Monthly Archives: March 2004

A Dot Dot Dot Release

So you get the “dot” release of your favorite software and you get to play with all the neat little new scratch-an-itch features the developers snuck in just for you on their way to fixing the crashing bugs with some esoteric surround-sound-multi-card-installation that only comes up at trade shows and ship-to-shore broadcast. As you discover the bitchin little featurettes you send off a glowing ream of emails to friends and the software company and you blog up a storm saying how brilliant it was to put the portamento button onto the mini piano roll, the “Save Copy As…” menu item is a dream, the new sensitivity of the ADSR envelope in the SoundfontPlayer on and on.

Until some slightly less than humble drunken Scottish teenager with a complexion that yearns for the subtlety of the Singing Detective points out in the comment section that every one of the features that you have just discovered in this interim release has been in the product for the last two major releases and unless you are, in fact, doing ship to shore broadcasting the update is really of little value.

Speaking of which: FL Studio (Fruity Loops) has released 4.5.2.

I have to say however: with it goes one of the biggest nit annoyances I have had with the step sequencer. Up until this release when you build up a rhythm pattern in the step sequencer view you could pick any note you want. Any note, that is, as long as it was Middle C (MIDI C5). If your channel is mapped to any other root note then your choices used to be either route around in the piano-drop-down-from-hell (pictured here) hoping to remember what the root note was (“D#3??? Bb7????”) or go to the proper piano roll and slide the mouse around the sideways keyboard scrolling up and down over 20 octaves hoping to hear the ‘ping’ of the triangle (“was it in the black keys?”). But by the grace of the powers that be makers of FL the step sequencer now defaults to a note that is actually audible.

…and there was much rejoicing in the Land of Rationale for once again, they had prevailed over the ruthless and merciless Kingdom of Irony.

Junkies and Other Glowing Fruit

As part of my road trip I just finished my third annual digfest at my favorite collector’s 10k record collection. This time I mined lots of classic R&B like Johnny Taylor and Etta James. The first mix from the dig is up on fourstones called “Orders from Nowhere.” It features a hook by Etta and excerpts from a press conference given by William Burroughs in Berkeley in the 1970′s that I found on the Internet Archive. (Lots of juicy CIA conspiracy stuff going on.) If anybody is interested in getting the 200+ samples I gleaned in this year’s run let me know.

I’ve also recently posted my entry for the late March Remix Fight called “Soft Orange Glow (fourstones remix).” I ran the original satirical song through the Muddy Waters filter to come up with what one listener called “industrial blues.”

Banned Music Online

I’ve been on a musical road trip gathering tracks and performances for my next album and I’ll be writing up a lot of my experiences in the near future but in the meantime this is breaking news: Banned Music (.org) is the latest civil disobedience action by the folks at Downhill Battle. I hosted the Grey Album on fourstones.net on Grey Tuesday because I believe the recording industry is making criminals out of remix artists instead of trying to work with them in sane and rational ways. When I get off the road I’ll be downloading “Double Black” — not because I’m a huge Metallica or JZ fan.

Django Online

Guitarists will appreciate this: the Django Swing page with a huge compendium of tips and tricks for playing just like the all time swing master. (How they reverse engineered the fingerings of the chords I’ll never know.)

Normal remixers can dig around the site for some of the the clean audio clips (in AU format) of swing guitar riffs.

R.E.M. ix

Just as I was making the case that remixers don’t gravitate toward rock bands out comes the R.E.M. remixes. It seems the band released tracks to a handful of DJs have posted the resulting remixes for free download on the web. (Why didn’t they just release the tracks on the web so we could all take a shot?)

I have to say that I’ve never been a fan of R.E.M. (although pretending I liked them was a prenuptual prerequisite in the 80′s and in my case specifically). I never thought the music came close to matching the hype. There are however some very nice remixes in this batch. If the band ever hired one of these folks to produce a whole album I may finally get interested. (Er, I mean again.)

It’s My Rationale and I’m Sticking to It

handel-g.jpgA short essay on stealing someone else’s creativity and why it’s important to do so at every opportunity.

I create a lot of throw-away music that represents a random thought or emotion that is true for the moment but often not meant for any deep, larger interpretation beyond the “let’s dance” or “isn’t this ironic?” variety. In many of those cases I’ll stumble around a genre or two that I like or I am curious about. There is a lot of “what would that be like?” or “I wonder how they do that” experimentation. Hardly the stuff of deep, emotional soul searching.

On the other hand, there are times when I create something that isn’t about “the process” at all, but something very personal. Such is the case with the original composition “Dead Money” that I just posted to fourstones.net. The core composition itself is not exactly earth shattering but the overall sound, feel and emotion does reflect my natural state of long-standing cross-genre influences. The bottom line is that with recordings like this all I’m trying to do is express something that I hope others can, as they say in the biz, relate to.
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