Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Day Thirty One!

It's the end of the first month and I'm really excited about all the places this project has taken me so far. I've decided to make monthly mixes so I'll get onto that in the next couple of days and post a January piece soon. Thanks to everyone who's contributed, listened, read, shared or given me feedback so far. I'm still really keen to include samples or re-mixes or receive any kind of feedback (written, recorded, visual etc).

All the tracks can be downloaded or re-visted at Soundcloud, or via the blog archive.

I was going to pour out the water from yesterdays recording and the ramekin bouncing off the big bowl sounded so cool that I decided to leave it and record it today. The little bowl bobs about in the water and touches the sides and bottom of the big one, changing pitch slightly as the water moves around. Little marble makes it in there again, too...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Day Thirty

Todays mix is pretty much yesterdays mix in a bowl of water...

On a fairly unrelated note, I was just reading about this: a modified turntable for reading tree-rings and turning the data into sound. Makes me wonder what kinds of things I could put on a turntable to make interesting sound with - will file this away for a rainy day I think.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Day Tweny Nine

Yesterday I heard the MSO play a number of new works by young composers: a really fresh and exciting concert. One of the composers, Simon Charles, talked about recording sounds in a particular space, then playing them back into the same venue alongside live performance. I like that idea, but since this is purely a recording project I'll have to try it out another time. One of the sounds he used was a marble in a ceramic bowl, which seemed to fit well with Noah's rock recording from the other day. So today I added a sample of a marble in a little ramekin, plus pitched down rocks, and the laptop fan from yesterday.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Day Twenty Eight

With all the heat lately I've been listening to fans a lot... ceiling fans, pedestal fans, desk fans, car fans, laptop fans... I've been wanting to record one because they make such cool rhythms, but they generate a lot of windiness that the recorder doesn't really like. But I think I found a way around it, resting the zoom on top of the laptop fan for a very close recording. Plus rocks from Ohio and bubble wrap with variable delays.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Twenty Seven by Momentum Project

Day Twenty Seven

I had the pleasure of meeting percussionist and composer Noah Demland when I was in the US last year. I love his approach to sound sculpture, and feel that it resonates a lot with my own work. Noah kindly sent me a couple of recordings to play with - one of these beautiful rocks from Gotland, Sweden (and another I'm keeping up my sleeve for the time being...). Plus bubblewrap from yesterday.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Twenty Six by Momentum Project

Day Twenty Six

No, there's nothing wrong with your speakers or stereo, it's me...

Some sparse bubble wrap (I've become a bit of a bubble wrap connoisseur in the last few years - this one's not the best for popping, too plastic-y) with a kalimba loop from yesterday, played forwards then backwards then forwards again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Twenty Five by Momentum Project

Day Twenty Five

More kalimba with distortion, and pitched down an octave - plus some little chains dragged across the body and keys.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Twenty Four by Momentum Project

Day Twenty Four

I picked up this FAB distortion pedal at the Music Swop Shop yesterday, and so far it's living up to its name. I tried it, fairly gingerly, with the kalimba today, and I like the results. There are more built in effects in Abelton (the software I use to loop and record) than I could ever desire, but sometimes it's nice to have an actual pedal with real knobs to play with...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Twenty Three by Momentum Project

Day Twenty Three

I wanted to give my new music box another whirl, so I recorded once through the little tune it plays then chopped it up. What came out, I think, feels like what the Summer heat in my apartment feels like; little fragments of melody rambling back and forth, unable to (or perhaps not wishing to) find a place to rest...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Twenty Two by Momentum Project

Twenty Two

I'm glad I finally found a use for these ankle bells; as much as I like the idea of wearable percussion instruments I end up annoying myself with all the jingling...

Recently I heard an interview with jazz pianist Tim Stevens, where he talked about his desire to "demonstrate continuity between composition and improvisation" in his trio recordings. I feel that in an ensemble situation, whether improvised, composed, or a mixture of both, listening and responding are vital to successful music-making. In the moment, whether performing or recording, musicians strive to play together intuitively.

Although this is purely a recording project, I still see it as performance, perhaps because that is what I have the most experience doing. Even if I am only playing for myself or a microphone, or mixing pre-recorded tracks, the process feels the same as if I were in front of an audience or playing with other musicians. My aim, then, in updating this composition every day, is to listen and respond to the previous recordings in a way that demonstrates the continuous nature of the entire project.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Twenty One by Momentum Project

Day Twenty One

A new cute musical toy is always a welcome gift, and I was excited to include this one in the recording today. Along with the silverware chimes, and a pitched down sample of the little red bells, the music box melody creates an eery sort of sound, reminiscent of a distant ice cream van...

Having given up on the noisy Snowball (great for louder musicians, I'm sure, just not for me), I got myself a present too - slightly more expensive than the music box I'm guessing! But I'm really happy with the little Zoom so far. Given that I'm doing this project every day, it's important to have a reliable, portable recording device. This seems to be the one for me, but time will tell.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Twenty by Momentum Project

Day Twenty

It took me about ten minutes to untangle my cutlery chimes so I could record them. I think I need a better storage system for things that have a tendency to get tangled... These were a gift but I found a lot of interesting sites about how to make them, if you're not afraid of an electric drill - this one seemed the most straightforward.

Plus glock and and bells from yesterday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Nineteen by Momentum Project

Day Nineteen

I went to see the Icelandic band Amiina last night - cutest band in the world complete with toy keyboards, pint-sized zithers and colourful bells. It made me want to record something soft and fuzzy... glockenspiel and little red sleigh bells.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eighteen by Momentum Project

Day Eighteen

How the hell this noise works I don’t know, but is it ever theraputic…

Author Kurt Vonnegut on ABC Radio National in 2005.

Today I pitched down the guitar loop from yesterday, and added layers of sand blocks (wooden blocks covered in sandpaper and rubbed together) and shaker with delays. The one shot shaker is the only instrument I own with its own playing instructions printed on the side...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Seventeen by Momentum Project

Day seventeen

Something a bit different today, along with the bells and rattles from yesterday... Rohan Geddes, Sydney based drummer for Red Zora and Small Town Incident, sent me a guitar loop to play with. And some starlings from his backyard! I have a particular interest in these cute little birds, the way they imitate sounds of other birds, and human and mechanical sounds too. They've even been observed incorporating sounds from their surroundings into their own calls, which is similar to what I'm doing here, in a way...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sixteen by Momentum Project

Day Sixteen

I've always liked all the different sounds I can make with the axatse (African gourd shaker), from the tiny sounds the beads make by themselves or when touched gently to the gourd, to the big swells possible by shaking the whole thing about... But I can never remember how it's spelled or pronounced, so this seemed like a good chance to remember to look it up.

This site has some great info about different African percussion instruments, including the Ghanaian axatse and its role in traditional drumming ensembles.

In this case, I'm playing with different length delays, as well as the beautiful London birds from yesterday, and some Chinese medicine balls.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Fifteen by Momentum Project

Day Fifteen

More kanjira today... bells, more bells, and some beautiful birds - robins, blackbirds and bluetits - from London (thanks Georgina Brett).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fourteen by Momentum Project

Day Fourteen

I try and record most of the time when I play music, kind of like keeping a sound journal that I can refer back to at different points to see what I was doing last week/month/year... Since working with electronics and digital effects I've found this really useful in terms of analysing my performances and compositional skills, but also in terms of trying to re-create effects or sounds that I might have made by accident or when trying something new. Yesterday John Waller, an artist I've worked with to create soundtracks for video installations, reminded me of a sound that I'd forgotten I'd made - a pair of iron balls with a granular delay.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thirteen by Momentum Project

Day Thirteen

A few years ago I attended a workshop with the great Indian kanjira master Ganesh Kumar. I was inspired to buy an instrument and vowed to learn all the proper sounds and techniques, at speed, but have so far only succeeded in making noise with it. It's fun...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twelve by Momentum Project

Day Twelve

Some guest vocals today - totally unexpected and in a different form here to how they arrived. Huge thanks to San Francisco based vocalist Lindsey Walker, who I met in Santa Cruz last year, for sending me some sounds to play with.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eleven by Momentum Project

Day Eleven

What a crazy Melbourne day! Wind, rain, sun, rain, more wind, more sun... I didn't get to the studio today which means I had a chance to try out my new blue snowball with some little windchimes, and some of the material from yesterday shifted down one, two and three octaves.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ten by Momentum Project

Day Ten

I had some more help today: a really cool track made using a fan motor with a cake tin, from Cursed Hebenon. I've kept the vibes from a couple of days ago, plus the ocean drums, and Erica's blinds. It's so great that this project has become somewhat collaborative in ten days - I'm looking forward to seeing what other kinds of responses I get along the way...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nine by Momentum Project

Day Nine

My friend and fellow percussionist Erica Rasmussen sent me a recording of the blinds in her new house, having a fun rhythmic dance in the wind. Plus ocean drums, and the vibes and whirlie from yesterday, makes a very breezy sounding day, I think...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Eight by Momentum Project

Day Eight

I've been looking at some other 'everyday' art and music projects, and have been wondering about the impact of posting (or committing to post) work online. Looking at other artists who have attempted or achieved a similar body of work, the sharing/posting seems to be a way of facing up to or following through with a creative plan. I wonder if this will become integral to my process? In a way this project is quite personal, created for me but also with the intention of sharing. I'm interested to see how the act of routinely posting, and the pressure I put on myself to do so, will affect the work.
The wonderful Australian artist Lily Mae Martin, currently based in Berlin, has begun a regular sketching project called Berlin Domestic - I'm really inspired to follow her and see how the project evolves. Lily also drew this beautiful squirrel (with glockenspiel!) for a recent recording of mine.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Seven by Momentum Project

Day Seven

More rice, more gongs, contact mics, chains, and some cute little woodblocks I picked up at WOMAD last year. I think they were being sold as ornaments, but I made the poor vendor get out every single one so I could try them and find the right pitch combination...

Friday, January 6, 2012

Six by Momentum Project

Day Six

Time for the big gong! And to de-tune the others a little...

The problem with having a studio in a space where other people also have studios, rehearse, and have gigs, is the chance that someone will be rehearsing or having a gig when you want to record... This makes getting that nice big gong sound with no background noise a little tricky. And when you feel like adding some rice, poured on to the gong, it results in waiting with baited breath, rice in one hand, the other tentatively hovering over the record button, hoping for a break in the sound check... Nevertheless, I made it, gongs and rice intact.

Incidentally, I just discovered this guy, Tatsuya Nakatani, and his Gong Orchestra. Really lovely stuff, even if you're not a big gong nerd like me. This video, an improvisation/construction by Emile Tobenfeld, is really great, too.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Five by Momentum Project

Day Five

To the rain from yesterday I have added layers of a couple of small, tuned gongs. Each note repeats at different intervals, and the shifting and phasing between the different length parts mean that a small melody evolves, changing with each repeat.

I enjoy simplicity, in art, and when I am making music. Nothing I create is very complex, and the digital processing I apply to acoustic sounds generally occurs in small increments. I like putting things in place, processes that will evolve gradually over time, and manipulating sounds in such a way that the original is still discernible.

Robin Fox recently discussed this idea in an interview about his Giant Theremin installation in Melbourne. Fox, an audio-visual performance artist, described "the relationship between sound and light" in his work as "really simple, it's really one to one, there's no complexity there ... if the technology can't create a simple and beautiful experience then I think you're getting stuck in the process."

Thanks Robin... I couldn't have said it better myself.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Four by Momentum Project

Day Four

Up bright and early this morning - a wonderful storm after a few too many days of a bit too hot for me... I recorded the rain on my bathroom skylight with italk. Then I sped up the delay on the kalimba from yesterday. All the days of promising to water my garden have paid off :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Three by Momentum Project

Day Three

I was going to post a picture of the Natural Tucker pizza I ate whilst recording today... soft tofu, pumpkin, tomato and spinach, yum! It was delicious but I decided that it probably tasted a lot better than it looked. This makes me wonder if the process of recording something every day for a year will become more important than the creative outcomes. I sincerely hope not, as the project itself is a reflection of my passion for percussion and music-making. I'm interested to see how the act of doing this every day will affect my compositional process, and my own musical style, but the music and the sounds themselves are my first priority.

Today's addition is a kalimba melody with digital delay, alongside some remnants of the clave 'frogs' from yesterday...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Two by Momentum Project

Day Two

On New Year's Eve I spent some time with the kangaroos at Latrobe Wildlife Sanctuary, and some frogs who were so talkative I've been thinking about them ever since. Each with their own voice and, seemingly, in their own time, croaking some really interesting rhythms that worked together to form different melodic and rhythmic patterns.

This is my interpretation - clave loops at five different pitches, each one a different length to create phasing between the parts. The backing is a slowed down version of the shaker from yesterday. And yes, I do write my name on my claves...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

One by Momentum Project

Day One!

I'm excited to have finally started this project after thinking about it for so long... The very first part of this year-long composition begins with toy sleigh bells, looped and pitched down one octave. I also use two small gongs and a beautiful hand-made shaker I picked up in the US on a recent tour. The shaker was made by Chad Scott for Drumzguruven, and was the inspiration for this fairly meditative beginning...