Ask Not for Whom the Bell Carols

[play] Ask Not for Whom the Bell Carols (2015)

If you enjoyed this piece of music, please consider donating to the Albert Kennedy Trust, who work with homeless LGBT young people.

For this piece, I used Risset bells with a long decay. I used a Dissonance-curve style analysis of the partials to generate a tuning based on the timbre. Rather than use the method outlined by Bill Sethares, I compared the partials to look for good just tuning ratios. I then picked the 8 most in-tune partials (using a moving window system, so make sure they weren’t all next to each other). This is part of my TuningLib quark, which is available to SuperCollider users. (See the justScale method for DissonanceCurve)

Then I used an mp3 of the Bell Carol, but very slowly. I also adjusted the tuning of every partial by up to 10Hz and delayed all attacks by up to 60 milliseconds. This creates weird beating effects, as two identical bells are just slightly out of tune with each other. Their attacks are also often just a bit too far apart to be simultaneous.

I have ambitions to generalise harmony in terms of dissonance, so that it’s applicable to bespoke tuning systems, but ended up not applying that to this piece. This track is part of a larger project, ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.

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Away in a Manger

[play]Away in a Manger (2004)

If you like this piece, please consider donating to Shelter, a charity that deals with homelessness in the UK.

In 2004, back when I was doing my MA, I had just devised algorithms for automated cutting for Text Sound Poetry. I was mostly using these on political pundits, but when the holidays came around, I thought I could have my mac’s internal voice read some hymn lyrics and then do some cutting. The computer brightly proclaimed, ‘I love you, Lord Jesus!’ and I felt giddy with horror.

My partner at the time listened to it and said it was too cynical. So it sad on a hard drive for these last 11 years. It probably is too cynical for Christmas, but it’s not altogether out of place for this project.

This track is part of a larger project, ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.

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Angel Invaders

[play]Angel Invaders (2015)

If you enjoyed this track (or not), please consider donating to the LGBT Foundation. I first became aware of this foundation because they are fighting laws which criminalize relationships. In the UK, it is legal to lie about one’s marital status, age, religion or whether one has had an STI test, yet several young trans men have become convicted sex offenders for not volunteering the information that they transitioned. The foundation is working on challenging these laws. (Dear listener: if you want to avoid dating a trans (or cis) person, just ask them ahead of time.)

This badly mangled version of Adeste Fideles uses the sleigh bells and Risset bells I’ve been using throughout the project. It also uses a snare synth and bass drum synth of my own devising, Schemawound’s dirty fm synth and grirgz’s wobble bass synth.

Although I think this is probably the worst piece of music I’ve ever made, my wife said it sounded like an 8 bit video game, so I titled it Angel Invaders. Can you shoot them down before its too late?

This track is part of a larger project, ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.

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I’ll See you Again This Christmas

[play]I’ll See You Again This Christmas (2015)

If you like this piece, please consider donating to PACE an organisation that provides mental health support and counseling to LGBT people. Many LGBT people, especially trans women, face systemic discrimination, which among other things, tends to take a toll on mental health. Although the NHS is getting better on LGBT issues, many people rely on more specialized services like PACE.

This is a song with an unrecorded vocal part about going home for Christmas in a smallish town and knowing that one’s ex will also be there. The two parts were created using AutoMusic, an extremely buggy MIDI program that I tried and failed to use for yesterday’s Markov chains. Sheet music parts are available on request.

The sounds are Risset bells (described in the Dodge book), Karplus-strong strings, and STK Shakers with freeverb.

This track is part of a larger project, ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.

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A Way It’s All Mangled

[play]A Way Its All Mangled (2015)

If you like this piece, please consider donating to Shelter, a charity that deals with homelessness in the UK.

This piece uses both the British and American melodies for Away in a Manger. I found a hymn-foccussed website that had both versions, which was especially good as both were in the same tempo and key, with all the same presets, so the files were already very closely related.

Then I forked wslib, which has some nice SuperCollider classes for reading MIDI files, but the method that outputs arrays for use in patterns was kind of broken, so I made some changed there. Then I wrote a quantising function and made lists of all the unique note, duration pairs (or chord duration pairs) in both pieces. A lot of the same pairs appeared in both. I gave each pair an ID, so that each song could be expressed as a list of IDs

I used the lists of IDs to generate Markov chains. Then I just kept asking for the next one for two minutes and ended a minor chord.

The sound synthesis is based on Nick Collins’s demo of how to synthesize a soprano. I added an envelope to add some unvoiced transients at the start of every note, plus panning, etc.

This track is part of a larger project, ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.

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I Love Christmas

I Love Christmas (2015)

If you enjoy this piece, please consider making a donation to the Refugee Council. We are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Refugees need our support in staying housed, clothed and fed.

this pieces uses more or less the same structure as a previous piece, Music for Panic Attacks, however, the synthesised timbres are seasonal for the holidays. It uses FM tubular bells, STKShaker Sleighbells and a Karplus Strong harp.

The voice is Donald Trump from two different occasions, talking about how, as president, he will pass a law mandating that all shops in the US wish patrons ‘Merry Christmas’, instead of ‘Happy Holidays.’ He doesn’t mention what will happen to shops owned by religious minorities,but let’s not dwell on that.

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Dronesleeves

Dronesleeves (2015)

If you enjoy this piece, please consider making a donation to the Refugee Council. We are in the midst of the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Refugees need our support in staying housed, clothed and fed.

In my home country, the song ‘What Child is This’ uses the melody from Greensleeves, which was not written by Henry VII. I picked it because it is not in a major key.

This piece was made with SuperCollider. I downloaded a MIDI version of What Child is This and used SimpleMidiFile class in the wslib quark to read the file at the leisurely pace of 4.5 BPM. The synthesis is a Risset Bell with some added subharmonics and sinusoidal envelopes. There were thousands of SinOscs playing at once as this recorded.

This track is part of a larger project, ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.

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Jingle Hell

Jingle Hell (2015). This piece was created using a version of ixiLang that was made (barely) to run with SuperCollider 3.6 on some arrays representing melody, chords and drums for Jingle Bells.

It is available to download via Bandcamp, in exchange for a donation to Crisis, a UK charity working with homeless people.

This particular track is part of a larger album, No Room 2015 and also a larger personal project ’12 days of Crimbo’, which will raise funds for homeless and/or LGBT charities.