In music theory, the Modes of the Major Scale are 7 scales made from one scale, through the process of starting on every successive note. For example, if you start on the 2nd note of the Major Scale, Mode 2 is created. Since there are 7 notes in the Major Scale, 7 Modes can be created from it. The Modes can be referred by number, but they also have Greek names such as Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etcetera.
Each Mode has its own “mood,” determined mathematically by its “interval contents,” which means the distance of each note from the starting note. For example, the Phrygian Mode has a “flat 2” which makes it sound “darker” than most of the other Modes. Once upon a time I thought, “The Modes can be ordered according to their brightness or darkness – there is a brightest and a darkest, just like the phases of the Moon!” I think about these sorts of things… patterns and correlations.
So, I ordered the Modes in terms of brightness:
Next, I attempted to make these Mode names act as labels on a diagram of the Moon phases. Sure enough, it all lines up perfectly:
Nix Nihil is in town and he’s all like, “let’s hang out and do some recording,” and I’m all like, “it’s a plan!” So I scoured through some half-baked lyric ideas I’ve got lying around and we spiffed ’em up all ripe-and-ready for another new Lex Plexus track. This one’s 160 bpm but leaning towards the half-time vibe, so really 80. This one’s going to be minimalist in comparison to the two tracks from the Sleepcaster EP, with only eight lines of verbage… I’m looking forward to some pretty severe sample manipulation.
So, for the last couple of days (see yesterday’s entry) I’ve been using my MeldaProduction “MAutoDynamicEQ” plugin to compare tons of music from my collection to Pink Noise to get a meaningful impression of where my Skullfinger project stands in terms of frequency content. I’ve been finding that most commercially-produced has a very flat curve (flat compared to Pink Noise, I mean… which is not really flat but has a 3db/octave weighting to account for human perception). When I look at my work-in-progress Skullfinger masters (and my recent Crushing Complex master as well), I’m finding that I tend towards dark masters. When I apply the compensation EQ to make it sound more “pink,” it suddenly sounds much more sparkly and I start pooing my pants out of fear that my masters sound dull compared to all the big kids.
And then I remember: I decided many months ago to go this route on purpose; a lot of popular music sounds too “bright” to me – overwhelming and symptomatic of a sensory-overload society . Now, instead of being a stubborn and prideful rebel-without-a-cause/clue (?) and doing things my own way to my own detriment, I decided to find some of my favourite “dark” sounding albums, and to use them as my frequency-comparison standard. Some of my choices include the Aphex Twin album “Syro,” Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” and “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire. (Yes, I like Arcade Fire, so what?)
Without measuring these albums technologically, I had already determined from pure listening enjoyment that each of them could stay on repeat without making my ears bleed – a worthwhile goal for my Skullfinger album, no doubt!
So now today, with the Skullfinger deadline ominously looming, I am comparing “Syro,” “Pure Heroine” and “Reflektor” to Pink Noise and finding that they all have curves significantly darker than Pink Noise – just like my own recent mastering efforts!
What does this mean? I’m on the right track after all. * phew – what a relief * …Kudos to me for trusting my ears and confirming my judgments with measurement (and shame on me for bragging?).
Some would say my tendency towards mellower sound is a symptom of old age, but… did I mention that “Syro,” “Pure Heroine” and “Reflektor” have all won big fancy music awards? Grammys, Junos…
So, yeah – Pink Noise – thanks for your help (and I will doubtlessly continue to utilize thy counsel), but I think the record industry has given you too much reign. I am here to reclaim the darkness.
Mastering technique observation: Comparing frequency plots of various recordings to each other is informative and helpful, but do you know what’s way more informative? Comparing various recordings to Pink Noise.
A couple of friends of mine had an art show coming up and I really wanted to go see it… and so I did! Tangie Genshorek and Cam MacQuarrie (who plays drums with me in a band called Jagged, I’m the guitarist) showed their post-apocalyptic vision of Kamloops at the KAC Courthouse Gallery in their “Utopia” exhibit earlier this Spring. Collectively they are known as Scaled Space Studio and you can check out their website at scaledspace.ca. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. I knew they would come up with something cool, I just had no idea what.
When I walked into the gallery, Cam was in the midst of explaining some sort of very trippy and futuristic Zoning Map of the North Shore, complete with zip-lines, camping areas and a UFO, all colour-coded and hexagonally compartmentalized. I stared at that one for awhile before moving on to all the rest of the images. Did I mention there was a UFO shown floating above the city? Epic. All of the buildings shown in the other images featured mirrored surfaces which show representational photographic textures of sky, river and sand. These textures overlaid onto some very creative geometry made for a rather pleasant and uncommon vision.
Well, then a month later I received a pleasant surprise: my name was drawn, and now I am the proud owner of the Scaled Space Utopia Zoning Map! Here it is, shown sitting on my Korg Wavestation keyboard to pose for this portrait:
Thanks, you guys! Frickin’ cool UFO.
I’m having a super-inspired Sunday today… Not only did I do some dishes, but I spent most of the afternoon digging through the old Rubbermaid container full of data storage CDRs, looking for a song called “Life Is Good” that Sadistic Humor half-made when we reunited in 2002 and eventually became Electric Humour. I never did find that track I was looking for, but I sure did find a whole bunch of other treasures. One of my favourites is this collection of alternate-versions of old Lex Plexus tunes from the turn of the millennium, around the time of Izmaha and Category Zero albums.
I think these will become part of an upcoming Lex Plexus retro album (there are a TON of unreleased tracks in the old vaults). It’s been bringing back a lot of memories for which I am grateful. It’s fun to look backwards sometimes.
Back in those days Lex Plexus used to sometimes perform live at local rave parties, using a keyboard and an EMU ESI-4000 sampler to trigger homemade original loops and layer them on-the-fly. Apparently the term back then was “Live P.A.” …I’ll always suck at the cool lingo and knowing the proper genre names, etc. My techno friends at the time said Lex Plexus is “mutant techno,” which I liked. Anyways, that was a fun way to deliver my electronica to a live audience, but I eventually decided to call it quits due to tempo-matching technical issues with the method. Then I heard about Ableton Live and I knew that would be the solution, but just never got around to implementation (so many projects on the go, creativity is endless). Many times through the years I’ve contemplated how cool it would be to resurrect those old loops and bring them into Ableton. Well, today is the day that plan begins moving forward again! I found all those old loops, and I’ve been on the Ableton train for almost a year now, so now it’s just a matter of moving forward.
Did I already mention I found the master .wav files of Electric Humor? Those may end up on bandcamp soon.
I put a new Barnacle Records sticker on my acoustic today:
In my previous blog entry I offered some exclusive photos. Afterwards I realized that the water droplet was not showing clearly enough through the flower petals, so here’s another version of that photo:
As you may know, I make music of many varieties including techno/industrial/drum-and-bass. Six years ago, I wrote an instrumental track called “Sleep, Cerberus” and then four year later my lyrics singer friend Nix Nihil became inspired to add some very interesting lyrics. I re-constructed the music to suit the vocals and the remix was born. Fast Forward another year and Nix comes to me with another idea, this time a fresh story-lyric with need for drum-and-bass backing. And so now I humbly present to you these two creations for your listening pleasure… “Sleep, Cerberus (Nix vox remix)” and “Path of the Lightning Caster” on the Sleepcaster EP by Lex Plexus and Nix Nihil. I like the results, and I hope you do too. Available now at bandcamp.
DJ Don Rugs Setlist…
One of my alter egos had a pretty good time behind the decks the other night at Barnacle. Yeah real vinyl… booyah! Partly, I choose the best songs from my worst records. Here’s a photo of all the records I played:
Maybe you noticed this kickass Crumbsuckers record, the latest addition to my collection:
It was a favourite of mine about 23 years ago, when I had the cassette. A welcome addition.
Here’s a nice tidy list of all the songs I played that night:
Andy Summers and Robert Fripp – What Kind of Man Reads Playboy?
Del Woods – Goofus
Jorgen Ingmann – Apache
Crumbsuckers – Prelude Intro
Roy Buchanan – Judy
The Kilima Hawaiians – Hawaiian Surfriding
Roger Eggermont’s Trio – Five Foot Four
Cygnus X – The Orange Theme
A Flock Of Seagulls – Man Made
Crumbsuckers – A Moment Of Silence / Mr. Hyde
Have you heard The Orange Theme? Interesting chord progression.
Most of my artsy Hipstamatic photos go up on my Instagram but I’ve decided to spruce up the WordPress universe by dedicating some of today’s photo-adventure fruits to an exclusive appearance right here and now:
A few months back Gary Faustman (remember Promiscuous Pete from Euphoria Emporium?) and I had an inspired meeting where we decided “why not make a short film?” And so, being driven as all creators are, we wrote the entire story and filmed it all in one day! Film is such an enjoyable process, especially when you get the chance to wear the hats of actor, director, cameraman and writer. The resulting short film is called “Osmosis Unbeknownst” and we entered it into the 2016 Kamloops Interior Short Short Film Fest (as mentioned in a recent post). There were a lot of great entries in this year’s festival, as usual. If you haven’t seen it yet, follow this YouTube link to watch “Osmosis Unbeknownst,” a Salted Slug Films production. It’s a story of music, poetry, and synchronicity.
As a side note, I’ve watched “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” 4 times since last week.
The 3 songs on this “Cloaking Fog” EP (free download at bandcamp) are the fruition of an accidental reunion of Crushing Complex in 2015, who previously released the 5-song “nth degree” EP in 2007. This time around, more heavyness and more grooviness!
Considering the immense popularity of the Solfeggio Tones and the wealth of new insight I’ve so humbly gifted to the world in my book “Chaos In Boxes: twisted adventures in music theory,” I decided the right thing to do is to offer a free .pdf download of “Section V – EXPLORING THE ANCIENT SOLFEGGIO MATRIX.”
If I seem too bold, then go ahead and read it. You’ll see for yourself. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Whether you count yourself as a fan of the Solfeggio Tones or one of its detractors, my writing on the subject will likely inspire you.
Highlight (long story short): the Golden Ratio and the Perfect Fourth are contained.
Ergo, for example, this diagram:
Note: The eBook versions of “Chaos In Boxes” contain even more new information which is not included in the hardcopy versions nor this .pdf. Nothing too important, just the introduction of the Solfeggio Clef and a couple of other little things.
Download the .pdf here or go here (seanluciw.com) for more complete access to various purchase options, etc. Sorry for being all “salesy” but if you’re into this sort of thing then you probably care to know!
By the way… there are a few musicians out there who have made what they call “Solfeggio music”, and most of what I’ve noticed falls into one of two categories:
They’ve tuned their guitar so that one of the notes on the guitar is in tune with one of the Solfeggio Tones, and then tuned the rest of the guitar (and any other instruments on the recording) to Equal Temperament. Or,
They’ve inserted a steady sine-wave (sounds like a whistling tone) rendering of a Solfeggio frequency into a piece of music which features mostly synthesizer tones.
Both of these things are fine, I guess, but they have their weaknesses: In case 1, only the chosen tone really matches the Solfeggio; the other notes on their guitar do not coincide with the Solfeggio. In case 2, only the single tone is typically used, since standard synthesizer keyboards are not “tempered” the same way as the unique Solfeggio matrix and cannot therefore accommodate all of the Solfeggio’s strange intervals. Furthermore, these sine tones do not blend well with the rest of the sound aesthetic in my opinion, and also lack the musical potential provided by the possibility of Octave Transpositions (as discussed in Section V) which help to make the Solfeggio much more palatable.
Fortunately, I have rendered my own renditions of Solfeggio music which I consider to be superior to anything else I’ve heard so far. I’ve also created a freeware VST synthesizer (Windows only, sorry) which allows you to make proper Solfeggio music as well. It only produces actual Solfeggio tones, as well as octave displacements thereof. If you use it, you’ll notice that certain combinations of notes sound downright out-of-tune. This is because the Solfeggio is a strange beast indeed. Read Section V and it’ll all make sense.
Now, onto other things!
KISSFest and Salted Slug…
No, it’s not a kissing booth (not that I know of)… It’s the Kamloops Independent Short Shorts Film Festival, promoted by the Kamloops Film Society as part of the yearly Kamloops Film Festival! All films must be 5 minutes length, maximum. I’ve entered in the past (usually surreal video collages or music videos), but this year’s entry is a team effort with Gary Faustman – it has a story and everything! We are Salted Slug Films, and our debut production is called “Osmosis Unbeknownst.” I’m not posting a link to YouTube until after the festival because I want it to be a surprise.
The festival’s on March 6 at The Paramount Theatre at noon!
It’s only Friday but I’m already having a great moment and I hope you are too. I’m lucky to know some very cool people. Exciting discussions about making movies. Beautiful vivacious women being their inspirational selves. A fruitful photography session. A friend donated an equalizer a few years ago and I just hooked it up to my record player tonight so now I’ve been ripping through some stellar A-sides all night. Pizza. I’m brainstorming a bunch of mind-boggling possibilities for Ableton Live, which will hopefully manifest as a one-man cyber tweak-fest in the next few minutes here. Chocolate-covered coffee beans. Life is good. If you think I’m bragging too much then I hope your situation improves soon, so you can be happy like me. I must admit I’m feeling like my current state of existence is probably in the top 1% of all possible blessedness at the moment. I was thinking of posting photos of all the records whose A-sides I’ve played so far tonight. Here is list format first: