March 7, 2009 5:00 PM

An entry to the amnesty challenge, trying out the "wrong" challenge.

A custom pd patch translates keypresses on an m-audio oxygen8 to slider movements on a behringer bcf2000 motorized control surface. I have a stainless steel bowl with dirty bike bearings in it sitting on the sliders so they hit it and push against it, ringing the bowl and occasionally making the bearings move in the bowl. You can also hear the motors that actuate the sliders. Recorded with a zoom H2, no editing or processing whatsoever.

posted by idiopath (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

This is beautiful. Sounds like an intro to a horror film.
posted by xorry at 7:46 PM on March 7, 2009

Thanks for the feedback.

I briefly imagined setting up an elaborate rig with multiple objects hanging from string to be bumped by the mechanized sliders - if I stay unemployed long enough, it may just happen.

I have a history of conflict with the horror music comparison. Experimental and unfamiliar musics are often used as a way of heightening tension in cinema (Kubrick's use of Liggeti's compositions is a good example of this). I would hope that a listener could learn to experience something unfamiliar without an implication that that unfamiliarity implies fear or foreboding. Then again, most of the stuff I record sounds more like the climax to a gore film. I guess making weird noises and people hearing an unintended horror is better than using big string sections and people hearing unintended melodrama.
posted by idiopath at 8:18 PM on March 7, 2009

Much more than a horror film association, this brilliant little snippet of audio vérité reminds me simply of a sound effects record. I have a couple of collections of various machine sounds, all sorts of manufacturing machines and so on, many of which can sound surprisingly 'random'. Misused sounds like it could've come from straight off one of those CDs.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:16 AM on March 8, 2009

I had to do some Google image searching to get a mental picture of your description. Wow, it's crazy!

I kind of half-expected it to break into a Flying Lizard-style version of Pink Floyd's (not Barrett Strong's) "Money."
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:29 AM on March 8, 2009

This isn't what one usually means when they accuse you of playing like a machine.

My first few takes of this piece were much too rhythmic and repetitive, so I don't mind you pointing out the randomness at all.

I have long been fond of the idea that a piece of music can request a new way of appreciating the sounds that exist around you, including the sounds of machines.
posted by idiopath at 3:31 AM on March 8, 2009

Regarding what things look like, now I realize the description was a bit obtuse for people who don't window shop for audio gear on a regular basis.

Piano style MIDI keyboard -> computer running pd visual programming language -> mixing board with motorized faders (aka sliders) -> a bowl with ball bearings in it sitting on top of the faders.

When I hit keys on the keyboard, the sliders jump around, jiggling the bowl.

Just a big old backward misuse of MIDI, really.
posted by idiopath at 3:41 AM on March 8, 2009

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