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Instructables!

Hey everyone! It’s summer and that means I am spending lots of time finishing and starting projects that are not academic! The best part is, I am documenting them! Also, I am mostly finished with the ‘Sound Lab Kitty’– I have most of the parts for the Sample and Hold and External Trigger, I just need to build them on perf. But it is a noisy and wonderful synthesizer and does all the things you would expect a synthesizer to do, so I am pretty ecstatic, because I have a synthesizer and I built it myself! Anyway, I have published a few instructables already. For those of you who are not aware of instructables, it is a great site dedicated to sharing and teaching all sorts of skills, from woodworking to electronics to making mixed drinks. I have been pretty obsessed with the site for a few years now and been meaning to publish a few of my own, so I am finally doing it. If you’ve been following this website for awhile, you may remember the bike maintenance guide I wrote when I was a Sophomore at Evergreen. I am currently in the process of translating that body of work into a collection of instructables so that it will be more easily accessible. I have already published one about basic maintenance routines, and about proper lubrication. I also published another about DIY Reverb Impulses for convolution reverb. I am working a few more, from homemade ginger ale to running SuperCollider on a Raspberry Pi, so stay tuned for that if you are interested!

Moon Song Cover

I did a cover of The Moon Song by Karen O for my Advanced Audio Recording class at Mills. I learned a few things through this project, but mostly I learned (again), that recording yourself is really hard. I spiralled furiously into self criticism and only heard the spit sounds my mouth makes and every little slip of my fingers on the guitar. BUT now I feel like it is okay. The mix is good anyway. I did a little EQ and added some automated delay. There are two iterations of my voice recorded with an Sennheiser 451, 45º downward angle to capture more body and less mouth, about 6 inches from my mouth, with a pop filter, electric guitar through DI, acoustic guitar recorded with an SM57, 6 inches straight down above the bridge. I also used the 451 to record a grand piano with maximum sustain then cut the samples so it was just the sustain to add a little interest and body in the low end (since there wasn’t much else down there before). The interlude features some nice wolves and coyotes I met at Wolf Haven last summer. The interlude may be an aside, as it feels like a bit of a different sound world and I didn’t want to drown my vocal takes in reverb too much (though it was tempting). Anyway:

Live Synthesis Performance

Hey team! Here’s a nice little recording of a performance I did in class a couple weeks ago. I used a little two grain synthesizer I build with arduino that is SUPER simple, and if you want one, you can build one too, the project is called Auduino. I changed the code a little bit just to change the pitch mapping a little. I also used my Elenco Electronics Playground, and built a little light controlled oscillator and flashed a light through prisms and crystals to control the CDS cell. I also used a Casio VL-Tone with a nearly dead battery, and a dynamic microphone. All of this was routed through a little mixer into my audio interface into my computer, where it was processed through the live granular sampler I have been working on in SuperCollider. I recorded most of this, and there is an explanation and some questions at the end:

What’s New 2014 Edition!

Oh boy, so I haven’t had internet at my house in roughly three months. As may be expected with my school and work and being alive schedule, this has greatly hindered my updating this website. You may call this a character flaw (I probably would), but alas, it seems to be the way of the world. Someday I will master the art of documenting the one billion things I am doing simultaneously, but that day has not yet come. So it goes.

Anyway, here is what I am currently up to:

– Building Sample and Hold circuit for synthesizer

– Wiring Synthesizer Panel

– Upholstering synthesizer case

– Finishing embroidery for Cracklebox contact points

– Rehearsing furiously with my band as we prepare to accompany a series of dance performances in Berkeley

– Fixing a chorus pedal and replacing a power jack (for clients– if you need electronics repairs…)

– Attempting to fix the headphone power supply board of a Hill Mixer (the regulators burned up, I suspect because of a very blown capacitor and some rather seedy looking resistors).

– Working on an instrument using Arduino, Max MSP, and UDP

– Applying for scholarships and grants for next year

– Looking for a job for Summer and beyond

– Starting a series of paintings in collaboration with a friend

– Finishing an art commission (line drawn ink, watercolour)

– Continuing work on a live granular sampler in SuperCollider

– Editing the Tape Delay Instrument paper

– Working on two EPs at the same time (one metal, one ambient)

– Cleaning animation frames for digital watercolour painting

– Working on an iOS app (top secret)

 

I really do think that’s it. I have a few projects on the back burner until Summer comes and I have a little more free time! I am at work with internet and it’s Sunday so there’s really not a soul here but me and I already rewrapped a bunch of cables, so I’ll post some project documentation from the past four months.

 

Tape Delay Instrument System

Through my work and study during the Fall of 2013 in David Bernstein’s course entitled 20th Century Literature and Theory (focusing on the work of Pauline Oliveros), I spent a great deal of time analyzing, utilizing, and modifying instrument systems utilizing analog magnetic tape machines. I wrote extensively on this subject as well as presenting on this and related systems in seminar. If you would like to access the full text and citations, it can be found HERE. The signal flow of the particular system I constructed (based on Oliveros’ instrument developed at the San Francisco Tape Music Center and University of Toronto in 1965 and 1966 respectively) is illustrated below:

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I utilized this instrument for both improvisation and performance, as well as preconceived composition. Its implementation presented a few technical challenges, which I documented and made suggestions of potential mechanical and circuit modifications. I found the system quite musically intuitive, once properly adjusted, and had a wonderful time playing with pure sine waves both above and below the range of human hearing to produce different tones and LF modulation.

As I discuss in the academic research paper I wrote on this system, the range of the interface makes the utilization of standard notation particularly elusive. In my practice with the system, I calculated the frequency to pitch relationships of a range of octaves in both equal temperament and just intonation, in order to approach composing for the system more traditionally and to achieve my musical intent.

Freq:Pitch (Extended Octave)

Just Intonation Freq:Pitch

Despite thorough documentation of these rather ingenious tape delay instruments and effects, Oliveros is generally excluded in discussions of instrument systems utilizing magnetic tape and related reproduction technologies.

Here is the composition I produced utilizing this particular system (I did not write standard notation for this composition, as my main goal in its execution was to exhibit the sonic capabilities of the system). :

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/123642116″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

The improvisational work I did with the system has also been documented, though I have not had access to it.

Custom Stratocaster

 

Here is a stratocaster guitar I rewired and redid the body on. I had had the guitar since I was 12 and the wiring had always been a tad terrible, so I took it upon myself to remedy that. I dismantled the body and wiring and completely sanded the body down to bare wood (it had previously been red with a ton of primer to boot). Then I burned a peony pattern into the body with a wood burner and varnished the entire body with four coats of marine quality varnish (the wooden boat nerd in me wanted to let the wood breathe… who needs epoxy).

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After finishing up the body work I rewired everything with new pickups from GFS. I used a boutique zebra humbucker on the bridge and two overwound strat pickups on the body and neck. I inverted the phase of the body and neck pickup and wired everything to a five way switch and tone control. The neck ended up being too high on the body so I had to have the body routed down 2mm in order to set the neck flush with the body. I also installed a new tremolo bridge with five springs to hold it in place and then adjusted the height and intonation. I learned a ton and can’t wait to do more!

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Lady/Queer/Trans Audio Workshop Series Spring 2013

In May I taught an audio workshop series in three parts at Northern: Olympia All Ages that was lady/gender queer/trans specific. I wanted to create a safe space to explore and engage in learning about the fundamentals of audio reinforcement and recording. Here is the description and flier I made for the workshop:

“Do you identify as female, gender queer, or trans? Are you interested in audio and music technology?

My mission is to provide an entry level understanding of live sound, music technology, and recording through hands on training. These workshops can be taken as a full series or as standalone workshops. These workshops are FREE! In order to foster a safe space for learning, you must identify as female, gender queer, or trans to attend these workshops. The field of audio engineering and music technology have historically been very male dominated. My hope is to advocate for those who are interested in learning about these subjects, but may feel uncomfortable learning in a male dominated environment.

A bit about me, my name is Chloe and I am currently the Music Technology Intern at The Evergreen State College. I interned as the Live Sound and Recording Intern at Northern in 2011, and have been working with Northern on and off for the past two years. I am a cisgendered female who is very excited about audio and music technology! I love sharing the knowledge that I have accumulated with others and facilitating empowerment through media and technology comprehension. I have been guest lecturing and teaching workshops relating to audio and media technology for the past two years to people of all ages, as well as providing audio and music technology consulting on a one on one basis. If you would like more information about me and what I do, feel free to visit my personal website!

Make your voice heard!

  • Learn to run live sound and set up and tear down a basic audio reinforcement system.
  • Learn advanced live sound and mixing techniques and how to utilize outboard mixing equipment!
  • Learn about signal flow, microphone types, and how microphones work!
  • Learn how to create DIY home recordings and live recordings!

Workshops will be hosted at Northern: Olympia All Ages, at 414 1/2 Legion Way.”