I’ve been a bit lapse in updating my blog but here’s my thoughts and research.
I had originally been interested in exploring games as a metaphor for software development considering my love of football but the more I read, the more I became interested in video games being used as development software. I was already aware of machinima following on from my attempts at it last year but I was quite keen to explore other avenues. Something that started to appeal was a practice called sonichima; producing generative audio from playing a video game. Not being much of a gamer, I thought it would be fun to make a piece of ‘music’ now and then practice so that I became more adept at the game and then make another piece, almost like turning the game into a musical instrument. However what I discovered was that it didn’t really have much of an impact on the improvement of the sound generated.
Following on from this, I did more research and was particularly interested in Alison Mealy’s project Unreal Art and Julian Oliver and Steven Pickles’ project q3apd. They used different games but each had a common technique; that of making maps so that they had more control over the outcome. Therefore I decided that I would try the same using the level editor of Unreal Tournament. Effectively working backwards in my opinion, I worked out the locations where my bot needed to be so that the x and y coordinates logged into the system file would generate the required note in my Processing script – or at least as close as possible to be fairly recognizable. To hear the results and to loadup your own UT system log and make music, follow the link below.
Today was our performance of the drumThing. We set it all up at around lunchtime (thanks again Benji for your help) and had enough time for a couple of run thru’s. We had a bit of a scare with the quality of the audio but we found that was due to the weight of the leads pulling on the jack in the socket. Moving the laptop back from the edge of the desk and twisting the adaptor round soon fixed that. We were presenting late in the day mainly coz we stayed in 212 and didn’t realise that there was a running order in the other room until after everyone else had signed up. In the end that was probably something of a result coz with just 5 of us in there, the room was getting pretty hot so with the rest of the guys crowded round, it would have been worse.
The performance itself went well – Jamie has really got the hang of playing the drumThing and I think I managed to add delay and feedback at the right moments as well. Also being a drummer, Stu had a go at it. After some explanation from us on how it works, and me disconnecting the delayStick to make it easier to play, Stu started up. Considering he’d never played the drumThing before, I thought he did well. He took a while to start the recordings off but managed to make some decent noise out of it.
Below is my documentation in pdf format, the drumThing MAX patch plus the text version for downloading (released under the Creative Commons licence as at the bottom of the page) plus 3 Quicktime movies of various performances. Apologies for the file sizes of the movies, this was to ensure the audio was of a high quality.
So, we’ve got a name now and it’s Drum Thing, although I like it as drumThing. And, if that’s not enough, we’ve also decided that we want to do a performance on the day and not just show a video. We will still submit a video from the other day but after chatting about it, we reckon people will get a better feel for it if they see and hear it in action.
Well, Jamie and I have had a really productive day. Stuck all our little patches together into various sub-patches of the main, um, patch. Had a few practice runs and then did a couple proper run thru’s. What was interesting about today was that after being pretty sure that we wanted pre-recorded samples included such as backward cymbals, we’ve decided to drop them. Although the controlling of their playback was just as straight forward as the recordings made during the performance, they just sounded completely out of place with whatever Jamie did. As the “output” is more important than the technical side of the project, we both agreed they should be dropped. Unfortunately, we haven’t got any recordings of this so you’ll just have to take our word for it. Right, we still need to edit the video properly to pull out the best bits for submission but it’s all looking promising so far…even if we still need to come up with a name!
Jamie’s drum kit
Us in action
Finally had enough time to sit down and put my 2nd stick together. Although it was never gonna take a lot of time, there always seemed to be more pressing things to do with our project. I followed the same design as before; I stuck 2 pieces of card together to form a cross which would hold the array of tilt switches in place, cut 4 slits in one end to hold the card with some tape to help keep them in place. I also cut a slit at the other for the cable to feed out. So, they’re both done now. They each generate different key values so there is no chance of them interfering with each other. Now onto some patching.
The last thing we had to sort out was recording and playing back live samples. Earlier in the week we spent ages on it and didn’t get anywhere. So today we got in early and put our names at the top of the list to talk to Dan about it. And then, a few minutes before he was due to arrive, Jamie sussed it. We still had our chat with Dan anyway and he showed us a nice trick using the metro object and told us how to get just the right amount of figures out of fiddle by using bonk. Very useful coz fiddle just chucks out realms and realms of numbers.
So, it looks as though we’re nearly there. I’ve still gotta put the 2nd delayStick together but that shouldn’t take long. Then we just need to put all of our little test patches into one, with the appropriate amount of sub-patches obviously, have a few practice runs and then do it for real.
We had quite a productive day today. Jamie brought some of her drum kit into uni today and we made quite a bit of progress on our patch. At the moment we’ve got a lot of little patches that each do a bit of what we want. We’ve got one on bonk~, another playing pre-recorded samples, one that plays them backwards as well as the patch for the delayStick. The only one that’s left to crack is recording live samples on the fly that we can play back and manipulate. Then we just need to stitch them all together, work out which values generated by parts of the drum kit out of bonk we want to use and then we should be away. Oh yeah, and finish off the 2nd delayStick. Easy
Jamie came over today and we had a go at recording live samples. Well, we used pre-recorded samples to save her having to lug her drum kit around everytime we want to experiment. Although we couldn’t get the playback to work properly, it was still pretty successful coz using values from bonk we were able to start and stop a recording. We also got a cymbal sample to play backwards which is a pretty amazing sound and definitely something we want to include.
After Jamie left, I finished off my soldering and then sprayed it with a layer of plastic sealant. I think I might also cover it with some insulation tape. The matix didn’t have pots like the last one but some thin copper strips instead and although my soldering passed the Sprott test, I think I’d be happier with giving it as much protection as possible.
Jamie brought her drum kit into uni and for the last 2 days we’ve been beavering away on our project. We had a bit of a scare when the piece of kit we were hoping to use with the drum mikes kept hanging the Mac but we managed to get round it by plugging them straight into my laptop. This was also the backup plan with fiddle and bonk as it turns out neither of the Macs in that room had them. After some experimenting with cymbals, toms and bass drum, we’ve got a pretty good idea of the values we can get from them by using bonk so we then turned out attention to our patch. As part of the plan is to extend the capabilities of the drum kit, we thought it would be good if it played a sample when something was hit. After a couple of goes, we managed to get a pre-recorded sample to play and when running it thru’ the patch for my delayStick, got some really crazy sounds. The next part of the plan is to hopefully sample live druming on the fly and to use that as well as pre-recorded stuff.
Jamie and I met up yesterday to discuss working together on our sound projects. She’s looking to expand the functions of a drum kit and I can use my delayStick to play either sounds from the kit or the extended sounds from her gloves back at her so that she can interact and change the beat or whatever. The first obstacle is to get some practice space coz drum kits aren’t small so that’ll be an afternoon ringing church halls and scout huts I guess. I’m also thinking about making a 2nd stick. It’ll be good to have a backup but I can also think about where to put the tilt switches for optimum effect and it might be kinda fun to use 2 at the same time.