Sunday, 2 September 2012


The time? Some time around 1800. The dawn of a new century. Somewhere, Beethoven is composing the opening bars to his 5th symphony.

Dum dum dum daaaaah!

the dramatic phrase rings out. Then. A pause.

Dum dum dum... daaaaahhh!!!

Another! And although different, it's unmistakeably a close sibling of the first phrase.

Other instruments begin to take up the phrase. Now in come the violins. And now the cellos.

The whole evolves but contains an internal consistency through the repetition and evolution of a short and simple (4 notes!) phrase. One hell of a hook.

Like Morse code, or DNA, the sequential placing of simple elements leads to complexity.

Like a jigsaw. On the odd occasion I've seen classical music live, I've always been struck by how much the phrase "living machine" springs into my head. All that sawing and plucking and banging and blowing is somehow the agent of a coherent and beautiful, similtaneously kinetic and auditory, 4 dimensional sculpture.

There is a point to all this.

Modern technology makes it easy to make your own musical jigsaws. People have been splicing tape to the beat of a metronome for close to a century. 21st century technology makes it easy for just about everyone to make their own musical jigsaws, from the comfort of their own home. I've been doing it for years. Farting around. Making sonic textures that fitted together in some way or other, for better or worse. Generally the results are repetitive, evolutionary, inward looking. I don't make songs. I make music.

I suppose that sounds a bit pompous, but that just is the way things are. I don't have the self confidence to sing. Another manifestation of mild autism perhaps.

By a convoluted process, I ended up with a load of short clips of music, all of which were at a tempo of 96 beats per minute. That's the effective speed of the effects settings I use most frequently on my multi-effects box. A search on the internet for 96bpm gave me a whole load of bits and bobs, which I then overlaid using the wave studio software that came with my soundcard.

But then a thought struck me!

This is just random shit. I can use anything. The key is to embrace the method. A whole big bag of any old sounds, as long as they follow the rules. Put perhaps 5 layers into place and the first 5 bars are a crescendo of increasing complexity. Part of the skill in doing this would presumably be to stop it all becoming muddied and incoherent. (unless I want it to be muddied and incoherent of course)

so if you're a musician and you're reading this, please feel free to send me a sample.

the sample MUST:

  • Loop to itself. A bar at 96 beats per minute is 5,000 milliseconds. If your sample is some multiple of that, then it's going to tesselate.
  • Be 96 beats per minute

the sample CAN:

  • Be in any key
  • Be any length, as long as it follows the must do rules above.
  • Be any genre or style. Percussive, melodious, loud, quiet, rock, lullaby. 

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