Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Here we go, going out of control...

Revamped the drums and the bass line, reworked the bridge section, cleaned up the production. The finished song (Dreaming_In_Technicolor-Future_Shock.mp3) is available for free download from (5.23MB, 3:48)

Lyrics 2.0
Science and Tech, like a supersonic jet,
Going so damn fast but we ain't seen nothin' yet...
Cause it's hit the power curve, yeah it's hit the nervous system
going exponentially wilder.
Mixing cyber and gene, the post-human machine,
evolution hits the super collider

Singularity, Singularity here it comes

Are you ready?
Are we Ready?
Are we ready?
are we ready to unlock the box?
unlock the box...

Can't reflect on the past,
too much happening too fast.
Somehow next week feels like next year.

Ready or not...
The objects in the mirror are no longer now as close as they appear.
Future Shock
Ready or not, here comes Future Shock.

Oh, here we go, going out of control,
as the rate of change goes vertical
[sax solo]
future shock...
And it feels so surreal...
too much happening

As we watch will all our dreams
come apart right at the seams
or take supersonic flight and set us free?

Set us free...

Ready or not
Shock / Shock / Shock / Shock
Here comes Future Shock
Here comes Future Shock
Here comes Future Shock

Friday, August 26, 2005

Blast from the past

There's something strangely appealing to using quarter-century old second-hand technology to create futuristic computer-controlled sounds. I finally discovered how to use my Roland MPU-101 to control the old Korg MS-20 analog synth that I've had for years. All it took was a 2N3904 transistor, a diode and a resistor and some soldering (and some thoughtful person to post the instructions -- thank you!!). My inner electronics geek is deeply satisfied :) It's allowed me to try out an idea pioneered by Pink Floyd: using an arpegiator (a Cakewalk Sonar midi effect spewing forth all sorts of manic 1/32 note high speed scales) to drive the pitch and modulation of the analog synth while madly turning filter and vco knobs with both hands. TONS of fun! Perhaps for the next song I'll try and learn what scales John Coltrane riffed on and see where that leads to. Anyways, here's the latest version of Future Shock (3:53, 5.3MB)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Some Self-assembly Required

I've been reading Accelerando by Charles Stross, a downloadable version of which he has generously published online for free personal use (er, um, a downloadable version of the book, I mean :P -- check out ). The ratio of interesting ideas per chapter is sky high. Awesomely great read. Highly recommended. Anyways, one of the pillars that his version of the singularity is built on is nanotech self-assembly - you know, Eric Drexler's engines of creation. There was recently an interesting dialog between Drexler and Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize winning discoverer of Buckminster Fullerene, the atomic geodesic sphere that led to the creation of carbon nanotubes (CNTs), the same stuff that is poised to revolutionize everything from batteries to solar cells to display technology to nanoelectronics. It turns out that Smalley has some issues with the hand-waving around the concept of molecular nano-assembly. DNA uses water as a key medium to do it's version of self-assembly, a universal solvent which has some amazing properties that are fundamental to being able to build organic molecular structures, and also presents big problems when trying to build things that include metal in them. Check out the debate: Nanotechnology: the case for and against 'molecular assemblers' and Raymond Kurzweil's commentary which provides some great background info.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Mach 1

Latest version: FutureShock2.mp3 (3.2MB, 3:26)
This is the first full sketch of the entire song. Still a number of areas that need reconstructive surgery or time displacement therapy, but it's starting to come together. The leadup into the sax solo, the solo itself and then the soaring 3rd verse entry have some potential to be shiver inducing, which of course means I'm not at all happy with them as they stand - feels like they need to be amped up in intensity to really soar. Definitely some timing problems in the leadup portion. Lots of work to do but the ingredients are at least more or less in place - time to let it settle a bit and then listen to it with fresh ears...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Going Exponential

The concept of 'the singularity' - the point in time where the exponential growth of knowledge and scientific understanding becomes so far-reaching in its consequences that humanity as we know it goes through a fundamental change - kind of like a phase transition - is quite fascinating. The idea that the exponential improvement that we have seen in semiconductor technology, communication infrastructure, biotech and in-vivo imaging like MRI and PET scans will propel exponential improvements in research in neuroscience seems pretty compelling. It seems reasonable to expect that the understanding of how the brain works at a cellular level as well as at a modular level will naturally lead to true artificial intelligence. And that, once we understand how to create machines that can reason, learn, and improve upon their own design, machine and human co-evolution will also go exponential.
This application of neuroscience and computer science to understanding and modelling human perception, feeling and experience - the core of what it is to be human - totally intrigues me. It offers an interesting perspective on the world. I hope that what will happen is that humanity will realize its close bonds with the animals we have evolved along side of; we are kindred in the fluid grace of being that comes from evolving together, sharing the ecosystem and building off of the same set of 'discovered patterns' that have been proven to work through the ages and are written into our shared DNA. It seems, however, that as we integrate more and more completely with our machines, we are increasingly losing touch with the natural world, and are carelessly wiping out much of our natural heritage in the process.
So what does all of this have to do with music?? I guess it's kicked off some kind of emotional / intellectual reaction in me that engages both the rational and creative sides of my brain, and that often gets expressed musically for some reason. Don't really understand the 'why' behind it at all. All I know is that it is compelling, intriguing, fascinating and, really, that's enough.
Discovering lots of metaphors in the music. The intro starts with the human voice, and this is soon accompanied by a flanged 'machine noise' that builds up in intensity exponentially until -- BOOM -- you're into the first verse. Another metaphor is the morphing of the human voice into machine sounds. Also the reflection of the lyrics ('Science and tech, like a supersonic jet') in the soundscape where the flanged noise sounds like a jet taking off and going through a sonic boom. And the musical chaos as the song hits the 'singularity' point of the solo. Tons of fun! More to come.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Phasers on Flange

First cut at sketching out the intro + first verse: DreamingInTechnicolor-FutureShock.mp3 (1.4MB, 1:30)
For the intro, stripped it down to an echoed piano line on top of an 'ethereal vocal' line with echo and heavy flanging. Then mixed it with a VL70m voice (Cyberstring - how can you NOT use a voice named 'Cyberstring' for this song???) going through the MPX110 DreamSequence effect and then heavily flanged it to create a sound like some jet engine, ramping from nothing up to a sonic boom.
For the first verse, vocals are mainly an attempt to establish a melody line at this point. Starting to sketch out ideas for the chorus as well. Drum line isn't as good as the previous version, but the tempo feels a lot better for the lyrics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Future Shock

Turns out that, at 100 beats per minute (bpm), the music is WAY too slow for the lyrics - needs to be at least 133 bpm to have any kind of energy. Unfortunately just speeding up the music is not a solution - loses the groove. Tried various tricks to change tempos or overlay 133.3 bpm lyrics over a 100bpm drum track but nothing worked very well. At this point the music needs to be rebuilt around the vocal line, so I've been recording some vocal tracks and trying to find a new, faster, edgier, tougher sound to go with it. Also figured the term 'singularity' was way too technical - don't want to have to provide a FAQ with the lyrics - so I've been reworking the chorus by riffing on the idea of 'future shock'. Latest lyrics are here.