Sunday, April 30, 2006

Week 7

Creative Computing

This week we solely looked at making some sound with Super Collider. Christian explained that we needed to create one AM SynthDef and one FM SynthDef and post the code and a recording of each in our blogs.

Here are my results

AM Synth


//AM Synth

arg carrierFreq = 220,
carrierVol = 1;

var carrier,

modulator =
freq: 220,
phase: 0,
mul: 0.5

carrier =
freq: carrierFreq,
phase: 0,
mul: carrierVol * modulator

//Output, carrier)


b = Synth("AM_Synth").play
b.set(\carrierFreq, 440);
b.set(\carrierFreq, 330);
b.set(\carrierFreq, 220);

I used a combination of David Cottle's examples and fellow classmates entrys to try and work out how to complete this question. Click here for a list of students blogs.

Haines, Christian. 2006. SuperCollider. Tutorial presented at the Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide, 27 April.


This week in workshop we listened to three songs. My favourite and the one I was to focus my comments on was Voyage absolu des Unari vers Andromede by Iannis Xenakis. I found this to be an interesting composition to listen to. The piece featured an obvious space theme that reminded me of science-fiction type movies such as Star Trek. I felt that the sounds Xenakis created fell into the movie sound design genre rather than a musical composition as such although Xenakis does paint a sonic picture of what a journey to Andromede may be like.

I also felt I should comment on the second piece, In Flagranti by Gabriele Manca. Considering this piece was for slide guitar, I am unsure as to the exact relevance of this piece to our course.

Harris, David. 2006. Workshop presented at the Electronic Music Unit, EMU Space, University of Adelaide, 27 April.


Honours student Seb Tomczak spoke to us about some of his projects he created over previous years. Milkcrate was the main topic he spoke on. The idea behind Milkcrate was that participants spent 24 hours confined to a location to create music. Each participant brings a milk crate full of objects they wish to use to create music with. Sounds are recorded onto a computer then manipulated and arranged into quite interesting compositions. Seb showed us some footage of previous Milkcrates and some of the music that was created. It was interesting to see (and hear) what sounds the participants. I am definitely interested in being part of future Milkcrate sessions.

Here is a link to the Milkcrate website.

Tomczak, Seb. "Presentation" Forum presented at the Electronic Music Unit, EMU Space, University of Adelaide, 27 April.

Audio Arts Project

Our first assignment for Audio Arts was to do a short recording using one of the microphone techniques we had discussed during last term. I chose to record the piano using the Mid-Side technique, a technique that I had not experimented before.

In short the Mid-Side technique uses two microphones of the same type, in my case the Neumann U87. The first microphone is set to the figure 8 polar pattern. The microphone is then placed inside the piano near the soundboard approximately half way down the piano close to the side. The hotter side of the figure 8 pattern is facing towards the bass. The second microphone is set to omni and placed upside-down above the first microphone.

Music education student Damian West was recorded playing the piano. After a few takes the piece titled Bygone Days by Eileen Ivers, was recorded.

Overall I was happy with the stereo image of the recording however I felt it lacked some hi frequencies. I feel that getting over a cold may have affected my hearing to some extent. I also found that when the pedal released the padding from the strings of the piano it created a light strumming noise that was very obvious in the recording. Damian realised he had to take notice of his pedaling technique to minimise this problem.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Week 6

Music Technology?

This week I’ve decided to change the way I layout my entry and not divide it into separate parts.

This week’s forum was set up as a discussion lead by lecturers Stephen Whittington and Mark Carroll joined by masters student Tristan Louth-Robins. The topic of the discussion was ‘What is Music Technology?’, a topic which I have not given much thought to even though I am now in my fourth year of studying ‘music technology’ at Adelaide University. Each of the three above mentioned discussed what they thought ‘music technology’ was with Stephen reading out some definitions of ‘music technology’ from other academics in prominent institutions around the world. They all seemed to agree that ‘music technology’ as a whole was an interdisciplinary field drawing on music, science, maths, engineering and performing arts in varying degrees. From my experiences at Elder, ‘music technology’ obviously has close ties with music, with the core subjects of Music in Context and Approached to Music which all undergraduate students must partake in. As the music technology course is part of the music faculty, ‘music technology’ at the University of Adelaide has minimal focus towards maths, engineering, science and performing arts. Although I have little to no knowledge in areas such as maths, science, engineering, etc, I feel that it would be good for me personally to look at improving my knowledge in these areas. It is good that in my year we have 2 students with knowledge in the maths/computer engineering so we can see the ideas they have coming from a different perspective other than my own.

Group discussion inevitably went to course content and the strong focus of traditional (classical and jazz) theory. Students expressed their opinion that the relevance of the theory aspects of the course to music technology was poor. This brought back flashbacks back to the end of first year and the issues we brought up and a subsequent meeting with Charles Bodman Rae. It is good to see the fruits of our labour with Forum, Workshop, Perspectives and also elective The Science Of Music now added to our course, hopefully those new students will read this and see that the Music Studies (music technology) is an ever-changing degree that in open to student input however from forum discussion they now know the focus on academic study rather than the sometimes initially perceived commercial ‘music technology’ applications.

The closest we have at EMU to commercial ‘music technology’ applications is the subject Audio Arts. This week we were joined again by the string quartet from the previous week in the EMU space. With a focus on getting a good stereo image we set up various pairs of microphones (i.e. Neumann U87, Rode NT4/5, etc) to hear how the placement and type of microphone will change the sound of the recording. The U87’s had the fullest sound. Creative Computing again moved more towards making sound in Super Collider with Unit Generators and using the Scope (oscilloscope in SC) to view them.

I am quite enjoying Workshop. It is good to get exposed to deferent type of music although other class members feel otherwise. It is good to hear how music technology compositions have developed over the previous decades as the technology has developed and the composer’s compositional ideas have developed. For me this opens my ears and helps me to listen to compositions on a focused level. Truax’s piece was especially interesting for me after looking at granulation in second semester last year.

Reference -

Grice, David. 2006. Stereo Miking. Tutorial presented at the Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide, 4 April.

Haines, Christian. 2006. SuperCollider. Tutorial presented at the Electronic Music Unit, University of Adelaide, 6 April.

Harris, David. 2006. Workshop presented at the Electronic Music Unit, EMU Space, University of Adelaide, 6 April.

Whittington, Stephen, Carroll, Mark, and Louth-Robbins, Tristan. 'What is Music Technology?" Forum presented at the Electronic Music Unit, EMU Space, University of Adelaide, 6 April.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Week 5

Audio Arts

This week we did a location recording with a string quartet over in the basement of Elder Hall. This proved to be quite difficult and showed how easily things can go wrong and effort needs to be made in planning for any issues that could arise. We had a selection of microphones, cables and a flash drive recorder with two inputs. We spent some time listening to the quartet and had how they sounded in the space then decided where we thought the ideal spot for placing the microphones would be. When we went to record, we found there was no memory in the recorder then and no spares. We had to swap to a DAT recorder because of this, however it had no pre-amps so we could only use the microphone that came with the kit. Pushed for time we made a quick recording and the lesson was over.

Grice, David. 2006. Tutorial on Field Recording. University of Adelaide, 28 March.

Creative Computing

Code elegance was Christian’s focus for the lecture. We were shown the top down approach for coding which allows an ease of reading and allows debugging to be faster. Christian explained that commenting is essential for programming in SC. Regular use of commenting is used to explain what the function of certain parts of the code is. By doing this, not only is it easier for others to see what you have programmed and the function of it, it is also easier for you to understand what you have coded when revisiting it some time after it was created. I am looking forward to getting into SC more next term.

Haines, Christina. 2006. Tutorial on Gating. University of Adelaide, 30 March.

David chose to look at some works by American composer John Cage (1912-1992). Some of these included Music for Carillon (1954), Williams Mix (1952) and 101 (1989. The second piece was particularly interesting for me with a strong music concrete containing 8 taped sound sources.

Harris, David. 2006. Tutorial on listening – John Cage. University of Adelaide, 30 March


Chris Williams was the guest presenter this week. He explained to use his role as the “producer” of ABC radio dramas, which included finding material, taking care of the performers on recording days and rehearsing, then recording, post production and sequencing. He explained to us some of the issues involved in the process particularly the recording space, time restraints, plot development, mono broadcasting and how some of these were overcome. Williams also described how sound design was an important part in creating a sense of space in a recording. I found it interesting to hear about what is involved in creating these projects although I have never listened to a radio drama in my life. Williams finished by showing us Monologues for an Apocalypse. It was good to hear something Williams had worked on that had more of a musical feel.

Williams, Chris. 2006. Lecture on Radio Drama. University of Adelaide, 30 March