sketchbook: tunestorm 04

There was another Tunestorm challenge earlier this month, and in the finest tradition of such things, I threw together an entry at the last minute. The challenge this time was to make a piece using a sample taken from a spinning hard drive, which sounded just like a sine wave that slowly dropped in pitch.

You could use other sounds, too, but I chose not to — I loaded a chunk of the original sound in to a sampler (Specimen), ran it through some distortion effects, then through PHASEX, where I tweaked away on the filter in real-time using my Korg nanoKONTROL, and finally through some spatial effects. The result was some throbbing, unsettling ambient art-wankery that I call “pulse”.


mp3 | vorbis | flac | 2:50

some quick podcasty updates

Three podcast releases, all involving me in some way, that I feel compelled to draw attention to:

  • A new Partners in Lag — in this ep, we talk about Red Dead Redemption, all things Halo, Steam on the Mac, and the potential future for Linux gaming
  • Episode 39 of the Open Source Musician Podcast — another community call-in show, where a bunch of us chat about a whole heap of things
  • Episode 41 is out, too — this one features all of the entries for the Tunestorm02 challenge. Even though they were all recorded with household item sounds, in line with the theme of the challenge, there’s huge variety in the results, so it’s well worth checking out.

new track: frozen summer

The Tunestorm02 reveal was today, so I can now post my submission for it: a breezy little tune that, for want of a better title, I called “frozen summer”. In accordance with the rules, it’s made entirely from sounds sampled around my house — there’s our doorbell, a blown beer bottle, and a stretched out balloon that I strummed to get a bass sound, along with percussive sounds from hitting various things (mainly my coffee machine).

Software-wise, I used Specimen for the melodic samples, Hydrogen for the drum samples, and seq24 for sequencing, before recording and mixing in Ardour. I’ve also uploaded my Hydrogen kit in case anyone’s curious.


mp3 / vorbis / flac: 2 minutes 48 seconds

uncharacteristic productivity

I don’t know if I’ve been feeling particularly inspired lately, but I’ve definitely been feeling productive. Today I submitted my entry for Tunestorm02, a music challenge that called for creating a track entirely from samples of household items. Last Tunestorm I whipped up something really rough and ready at the last minute, but this time I put the effort in and came up with a proper track that I’m actually pretty happy with.

With that done, that’s four tracks I’ve finished in the last two months. Sure, one was a cover, and one was a bit of cheap ambient art-wank, but that’s still more than I managed last year, and we’re only a few months in. I think it’s just the result of practice more than anything — I’m definitely getting quicker, not just with the tools, but with the writing and arranging as well. Working with some new tools, like Seq24, has helped as well I think.

I don’t have any particular ideas right now, but I’m sure I’ll jump on my PC over the weekend and start playing around with something!

tunestorm 01

The guys over at the Open Source Musician Podcast recently ran a little challenge, called “Tunestorm01”, which called for people to record a track built upon a bass part playing a descending major scale — here’s my entry. Some people did some very clever musical work around that bassline in their entries, but I took the cheat’s way out and went abstract.


mp3 | vorbis | 1 minute 54 seconds