.

Aside from Gadget, do you use other iOS, or indeed Android apps? What’s your motivation for using them? How differently do you find using apps from using hardware?

I definitely use Gadget more than anything else. It’s funny, because I see people talking about it as a groovebox app that’s best for looping, and that’s not how I use it at all. It essentially replaces Ableton for me when I don’t want to haul my laptop around, or if I need to get something that sounds fairly polished together fast and don’t have much time to do lots of production on it.

For actual idea-generation and more groovebox-type applications, my favorite app at the moment is Studio Amplify’s KRFT; it has a really nice interface that’s flexible enough not to just lock you into endless looping, which is what I feel like a lot of iOS apps veer towards. (They also have a more stripped-down free version called NOIZ, which is fun). For more experimental stuff, I love Samplr. I made my first EP mostly in Nanostudio, so that one’s worth a shout-out, although I’ve had a bit of a break from it since – it was the thing that was finally both flexible enough and un-intimidating enough to stop being scared of trying to produce and actually do it.

Every app is different, just as every piece of hardware is different, which is one reason I find the idea that one is somehow inherently better than the other and that you have to pick to be extremely strange. The fastest thing I can do to generate ideas when I’m stuck is switching to a new interface, whether that’s on a touchscreen or on my laptop or boxed up as a dedicated synth. It depends how I’m feeling and where I am and what I need.

I don’t own an Android device entirely because of the relative lack of music apps. I’m really hopeful that will change as their issues with audio improve – mobile music was a huge part of getting me into production and I would love it if that experience was available to more people on a platform with broadly much lower-cost hardware. I said this in an iPad music forum once and people were amazingly defensive about it. As far as I am concerned, all access to music-making is good, and if the 70% or so of smartphone users who own an Android device had a music market as rich as the App Store available to them, I would be stoked about it.

If you could design an app that would be perfect for you, what would it look like and what would it do?

Terrible response, but it would honestly just be Ableton optimized for a 10” touchscreen. Ableton, if you’re reading this, I’m your mobile market.

How do you approach writing lyrics? Do the lyrics come as part of your overall inspiration for a track, or is that something you find separately? What makes you feel like you have a great lyric?

I have recently started referring to myself as a singer-songwriter-producer, because honestly that’s what I am. I’m a songwriter who tells my own stories in performance, but does it with a box with buttons on it instead of a guitar. The lyrics and the song itself and the details of how it’s put together are equal parts. Sometimes a lyric comes first, sometimes a riff, sometimes a chord sequence – sometimes they’re simultaneous.

It’s very much a symbiotic thing. I’m constantly looking for ways to balance the abstract and the specific in my songs – describing moments and fragments of time in detail, but without so much specificity they become alienating.

Who are your influences musically, and who do you find inspiring in terms of technology and approach to process?

The Postal Service was the band that started me out wanting to make electronic music, and I still adore them. I feel like there’s still this idea that electronics are not particularly well-suited to singer-songwriters, which I find so strange because it gives you so much opportunity to design, right down to the sonic building-blocks which make up the song. It becomes part of the storytelling, and I think the Postal Service did that in such a beautifully tactile and warm way. I can literally point to the sample that comes in at 0:28 of ‘Nothing Better’ as the moment I realized I wanted to make electronic music myself – it acts almost like a third vocal melody but also this kind of plaintive emotional punctuation, warm and bit-crushed and sad.

I’ve been listening to a lot of the stuff that’s come out of the label PC Music over the last couple of years. I feel like a lot of what they’re doing is almost the polar opposite to Deerful, which is an almost embarrassingly honest project – they’re very self-aware, very detached, very cool, all things I’m not. A lot of people seem to respond to their artists as if the whole thing is completely ironic, but I hope (and believe) it’s not, because they’ve released some of the most intensely joyful pop music I’ve ever heard, and I desperately want that intensity of happiness to be real on some level.

EasyFun’s “Full Circle” is the track I’ve had on repeat for the last few days. It’s hyper-fun EDM-pop, but there are all these odd details thrown in, strange pitch-shifted samples, bizarre non-functional harmonies that are thrown into the chord and never repeated, weird, unnatural reverb tails and a lead vocal that’s chopped up and treated like a synth. I don’t sound anything like EasyFun, but I really want to get to the point where I can marry full-on unashamed fun with bizarre experimentalism in a similar way and have it all hang together.

In terms of process, I also find Grimes hugely inspiring – she made Visions in three weeks, in GarageBand, because it was what she knew, and she smashed it. She works fast when she needs to, but she knows when to zoom in, when to work on detail, when to really hone in on sound design and tone and tempo. (There’s a great interview where she talks about using samples of dentist drills to add aggressiveness to an 808 in ‘Venus Fly’, and it’s something I never would have even thought of.) I find her confidence and adaptability and willingness to move between pop and noise really impressive. It seems like she’s never held back by limitations or expectations; she just ploughs in and makes what she wants to make and it’s always brilliant.

Finally, let’s talk about your new album. When you set out to create it, what were your specific inspirations? What were you looking to achieve and how successful do you feel you’ve been?

Stylistically, Emily Reo’s gorgeous fuzzy alt-electropop has been a huge influence on all my releases so far (I also accidentally stole the album title, Peach, from one of her songs – it genuinely was an accident, but I think it probably speaks of how much her work has lodged itself in my creative brain.) I credit her music with finally giving me the push I needed to start writing and performing myself. Owen Pallett’s songwriting and storytelling has also always been a huge inspiration, but I’m not sure if that really comes through in the resultant album – I wish it did!

What was I looking to achieve? God, I’ve no idea. Everything is an experiment and an exploration. Everything I release, I do so having no idea how anyone’s going to react to it, and being excited to find out. It’s a brilliant lesson in exactly how bad at mind-reading I am. In general people seem to have liked it; I’ve no idea how it’s sold, and from an artist perspective that doesn’t really matter. When I listen to it now three months after release, I hear a lot I would do differently – I’m very proud of it but also excited to move on to the next thing!

CDM: Thanks, Emma!

It’s been an enlightening experience talking to Deerful. It’s shed light on her music and I’m certainly looking forward to listening to whatever the ‘next thing’ is she’s got planned, and also understanding how it was put together.

Deerful’s latest ablum can be found at wiaiwya and is available as a download, CD, or vinyl.

The post Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech

Deerful is the singer-songwriter imagined by mobile developers, found in real life. She’s not just another producer, but an earnest lyricist.

You can follow Emma on her YouTube channel, crooning covers to Game Boy accompaniment or deftly playing with a Novation Circuit in place of guitar. And now she’s got a full-length LP to her name, called Peach, released on London indie label wiaiwya (CD/vinyl/download).

Ed.: With Emma’s unique take on music production with apps and mobile gear, we turn over interview duties to the writer who turned us on to her work – and who foresaw just this kind of creative application for such tools. Ashley Elsdon, recently joining CDM and helming our Apps channel, having built the influential Palm Sounds blog on mobile tech, understands the advantage of mobile instruments, apps, battery power, and simple design empowering creativity. So, he’s the ideal person to lead this conversation with fellow UK resident Emma Winston. -PK

I’ve been following Deerful for some time now. Mostly people who make music with the kind of gear she’s using tend to electronic and dance genres, rather than the kind of singer-songwriter material she’s creating – producing more melodic output than you might associate with apps and mobile gear. And I’ve found her lyrics quite unusual, and her musical voice unique.

So, I took the opportunity to ask her about reflect her creative process, how tools fit in, and her sources of musical inspiration.

CDM: How do you make the decision to use a particular technology or instrument in your music?

Deerful: I am actually not very logical or rational about this. Almost every instrument I own, I own because I fell in love with it. (I think the only exception is the [KORG] Electribe 2 I use live – it’s a bit of a pain, but I absolutely could not find a practical alternative which wasn’t wildly expensive.) Consequently, my gear collection is pretty quirky. Nobody needs a [Teenage Engineering] OP-1 or a Pocket Operator or a [Critter & Guitari] Septavox or a Game Boy, but I adore all of them, and it makes me even more excited to make music. It’s also because I feel like a lot of staple gear can be covered by software much more cheaply, so if I’m going to buy hardware, I want it to be special.

You seem to use a lot of mobile gear in your music. Is that a conscious choice?

It’s more that I really love miniature things, and also producing in bed and on the sofa. I definitely like not having to think about wires/speakers. It’s cool to be able to get down ideas with very little gear, but I think it’s more that the tiny, compact, quirky gear I gravitate towards is often mobile, rather than that I consciously look for mobile gear.

Being able to run off batteries also helps when I’m dealing with a live sound engineer who’s never seen an electronic instrument before and wants to have as little to think about as possible, but again, a lesser consideration!

How do you approach the writing process in technology terms? Do you start with a device or a specific technology, or does the song / track come first and the technology support it?

It depends. Sometimes the song comes first, and I’ll decide later exactly how it gets made or arranged. But if I have absolutely no ideas and a deadline to meet, my first recourse is always to pick up a device and see where it takes me. Something always comes from it.

This also varies from device to device and app to app – Korg Gadget, for instance, is an app I pretty much always go to when I already have an idea and want to flesh it out fast – I use it pretty much entirely as an ultra-fast DAW. The Pocket Operators are the opposite – I think of them primarily as idea-factories and a jumping-off point.

Aside from Gadget, do you use other iOS, or indeed Android apps? What’s your motivation for using them? How differently do you find using apps from using hardware?

I definitely use Gadget more than anything else. It’s funny, because I see people talking about it as a groovebox app that’s best for looping, and that’s not how I use it at all. It essentially replaces Ableton for me when I don’t want to haul my laptop around, or if I need to get something that sounds fairly polished together fast and don’t have much time to do lots of production on it.

For actual idea-generation and more groovebox-type applications, my favorite app at the moment is Studio Amplify’s KRFT; it has a really nice interface that’s flexible enough not to just lock you into endless looping, which is what I feel like a lot of iOS apps veer towards. (They also have a more stripped-down free version called NOIZ, which is fun). For more experimental stuff, I love Samplr. I made my first EP mostly in Nanostudio, so that one’s worth a shout-out, although I’ve had a bit of a break from it since – it was the thing that was finally both flexible enough and un-intimidating enough to stop being scared of trying to produce and actually do it.

Every app is different, just as every piece of hardware is different, which is one reason I find the idea that one is somehow inherently better than the other and that you have to pick to be extremely strange. The fastest thing I can do to generate ideas when I’m stuck is switching to a new interface, whether that’s on a touchscreen or on my laptop or boxed up as a dedicated synth. It depends how I’m feeling and where I am and what I need.

I don’t own an Android device entirely because of the relative lack of music apps. I’m really hopeful that will change as their issues with audio improve – mobile music was a huge part of getting me into production and I would love it if that experience was available to more people on a platform with broadly much lower-cost hardware. I said this in an iPad music forum once and people were amazingly defensive about it. As far as I am concerned, all access to music-making is good, and if the 70% or so of smartphone users who own an Android device had a music market as rich as the App Store available to them, I would be stoked about it.

If you could design an app that would be perfect for you, what would it look like and what would it do?

Terrible response, but it would honestly just be Ableton optimized for a 10” touchscreen. Ableton, if you’re reading this, I’m your mobile market.

How do you approach writing lyrics? Do the lyrics come as part of your overall inspiration for a track, or is that something you find separately? What makes you feel like you have a great lyric?

I have recently started referring to myself as a singer-songwriter-producer, because honestly that’s what I am. I’m a songwriter who tells my own stories in performance, but does it with a box with buttons on it instead of a guitar. The lyrics and the song itself and the details of how it’s put together are equal parts. Sometimes a lyric comes first, sometimes a riff, sometimes a chord sequence – sometimes they’re simultaneous.

It’s very much a symbiotic thing. I’m constantly looking for ways to balance the abstract and the specific in my songs – describing moments and fragments of time in detail, but without so much specificity they become alienating.

Who are your influences musically, and who do you find inspiring in terms of technology and approach to process?

The Postal Service was the band that started me out wanting to make electronic music, and I still adore them. I feel like there’s still this idea that electronics are not particularly well-suited to singer-songwriters, which I find so strange because it gives you so much opportunity to design, right down to the sonic building-blocks which make up the song. It becomes part of the storytelling, and I think the Postal Service did that in such a beautifully tactile and warm way. I can literally point to the sample that comes in at 0:28 of ‘Nothing Better’ as the moment I realized I wanted to make electronic music myself – it acts almost like a third vocal melody but also this kind of plaintive emotional punctuation, warm and bit-crushed and sad.

I’ve been listening to a lot of the stuff that’s come out of the label PC Music over the last couple of years. I feel like a lot of what they’re doing is almost the polar opposite to Deerful, which is an almost embarrassingly honest project – they’re very self-aware, very detached, very cool, all things I’m not. A lot of people seem to respond to their artists as if the whole thing is completely ironic, but I hope (and believe) it’s not, because they’ve released some of the most intensely joyful pop music I’ve ever heard, and I desperately want that intensity of happiness to be real on some level.

EasyFun’s “Full Circle” is the track I’ve had on repeat for the last few days. It’s hyper-fun EDM-pop, but there are all these odd details thrown in, strange pitch-shifted samples, bizarre non-functional harmonies that are thrown into the chord and never repeated, weird, unnatural reverb tails and a lead vocal that’s chopped up and treated like a synth. I don’t sound anything like EasyFun, but I really want to get to the point where I can marry full-on unashamed fun with bizarre experimentalism in a similar way and have it all hang together.

In terms of process, I also find Grimes hugely inspiring – she made Visions in three weeks, in GarageBand, because it was what she knew, and she smashed it. She works fast when she needs to, but she knows when to zoom in, when to work on detail, when to really hone in on sound design and tone and tempo. (There’s a great interview where she talks about using samples of dentist drills to add aggressiveness to an 808 in ‘Venus Fly’, and it’s something I never would have even thought of.) I find her confidence and adaptability and willingness to move between pop and noise really impressive. It seems like she’s never held back by limitations or expectations; she just ploughs in and makes what she wants to make and it’s always brilliant.

Finally, let’s talk about your new album. When you set out to create it, what were your specific inspirations? What were you looking to achieve and how successful do you feel you’ve been?

Stylistically, Emily Reo’s gorgeous fuzzy alt-electropop has been a huge influence on all my releases so far (I also accidentally stole the album title, Peach, from one of her songs – it genuinely was an accident, but I think it probably speaks of how much her work has lodged itself in my creative brain.) I credit her music with finally giving me the push I needed to start writing and performing myself. Owen Pallett’s songwriting and storytelling has also always been a huge inspiration, but I’m not sure if that really comes through in the resultant album – I wish it did!

What was I looking to achieve? God, I’ve no idea. Everything is an experiment and an exploration. Everything I release, I do so having no idea how anyone’s going to react to it, and being excited to find out. It’s a brilliant lesson in exactly how bad at mind-reading I am. In general people seem to have liked it; I’ve no idea how it’s sold, and from an artist perspective that doesn’t really matter. When I listen to it now three months after release, I hear a lot I would do differently – I’m very proud of it but also excited to move on to the next thing!

CDM: Thanks, Emma!

It’s been an enlightening experience talking to Deerful. It’s shed light on her music and I’m certainly looking forward to listening to whatever the ‘next thing’ is she’s got planned, and also understanding how it was put together.

Deerful’s latest ablum can be found at wiaiwya and is available as a download, CD, or vinyl.

The post Deerful, aka Emma Winston, is a singer-songwriter gone mobile tech appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

How magnetic oscillations of a comet became a new album of music

In Francesco Novara’s new EP Astron, space exploration is both inspiration and the literal source of all the sounds you hear.

There are few moments in our generation of spaceflight quite like the Rosetta mission – buzzing past Mars and asteroids to land on a comet. And sound played an unexpected role in the discoveries of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) investigating the comet.

Indeed, you can think of the comet – that’s Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko or “67P” for short – as a kind of oscillator. The magnetometer on board the Rosetta spacecraft detected a major variations in the magnetic field around the comet.

Translate those oscillations into sound, and 67P “sings”. This isn’t an artificial thing to do, either. Just as a lot of space imagery translated unseen spectra (infrared, for instance) into visible colors so we can see, reinterpreting magnetic oscillations as audible sound means we perceive this reality much in the way the magnetic detector does.

ESA’s Marco Trovatello explains to CDM: “It’s being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. To make the music audible to the human ear, the
frequencies have been increased.”

German composer Manuel Senfft created that first sonification, in collaboration with the Technical University Braunschweig:

You can read a detailed explanation of the physics involved:

WHAT MADE THE COMET SING? [European Space Agency]

Working with the European Space Agency, and CDM’s label Establishment, we released an EP of music derived from that experiment by Italian composer Francesco Novara. The music makes use of the Creative Commons-licensed data and sonification – and, in turn, is available to you to share, remix, and reuse under a Creative Commons license.

What’s stunning is that Francesco didn’t just pluck a couple of samples on top of some music and call it a day. Instead, pretty much everything you hear (minus one vocal) is created from that one singing comet sound. (There’s also some audio from the mission on one of the tracks.)

The result is a cool, collected downtempo album with one earworm single at the end. It’s to me the perfect musical embodiment of ESA and modern spaceflight – less Major Tom trip, more mission control.

It’s also some seriously awesome sound design work. Francesco, apart from having been the first composer to score an ESA launch, is a gifted sound designer and prolific TV and film composer. It’s part of what I wanted to do with Establishment – shine a light on musical craft and not just musical personalities.

So, I asked Francesco to walk us through just how he turned this one eerie sample into a full meal of music. We get a nice quick master class in Ableton Live:

Take a listen to the full musical release on Bandcamp:

It’s been great to have an ongoing collaboration with European Space Agency, as well as a friendship with ESA’s resident music lover and Creative Commons advocate, Marco. Open licenses for materials from space bring together the handful of explorers, engineers, and scientists with the public and with artists.

“Collaboration with artists as well as free and open access to scientific information and data are important building blocks of ESA’s Space 4.0 strategy to innovate, inform, inspire and interact,” Marco says about the project. The license here opens up other possibilities – “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike”.

We really do appreciate your support for this album and independent music. Because the music is all under a Non-Commercial license, any proceeds from sales we’re using to cover our costs on design and mastering, and then using the rest to fund more Creative Commons-powered space music projects. Of course, that means we’d also love to hear any remixes of this music, if you’re so inclined. (There’s a lot of talent in our community, I know.)

Comet photo: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0.

The post How magnetic oscillations of a comet became a new album of music appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.