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Too technical?

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Okay, better late than never.  This was an rg and greg co-production--next week there'll be another one, the theme will be "pitch".

Here's the section of Paintings at an Exhibition that relates to the picture at the top of the diary.

Mikhail Pletnev : BabaYaga-Gate of Kiev

And here's something (slightly!) more contemporary with interesting timbres.  Note that their huge success was based around the two female voices (two different timbres, one softer one sharper--well, that's my take); and then in the background all the different instruments popping in and out, most people probably didn't notice at the time, but the people (Benny and Bjorn) who put them in knew exactly what they were doing.



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Apr 18th, 2008 at 06:20:24 PM EST
Greg being ET's greg whitman

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Apr 18th, 2008 at 07:07:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...for anyone who fell asleep during the technical discussion
by greg whitman on Fri Apr 18th, 2008 at 09:24:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - A Journey into Sound Part V - Timbre (with videos)
Timbre is the distinguishing quality of a SINGLE tone.  It is what makes a note on a piano sound different to the same-pitched note on a trombone or a violin.  Technically speaking, timbre is determined by the differing intensities of the harmonics or overtones produced by an instrument.  An A at 440 Hz will produce the same harmonic series on both the piano and the trumpet but certain overtones will be louder on one instrument than the other.

Timbre is also how the overtones change with time. They're not static, and if you freeze an overtone series you get a rather annoying buzzing sound, no matter which instrument it came from.

Also, overtones aren't necessarily harmonic. Woodwind instruments come closest to having a reasonably harmonic overtone series. Pianos don't - overtones are sharp at the bass end and flat at the treble end, which is why it's so damn difficult to tune a piano and make it sound good, and also why the scales are slightly stretched. Most percussion isn't harmonic at all.

And finally - these things

...and some music from them:

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 18th, 2008 at 09:49:29 PM EST
I still only got until Yuan Sha's amazing performance (visually too), but here are two entries in two comments.

First -- guitar bands were ascribed to me, so here is a rather special use of the guitar: beyond the usual stuff with the bow, watch out from 06:15 in:

Sigur Rós: Svefn-g-englar, concert version (11:12)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Apr 19th, 2008 at 06:30:19 PM EST
The same folk song with a guitar and a singer (plus a hundred thousand throats)....

Freddie Mercury: Tavaszi szél vizet áraszt, Queen Live in Budapest 1986 (02:01)

...and with an organ plus a few thousand throats:

Xavér Varnus: Tavaszi szél vizet áraszt, live in the Budapest Synagogue (01:49)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Apr 19th, 2008 at 06:56:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for pointing me to Sigur Ros. Excellent music and some beautiful videos.

And BTW, since I see your Queen singing Hungarian, I always wondered if German bands still sound German when singing English.

Who would have noticed?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sat Apr 19th, 2008 at 11:35:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
still sound German when singing English.

I hear German intonation in the refrain of this Tote Hosen song, but I'm curious too what native English speakers hear.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 10:43:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Slight German, but I pick up more a measure of californian metal band intonation in his voice.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 12:43:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's another guitar sound--acoustic/electric, sorta blues but with raised fourths at (e.g.) 00:42-00:45.  It's a jam outside someone's house I think.  02:17  



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 05:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A discussion on timbre should include that classic portable synth, the EMS 'Putney'. This was timbre deconstructed and condensed into a 16 x 16 diode pin matrix. They still make them.

I had the pleasure of fiddling with a new clone version built into a flight case recently. The only thing missing was the internal spring reverb (Well, I didn't find it anyway). The old VCS3 spring could be induced to do interesting things with a bit of phsyical resonance.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 09:03:20 AM EST
back in the 70's someone gave my school a briefcase version, that was fun.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 12:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now available in a free version.

(You'll need a VST host to use it.)

The VCS3 had a bigger cousin:

which was sold to universities and TV companies. The BBC had one. It did most of the sound effects for Blake's Seven.

Those panels at the front are the patch matrix, which has thousands of holes.

You'd have no trouble at all getting a modern laptop to copy all of the features of a Synthi 100. You could do it in Reaktor without even blinking - or near offer, because the envelopes on the VCS3/Synthi 100 are a little eccentric by modern standards.

Once upon a time I met the designer of the VCS3 - he said it had been built using some very minimal circuits 'because it was cheap.'

In the late 60s and early 70s, EMS, which was the home of the VCS3, had the the most advanced computer music studio on the planet.

You could do everything they're talking about there on a laptop too. But it would take a little longer, and most people don't seem to bother.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 02:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is the VCS3 clone I played with (from Analogue Solutions)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Apr 22nd, 2008 at 02:16:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Synths--I never did work out how to get sounds out of them.  There was an ARP (?) at school; I couldn't get it to make a sound--envelopes, waves, I can't remember if there were attacks and decays, so.  Hmmm.  VCS3.  Is this it?

Any clips you can offer us?--I'd never heard of it before, but yeah--synthesised timbres make up an ever-expanding field.  I remember this one from way back--(song starts at 00:11)



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 01:06:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Synths, not new? Let's go back to the Franco-German grand masters:

Jean-Michel Jarre: Aero (08:04)

Kraftwerk: Trans Europe Express (04:01) (Yea, I had to take this one...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 01:48:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Edgar Varese 'Epsilon in Malaysian Pale' contains a nice mystical train pass. Possibly one of the more obscure inclusions of the mythology of the railroad in music.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 01:55:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Was basically created with a Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ, with some ARP 2500 stuff in parts (as I recall, though in the link below someone claims not). I have the original 15 minute demo (before the vocals were written).

Pete played around a lot with his VCS3, and he lent it to me to get to know also. But I don't recall it getting used much in released recordings - more as a kicker-off of ideas. The rest of the band were a little suspicious of what the technology might do for their roles. And they were right to be wary. There were enormous synching probems later live on stage which threatened the life of Mr Who sound, Bob 'Plum' Pridden

You can see photos, by my oldest chum Chris Morphet, of Pete's Tickenham 'home' studios featuring the VCS3 here. I spent many happy hours in that studio.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 01:52:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Have several VCS3s

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 02:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a wonderful series.  It must be a lot of work to put together.  I appreciate it and look forward to more.
by Maryb2004 on Sun Apr 20th, 2008 at 05:25:20 PM EST
Just a quick note to say A Journey into Sound will be back in its Weds. slot this week--the theme is pitch; included will be Messiaen--here's a taster, it has to do with timbre, so it still fits in with this diary.  

Percussion sounds in Messiaen's work (09:53)

(with a gong!)



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2008 at 03:39:05 AM EST
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