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Davis Salks / Blog

Night Ride notes

Though I rarely mash audio, my starting point for "Night Ride" was the outro from my previous "White Vinyl" title, which contain the bass, synth and ride parts. I liked this mainly because it had so many elements working nicely together over a short span, and because I liked its haunting mood. It serves as a recurring background theme which fades into alternating, overlapping perfect-fifth pitch-shifted versions of itself (resulting in a weird kind of change/substitution). I believe that, because of such few chords, one could say it was like "modal jazz". By the end of the first and second half the background mash fades gradually onto a self-reversal (which gives it that "zit-zit" sound). The lead parts are very short midi compositions using cheap sax samples. Of these, there are two different recurring duet motifs and three different pseudo-improvisations. The addition of a steady kick part throughout holds the rhythm together. For extra flavor, I added few quiet drum riffs and some sweeping sonics from my homebuilt Sheppard effects softsynth. The rest is accidental.

Patterns within patterns

In general, my main goals are concerned with using recurring patterns and to find ways in which combining them with other recurring patterns will reveal some organic quality. Rule one is to implement a recurring pattern. Rule two is to verify that each pattern represents a series of changes that have a logical justification. Rule three, avoid (if possible) any additions or changes to any singular entity.

Examples of patterns typically include patterns of attributes such as pitch directions, accents, rhythmic intervals, chord types, key modulations, etc. They may also include patterns of patterns, patterns of excluding things, patterns of change to a single element within another pattern, and patterns of other esoteric concepts.

With the tune "No Hurry, Man", I have adhered closer to these objectives than ever before. With the exception of intros and outros, there was only one instance in which I changed a single entity.

The general process of building a tune is basically to start with, and to experiment with, ideas for patterns, and then tweak these patterns to suit an artistic direction. That direction often changes in the beginning stages as serendipitous results are welcomed into the work. However, as work progesses, it becomes more difficult to introduce new patterns that are sufficiently compatible or aesthetically acceptible with the work-in-progress.

There is no way that one can ever hope to truly achieve the richness of a virtuous human preformance. But in this work, I have found many interesting techniques that are purely geometric in nature, that render musical qualities that sound less mechanized, and more human.

Modal Jazz Study notes

A musical depiction inspired by the original tune "So What" by Miles Davis

The Miles Davis tune, recorded 1959, is considered to be one of the first examples of modal jazz, which uses a harmony structure consisting fewer, widely spaced chord changes, which are intended to allow "more room" for the soloists to improvise.

Although the idea of "written improvisation" seems contradictory in nature, It is nevertheless my belief that we are psychologically equipped to respond emotionally to sheer musical patterns and structures. In this project, I have explored this, and hope to demonstrate the possibility of jazz expression from composed, computer-generated music that is effectively similar to improvisational expression.

In this piece you will find the tempo, piano accompaniment and bass lines similar to the original tune. Likewise, the solo lines use trumpet and sax. Unique to this arrangement: vibes were added, and multiple instruments play in unison during transitions between instruments. Much shorter than the original, the tune is just over 4 minutes.

Also, I built a new synthesizer to handle the horns -- using patterns to control the shaping and timbre of their sampled voices to achieve a more acoustic effect.

For those into theory, the original tune's harmony uses only two chords: D and Eb Dorian. But I don't know if (or to what degree) the original soloists are improvising in the corresponding Dorian scales. However, in this arrangement, all of the solo lines are played on the (mostly) 4th mode of the blues scale in various key-centers (true only in principal, since my system will "avoid" notes automatically, so it's not likely that the full scales are used in every key-center-over-chord combination)

Caffe Latte notes

Previously, all tunes were computer generated and/or manually written.

This is the first time I used performed lines (for piano, e-guitar, and horn parts)

The objective exercise was to combine these short lines at slightly overlapping intervals

with each other and with the manually written lines (drums & Hammond)

and I tried to really keep it all very simple.

Some other details...

Where the piano and e-guitar are sustained, an ambient synth comes in as an automatic fill from two delayed pan positions.

I love how this works without intervention.

Notice also how the piano morphs into the e-guitar.

Also, the bend articulation of the e-guitar is done program-matically in a new VST software plug I developed recently.

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