31 August, 2005


Stress and music

Nearly the start of the new academic year and, for me, a new job. I start my new position as a lecturer on the first of October. Stuff to do, stuff to do! I'm on two new modules, so there's plenty of material to prepare. I'm also on the "old" image analysis/graphics module, but since this was run previously by my supervisor, Alison, there should be plenty of good stuff already written.

I've just finished a new track: Dark in here [ogg|mp3]. I really want a theremin, but I'm too cheap to buy one and too busy to make one. The theremin-like sound in this track is just a pitch-bent sine wave.

People on LAU keep asking me for more info on how I make tracks so, for the curious, all the samples are in dih_samps.ogg.

27 August, 2005




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24 August, 2005


Mobile blogging

I'm at Bath uni for the ICAPR, trying out mobile blogging. If I'm going to write longer posts like this, I'll need to learn to use my keypad a lot quicker.

20 August, 2005


Long time, no blog

It's been a while since I wrote anything, and now I'm not sure what to write.

The problem hasn't been that nothing interesting's happened. In fact, it's quite the opposite - I've had too much to do to sit and write about doing it.

So, in no order whatsoever...

Playing games for your soul
I found out recently that my great uncle Archie was a card sharp. He wore a suit, trilby and white cravat and usually had a carnation in his button-hole. Add his thin black moustache and really, it should have been obvious to anyone who gave him more than a glance that he was an expert in making what was yours into his.

Apparently, he couldn't play cards in the Midlands because of his infamy at card marking and counting.

He was also a story-teller. I never met him, but a few of his tales have been related to me and my favourite is this:

Archie, the card sharp, sits playing cards. He's marked the deck, worked out who holds what and the game is now pretty much a formality - the money is going to go nowhere except his pocket.

But it doesn't quite turn out like that.

Let me embellish a little here. The players sit around a felt-topped table. The dim light hanging low above heads of the players doesn't illuminate the surroundings, but just highlights and hints that they're there. Curls of smoke drift in and out of this little pool of dirty, 40 Watt glow.

That's better.

Now, great Uncle Archie is confident and unreadable. But so is the man sitting opposite him. Hands are played, and money does what it does best - changes owner. The proud new owner of all this cash isn't Archie, though. It's the man sitting opposite.

Here, Archie tells the listener that he dropped something from the table and reached down to pick it up. Maybe this is code for "I reached for the ace in my sock", maybe not, but when Archie glanced at the the feet (and probably socks) of the other players, he noticed something strange.

The man who was winning didn't have shoes or socks. Or toes.

The man sitting opposite great Uncle Archie was not a man at all. Sitting opposite was the Devil, given away only by his hooves.

At this point, Archie decided to cut his losses and leave. Perhaps he was frightened of what the stakes might be raised to.

He also had a story about winning a cup for bravery after he single-handedly stopped a dangerous horse on the loose. When asked where the cup was, he pointed to the chrome sugar bowl.

Semi-soft synths
I love to read magazines like Future Music, daydreaming about all the boxes with knobs on that I would buy if I had the money.

I make music with nothing but software, but I'd love to have something physical to play with. Something that wouldn't judder as it decided to swap pages to disk.

And yet software synthesis is becoming more and more popular - there seem to be more software synths coming out each year now than hardware ones. Professionals are using them more and more, ditching the expensive racks of pretty lights for something that isn't even "real" - nothing but a pattern of 1's and 0's that you have to pray doesn't dissolve, break, disappear or get trashed in its transcription. The real problem with software like this is that you can only use so much of it - every effect or synthesiser uses up resources, and is liable to judder.

I don't like it.

Anyway, all that just leads up to my Big Idea. Synthesisers made of reusable hardware. No, not a modular synth. And no, not something for hosting software instruments/effects.

What I want is an FPGA on a PCI card, with synths or effects written using something like csound as a HDL.

The whole thing sounded like so much fun, I bought cheap FPGA to play with and see how it could be done.

I had an interview for a position as a lecturer in the new Digital Entertainment and Creativity department. Despite the way I talk continuously, tell jokes and generally act a prat when I'm nervous, I got the job.

More music: Fling.[ogg|mp3].

The snare pops a little too much, but I'm fed up with messing with it now.

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