I’ve been busy. That’s not an excuse, just a fact. But I’ve also been writing. Here’s the results.

Commissioned by Catherine Ryu of Michigan State University’s Department of Linguistics and Languages, Heart Doubt was created out of the Mandarin syllables “wo ai ni” (trans. “I love you”) to show off the creative possibilities of the Tone Perfect: Multimodal Database for Mandarin Chinese (https://tone.lib.msu.edu). Using these syllables, I decided to explore the initial stage of interest and doubt at the beginning of a relationship. The male and female speakers are essentially engaged in an examination of their feelings for each other in a classic “she loves me, she loves me not” type game, trying to make sense of their feelings as outside thoughts intrude on their inner monologues.

The sounds in Heart Doubt were created by first quantizing the speech segments to begin on a controlled pitch (still allowing for the pitch contour changes in Mandarin), and then running the sounds into multiple instances of the IRCAM Multi Granular and IRCAM Stretch sample oscillators in UVI’s Falcon instrument in order to create different sonic textures. Additional textural work was created using PaulStretch to create the “monk choir” chanting the syllables that control the action in each of the three sections of the piece: wo (0:00-2:30), ai (2:30-3:30), and ni (3:30-5:00). Enveloping of each section was roughly mapped to the pitch contour of the respective control syllable in terms of both volume and effects automation.

Additional sounds were created on my modular synthesizer by feeding the DAW output to an envelope follower, and using that to control triggering, additional envelopes, and oscillators, creating the bell and chime sounds heard at different points through the piece.

I recently spent some time flying along the West Coast. Looking out the window of the plane, I spent a lot of time looking at the shore and watching the flocks of gulls from the air. This led to thinking about the migratory patterns of birds, fish, whales, and other species that live in the ocean and above or along it. Shoreline is an attempt to recreate some of these thoughts through gull and whale sounds created entirely on an analog synthesizer with occasional scraps of human interference breaking through the surface of the piece and changing the soundscape. It’s a reflection on the landscape through purely electronic means – a study in synthetic ecology.

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