over the past two months, I’ve been working with various applications that create music, notably garage band, the animoog, moog filtatron, korg ims-20, ikaossilator, fairlight pro, and in particular, nanostudio which I find to be (so far, anyway) perhaps the best overall sort of “do-all studio” app (for midi, anyway) – so far. as well as the stand-alone kaossilator, which is unique in itself, and quite different from the iKaossilator in many ways – two different, remarkable pad-driven synths!
I’ve been working on pieces of music in most of those apps, the ones I’ve had for a while anyway, off and on, as time permits, and while I have completed a couple of test pieces, and some nice bits of hammond organ and so on, nothing has really yet grabbed my fancy as something “good enough” to release – until today.
recently, I went through the pieces I had started in nanosync, and cleaned up their names and structures, and I found I had a couple of really good possible songs, but in particular, a piece that I’ve been concentrating more on over the past few weeks entitled “slow”. this is an ambient piece of synth which also, strangely, has a minimalistic drum part, but it’s mostly a synth track. I did a new arrangement of “slow” today, and it suddenly really started working.
then for fun, I did a couple of other versions of it, the best of which has the current title “slower”, which was really the “proper build” of a copy of “slow”. “slower” has all the fixes and none of the issues, and it’s a lovely piece of very….slow ambient, perhaps reminiscent of some of the darkest tracks from “sky full of stars”.
so once “slower” was complete, or rather, a very rough mix of it was complete, I made another copy, and totally mutated it (for a completely different purpose I had in mind) – I found a very unique way of using a sound called “thin strings” but by abusing the double keyboard, I played circular glissandos (across and over and around the nanostudio’s double keyboard) which really sounded fabulous – a sort of “swirling” circus-like noise in the background of the bass part, with the occasional moment of string-like sound creeping through. I created a few different “sections” of this lovely stereo noise, which is also processed through a fantastic effect called x-delay, a sort of reverse delay sound – and then pasted them across the whole song as if they were bits of cut up magnetic tape (a la “being for the benefit of mr. kite”).
the end result will hopefully become, once I add a fast drum track, a sort of pre-prepared backing for a bill-nelsonesque e-bow song. or at least, that is what I am thinking it will become – but you never know, anything can happen – it could easily mutate or split again, reproduction by budding (a la spongebob squarepants)…
so from that original idea, “slow”, have come two full songs, each approx. 11:17 in length: “slower”, which is dark ambient synth music, and the new mutation/backing track, which is tentatively entitled “fastest pussycat”.
I will probably mix “fastest pussycat” to wav, move it to sonar, and create a proper drum track in BFD so I can really do it justice, but it’s down to the beauty of the synths within nanosync, and the fact that I could create on the fly so quickly, two completely different variations on a single theme. when I am done, I am hoping that you won’t easily be able to discern that these songs actually have the same bass / synth part :-).
it would not be the first time I’ve done this, actually, in fact, the track “opium” from my album “sky full of stars” is simply the bass part of a so-far-unreleased track from my upcoming album “gone native” called “sinuous thread”, I liked the bass part of “sinuous thread” so much, that I copied a section of it from “sinuous thread” into a new, empty sonar session, and then developed the entire song from just that bass part. so when “sinuous thread” is finally released when “gone native” is complete, then you’d be able to hear the uncanny similarity in the bass line of “opium”.
so, “fastest pussycat” will then need extra work; syncing a new drum track to it might be challenging, and then, I think it needs energy bow guitars, so that’s a full session to try and complete that one…
…while “slower” will also get mixed to wav and sent to sonar (via the beautiful nanosync, another brilliant feature of nanostudio) but it’s pretty much done – all it needs is the “right” breeze reverb and it should be a complete work.
like it or not, application-based music making is here to stay – the tools are serious, the sounds are totally authentic and amazing (I will never, ever get over the sensation of owning a full-fledged moog synthesizer for under £5.00 !!) and while it means new ways of working, the portability, the potential to share via soundcloud, or even to collaborate in real time with tools like korg’s “wist” – this is going to become a big part of my life, and of the lives of many, many musicians all over the world.
already, artists such as “gorillaz” have produced an entire album on the iPad, and even though I’ve only personally been working with application-based music tools for a short while, I can easily see myself working much more in this realm (a portable recording studio, anywhere you go? who could say no to that?) and I will probably end up creating and releasing many, many synthesizer based works, along with, and mixed in with, the more traditional studio recordings.
anything is possible!