MMWC Project Proposal

MMWC Project Proposal

Grace Jencks

For the remainder of the semester, I will work on a series of short compositions in Ableton Live. I have the goal of creating four short pieces of varying styles, though I may surpass that number. I think this kind of project will be valuable to me because it will allow me to experiment and gain knowledge about a variety of ways of using Ableton and making computer music. I have some basic ideas, which will be more refined as this project develops. I would like to work on another short dubstep piece and expand on the knowledge that I gained before in the project. I would like to have other pieces that involve vocal recording. I want to include some element of live performance (i.e. more than just pressing the play button). I listen to a lot of electronic music and so I want to see if I can use the some music I listen to as a source of inspiration, by using some of the elements these musicians do. In this project I will deeply listen to Flume, Skrillex, Zedd (not the one that’s in our class), Daft Punk, Radiohead, Avicii, Disclosure, and more. The instruments I use will largely be dictated by the style I am in. I really like the instrumentation these musicians use. I specifically like Skrillex’s beats and want to adopt that, as well as potentially vocoding that Daft Punk uses, I like how Zedd manipulates vocals in a rhythmic fashion. These are all things I think would be great to learn.
After the concert insanity I will begin focusing more on these projects. I am not sure if I will do them sequentially or work on them all at once. The latter may be helpful, as what I learn creating each piece can help inform the others.

By Friday the 4th, I will have put in as much time as I can, given the craziness on concert week.
By Tuesday the 8th, I will have put at least 6 hours into these works.
By Friday the 11th I’ll have put another 3. By this date also I will have all pieces started, hopefully one or two completed. I will have a clear vision of what must happen to complete the rest.
By Monday the 14th, I will have put in 3-6 more hours, based on what is needed. By this day all of my pieces will be complete or very near complete with extra time on Tuesday to tie loose ends.
I will be ready to present on Wednesday the 16th.

Max Assignment 4


My Paragraph:
Within this, there is a tone generator, a filter, and an LFO that dictates the parameters of that filter. It begins with a simple sin wave, transmitted in through midi, usually square waves are used in wobble bass, ad then what we alter in this patch is 1) how fast the wobble happens 2) how much it happens (how far up and down it goes) 3) the center pitch of the bass—wobble and 4) queue. These are shown in the four number boxes lined up, in respective order. These number boxes control the degree to which each element of the sound produced is shifted.


I received the screenshot after I already did most of this work and I was confused what I should take from it and what I shouldn’t. Help?

Also, I couldn’t get it to work form me, probably something to do with the patch, or one of the things listed below. Also help?

Problems faced in following the tutorial:
midiin, trouble selecting the micro key keyboard. I can’t find an option to do this.

Don’t know if I’m doing the right floater setting for the hslider. There’s an option under attributes and one under messages, they both seem to do different things, and I don’t know which is right. Also, I’m having trouble setting the range of the hslider to 1, because the float thing is confusing.

I don’t know if the thing I connected to the hslider is right; the tutorial is blurry, so I can’t tell. I think it’s an exclamation mark, so that’s what I put.

I’m supposed to take the P Keys patch from the previous assignment, right? Will this have the same function as this guy’s patch? – I’m unable to connect this patch as he does in the video because there is just one outlet, connected to stuff in the patch. I made two inlets and two more outlets in the patch, but I’m not sure what they should connect to within.
I don’t know what the object connected to the middle outlet of this is supposed to say- again, the video is blurry.

I think my multiplication of two numbers object is right [* -] but in the video it’s [*0], connected to the [pack ! !]

Max Assignment 3


  • I put together two Atmosphere sounds in the breed window. This produces two distinct sounds, one in voice one and the other in voice three. The first voice is what gives the combination character. In the first voice, the filter is at its highest strength at the begging of the sound, giving it a really sharp, buzzy attack, and then a decrease in buzziness. The amplitude in this voice follows a similar pattern, it begins rather high and then slowly decreases, emphasizing the sharp attack. This sound is characterized by a saw square wave, which explains the buzz.
  • The third voice sounds like a gust of wind. It is made purely of noise, so this is why. The sound does not have any variance in pitch content – i.e. no matter what key I press, the sound remains the same, not higher, not lower. The filter follow a similar pattern as the first voice’s, it begins at its loudest and then fades. Its amplitude, however, is sustained for the amplitude.
  • The first voice is at -1 octave, which makes the sound eerie, low. The third voice is set at +1 octave, but again, no matter if I change the octave setting, it makes the same exact sound. This sound does not have differing pitch content.
  • There are no semi-tones, so it plays exactly at the pitch a play on the keyboard.
  • The modulation level stays entirely at the same level, until the very end of the sustained note, this gives another sharp attack and a higher variance in the pitch of voice one.


In The Can—In The Can


  • This one is particularly interesting, because there is almost no immediate response when you hit a key. There is a large delay. All three voices begin at a very low amplitude.
  • The first voice was barely audible, until I turned up the LoFreq setting. This voice produces and estremely low and smooth ethereal sound that is almost unnoticeable when the other voices are playing, yet it adds a certain substance to the sound. It is an Offst type, -1 octave.
  • The second voice has the exact same amplitude and filter settings as voice one, but it is a different wave form (Rough) and is at octave, which makes it more audible. It has the same kind of eeriness.
  • The third voice is where this sound gets exciting. It is a cymbal type. The amplitude and the filter settings fluctuate greatly from start to finish. It has loop on, which produces an interesting affect. The low-pass and high pass filter settings are up all the way. This reminds me on a cymbal recorded and then played backwards. This is interesting because there is no sound for until about 2 seconds after I hit a key and then each iteration is slightly louder than the last.
  • The modulation trajectory makes the shape of an M, it starts low, rises, drops, and then rises again. The pitch content is the same for most of the sound, but it drops dramatically at these two points.

I was unsure how to save the exact sounds I made, the directions for doing this confused me. Nonetheless! Here are recordings of the sounds I made. I made one more, but for some reason, it won’t upload.

Grace_vst effect program3

Grace_vst effect program2

Grace_vst effect program4

A 8.5

Here is my presentation mode for the looper, I hope it transfers through here!
And I did the same kind of this for my recordings, I would, and still will, do other stuff with the looper, but because figuring out this one took so long because it was very difficult to sync up, I’m just including the drafts of this song for this particular assignment.
IttibittyTHREE is by far the best one. ONE is a solid example of what kept happening in all previous recordings- out of sync. This was lots of fun 🙂 I look forward to working with it more.
One more thing! I’ve only been allowed to record for a certain amount of time, all three recordings ended before I wanted them to. Can this be changed??







Finally got it to save and upload. Though I am having trouble opening the file on my computer again because it will not let me choose hydrogen as a program to open it with.
Let me know if it works okay for you!



Questions on the Mathematics of Computer Music

  1. MIDI was established in 1984. It was designed so a person could have one master keyboard that could play a range of sounds, as opposed to multiple keyboards programmed differently.
  2. In an 8 bit system……. Data bytes are numbers with a 0 in the left most column, status bytes have a 1 in the left most column. The highest data byte is 01111111, which equals 127. The lowest status byte is 10000000, which equals 128.
  3. Three occurrences: 1) note-on on channels 1-16 (a status byte between 144 and 159) 2)a data byte between 0 and 127 (which note) 3) data byte 0-127 (volume). I.e. The note is being played, its velocity, and the channel it’s on. Two data bytes are necessary. All note-on messages have 1001 (144 as the lowest).
  4. Controller message- whether the pedal is down or up and/or whether there are any sliders or joysticks that have been moved- this is what it represents. 2 data bytes necessary?? The initial status byte represents controller data. The first status byte says a controller has been moved, the data bytes say which controller and how far. Range of 10110000 to 11001111 (192-207 respectively).
  5. Patch, telling a synthesizer what pre-programmed patch to play. There is only one data byte because it just needs to say which patch needs to be accessed.
  6. MIDI notes are turned off by giving a note-on signal at 0. A data byte sent with a velocity of zero makes it turn off.
  7. MIDI is a 16 channel system. Numbers 144 to 159 hold the 16 channels. 144 being 1, 159 being 16. Each is followed by corresponding data bytes.
  8. MIDI does not care about duration because the player usually decides the duration of notes, simply by playing. If music is being programmed, then the duration will be another data(?) byte.
  9. ?
  10. A sin wave is simple. Every sound can be simplified to a sine wave. Sound waves (sine waves) disturb the air. Most sounds create several sine waves at once. Overlapping and interacting sine wave frequencies is what makes any given sound unique.
  11. One needs to multiply whatever frequency you’re given by 2 to make it go an octave up. To go another octave up, you need to multiply it by 2 again. The harmonic series has 100Hz between each note, which means that notes get closer together at the end of the series. 100, 200, 300, etc… Octave, 5th, 4th, 3rd, etc… Any lower frequencies in any given series sound good together.
  12. A simple sine wave does not have overtones, it has no additional harmonic content. Triangle waves sound similar to sine waves, it contains other frequencies, the inverse of the square of the harmonic number. Sawtooth waves are buzzy, this has the inverse of the harmonic number. Square waves are clarinet-y, it has weird partials in it at eh inverse of the partial number.


Listening Assignment
Grace Jencks

John Cage: Williams Mix

I would have been able to tell, without reading the wiki page that this is a magnetic tape piece. I have listened to several pieces before that sound seemingly-disorganized in a similar way. There are sounds in this recording that are very typical of magnetic tape music. What I find interesting is that this is “the first octophonic music”. I also find it interesting that what many people would see as disorganized and random is highly organized and thought out, divided carefully into the categories “city, country, electronic, manually produced, wind, and ‘small’ sounds.”  After reading this and listening, one is surely able to tell which sounds fit into which category. I think one of Cage’s intentions in composing this piece was to make people question what music is, broadly. Additionally, it was probably to make the first octophonic music.


Stockhausen: Gesang der Junglinge

It was said Gesang der Junglinge was the first time these contradicting forms of music were brought together: “elektronische Musik and the French Music Concrete,” it was clearly one of his intentions to accomplish such a goal. His primary goal was to create an electronic mass and have it be accepted as one, which is found to be controversial. I enjoy this music, thinking about the complexity of putting it together. I find it interesting that he included both electronically generated sounds and the manipulated vocals of a child. The combination and opposition of these elements is satisfying. After listening to it for a while, one can begin to hear how this piece is organized and patterned.

Luciano Berio: Omaggio a Joyce

The interdisciplinary nature of this piece makes it unique. The fact that it incorporates linguistic, anthropological , and musical elements is telling of Berio’s vast interests. Like the previous piece, Omaggio a Joyce is also an “electroacoustic montage.” It was clearly his goal to incorporate all of these elements, additionally, the inclusion of all of these elements make it interesting for the listener.  The balance between vocal and electronic elements allows one to hear the organization of this piece.

Milton Babbitt: Ensembles for Synthesizer

Reading the wiki page, I am led to believe that he felt the importance of his compositions did not reside in whether or not he had a large audience for them, his goal in composition this work was more likely for himself and possibly to have a dialogue with other composers. I find the complexity of the piece interesting, that he is very focused and aware of the difference in “pitch, rhythm, registral, textural, and timbral” content. He utilizes a range of these in an organized fashion. This piece is different from the last two in that it does not have a vocalist, rather, he works primarily with electronic content. It is incredible the range of sounds he creates.

Morton Subotnick: Silver Apples of the Moon

I believe all of these pieces can be defined as music, though some might not agree. All of these works are highly organized. Out of the tracks so far, Silver Apples of the Moon would probably sound the most organized to any listener because it goes through periods with steady beats. It was certainly one of his goals to fulfill the wishes of the recording company that commissioned him to do this piece. I think it is grounding that this piece has some regular rhythmic patterns. I think most listeners would find that aspect of this piece pleasing.

Alvin Lucier: I am Sitting in a Room

Luciers’ goal is clearly stated in the piece itself, to record his voice over and over in a room, to the point where you can no longer hear the words themselves, but the sounds diluting and reverberating around the room. I believe this can be classified as music because it is organized sound. Even though it may not be “pleasing” to many ears, it does have a form and a specific way of creation.

Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air

This is by far the most tonal so far. The fact that it is primarily in one key and uses minimalistic structures, often repeating, makes it easier to follow than some of the music we have listened to thus far. It was probably one of his intentions to create a complex-sound with a large number of minimalistic phrases overlapping.

Steve Reich: Come Out

This piece has a different and loaded meaning as compared to the others, because it is in honor of the Harlem Six, this was his primary intention in creating this work. He does this by using a sample of one of their vocals in his composition. Again, what many might not think of as music, this is highly organized and thought out. Reich has done a number of pieces where vocals, or other sounds, begin in sync and then slowly separate from one another; a difficult task. This piece does have musicality solely in that.

Brian Eno: Atmospheres

Atmospheres is more reminiscent of film or videogame music than the others. I think this form of music is something more people would enjoy, because it is more tonal, it does follow more patterns, and it does have traceable melodies. It may have been Eno’s goal to create music that could still be seen as electronically experimental, but still pleasing to a broader audience of listeners.

Beatles: Tomorrow Never Knows

Though this song is unorthodox in many ways, the core of it is simple- mostly centered around C chords and with a repetitive, simple, and catchy melody. The complexity comes in the seemingly improvised and experimental instrumental sections between lyrical content. I think it was probably one of their objectives to create music that they were not typically thought of making, by exploring electronic while still using a range of acoustic elements. This song seems to be as much about the process of creation as the final product, if not more.
Afrika Bambaataa: Looking for the Perfect Beat

This, and the last track, probably interest a wider audience because they have a regular beat and modes of organization that are closer to people’s typical musical vocabulary and therefore elicit more of an emotional response and/or connection to the song. The fact that they are repetitive is helpful for the listener to grasp on. It seems like the objective in writing music with turn table samples and other electronic elements was a stylistic choice to make this group stand out.