Algorithms and Ambience

I spent a couple hours this evening putting together a track that uses some algorithmically generated (although I use that term loosely, as most of the variation is from randomness…see this post for details) sound. I recorded some of that sound from a Pure Data patch. One thing to note is that the sound is all tempo synced to 120 bpm, but the rhythms vary randomly within that, but always on beat. So the rhythms can be on any 32nd note or 16th note, etc. Then I imported this into Ableton Live 7 (i have 8 also but it is really buggy at the moment, grrr).

I then used a cool plugin from Koen at smartelectronix called KTDrumTrigger to generate a sort of beat (I wanted it to be loose and fugly). This plugin is a lot like Drumagog (or so I assume not owning or having played with Drumagog!) in that you can feed it audio and dissect it into bands and then trigger midi notes according to the envelope and velocity of the incoming audio. If that doesn’t make sense just check out the plugin, it’s free. Then I turned the plugin off, slowed the loop down by a factor of 8, and ran it through some AutoPan.

I then duplicated the track (which is stereo) and offset it a bit and ran both through some reverb (another free plugin called reverbering from nusofting). It’s a nice lightweight reverb that does a good job…no need fro pristine convolved reverb on a track like this. So now I had some glitchy low and high end with a funky (not as in James Brown, as in squarepusher, but gentler) rhythm track. Well I wasn’t happy with the drumminess of it so I replaced the samples with some string bass.

Time for another free plugin, this time a synth: Oatmeal. It’s not much to look at (and the website is even less!), but it has a sound that I like and almost infinite tweakability (presets are for the lazy). Some simple chords and some filtering and off we go.

Now let’s compliment that with some nice (but very cheap, and not at all realistic, but that’s why I like it) flute from another free plugin called Tapeworm from tweakbench. A slow melodic line, with some more filtering and we are getting something that sounds like some sort of song! Finally I brought in a percussion loop that has been seriously filtered, Beat-Repeated, and delayed, and the original drum loop that was generated from the original algo loop and again destroyed beyond recognition. Mixed it all up with some reverb, then sequenced the different parts coming in to give it some flow.

Now if you’ve listened to it you’ll notice an effect that I enjoy a lot (although all good things in moderation!) called TapeStop (free…makes you wonder why you should buy plugins, huh…just kidding…there are still some things worth paying for) from DBlue (Illformed) also known as Kieran Foster. This plugin is a small subpart of a larger, really amazing plugin called Glitch, that you should download and try right now!

So that’s the process. The reasoning was that I wanted to start with something algorithmic and rhythmic and make something ambient, and listenable.  I think I’ve done that. I call it “Algo Ambo.”


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