[chuck-users] this wont work in

Atte André Jensen atte.jensen at gmail.com
Wed Jan 28 08:34:28 EST 2009

Kassen wrote:

> I'm interested. I'm also particularly interested in the "how" and "why" 
> questions. I believe that programming a system for performing music 
> comes down to defining (part of) what you think about music so I'd like 
> to hear what drove you to create your own. That is of course provided 
> you have the time and inclination to go into such subjects at all.

First I must tell a little bit about the kind of music that I'm doing in
this particular project. It's obviously electronic, but not very loop
based. Although it's not pop it uses to some extend the pop forms like
intro, verse, chorus. Also it has chord changes like a pop song, and
those changes might be different for each song part. And finally it
involves a double bass player and a singer (besides me and a vj).

Maybe it's time for some music. These are the first two tracks of the
first concert with chuck. They might be representative of what I do
live, something algorithmic, something prepared, something weird (for
the regular listener) and something poppy. Notes 1) The thing blowing up
between tracks is my micron, 2) the muddy sound on the vocals should be
better next time, 3) besides the vocal the bass and the blow-up in the
transition everything is chuck.


One of my main motivations was to be able to make something that is
flexible like a real band. I want to be able to jam with it, take the
dynamics down, repeat a part, stay on a part, and play solo (either with
synth, game pad or melodica) over it.

With this small band I soon felt it would be a waste of my hands and
mind to simply play any single part unless it would be possible to
modulate the whole piece dramatically with that specific part. In stead
my role is to modulate the whole "band", kind of like a director,
deciding in real time which part comes next, taking certain instruments
out and controlling the music in more general terms. Everything is
controlled from a bcr2000, and I play a little on a keyboard and a game pad.

So my system lets me program "patterns" like a synth part, or a drums
part, each of which is a single .ck file. They have a degree of either
randomness to them or are actual algorithms that spin out eternal
variations. Each of them "listens" to the settings of various knobs like
dynamic (how loud to play), height (chose notes in either lower or
higher register), length (play short or long notes) and activity (play
less or more). Each part goes into an eight channel mixer with delay
(with controllable delay time and feedback) and a controllable filter.

I make some abstractions on time (this was where my segfault occurred),
which means "wait for the next quarter-note" or
if(Time.sub(8)%2 == 1)
which means "if we're now on one of one-and, two-and etc.

Basically the system works very well, but it takes practice. Not only
can it be tricky to actually press the right button at the right moment,
but it demands alot to be able to shape an eight minute piece from
beginning to end with a satisfying structure and a natural climax not
only so that the piece itself comes out right but also so that it fits
within the entire set, which lasted about 50 minutes (next gig will have
more new songs, so we're doing two sets of about 35-40 minutes).

I hope this gives you an idea of what I do and why. Of course this
explanation leaves out a lot of details, and the systems does a bit more
here and there, but that's basically it...


http://atte.dk    http://modlys.dk

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