Rozovian’s Music Log

Archive for August, 2011

Change / Policy

Posted by Ad on August 21, 2011

Two things, besides acknowledging that I haven’t been nearly as much on AIM as I used to, and have been slow to respond this summer. I blame it all on it being summer. πŸ˜€

So, thing #1 – Apple. I’m starting to dislike how they handle some of their products. I went through about 150 semi-old projects I’ve made in Logic to bounce them to mp3 and see which ones I like enough to make real songs out of. Well, each bounce required at least 6 manual mouseclicks – no shortcuts. I could have played with AppleScript to get some macro going, but Logic has some inherent stability problems in that it can run out of memory and crash without any warning, so I’d rather do things manually so I know when and where things go wrong. Still, no keyboard shortcut for bounce audio? No memory as to what format I’ve exported the last HUNDRED projects as? No way of getting out of the id3-tag window without using the mouse? Stupid.

But what really bothers me is when they change stuff without giving users the option to switch to the new scheme or keep the old one, they don’t offer options for advanced users. The other day, they changed the order in which tabs open in Safari. A minor annoyance for ppl who use two or three tabs. A stupid, unreasonable change for ppl who open a dozen tabs and want to go through pages of a forum in the order they’ve clicked on them. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Offer options, sure, but don’t go “fixing” stuff just to annoy users.


Thing #2 – I removed a comment by someone who apparently runs a recycling blog or something. I don’t know if I’d call it spam, but it seemed more like self-promotion than a response to my post.Β The comment itself was short tho applicable, but it seemed like someone trying to get their search engine rank boosted. Just wondering if any readers have any option on this – should I treat it as spam or as a genuine comment? Remove link and approve? What do?

And no, this is not about politics. No Obama talk here… atm.

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Oldskool music

Posted by Ad on August 16, 2011

Okay so, my own album work is going slow, and I’m thinking I have a bit too high a concept for the album I’ve been trying to make since June… so I’ll probably just do a compilation of whatever original works I think sound okay together. Just gotta finish them. Ugh…

Anyway, while on the topic of album work, here’s something totally different. Lots of Motoi Sakuraba-influenced tracks made with exposed synths and oldskool console game sounds, it’s Meteocrity Volume 1, an album by a friend of mine. I’ve been playing it i nthe background while working on non-music things from time to time, it’s great background music as it conjures up lots of game images but without being so specific as to draw you straight to a game, a level, a moment in the game. I guess it’s meta-vgm or something.

Did I mention it’s free? Well, now I did. Go get it.

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In Defense of Earth Music in Alien Settings

Posted by Ad on August 11, 2011

Okay, we’re talking science fiction speculative fiction stuff here. Just go with it. πŸ˜‰

First, almost all rhythm is based on math. Indian ragas are really long, polyrhythmic stuff is difficult to quantize, but it’s all based on math. Rhythm is math. Any alien civ would understand math before going into space… unless they were really lucky and domesticated space dragons or something that just so happened to also live on their homeworld.

Second, pitch is based on math. And here’s the kicker – harmony is a physical phenomenon. That C and G sound good together is not arbitrary – it’s science. G is so close to the second harmonic of C that they sound good together. Harmonics are frequencies that are integer multiples of the fundamental frequency. The fundamental can be arbitrary, but its harmonics will be twice, three, four, five etc times the fundamental frequency. In other words, physics – which doesn’t change much between us and aliens – make the harmonics. Harmonics make the circle of fifths. The circle of fifths makes the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale is on our pianos, our guitars, our synths. Sure, they can tune it differently, use different modes and scales (whole tone scale, anyone?), but more likely than not, they’d have the chromatic scale… If they like harmony, thatis.

Third, the vibrating string, the vibrating membrane, the basic waveforms – they’re based on math. Or rather, physics. Again, we’d have this in common. Would they prefer a sitar over a guitar, or a harpsichord over a piano? Do they want their drums tuned? Do they appreciate raw waveforms, or prefer more advanced synthesis techniques? Taste is different, and their instrument constructions and conventions would be different, but the core of the instruments would likely be the same – no matter the kind of instrument.


This doesn’t mean they’ll like four on the floor beats. Maybe they only like rhythms based on prime numbers. Triplet rhythms might work, but if they’re sophisticated, they might want stuff like 11/8, 19/8, or something even higher. And what are the timbres of their rhythm instruments? If they even make that distinction.

This doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily have music in tune with ours. If they pick a fundamental in between two semitones of our chromatic scale, it’ll sound off-key. And it might not conform to any scale or mode we are used to. If they have and appreciate tonal music at all.

And nothing says their instruments need to be remotely like ours, nor do the techniques need to be the same. I can play part of a Chrono Trigger melody on harmonics on guitar, and often do this inadvertently while just playing. Perhaps they don’t have necks on their instruments, maybe they play on separate strings and/or harmonics. Maybe they play on a single string, which they change the tension of, thus changing the pitch with a more pitch-bend-like effect (our guitars are tuned this way, and played by changing the length of the freely vibrating string). Maybe they use advanced synthesis techniques to create ethereal soundscapes where many aspects of music bleed together into… well, something more sound design than music.

That said, I’m still bothered by how Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, Star Wars, and so many other shows and movies have alien music that sounds like Earth music. Yes, you can use our scales and tunings. No, you can’t just decide that the aliens’ hat is jazz music or whatever. Composers, take heed.

You know, I should just make some examples. πŸ˜€

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