I started tinkering with music making as early as 1992 on my Amiga 1200. I bought a few synths with my student loan at the time and shared with a friend, Tom Arthur from Hereford. Between us we had a wicked setup inluding a Boss DR-660 drum machine, an original Roland TB-303 acid bassline, Jen SX1000 moog-like monosynth, Ensoniq ESQ-1 multi timbral synth, Roland Juno-106 lead keyboard, Alesis Quadraverb FX unit, and two Commodore Amigas, one running Music-X sequencing software and one running Octamed sample tracker software. A lot of time was spent creating extremely intricate patterns in the notation editor in Music-X; scaling note velocities and controller messages to create ramps across time, then re-scaling those to create exponential graphs, that controlled different properties of the sound such as the analogue filter. I’d do this across sounds and just note phrases to make wonderfully elaborate morphs between rhythms. it wasn’t too musical in places as i hadn’t had any musical training (still haven’t but do have more of a grasp on theory) but it sounded sublime if you were in the right state of mind. I started to get into graphics as the amiga was very well suited to that and the rest is VJ history…
Since then in terms of music I have broadened my musical palette in my own taste. I have DJed for ten years getting a real feel for musical genres like jazz and funk, not just electronically produced music, although now i have come back to making music, that is mainly how i have been proceeding.
My weapon of choice for making (and performing live) music is Ableton Live which has changed the linear nature of sequencing from the early days of MIDI and programs like Cubase. With it’s grid based loop launching session view it allows for a lot of ongoing control for minimum effort, letting you concentrate on the bigger picture.
Any DAW these days is nothing without plugins (debatable but with so many amazing things to play with, It’d be silly not to).
Pseudo Random Sequencing
Jim Bumgardner (no lie) from what i can gather, is a complete dude. He loves making quirky eye candy, screensavers, games and sound apps like this one that references the whitney brothers amazing experiments into motion graphics and incremental drift – the whitney music box.
This was further developed by a Russian genius Reaktor programmer called Lazyfish and became a full sequencer for users of Native Instruments’ programmable synth environment, Reaktor, entitled Spiral:
A very elegant way of generating non – linear musical information. Mixing this with other pseudo random sequencers I have started getting some lovely results.
Finished songs have begun appearing on my soundcloud page:
I’m currently working on an AV set for the Fierce festival, and playing with Max for Live which integrates the graphical programming MAX/MSP/Jitter engine into the Ableton Live interface. Limitless expression of visuals, sounds, lighting switches, whatever! We’ll see what turns up.