Thursday, August 31, 2006

The EMU Train V

Tyrell had some music for games to show us today. The first was for a kids game about money. It would be interesting if the kids had as many vices to spend their $$$ on as you do in real life. Tyrell's music was carefree and positive I thought. I think there may have been almost too much happening, but that's probably just me. The other music he made was for a role-playing fantasy game and also fitted the genre nicely.

Poppi Doser is a multimedia artist who uses material from recorded interviews as the starting point of her work, to which she then adds found sound and (later) visuals. Her latest work, called The Autonomy Interviews, centres on the subject of female autonomy. Today she showed us brief glimpses of what she does with a few short snippets from her DVD. I had enjoyed listening some of her earlier work on Autumnal Ephemeral (think that's spelt right). It was interesting to see the music put to images however, which makes the experience altogether different in a way I can't really describe. I suppose it's a combination of being more immersive and thematically explicit. I've always liked immersive things. Even though she seemed ashamed of it, I rather liked the hip hop song.

Josh Schulz had a musique concrete piece on offer. Introducing it, he had said that he attempted to make everything sound as metallic as possible. It definitely worked, and the end result was pretty far out, as is most music concrete I suppose. My favourite thing about musique concrete is that even though everyone has computers and seemingly limitless options, the options translate into lots of unique approaches and sequencing personalities. Nothing I've heard so far seems to be the same, although we're all using the same tools.

Albert Webster showed us a recording he'd done for a jazz band. I thought it was quite good overall, though I feel there could have been more separation between instruments. It sounded like the instruments where clashing in the mid frequencies... but what do I know? I'm glad I didn't have to record a jazz band!

The EMU Train IV

On and on and on and on the we go. Tim Gabbusch presented and analogue tape piece which was pretty dark. The original sounds were unrecognisable. I didn't even know that we had analogue tape to play with around here? Must have been back in the day... He also played a 3rd year Jazz band which sounded really good. He used a special microphone technique called "midside" to record the piano or MS if you’re searching for it on the internet.

Jake Morris showed another musique concrete piece called New Surroundings. Unlike any of the musique concrete which I’ve heard, he attempted to put a narrative to it. Whether or not he succeeded seems beside the point for me because I like it when people do ambitious things with old forms/traditions. It was about a guy called Orin and some demons which he escapes from in the end. Nothing like a bit of fantasy. The whole thing reminded me heaps of Warcraft

Ben Probert next. If Jake started the demonic motiff for the afternoon then Ben took the lead. His first piece was an experimental piece for voice and it sounded, surprise, very demonic. He did the manipulations in Audacity and Pro Tools. Then he did something in Ableton Live, which my notes cryptically describe as "schizo" and finally he showed us a Nine Inch Nails remix. Actually I'd already heard the remix because I was working late one night and Ben was playing it on the speakers in the audio lab. He stretched Trents voice so that he sounded like a girl and he called the song the bitch that slaps or something like that.

William Revill's musique concrete peice was entitled Neurotic Turbulance, and I could feel the flickering of fluorescent lights embedded on the track. He writes in the program note that it was a particularly traumatic experience getting this piece out. I think we can all relate to that.

The EMU Train III

Henry Reed was first into the station today, with a musique concrete-esque piece dedicated to his grandfather. He did it in Super Collider, which has been very trendy here inside the bowls of the EMU recently; ever since Klipp Av came for the ACMC actually... Anyway, the piece was an exercise in controlled randomness and featured a sample of a dive bombing plane (Henry’s Grandpa was a pilot in WWII). To achieve the final result he recorded a few versions and picked what he discerned to be his best one.

Mathew Mazzone showed as 3 short pieces. The first was written for a fantasy role player game and I suppose it sounded enough like the genre. The second was a dance track that he produced from scratch. Uninspiringly repetitive is a blunt and inconsiderate way to put it, but then, that is the dance genre. I was impressed by the vocal production though. The last thing he showed us was something he hastily put together in Ableton Live and it showed. Why did he show us? I have no idea.

Daniel Murtugh showed us a hardcore/metal song that he recorded called “If when you say heaven you mean gates of hell”. It was recorded by his band, Enemy Of?, who are reasonably infamous around Adelaide, having gone through at least half a dozen line up changes. Was it them that got banned by St Paul’s back in the days when Test Eagles were on top? I can’t really remember. The song was good though. He used a drum program for the drums which is so realistic that it even emulates the spill you get from other mics!

Friday, August 11, 2006

The Future of Reality TV

What to say about Suicide Suprise? Well, if you're squeamish, don't follow this link.

Its a very short film I made with best friend Leslie just before he moved to Sydney. It was orginally intended for a television program we were trying to produce for ch31 (what were we thinking?) and now its all that's left... We shot it at our house with friends.

Click here to view it on

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The EMU Train II

Adrian Reid's piece was done for a subject called creative computing. Using super collider as a compositional tool the work is titled Composition Formally Known as Horses, and is built with a layering approach. The actual sounds of the composition (of which there were only four) were quite interesting but I feel the piece went for too long. Its an interesting result though. Because I'm not familiar with super collider I feel hesitant to comment much further.

Dragos Nastasie showed us a quasi dance song made with Reason 2. It was kind of interesting for a little bit but then it got repetitive and started to grate. It's funny that we can sit through loads of abstract sound, which for many people is probably much much more boring, but then when I hear something that resembles some sort of musical form I get bored. The beginning had a few seconds of a what i thought was one of Reasons pre set drum patches (arch something maybe?), but Dragos said that it was sine wave manipulation. I have to admit that I like reason because it sounds generically contemporary, if you know what I mean. Its a good music production tool and I think I can agree with Dragos there.

David Dowling had recorded a band called Tuscadero. They have an interesting sound which David describes as alternative-country rock which upon hearing I would agree with (Dowling 2006). The recording was quite good and the drums sounded excellent. The only problem was the vocals, which seemed to resonate or phase strangely at a certain low frequency which produced a weird volume spike at that freq. It seems unfair to criticise this because everything is recorded so well, however, the vox are always going to stick out the most and i think Tuscadero would agree. In the pop genre everything is always recorded and produced exquisitely, according to pop standards, therefore, if you're doing a pop recording all areas are open for criticism.

Finally, Vinny Bhagat did a live performance on piano of a Raag Yaman, which traditionally has an association with the evening (Bhagat 2006). It was an improvisation piece done to a tanpura track. It was nice. I like lack the critical skills to talk about this properly but my overall I suspect he lost his way a few times and hit some wrong notes. Possibly because he was using C# as a drone note on the tanpura, which wouldn't lead to a nice translation to keyboard. I always prefer using either all white or all black notes! I know this restricts some options but it's safer in an improvisation.

The EMU Train

All on board, this week Luke Digance and John Delany.

First cab off the rank, guinea pig, whatever you want to call it, Luke Digance was the first degree student to give a presentation. His work, titled Concrete Harmony, is an attempt to extract a western sense of harmony from the his sound objects. He takes a basically traditional approach to musique concrete before analysing the fundamental frequencies of each sound object and referenced them to a pitch (Digance 2006). Exactly what that entails, (shifting pitches maybe?) I'm not quite sure, but at the end he had enough pitches to create chordal structures and furthermore chord progressions.

The end result was surprisingly soothing I thought, and while it was hard to hear the sounds as chordal structures I could make out the intention once I had been told. It's perhaps an unusual idea - taking melody to a music concrete piece, I've always considered Pierre Schaffer something of a harmonic anarchist, but I do like the idea that even a humble degree student can turn things around.

John Delany was next with a piece called
Performance Symmetry, which he describes as an exercise in timbral variation (Delany 2006). From two original recordings a vocal performances emphasising sustained harmonics (sung by fellow students Patrick McCartney and Benjamin Probert), the original recordings where shifted in pitch, one higher and one lower, within a range of 3 octaves.

The piece was quite entrancing and my only complaint was that it didn't go for long enough! John cut it quite short at the end and it meant that the piece felt unsatisfied. Mind you, how do you satisfy a piece like that? I suppose the voices would have to be shifted outside of our hearing range. He also achieved an interesting effect by way of distorting the higher pitched vocals. Very interesting.


Delany, John. "Performance Symmetry", @ EMU, University of Adelaide.

Digance, Luke. "Concrete Harmony", @ EMU, University of Adelaide.

Friday, August 04, 2006


Another week and Forum is upon us. Its like a relentless beast of burden, a huge emu perhaps. Every week it strains and scrambles to put something in front of us. Now the process is entirely cannibalistic: where before we listened to post-grads, we have turned on ourselves and now it is the students turn. For the rest of the year, we will have to comment on each other's work. Oh, and if you are a certificate student, we may be able to slot you in... somewhere...

I suppose I should get this off my chest now. The whole time I've been doing the certificate in Music Technology, I've felt excluded from the rest of the school. One day I turned up early to Forum, to find the whole school (small as it is) doing listening exercises. Surely this type of exercise would benefit certificate, and even other non-EMU students at the school but we weren't told about it. Now that I know, I'm free to go as I please. This week at forum, I decided I would go to listening, as it is called, and found that things have changed.

Listening is gone, and degree students will now be doing "Improvisation Workshops". Once again, because I was there, I am was able to join in. But I feel sorry for my fellow certificate students who had no idea it was on, and probably won't be able to join in now because lists have been drawn up and groups settled on. Do they actually want certificate students to continue studying here? The sense of hierarchy is stifling. We're all meant to be learning together after all, aren't we?

Some might say that because I went to things I didn't have to, I showed initiative and have been rewarded for it. This is rubbish. Certificate students deserve to be exposed to as much as possible. Surely the more the merrier when it comes to improvisation. Certificate students should have at least been informed about this and given the choice, as i was, as to whether they wanted to participate.