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How to get inspiration?
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destroyifyer



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Abreaktor, you're right...if someone is making music something must have at least slightly inspired them to in the frist place...I hope. So logically this thread would be more useful to someone who has been violated by a inspiration vampire (a Muse's evil counterpart).

Blue Hell wrote:
Quote:
It's a privilege of sorts to be able to do creative stuff, or to see things ... I find it amazing at times how few people look around or are being creative ...


It really is. Sitting on a balcony once, I observed a lake as it was lightly raining. Before I went in there was a crane on the edge of the lake where it was flooded...I thought, wow that looks like it's straight out of a Japanese watercolor painting... I couldn't help but think the same thing, how few people simply look around. But it's true, you want to think that everyone has experiences but I believe that most people do not. I had a lengthly conversation with a friend about that once, how "people lack genuine human experiences."
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abreaktor



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

yes, i think that an artists view on the world has a lot to do with some de-filtering, i.e. the loss of aquired filter mechanisms. thats just one thing; i really think that given a certain age most people have made the same experiences when it comes to interhuman relations. its what they make of it what matters - be that a great comforting chair that makes life easier or some highly annoying piece of art no matter what genre that complicates life a bit more. there are so many things that simply go undetected... this morning, i went to a meeting, and decided to walk by foot for most of the way (~5 km). i have seen at least 3 stories on peoples faces and heard a lot of noises you rarely hear in the city (it was really early)... some outlandish industrial noises from woodcutters and heavy machinery. i bit my ass for not owning some mobile recording device. that woodcutter sound was so annihilating... anyway, it gave me the idea for a good layering of drones.

otoh, the only thing i managed to do today is an extremely funky beat with as few "notes" as possible. its all about slight displacement, i guess.

what bothers me though, is, that the really BIG things that happen to you in life have never given me any palpable inspiration at all; maybe one is just too occupied in these moments.

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abreaktor



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

on a related note,

i tried another approach: take something complicated, transform it into something melodic, and then just jam. i took a voice recording of some random tv show (i have a tv card, so its easy to record tv shows etc), put a grain delay on it -12, put a resonator on it and fiddled with the chords. then i just let it run for 3 minutes and re-played every melodic snippet on the keyboard (mind you, 25 keys suffice for that kind of thing) that i could make out there. put it together, added a really simple vb1- bassline and a wicked beat, and hell, it sounds great. just another snippet, but there is a lot of juice in it. the only complicated structures in it are the (further bastardized) voice recording and the beat (i dig glitch).

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Electronomist



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 4:26 pm    Post subject: Inspiration Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I often get mental block when wanting to write tunes.
The best way i find to get inspiration is to go to a decent club and get into the groove! The next day im always itching to jump on my computer and begin to create! Other than go out, i fire up my decks and mix some older tunes i know well, often get ideas that way.
Sometimes when i know what i want to do but cant think where to start i will mess around with a simple kick drum loop and my keyboard/synths, i always end up making something useful!
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'm fascinated by some of the answers here (e.g. previous post by Electronomist) - I'd forgotten how much I used to use some of the bottom-up techniques mentioned.


Ancient History of Octahedra:

I would often begin working on a track by building a loop of about 4 bars, including all the important parts needed to define the basic style and sound. Then I would make variations on this and see how far it got. By concentrating on sound and overall feel it's an excellent way to learn how to get the kind of sound world you want - that you've heard in other people's music.

Proto-modern and Modern Octahedra: study

I became pretty keen on structure (I still want people to be able to get lost in my music though). More or less all my ideas for pieces of music these days are abstract. You may have guessed the pattern by now that I never hear tunes in my head, and I no longer think of it as a disability! My initial ideas are usually structures and sets of techniques / rules for composing. So I start in top-down mode making a general plan for an entire piece and what kind of thing will happen when. This generally ends with me writing bits of melody and/or chord sequence for the most important moments. Then I go into bottom-up mode to write variations and add more instrument parts to fill the gaps. I enjoy when the 'up' and the 'down' methods meet perfectly in the middle! When they don't, it can take some work to make it all sound good together.


Examples? How about these. My new EP currently in mastering has a chord sequence that starts off with only 2 chords, but next time round 2 new ones get added, and so on until it becomes a 12-chord sequence. Then 2 chords get deleted out of the sequence each time until it's back down to 2 again, but now in a different key. Philip Glass started his career doing this kind of thing with melodies. Finally a synth sequence with constant changes of time sig is bent to fit over the chords as they pass by.

Other tracks on there are based on images from a harmonograph, distorted and used as a graph for how the volume of each note in a massive chord should vary over time. Converting geometric curves into notes or midi controllers has been one of my favourite techniques in algorithmic composition for slow music: that was my original lightbulb moment 10 years ago that led me to algorithms in the first place.

Anyone interested in geometric images, fractals etc. as a source of inspiration should check out prof. Paul Bourke's website as seen in the link above.

Gordon
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seraph
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
harmonograph

Hi Gordon
welcome to electro-music.com Very Happy
I got this nice little book:
Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

arrow Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music

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The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night and his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. - W. Shakespeare
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
I got this nice little book:


Hi Seraph

Yep, I got that nice little book too!

Picked it up by chance on a trip to London this summer. Saw the name and had to have it. Also saw a real harmonograph and some other geometric drawing machines in the computer section of the Science Museum. The images I used for my music are from this bit of free software which basically does the same thing.

Gordon
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abreaktor



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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

heh. interesting. ive read that hofstaedter thingie (too lazy to stand up and check the title, something with goedel and escher) and really enjoyed it, but didnt understand half of it. also, a mandelbaum fractal on your wall makes you an insta-nerd. otoh, its fascinating, since i discovered a tool that varies your melodies according to the laws of music theory based solely on algrithmic and mathematical principles. this might come in handy if you work from an engineer angle, but i have no clue how to include those mprinciples in a live environment without losing the "live".
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

abreaktor wrote:
[... ]something with goedel and escher [...]


And you can't remember Bach Question Shocked Laughing

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 29, 2008 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

abreaktor wrote:
[...]but i have no clue how to include those mprinciples in a live environment without losing the "live".


Time to delve a bit into modular synths then where people set up parameterized sequences all the time; meaning you construct some algorithm or sequence that changes when an input value (knob or key press or performer movement or video sync or whatever) changes. It's fun actually Laughing

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seraph
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:
The images I used for my music are from this bit of free software which basically does the same thing.

I asked my 9 years old son to give me some numbers Shocked he chose 6 numbers on the t-shirts of players of the local soccer team Rolling Eyes
as you can see the result is not very harmonious Exclamation


fiorentina harmonograph.jpg
 Description:
the local soccer team
 Filesize:  88.53 KB
 Viewed:  349 Time(s)
This image has been reduced to fit the page. Click on it to enlarge.

fiorentina harmonograph.jpg



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The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night and his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. - W. Shakespeare
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seraph
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
abreaktor wrote:
[... ]something with goedel and escher [...]


And you can't remember Bach Question Shocked Laughing


I had to clean up my computer monitor after laughing out loudly. some bodily fluids escaped me Shocked

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The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night and his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. - W. Shakespeare
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

abreaktor wrote:
how to include those mprinciples in a live environment without losing the "live"


Very tricky one that, I think. Composers like John Cage have made graphic scores but because they contain no standard musical symbols it's all about interpretation and you have to be a real genius improviser to get anything out of them at all. Helps if the composer is still alive and willing to offer advice, too!

Here's something that might allow improvisation based on visual source material...

If you've used 2D realtime midi controllers (mouse-driven in software, Kaoss pad, that kind of thing) the next step beyond that could be to build some crazy nonlinearity into them. E.g. you have an image on your computer screen - fractal, graphic score, Escher(!), photo of the Everest expedition you only just survived(!!), whatever. Now when you drag the mouse over that it's not just the x,y coordinates that are being converted to controller data - the actual light/dark/colour info in the part of the image under your mouse cursor is also mapped to synth/sequencer parameters!

Also, it could remember the mouse path and put a statistical weighting on what to do now, based on what you already did. Don't know if anyone is actually building anything like this, but if they are I fear it would be a bit unpredictable and take a lot of setting up and practice to get good results.

Gordon
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
I asked my 9 years old son to give me some numbers Shocked he chose 6 numbers on the t-shirts of players of the local soccer team Rolling Eyes
as you can see the result is not very harmonious Exclamation


Sport never is harmonious. I think that's why so many people love it and I hate it!

I got the best results by auto-generating lots of random ones. When something reasonable came up, only a small change to the numbers would make it look a lot better, although it would take a few guesses.


You can see what I came up with... The ones on the top row are the original images. On the botom row I did a polar-to-rectangular transform in Photoshop and joined them up into one big linear graph. The x axis is time, y is note pitch and then the scale of light-to-dark represents increasing volume.

There's a chord of 16 notes, which progresses to a new chord from time to time, the biggest changes coming with each new harmonograph image. Imagine each note in the chord as a horizontal line along the graph, the y value roughly representing its pitch. Its volume will follow the light/dark variations in the image along that line.

As you can see the bass department is pretty busy whereas some of the high notes are silent most of the time. This is due to a basic limitation of harmonographs - the swinging pen will always run out of energy and come to rest at the middle/bottom. So next time I'd like to go back to purely mathematical source material where I can avoid that bias.

Gordon


harmonographs.jpg
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Harmonograph images used as a source of note & midi controller data.
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harmonographs.jpg


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Antimon



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2008 3:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:

If you've used 2D realtime midi controllers (mouse-driven in software, Kaoss pad, that kind of thing) the next step beyond that could be to build some crazy nonlinearity into them. E.g. you have an image on your computer screen - fractal, graphic score, Escher(!), photo of the Everest expedition you only just survived(!!), whatever. Now when you drag the mouse over that it's not just the x,y coordinates that are being converted to controller data - the actual light/dark/colour info in the part of the image under your mouse cursor is also mapped to synth/sequencer parameters!


I've done a very simple variant of this - posted about it here:

http://electro-music.com/forum/viewtopic.php?highlight=controlexplorer&t=29747

/Stefan

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nobody



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

destroyifyer wrote:

It really is. Sitting on a balcony once, I observed a lake as it was lightly raining. Before I went in there was a crane on the edge of the lake where it was flooded...I thought, wow that looks like it's straight out of a Japanese watercolor painting... I couldn't help but think the same thing, how few people simply look around. But it's true, you want to think that everyone has experiences but I believe that most people do not. I had a lengthly conversation with a friend about that once, how "people lack genuine human experiences."


I wish everyone would be schooled in the art of "just looking" or "just being" as part of early childhood ed, and continued through high school. Nothing is a magic bullet, but I think if people could generally appreciate the beauty of the natural world around them, there'd be a lot fewer problems in general. I think people just wouldn't want to mess up the things they like (for the most part). Things would cease to be "just a tree", or "just a rat".
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

abreaktor wrote:

what bothers me though, is, that the really BIG things that happen to you in life have never given me any palpable inspiration at all; maybe one is just too occupied in these moments.


That's the way it works. Once the experience is integrated into your mind/body system, it'll be there as a source of inspiration when the time is right. I used to be married to a very abusive woman. Of course, jack shit happened while I was married to her, but some time after I left, stuff started leaking over into inspiration for lyrics and music.
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Stanley Pain



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

how to get inspiration - suffer.

i'm off to read some byron, get drunk on vinegar and stab my niece.

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abreaktor



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PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2008 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

heh. i like you.

i created a second soundcloud account where i collect the really simple 4/4 dancy and noisy things. if im stuck on my main things, i create a "crowdpleaser" (i test them by inviting a few people, if they dance its good). and the other way round. perpetual inspiration! its like a neverending orgasm

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Stanley Pain wrote:
how to get inspiration - suffer.


Cannot argue with that! Razz
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2008 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

audiodef wrote:
Stanley Pain wrote:
how to get inspiration - suffer.


Cannot argue with that! Razz


what did you expect from someone whose last name is 'pain'?

Wink

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The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night and his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. - W. Shakespeare
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apalomba



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Octahedra wrote:

As you can see the bass department is pretty busy whereas some of the high notes are silent most of the time. This is due to a basic limitation of harmonographs - the swinging pen will always run out of energy and come to rest at the middle/bottom. So next time I'd like to go back to purely mathematical source material where I can avoid that bias.



Hey Gordon, that is fascinating stuff. Sorry I am arriving late to this
thread. What did you use to create these harmonograph images?
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Octahedra



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

apalomba wrote:
Hey Gordon, that is fascinating stuff. Sorry I am arriving late to this thread. What did you use to create these harmonograph images?


To sum up the whole thing (sorry if repeating myself but here it all is in one place), this is the harmonograph itself - an analog oscillator of sorts, as it generates 2 different sine waves at 90 degrees to each other and records the combined result on paper.

This software does the same thing on your computer. Best to try the random generator until you get something OK and then tweak the numbers manually to perfect it.

harmonographs

I used the program to generate the 5 images on the top row, and then Photoshop to warp them into the linear format on the bottom row. This is then used as a graph to vary the volume of each note in a multitimbral 16-note chord over a timespan of almost 7 minutes. Took me a couple of working days just to enter the midi volume envelopes into Sonar! I wrote the chord progressions myself - they aren't defined by the image at all, and I had to tweak the volume envelopes around some of the chord changes to make them sound good. I also added a couple of extra parts that aren't algorithmic at all, to give it a little bit of melody.

I used this as a basis for two different movements in a 5-movement piece that fills an EP (soon to be released). The 'cold' version is sort-of-atonal, with all the chords made from equal-interval scales. The surprise at the end is that the interval of 4 semitones is a suspended chord which resolves to major. Then the 'warm' version is sort-of-polytonal. Most of the time the chord in the high notes is different from that of the low notes, and they diverge to the point where although they sound good together I'd lost track of which key each chord was in. It's part of an ongoing experiment testing tonality to destruction by making the chord progression so slow you can't remember what key you're in. The final surprise here is that although it sounds tonal, there's no final resolution or cadence - it carries on progressing its own merry way until time runs out.

Gordon
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Gordon, great explanation. Sounds like an interesting piece, and a fascinating way to compose.
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Doni



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PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

smoke... hahaha just kidding... or am I???

but seriously, whenver I'm stuck on a project, I just shift gears and move to another one or do something else for a while.

honestly it sounds lame but getting outside and taking in the fresh air helps alot too... and eating your broccoli... lol

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