— W. Crouse


Once again I find myself at a loss for time, with a lot to do.

I rambled about my workflow a few posts ago and there hasn’t been a lot of change. Today I sat down determined to mine my track folders to find something to ‘finish’. Nothing really jumped out at me and with the APC now I have a need to begin integrating it into my setup. So in the process of figuring out the macro knob banking I began creating an operator kick drum rack system (another one, you say). I created some other synth percussion tools at the same time. Then it hit me, boy do I spend a lot of time focusing on creating my own sounds, not that that is a bad thing. Thing is though, I spend that time but there’s nothing to show except more tools for later.

I’m determined to optimize my workflow. To that end I have decided to focus on sketching tracks out, using whatever sounds ‘good enough’ this will be a multi step process.

  1. Play with quick rough sounds to get a groove/chord prog/bassline I am fond of.
  2. Quickly sketch an arrangement around it with a basic drum kit.
  3. Put it away. Write something about it down on a notecard.
  4. If I’m feeling particularly inspired start at step 1 with another fresh session.
  5. One day a week, grab a notecard, finish the track by redesigning all the sounds and rough mastering.

If this goes well you should see some fresh tracks coming in.

I’ve decided to abandon my work on creating an APC40 and Reaktor tool for live stuff for now, I am going to see about assigning some of the notes to step sequencers though, maybe I can send midi out to get the feedback. Just trying not to obsess about it.

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So I played a show this weekend at the Hexagon, for More or Less’ Labor Day cookout extravaganza on Sunday. I’ll post some pics when I get them uploaded.

Saturday I picked up an APC40 Guitar Center was having a good labor day sale, it was a somewhat impulse buy. I’d been turning over the idea of picking one up for a while, but when I had the opportunity to take $50 off I was all for it. This device is really nice, what makes it nicer are the efforts that some have made to create a way for it transmit OSC to use with Max/MSP and other patches.

Currently I’ve used 64step (which I attempted to use for a live jam on Sunday), and MLR. Today I got the Reaktor patches created by kid Sputnik to work. This excites me because I’d like to figure out how to just use midi in Reaktor so I have access to all the knobs. Stay tuned.

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My recent digs into the Reaktor user library inspired some new tool design for Ableton Live’s Racks. Last night I wanted to create some glitchy drum patterns, there are a plethora of tools for such in Reaktor, but I felt creative. I made a new rack that creates random drum hits from velocities, with a selectable glitch chain after it. When I replace the samples in it with my own I’ll put it up here. It creates very interesting glitchy hat like patterns but it could be used with any sound type.

I first started making this tool with another program, I was using the patching environment VVVV to create a random CC generator, but either my virtual midi wires were crossed or it was spitting out too many value messages because it was not communicating with the knob it was assigned to very well (it was assigned to the Chain Selector). Finally I decided to use the velocity plugin, in a random mode, and  put the drum hits at different velocities. Then I use a velocity plugin after the randomization phase to put back a little oomph.

The exercise was quite fun, but it exposed some weaknesses in my ability to patch useful tools. I need to work on this.

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This weekend was somewhat lazy, ended up watching a ton of movies. Saw Rambo, that movie I think has the most kills per minute in anything I’ve seen for a while, very gruesome and over the top. Yet somehow hilarious. Jackie wanted to go see “Final Destination” in 3D, which was sort of a giggle fest as well, with all of the “hey look this is 3D” sort of shots.

On the music front, I worked with Reaktor some more. Building a few things to learn, and exploring how snapshots and such work. Last night I actually spent some time creating myself some material to ‘jam’ on and had a blast. I’m not sure the track I created was great, but I sure had a great time creating it, which is worthwhile. I think with some polishing and more precise editing it’ll be nice.

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I avoided it, but now it seems fun.


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A friend emailed me regarding my productivity issues with Music making, so I thought I’d make a follow up post.

What I feel is necessary is that I simply hit the record button during all of my ‘testing’ and ‘experimenting’ ideally one explores these thing with a sense of play. Currently I earn -zero- income from playing with sound, that’s why it should remain firmly in the play world. Remember this, self.

Saying this I mean that, perhaps I’ve been taking it too seriously. Like, “I need to finish x number of tracks soon, or no one will ever care”, it needs to be “Is this fun? Do I feel this? Am I just doing this to get something out?”

The last point can be addressed, but really I’m in an explorative process. Deep in sounddesign wrapped in envelopes, lfos and recently modular environments. Down in the weeds as I like to say. Note to self, keep playing, go even deeper, but record it so you can use it when you need to be productive.

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It seems my productivity on music making needs some work. It’s not that I don’t work, it’s that I get nothing done. I can easily chalk that up to too many influences, no clear direction, etc. At the same time, for me, it’s play to a large degree. How to focus play energy in a productive way? That’s the challenge. Part of that challenge may be deciding what I like, and want to make.

Last night I explored NI Massive’s presets, all of the percussive loop ones, and it was decidedly fun, I learned a lot about the tricks that one can do to create rhythmic loops with that program, which is pretty deep with the performance modifier and the step modifier. This could be handy for live performance if it doesn’t kill my laptop in the process. Turning down the quality would make it managable.

My neatest discovery last night was the ability to send program changes in clips, this could be super handy in future, since I have no external hardware I haven’t had a need to do this. Massive is not a VST you want to stack up in a bunch of Racks, it’s pretty beefy. My solution will be to use program change messages. Yay.

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A handy exercise I just did, sort of adapted from Bandler (NLP). I’ve been having trouble getting calmed down from yesterdays panic attack. I had to be driven to work today because I tried to drive and was rather frightened that I wouldn’t be able to breathe properly (or whatever this thing is). Here follows the excercise that seemed to help me find a center again, I sort of ran through this in my mind:

Standing outside is easy, it’s simple to relax out here with the earth solidly under you… it’s easy to breathe.. it’s easy to just let your mind gently drift to a place where you felt calm and in control, you can feel how solid everything is… now think of the feeling you have right now the opposite.. make it a picture to put alongside the other one, make it smaller as the other one grows larger and larger until it fills your consiousness …. now step into the larger picture feel the calm, control,  feel how easy it is to be in this particular place and .. now feel it, make it bigger turn up the feelings of calm and control be in the picture. Take a deep breath and let it out in this picture… bring it to where you are now sink it in.

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…are continuing, last month I began having what could be described as ‘panic attacks’. They were severe and almost always happened on my drive home. To the point I felt like driving myself to the hospital the first couple, I felt as if I was having asthma attacks or something. When I was able to calm myself using deep breathing and visualization I realized that may not be the case. I spent a week or so analyzing what might cause them and got them fairly well under control by fighting them off at the onset.

I’m beginning to think there’s more to this though, and that’s unfortunate because I’d like it to just go away. I’ve decided to document an attack here (for future reference when I talk to my doctor again):

  • I’m driving, or not particularly doing anything useful. Mainly this seems to happen when I’m driving, specifically when I’m driving from work. Once it happened when I became abruptly angry about something, and once when sitting at work.
  • I might or might not be focusing on my breath.
  • I hit a point where my breathing feels labored, or shallow. Then I get a ‘butterflies in stomach’ sort of feeling (tingly) in my gut. I feel scared that my breathing is messed up.
  • Sometimes taking a drink of water or burping alleviates it temporarily.
  • If I try to take deep breaths it seems to help, but sometimes it makes me feel more exasperated for breath, I basically have to begin letting myself know I can breathe; if that makes sense. However chanting seems to help for some reason, and it doesn’t matter what as long as resonate the sound.
  • When I get home sometimes it’s hard to calm down. I do deep belly breathing and rooting and that definitely helps.

I’m at a loss. I have a follow up appointment with my doctor at the end of this month, he gave me a brief once over and asked me to describe what happened last visit. He stated that it did sound like “Panic Attacks” and he also listened to my lungs and did blood work.  He felt that if I could control this I shouldn’t go on any type of medication because it might just make aspects worse, I do enjoy being in full control of consiousness at most times so I agreed. He put me on a Vitamin D regimen because the blood work said I was deficient. I was ok for a couple of weeks, now it’s back.

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So I have this love/hate relationship with my backyard. The ‘idea’ of a backyard is appealing, yet somehow getting around to mowing or working in it is difficult. Last year I tried doing a Square Foot Garden. This turned out pretty well, I ate some of my own veggies and it felt nice. This spring though I had a hard time figuring out when to plant or what to plant eventually it fell to the back burner, then it fell off the stove. Now it’s a giant bed of tall weird looking weeds.

Today though, as I murdered the tall grasses in the backyard, while the gears in my head turned over and over. I realized something: The garden would make a nice altar, with the goal to weed out my consciousness. This is rather trivially simple idea but to me it’s kind of profound. My magickal work has slacked off, I’m undergoing a fairly deep study of the tarot but I don’t do a lot of trans formative work.  After finishing the mowing I grabbed the shovel and began the task of turning the soil and pulling the tall weeds.  I realized if I did this everyday eventually the bits of weeds and things left over would decompose and I could begin planting for fall.  The same thing needs to happen with me, I need to spend the time (daily) to clear out the weeds that are plaguing my mind. The little nitpicks, like with the planting, the nitpick of ‘it has to be done right’. There is no right doing, only doing.

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