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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » 2017 » January » 04

How To Get Through The Frustrations Of Making Music

Delivered... Interview by Nadine Raihani | Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 6:17 pm

Native Instruments heralded the release of the Komplete 11 audio production suite with Komplete Sketches: a set of 24 commissioned compositions by a range of artists, all of which were made exclusively with the new software. We’ve linked up with five of the enlisted Sketches artists—WIFE, Chino Amobi, Throwing Shade, Jlin and Deru—to go in deep on their workflow processes, the useful tips they’ve learned throughout their career and the techniques they use to create their own distinctive sound. In the final installment, Los Angeles-based producer Deru talks about the techniques he used to make his last two albums: Say Goodbye To Useless (2010) and 1979 (2014).

What’s your music-making setup?

The heart of my studio is a computer, and I think it always will be. Everything gets funnelled through the computer. I’m big into software: plugins; synthesisers; audio manipulation software—all kinds of stuff. I actually started making music using digital tools; my first instrument was an MPC. Eventually I got a computer, and I think that’s when everything clicked for me in terms of really having control over sound. One of the things I loved about the MPC was recording something and then pitching it down or filtering it—simple modifications that could have a drastic impact on the sound. The ability to manipulate sound is something that’s driven me for my whole career. It’s something that I still love and think about every day.

When you’re manipulating sound, what you feed in has a drastic effect on what comes out. I often treat the things around my studio that aren’t my computer as source material. That’s why I have an acoustic piano and lots of small acoustic instruments, like a dulcimer, kalimbas, hand drums and an autoharp. I also have analog synths because they tend to impart a unique quality that can be hard to recreate digitally. That’s especially true of the modular. Then I have tape decks. I love to record onto tape and the way that it changes sound. I have some quirky hand-held instruments as well.

How did you get into making music?

I grew up playing piano and trumpet, but I was never really passionate about either. They were just skills I learned and got better at—things I could do. They never got super ingrained in me, and I never really got into writing my own music with them. The first thing I really got into was DJing. I was a DJ for years, starting in high school and going well past college. I was a scratch DJ, and when you’re scratching, you’re really dealing with pitch and rhythm. Once I extended that a little bit, I started wanting to make music—to make beats, songs and complete pieces of music. That’s when I got the MPC. That was the first time I really had any way of making a complete composition, and it changed everything for me. That was the missing element when I played piano and trumpet; I felt like I was just part of someone else’s music. When I got the sampler, I could compose a complete piece that I could play over and over again and share with my friends. That’s really what excited me in general: producing complete ideas. When I got a computer, I think I had Cubase SX or something. I mainly used that as a sequencer for my MPC, because back then, you weren’t going to do heavy audio processing on those computers. Eventually they got more powerful, and I kept going with it.

Your last album, 1979, came out almost three years ago. Has your process changed since then?

The approaches to my last two records couldn’t have been more different. When I wrote 1979, I was simultaneously working on two TV shows. I was overworked. At night, I was writing these stripped-down ambient pieces as an exploration of sound and feelings. Once I was confident with those I bounced them straight to a cassette tape and they became the final version. Some of those took me a matter of hours, and the whole album came together in about six months or so. It wasn’t a full-time process at all, and it actually came very easily to me. It sort of flowed out without me giving too much thought to the process.

This new album has definitely been more challenging to write because I’ve been diving a long way into what I want to say and what I want to express. I’ve also been learning new techniques. It’s completely different from the last in terms of the way I wrote it and in terms of the way it sounds. It started off with acoustic recordings: I wrote music for a small group of musicians, recorded them all at a studio, then got those home and started finishing the songs with electronic production. At some point in the process, I learned a whole new style of microtonal composition that I became very interested in. Over the course of a year and a half the album went through many different incarnations. Six months after I started, I’d written around 45 minutes of music that didn’t really feel right to me. It wasn’t where I was trying to go or what I was trying to say. So I spent the next year tweaking, modifying and writing new material. There are some songs there with 50-100 different versions.

Do you find it difficult to begin working on something when you know that the final version may be entirely different?

When I start working on something, that’s all I really need to do: just start on something. It could be the smallest idea, but I need to engage in the process of work. It could be anything, like putting some samples in the Form synth. Or it could be that I suddenly feel like writing something for a particular instrument or I want to try out some thing on a synth—recording my coffee pot, even. I keep a running tally of all these things I want to try, just to get me to start things. There’s nothing wrong with sitting down and saying, “Okay, I have to write music now.” You need somewhere to start. I have a friend who is a painter. When she starts, she dips her hand in the paint and puts it on the canvas. There’s nothing worse than a blank canvas, but once you have something, you start engaging in the process of work and transformation. Even if it’s just, “No, I don’t like that, I’m going to remove it and try something else,” at least you’ve got the ball rolling.

How do you overcome creative difficulties?

In terms of writer’s block, I have two main approaches. The first is education; learning new things tends to spark new ideas. The second is just perseverance. [Japanese author] Haruki Murakami has a great book called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He’s a long-distance runner, and it’s a book about running, but it’s actually about his writing practice. And what he said is that he goes into his writing room every day for three or four hours. He only writes for those three or four hours, but he’s totally uninterrupted and focused for that time. And he does that every day. Even the day after he’s finished a novel, he goes down and he just sits there. If nothing comes to him he’ll just sit there for three hours, or he’ll write a letter to a friend or a grocery list or something. The point is that he’s there every single day, because motivation is a fleeting thing. To get through the bad parts, you also have to be there to capture the good parts. In my opinion, you really need to work through all the crap—all the bad ideas, all the false starts and all the frustrations—to get to the other side.

When you start a track, is it important to get your sounds right from the beginning, or do you prefer to get your musical ideas down first and take care of sound design later?

I start with sound. It sounds cheesy, but often I’ll start manipulating a sound and figure out where it wants me to go based on the results of that. Depending on how interesting the results are, it can lead you down a path and you might end up somewhere very different from where you started. You can’t always predict the outcome. A lot of the time I’ll let the sound direct me and then write the music around that. One of the paths I’ve been taking over the past few years has been writing for specific instruments, but thinking about how I’m going to transform them as I’m writing for them. In other words: designing and composing your own source material to manipulate later. I could write for a string quartet with the idea that I’ll later process it. That awareness has a bearing on the things that would be interesting for me to record initially. There’s nothing better than designing your own material for sampling, because it probably already has the qualities you want.

There’s one track on Say Goodbye To Useless that features a sample of a woman known as “The Singing Nun”. How did that come about?

I started as an underground hip-hop DJ then got into making music with a sampler, so records had a big input on my early musical output. Back then, I’d go to thrift stores and buy records by the pound. I was constantly record shopping. I was looking for odd, interesting sounds. One of the things that’s great about records and sampling is that you end up with all these artifacts of the recording process and of the medium, which are very hard to synthesize. It’s the techniques, the microphones and the ideas of other people, so you get a lot of cool happy accidents. So that’s one of the reasons I like to record my own samples now. Once you get a bunch of players in a room with a microphone, all these interesting accidents start to happen: you have all the noises of the recording, the textures, people shifting in their seats. All these things help to make the sound come alive, and that can help your music have a life of its own.

I think Say Goodbye To Useless was the last record that had any samples on it. 1979 didn’t and neither does the new record—it’s all recordings that I made. I think sampling can be an incredibly powerful place to start because you don’t need to start from zero. But I’m now at a point in my career where I’m more prepared and willing to start designing from scratch. It’s worth pointing out that records and vinyl have had a huge impact on the music I make now, though. I love noise, I love static, and I love finding a medium like vinyl that has its own imperfect sound. It’s like finding a time capsule and you get to check out all these ideas from the past. I think with 1979, that’s a little bit of what I wanted to impart and it’s part of the reasons I chose to work with cassette tape. I love the imperfections of old media.

When you’re working with a computer you have fine control over almost every aspect of  the sound. Do you feel like you surrender some of that control when you commit a project to tape?

I did give up a lot of control when I recorded those tracks to tape, but that’s what I wanted at that time. I wanted the pitch warbles and the noise and the saturation. I actively tried to boost the lo-fi qualities of tape. Up until Say Goodbye To Useless, I had been very careful with my mixdowns and the things I put on my master bus. I’d tried to do everything in the technically correct way and get pristine sound. Eventually I came to the realisation that I was being overprotective. There’s a whole world of sound available to me if I just take my two-track and feed it through a tape deck or maybe blast it into a room and record that with a mic. Even just really compressing and distorting something sounds interesting too. That kind of thing is hard to control, but it can lead to that “alive” sound that I’m looking for.

Read past installments of the Native Instruments Komplete Sketches interviews with Jlin, WIFE and more here. Cover photo by Tim Navis.

The post How To Get Through The Frustrations Of Making Music appeared first on Electronic Beats.

FCC Approves Up to 49% Foreign Ownership of Univision – What Guidance is Provided to Potential Foreign Investors in US Broadcast Stations?

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 6:09 pm

In a decision released yesterday, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling permitting certain identified foreign companies and individuals to own up to 40% of the voting interests in Univision, and allowed aggregate foreign ownership of up to 49% of the equity of the company. This decision noted that it was based not on the new rules for analyzing foreign ownership in broadcast stations approved by the Commission in late September (see our summary here), as those rules were not yet effective as they were only published in the Federal Register last month and certain aspects still needed to undergo analysis under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Instead, the request for the ruling in this case was analyzed under the 2003 Declaratory Ruling on ownership (see our summary here), the same ad hoc analysis used to review and approve Pandora’s acquisition of a radio station in 2015. While technically, the new rules did not apply to this proceeding, it is clear that the analysis of this decision would not be much different, as the Commission specifically refers to the new rules as setting what is reasonable in its ad hoc analysis of the circumstances of this case. Thus, this decision provides a good basis for determining what issues any potential foreign investor in a US broadcast station would face, particularly when investing in a public US company.

Even though the FCC looked to the new rules for guidance, the final conditions look much like those imposed on Pandora. Univision is required to seek specific approval for any acquisition of stock by any foreign shareholder not specifically approved in this order if that investor seeks to acquire an interest (either voting or equity) of greater than 5% of the company. The company must actively monitor its shareholders to assure that no specific foreign shareholder exceeds that 5% threshold and that foreign ownership does not exceed the aggregate 49% limit. The company cannot simply rely on the address of its shareholders in making a determination as to whether or not they are foreign, but instead must use reasonable efforts as defined in the October order (and set out in our summary) to establish the citizenship and ownership of its investors. The company also must insure that its organizational documents provide that, if any foreign owner causes the station to violate one of the restrictions imposed by the Declaratory Ruling, the company can redeem the stock of the owner. The company must also have provisions providing for the right to restrict foreign ownership and the right to require disclosure of citizenship information. The decision also notes that Executive Branch agencies had reviewed the proposal and did not find any potential security issues.

It would seem that this decision establishes how this kind of request will be dealt with in the future, setting out the kinds of conditions likely to be required in similar deals. As we wrote here and here, there are a number of other declaratory ruling requests pending at the FCC, and another was released for public comment last week. Presumably, the processing of these requests will become somewhat routine going forward, as the parameters for dealing with the requests are established through these early cases. Watch for more decisions on the other pending requests soon.

AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Artists,Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 4:56 pm

AMULETS is Randall Taylor, a one-man experimental looping ambient artist out of Austin, Texas who works with tape loops and guitar. And to start off the year, Randall wants to show you a key element of his technique – making tape loops from cassette tapes.

Tape loops, as associated with the likes of Steve Reich, began mainly on reel-to-reel decks. Using a cassette means some more precise surgery. There’s the cassette housing to contend with, mainly – which means disassembling and then (importantly) re-assembling a delicate plastic case. And the tape itself is smaller, too – 0.15 inches rather than 0.25 inches.

But there are some advantages to working this way. Apart from the ready availability of cassettes and the ease with which you can record on them, you win up with the loop on a self-contained cassette.

And whether or not you venture into the world of splicing cassette tape, you owe it to yourself to listen to AMULETS’ music. The sounds are fragile, rough-hewn, guitars melting into gaping chasms and caves, as if he’s sculpting with the tentative magnetic particles of the tapes.

It’s sure to earn some comparisons to other ambient varieties, but there’s some unique sensibility here. And he’s insanely prolific, carving out tape releases in a steady stream.

To layer the sounds, he uses dual four-track recorders, as in this video for National Public Radio in the USA. I bristle a little at how not using a computer has become a band of honor, but here, it’s necessary to understanding the physical reality of what you’re hearing and the directness with which he composes. That Tascam is his axe as much as the guitar, and so it’s fittingly memorialized in enamel pins and album artwork.

There’s a surprising treasure trove of tape music and tape loop how-to’s on YouTube, covering just about every conceivable technique and hardware. You’re liable to be able to plan around whatever used hardware you’ve rummaged, rather than the other way around.

One of the best comes from Chris Randall, aka both the mastermind behind Analog Industries plug-ins and modular hardware and a gifted musician himself. For the high-end loop, you get to do this one with a Nagra:

It’s funny, actually: this kind of tape imperfection is as I understand it genuinely one of the hardest things to model in the digital realm. I think it probably would be valuable to get better models, as you could imagine sound degradation that could never exist in the real world. But here, it might miss the point anyway: these pieces are kinetic sculptures and live magneto-mechanical instruments, not just particular sounds.

I love this ensemble ambient work:

AMULETS has you well covered on social media identities; find them all on his site:


The post AMULETS shows how to make a tape loop out of a cassette appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Rachel Flowers Performs in Cuba

Delivered... Emusician RSS Feed | Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 3:59 pm
U.S. Classics in 2016 Havana Jazz Plaza Festival

Oscillate:Pittsburgh 2017: Dates Announced

Delivered... Emusician RSS Feed | Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 3:31 pm
Oscillate:Pittsburgh is Pittsburgh's own Synthesizer Meetup, with an Emphasis on Modular Synths

Morley Releases Limited Edition Chrome Cliff Burton Tribute Power Fuzz Wah

Delivered... Emusician RSS Feed | Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 3:06 pm
Cliff 'em All!

Michelle Moog-Koussa to Share Family Archives and Insights at NAMM 2017

Delivered... Emusician RSS Feed | Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 2:51 pm
'Insights Into An Innovator: Bob Moog' to be part of NAMM's TEC Talks

New tools for free sound powerhouse Pd make it worth a new look

Delivered... Peter Kirn | Scene | Wed 4 Jan 2017 12:53 am

Pure Data, the free and open source cousin of Max, can still learn some new tricks. And that’s important – because there’s nothing that does quite what it does, with a free, visual desktop interface, permissive license, and embeddable and mobile versions integrated with other software, free and commercial alike. A community of some of its most dedicated developers and artists met late last year in the NYC area. What transpired offers a glimpse of how this twenty-year-old program might enter a new chapter – and some nice tools you can use right now.

To walk us through, attendee Max Neupert worked with the Pdcon community to contribute this collaborative report.



For many participants, it was an epiphany of sorts. Finally, they met the people face to face which they only knew as a nickname or acronym from the [Pd] forum or the infamous mailinglist.

2016 we finally have seen another Pure Data Convention happening. Co-hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ and New York University in Manhattan it was six days packed with workshops, concerts, exhibitions and peer-reviewed paper/poster presentations.

Pure Data, (or short Pd) is an ever-growing patcher programming language for audio, video and interaction. With 20 years, Pure Data is not the newest kid in town, but it is built specifically with the idea of preservation in mind. It is also the younger sister of Max/MSP, with a more bare-bones look, but open-source and with the permissive BSD license.

Since the advent of libpd, Pure Data has been embedded in many apps where it serves as audio engine. At the Pd convention, Dan Wilcox, Peter Brinkmann, and Tal Kirshboim presented a look back on six years with libpd. Chris McCormick’s PdDroidParty, Dan Wilcox’ PdParty, and Daniel Iglesia’s MobMuPlat are building on libpd and simplifying the process of running a Pd patch on a mobile device. For the Pd convention, they joined forces and gave a workshop together.

What was the most exciting part of the Convention? That answer will be different depending on who you ask. For the electronic music producer, it might have been Peter Brinkmann’s presentation of Ableton Link for Pure Data, allowing the synchronization and latency compensation with Live.

Previously on CDM: Free jazz – how to use Ableton Link sync with Pure Data patches

For the Max/MSP convert, it might be the effort to implement objects from Max as externals for Pd. That library of objects, aptly named cyclone, has been around for a while, but has now seen a major update by Alexandre Porres, Derek Kwan, and Matthew Barber.

Cyclone: A set of Pure Data objects cloned from Max/MSP [GitHub]

Hint: not all patches look as messy as this. The insanity of the Ninja Jamm patch.

Hint: not all patches look as messy as this. The insanity of the Ninja Jamm patch.

If you’re a musicology nerd, Reiner Kraemer, et al. might have been grabbed you with their analysis tools for (not only) Renaissance music.

Or what about the effort to extend Frank Barknecht’s idea of list-abstractions to arrays by Matthew Barber, or Eric Lyons’ powerful FFTease and LyonPotpourri tools?

Pd already comes in many flavors. Amongst them phantastic variants like Pd-L2Ork and its development branch Purr-Data [not a typo], which were presented at the convention by Ivica Bukvic and Jonathan Wilkes. Purr-Data is a glimpse into the possible future of Pd: its interface is rendered as a SVG instead of Tcl/Tk. Ed.: Layman’s terms – you have a UI that’s modern and sleek and flexible, not fugly and rigid like the one you probably know.

Pd compiles for different processors and platforms. This is getting complex, and it’s important to make sure internal objects and externals are acting the way they were intended to across these variants. IOhannes M zmölnig’s research about “fully automated object testing” takes care of that. With double precision and 64bit builds an essential stepping stone to make sure Pd is staying solid. IOhannes is also the only member of the community who attended all four Pd conventions since Graz in 2004.

Katja Vetter moderated the open workbench sessions, where “the compilers” discussed development and maintainance of Pd. She also performed as “Instant Decomposer” in an incredible witty, poetic and musically impressive one-woman act.

Katja always makes an impression with her outfit.

Katja always makes an impression with her outfit.

Cyborg Onyx Ashanti.

Cyborg Onyx Ashanti.

The concerts in the evening program were a demonstration of the variety and quality of the Pure Data scene, from electroacoustic music, interface based experiments, mobile and laptop orchestras to the night of algo-rave.

The participants of the 2016 Pure Data Convention. Organizers Jaime Oliver (leftmost), Sofy Yuditskaya (somewhat in the middle) and Ricky Graham (too busy to pose on the picture).

With all excellent electronic means to keep a community running, the conventions stay an important way to grow the human connections between its members and get things done. We are looking forward to the next gathering in 2018, this time it might be in Athens, I’ve overheard. Ed.: If anyone wants to join for an interim meeting in 2017, I’m game to use the power of CDM to help make that happen!


Video archive:

More resources

Some useful stuff found during our Telegram chat:
Loads of abstractions and useful things by William Brent

Ed Kelly’s software and abstractions, including some rather useful tools; Ed developed Ninja Tune iOS/Android remix app Ninja Jamm‘s original Pd patch

Full program:

Chat on Telegram about Pd (useful free chat client, Telegram):

Places to share patches:

The post New tools for free sound powerhouse Pd make it worth a new look appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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