punctuated silence

I’ve been fascinated with a sentence from Miles Davis’s autobiography, “I always listen to what I can leave out.”  Now I am sure that the piece I am putting up today takes that too literally and in a slightly different direction, and I certainly wouldn’t count on Miles’ blessing for it. I probably won’t piss him off as much as others who have glommed on to the phrase, including a purveyor of figuring out short term trends in the stock market and another into the design aspects of fast food.  I don’t know, maybe Miles would be more into them than this piece.  

The music is built around the idea of loops that are endless, so if I let it, it would just go on forever.  But instead of doing that, or having them fade out over time, I punctuate them with rhythmic silences using a foot pedal that does mouse clicks tapped into the loop player so that the clicks erase — or other times, replace — what is happening at that moment.  It produces a peculiar rhythm that plays everywhere but where I am tapping, so that I am quite literally playing the silences instead of the sounds.  The plugin that makes this possible is from Johan Larsby of Shuriken and is called repeatler.

It is almost perfect, but unfortunately leaves those clicking artifacts that you hear.  At least they are in time with the music and I like to think of them as a form of percussion, but it would be nice to get rid of them too.  A summer project will be to figure out exactly how to do that.  It is a weird problem because the button press creates a zero signal instantly.  When you are making sounds, you can put them in something called an envelope that makes the sound start and end on a zero so it does not pop.  Here the thing you are playing — the silence — is already at zero, so you need something like an anti-envelope, a thing that puts the fade to zero outside of the time you spend at zero, at the start and end of the zero, where the sounds still are.  Actually instead of an anti-envelope, think of it as an upside down envelope, going from full volume to zero at the start, and zero to full volume at the end instead of the other way around.  Maybe Johan will update the plugin, but I’m not holding my breath, especially since he is none too fond of Windows which is where I do most of my music (writing this on a Linux box though!).

As always, if you are getting this through some feed other than way.net (I’m talking to you, Facebook) you probably have to come to way.net to hear the music.