Emergent Music

01 Aug 2014 00.10

I think that generative and emergent music mean different things. In my view generative music is based on algorithms that try to mimic natural dynamics. Emergent music on the other hand is not based on algorithms but an analysis (of natural processes), and the outcome can’t be mathematically formulated.

The dynamics are in constant change, but on the other hand in the context for example the sound of waves or wind is based on the physical properties of the said processes and the environment. They are not random, but they also never repeat themselves and there’s constant change, evolution.

I’m thinking about this because I’ve maybe found a label for the music I create – emergent spectral ambient.

Another Coincidence

For an example and to make my point; yesterday I was experimenting with Spectral Toolbox for Max/MSP. There is a wonderful tool there, that remaps the target sound’s partials to the nearest overtone of a harmonic series, where the fundamental frequency can come from another sound. I created a multi path system instead of just one harmonic set, which was then fed by a frequency analyzer in realtime.

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In the experiment a sound of wind provides the partials, and a short cello progression the fundamentals. The combination of natural dynamics and the continuity errors in the analysis process create something unexpected, a whole piece of music with melody and harmony that goes on for eternity.

The scintillating piece is also on SoundCloud.

Discrete Continuity

16 Jul 2014 15.41

The latest set from Uunolan Ukotus now on Archive.org

The live process I’ve build for many years is slowly taking the shape I’ve dreamt it to be. The phase now is to move the control elements from the computer to an external device. This is achieved with iPad and the wonderful infinitely customizable Lemur application. This in turn takes the live performance where it was before: in the music and sound creation.

The system still lacks the fluidity and elements to make it a seamless experience, but I feel more and more confident that this can actually work. I’ve had doubts many times, but the clouds are shifting.

It’s rather interesting that I cannot in any way foresee the frequencies that the system picks up, so I have to be acutely aware of what’s happening at the moment. It’s exhilarating that I’m not in total control and can only guide the process and progression to certain direction. On the other hand the music doesn’t have progression if I don’t do anything. Balancing myself somewhere in between makes me a listener and the creator at the same time. The system doesn’t let me go, and on the other hand it does if I do too.

Ambient Music Conference

30 Jun 2014 18.39

The world’s first Ambient Music Conference (with the support from AMBIcon) was recently held nearby at the Finnish Nature Centre in the forest surrounding the capital.

I was honored to be a performer in Dark Ambient Friday, a concert preceding the conference.

The 30 minute set on Archive.org

Excerpt of the set on Soundcloud

I’ve implemented a couple of new techniques in the live process. The timing of the sound triggers is now more flexible, and follows the spectral content of the source material. The individual spectral band related triggers can be adjusted separately, and the end result is livelier than before. I’ve ended utilizing a central timing mechanism based on fixed fractions rather than free oscillation. This gives the resulting music a nice fundamental structure. The base sync is usually a few beats per minute.

I’ve recorded a small demo of the system. In the demo a thunderstorm recording is transformed into music. In this example the higher frequencies produce shorter envelopes for the synthesizers in use. Enjoy a spectralization of a thunderstorm. The process happens in real time, so it never quite repeats itself, even though the storm recording would be played in loop.

The other technique of which I’ve been really fascinated is about stopping the playback of a sound to a standstill. This has been enabled by modified extreme time stretching algorithms provided by Jean-Francois Charles. Typically in a live performance I’m playing the source material between 1/100 – 1/1000 speed, and the music and other elements follow the slowly changing spectral content analyzed from the material.

I recently performed live at a library main room in Helsinki. The recording of the spectral ambient set is now available.

5th part for the Sounds of Calligraphy series has been published. The original images were provided by Vuokko Koho. Uncials on Canal Grande comprises of two calligraphy works, which transform to one another in a video. The work was presented as the opening for a workshop held in Venice in March 2013.

Live video matrix is analyzed and sound waves and processing properties are derived from the image information. The pitches are based on color channel luminosity: they control the frequency and the matrix is read in three parallel processes. The resulting sound is fed into an image controlled 16×3 channel filter with image controlled cut off, resonance and panorama.

The StillStream set is now on Archive.org. It was supposed to be a three hour set but ended up being shorter because of unexpected software glitches in the music creation process.

http://archive.org/details/srn2012-11-24

The second recording is of an online session with Blu from Britain. Blu provided most of the played material, which I used in the process as input and then created new re-synthesized sounds and spectral mixes as my part of the dialogue.

http://archive.org/details/BluAndSaranaNovemberSession

I created a video documentary / music video of the Ambient² installation:

The calligraphy exhibition performance was continued with a commissioned work to realize three calligraphy pieces as music. The playlist consists of three different images, chosen because of their potential as musical compositions.

Recordings were done in real time from the Max/MSP/Jitter process, and the form of the sounds and music was decided by the composer. The process is made of 128 oscillators and filters per color channel, and the stereo panorama follows the position of the visual cues. Envelope attack and release values are modulated by the strength of the color in question, as is the volume of a single oscillator.

Great thanks to the Viiva & Viiru artists for their input and openness to the abstract.

Two new live sets online

17 Sep 2012 19.00

The performance on the Dream House 24H experimental sounds radio show: http://archive.org/details/srn2012-05-05

The latest live set from Trip To Goa trance party chill out space: http://archive.org/details/srn2012-09-14

The three-hour exploration into the spectral characteristics of human, nature and instrument material is now listenable and downloadable at http://archive.org/details/srn2012-07-30. The set was performed at the Ambient Source stage at 05 – 08 am.

In many ways the set is still a work in progress, and it will continue to evolve and encompass new elements.

Spectral ambient music engine

01 Jul 2012 10.47

Spectral live desk on Max/MSP

The live ambient music generating process is nearly ready. In this piece a single vocal track is transformed into an ambient soundscape. The piece uses a multitude of FFT-based objects, with which the original material is cross synthesized, malformed, re-synthesized and filtered. This enables fluid transformations from any original sound into music.

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The second demo uses a recording of waves hitting shore as the source material (non harmonic content).

The system as it is will be the foundation of my future live performances, on which a couple of external hardware synth modules and effects will provide more texture and depth. The re-synthesizing process and the subsequent musical device control are microtonal in the sense that the perceived frequency content is directly replayed rather than fitted in a present musical system. Besides the looping sound players are never analyzed at precisely the same spots.

In this sample the dominant frequencies of a female solo singing direct resynthesizing oscillators, resonators and a spectral filter, which use a recording of waves on small pebbles as the amplifying source.

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Ambient^2

23 Mar 2012 21.26

The generative part of my future live setup process will be presented at sound art gallery Akusmata as part of La-Bas Biennial. The process will transform a live stream from certain island close to Helsinki to an ambient music piece.

The exhibition opens on Saturday the 21st of April at 18:00, and is open until the 28th between 12:00-14:00. On Sunday the 29th the piece will be at the island itself as part of the final day festivities of the Biennial.

UPDATE: Recording of the process output.

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Archive vol.17 released

26 Feb 2012 20.52

The 17th volume of my archives has been released. The volume concludes the year 2000.

http://www.archive.org/details/Sarana_Archives_Vol_17_Auroral_Patterns

I think there is material for at least one distinct volume yet, but after 2000 – 2001 I didn’t create single tracks so intensely anymore and concentrated on playing live sets. I will release archive volumes as soon as I can always find material for them.

I will also begin to release my live sets in their entirety from the earliest in 2001.

There has been material loitering around for the next official release and that’ll be composed and mixed. The music will be centered on melancholy – with rhythmic elements and beats. The release will not probably going to have many tracks and maybe it’ll be more like an EP or a compilation.

I have also begun to build another release, which will be a longer release of thoroughly composed new piece(s) of music.

Archive vol. 16 released

22 Feb 2012 18.10

http://www.archive.org/details/Sarana_Archives_Vol_16_New_Territory

After moving to Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory I again didn’t have but my mixer and effects with me first. This set finalizes my feedback loop experiments with the mixer; I haven’t dared to do the same since with my other mixers.

Archive vol. 15 released

19 Feb 2012 11.28

http://www.archive.org/details/Sarana_Archives_Vol_15_Transition

The first pieces of music of the year 2000 conclude my presence in my flat/studio back then.