A Prophet Looking For A Wall To Write On (Part 2)

In the first installment of this series of DIY articles, I showed you how I stretch recorded sounds to make drones, how I change pitches, and how I mix several tracks together to create an interesting musical gesture. Since then, I composed another such drones gesture, listened to the two over and over again, played my Waterphone along with them… and came to the conclusion that the drone bits sound too dramatic. I am looking for a “deaf ears – no response – don’t care” effect. What I have sounds pretty cool, but it seems to suggest “suspense”.

Back to the drawing board… I created a drone, about a minute long, from a single beat on a rainwater pipe (in the iPod .m4a format, plays in a new window).

 

 

I then loaded the drone into the free Audacity Software to shorten it by just a small amount – I chose 2% – using the Change Tempo command under the Effects Menu.

 

 

 

 

 

Next, I loaded the original and the shortened version into two separate tracks in Audacity. In the picture, you can see how I panned them to opposite sides of the stereo image.

 

 

 

 

I then chose Mix and Render from the Tracks menu, creating a stereo file. Because the drone itself is a complex shifting and shimmering sound, the left and right never sound quite the same at any one moment.The resulting stereo drone has acquired an interesting dimension of added depth – a sort of “shimmering” quality. (in the iPod .m4a format, plays in a new window)

This technique does not work with a uniform tone… unless you add an effect which changes the sound over time (such as tremolo or vibrato), before you do the shortening.

Here are another two drones I am using to compose this piece – all of them at a range of different pitches, and all of them with added depth: Paul Street Gate Drone and English Market Gate Drone. I am also going to find out what it may sound like if I use different pitches for the left and right channel of the stereo image… or maybe somebody else will find out before I do? Feel free to download these Cork City Gamelan sounds and experiment with them. The terms and conditions are in the Disclaimer page.

The next post in this series will be a version of the finished piece and a score for performance… or so I hope… anyway, here is a test of what it can perhaps sound like. Notice that I also slowed down the pulse to half speed.

I have another idea for something which may be cool – or sound awful, so I won’t say anything about it yet.

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