December 05, 2004

Electronic Music Workflows - Some Rambling Thoughts

In the act of responding to an interesting thread on an electronic music BBS about 'composition' and how traditional composition differs from the methods most popular electronic experimentalists I attempted to explain how the workflow itself can stymie or encourage promising musical moments...

IMO, he process most interesting emusicians use, is more a process of 'discovery' than it is of composition. What you need to develop, IMO, is a workflow which allows for rapid and intense experimentation over sections of interesting material. You need to get good at 'constructing' machines, as SP put in a recent interview, which allow themselves to be broken until their destructive capacities become interesting.

It is this destructive process that I believe enables good emusicians to go places that say, a contemporary classical experimentalist might not. Its a violent, and chaotic workflow. And developing this workflow, itself is problematic. Intutively, one would think that using something like Max or AudioMulch would make it easier, but in the real world, getting quick with simpler tools like CoolEdit Pro or Cubase, will probably lead to more interesting results, as you seem to be searching for.

While contributing that bit of pomposity, it ocurred to me that workflow itself was the big electronic music problem. The idea that good electronic music can be 'found' or even that it is 'composed' or even 'constructed' I think is to lose fact of the powerful way we use software now to continually disassemble and reassemble its pieces. Regardless of whether the music is beat-driven or not, finding a good workflow, that allows for the musician to experiment live with morphing processes is incredibly important to the productivity of new musics. To this end, as a dedicated hardware enthusiast I've recently purchased, for $12.95, a P5 Essential Reality Glove and a Control Freak 16 slider MIDI controller. Running these controllers on top of randomly cycling MIDI CC data with my FS1R produces astonishing timbral differences. This process was first used on my pieces A Moist Mirage in Desert Eyes and Arddha Jangala. Finding new morph targets (as 3D enthusiasts call their object morphing controller sets) through randomized control of cyclic streams presents a powerful and teleologically interesting musical process that I'm just begining to explore.

Posted by jeff at December 5, 2004 02:18 PM