November 21st, 2021

#7904: Current Favorite: Accede

Carbon Based Lifeforms is the group name. I can't get "Accede" out of my head.

It's from their album Derelicts, which has a lot of good tracks on it, but "Dodecahedron" is the other track on that album which is high on the list.

It seems as if the music of Carbon Based Lifeforms is pretty much the platonic ideal of what I want from music, at least these days. There are not many songs of theirs that I don't like at least a little, but there are several which I can't get enough of.

This recent personal fad started with "20 Minutes":

...and I couldn't get enough of that song, to the point that I was routinely going through the "recent tracks" in Pandora to find it so I could hear it again. Finally I realized that if I liked it that much it was probably not overdoing it to spend a buck or two on buying the frigging track from Amazon.

Simple fact: I have always really liked instrumental music. When I got into The Alan Parsons' Project, discovering that there were instrumentals on every album was one of the reasons I decided they were my favorite band.

Take "I, Robot", for example, from the album of the same name. It's not so much a song as it is a collection of variations on a theme. The song has a distinct tune about eight bars long, which repeats all the way through it. But it's never the same; as soon as it establishes that theme and runs through it twice, there's a change made (an instrument gets added and/or removed) which lends its voice to the song. A couple repetitions, then another change, and another, and so on. The result is a complex, textured sound, where there's a lot going on at one time.

Classical composers did this kind of thing all the time, but they didn't have multitrack recorders and effects modulators, so they had to make do with orchestras.

APP is progressive rock. I'm not sure what to call Carbon Based Lifeforms; it's electronic music, but not the kind we got from the big Moog musicians of the 1970s like Tomita and Carlos. It's something that kind of grew out of techno; it's not that either, nor is it really ambient, ambient dub, dubstep, nor trance.

I just know that I like it.

* * *

The other night I woke up with a song stuck in my head--one I'd heard a few times on Pandora--but for once I knew what it was, so I was able to go play it:

..."Path of Least Dunka Dunka". No, I don't know what it means. I do like the song, which is also rare for an earworm.

* * *

Late in 2003 I started experimenting with making some music of my own. I'm not a musician; though I can play the recorder tolerably well, I don't know squat about making music. But a friend of mine who was a musician pointed "FruityLoops" out to me, and so I started fiddling with it.

I produced, in the end, four tracks of increasing technical sophistication, if not artistic. I like them, but that's only because I made them.

My idea had been to make a whole CD's worth of such tracks. I was going to call it "DemiDisk", created by "LARP". The cover art was going to be a large 20-sided die (showing 20) with three hands around it doing "Rock-Paper-Scissors". I had wanted the three hands to be female, and I'd thought to have one be Mom's, another be my sister-in-law's, and the third by my niece's, doing (in reverse order) stone, paper, scissors. I was intent on the theme being role-playing games (and games in general).

The problem was, that was late 2003, when my life was disintegrating. I rapidly associated the production of music with severe bad luck and gave up doing it, and never managed to get the cover photo I wanted, either.

I don't have them available in a form I can present here, though I may change that; but I'm going to talk about the tracks here, anyway.

I was using the demo version of "FruityLoops", which doesn't allow you to save or export projects; but my system had the ability to record "What U Hear", so I'd start recording and just twiddle controls and do things "live", as it were.

The first one was called "Monkeybite". A simple techno drum track, a couple of sound effects, and then a couple of synth lead tracks with "random" arpeggiation. You can set random arpeggiation so that it will bounce around in a set chord, or chords; it's not always really euphonious but it's approximately musical, and the way it worked out you can hear a kind of theme run through the song. Most of what I did in this one was to turn tracks on and off, but it works pretty well. There wasn't much of a gaming connection with this one, but it was the first thing I'd done which was worth calling a "song".

The second, and my favorite, was "Lighthouse Station". Same technique as "Monkeybite" but with a larger palette of tracks. The basic theme was sixteen bars, with a key change after eight. I used the same random arpeggiation I'd used in the latter track, but this time it was more tightly constrained, and it wasn't as much in the foreground as it had been in the prior effort. I'd call this "ambient dub", I think, though it has a hard-driving drum track.

"Lighthouse Station" is a campaign setting for Alternity. That's where I got the name.

The third track was generated after I found a crack for the program, and enabled the ability to save projects. "Spelljamming" was meant to be more ambient than the prior track, so I eschewed drums for hi hats. I programmed a few bars of simple tunes (which is a pain in the ass when you can't just input the notes using a MIDI controller of some kind) and laid out a relatively simple progression of how the song bites would integrate--no arpeggiation this time. Then I took a drum loop track, stretched it enough to synchronize with the song, and looped it, so that it provides a nice counterpoint to the almost dreamy backing track I used. Now I was using "FruityLoops" the way it was meant to be used. This one is probably my least favorite of the four, because it demonstrates that I'm not a musician, but it does work.

"Spelljamming" is how D&D went into space. Spelljammer was my favorite D&D campaign setting.

Lastly, "Briar Patch". This track used synth guitars, a fast beat, and some other bits and pieces. I started out intending for this one to be programmed completely, and succeeded in what I'd intended to do; the guitars sound good, for the most part, but the limitations of my musical composition ability become very obvious with this one. The real problem stems from one of the patches I used, which comes out strident and jangly. It's not very well textured, and ultimately I think that's why I was as dissatisfied with it as I was, despite my increasing sophistication using the software. I liked the result (else it would not have been included as a "finished track") but it was probably #3 on the list for preference.

"Briar Patch" is a reference to a knot of co-orbiting asteroids in my SF universe. It was featured in the Alternity campaign set in that same world.

All this was generated on my P3 system running at 1 GHz. I don't remember how much memory it had; I know it was measured in megabytes, though. I maxed out the RAM in that system, so it might have been as much as 1 GB. I bought that computer in May of 2001 (twenty years ago *whimper*).

The system had a high-zoot Sound Blaster in it; until system boards started coming with built-in sound, I never used anything but Sound Blasters, and this one was either an AWE-32 or an AWE-64. And for some reason, "FruityLoops" worked perfectly on that system. It responded instantly to the changes that I made (else recording "live" would not have worked) and I never had any sound issues. I was never able to make that program work that seamlessly on any other system, even ones with more memory and faster processors.

Go figure.

* * *

I do still--occasionally--consider the utility of getting some kind of MIDI synthesizer and then controlling it with the zanzithophone ("Casio digital Sax" DH-100). Probably wouldn't cost all that much, either. But I never do, because I'm really not much of a musician. *sigh*

Well, could be worse.

#7905: Anyone who asks "why didn't you just use--" should sit down and shut up; adults are talking.

My dear boy, this was WW2. "Why didn't they just use secure text messaging?"

I guess the encryption wouldn't take too long (Enigma was an encryption system) but transmitting it--a quick check says that manual Morse code runs at about 0.83 baud. Let's be extra-generous and assume that means 1 bit per second. Say the page of text is 1,000 characters, and let's be even more generous and assume we're using six bits per character. 6,000 seconds for one page of text--that's 100 minutes. But in the 1940s they had teleprinters.

Teleprinters ran at about 50 Baud, using Murray code (5 bits per character and a couple of control bits). A thousand characters at seven characters per second is 142 seconds per page. Two minutes per page (being generous, again) and how many pages of text needed to be transmitted to ensure the GIs got their letters in a timely fashion?

The technological ignorance of the young is pretty entertaining. But it's also kind of irritating.

* * *

This is a colossal waste of time and money but I'm not surprised the university system came up with this nonsense, somewhere. "Traditional healing" is the new-age-woo-woo way of saying "witch doctors". "Arrange the crystals around your bed and put a drop of rain water on each one before you lay down, and you won't have any trouble with artheriosclerosis!" *sigh*

Of course, no department is safe from this kind of stupidity. So, they want to hire a physicist, but the physicist has to demonstrate his commitment to "underrepresented" groups. I wonder how much space they spend on, y'know, understanding science?

* * *

I agree; if student athletes are being preyed upon, maybe college athletics should be done away with. Instead of making them paid employees. You know?

I thought that--in many cases--the free education that student athletes got was their compensation for playing sportsball games. I guess I don't really know anything about modern education.

* * *

Started watching Ore wo Suki nano wa Omae dake ka yo last night. I read some of the manga, but didn't remember the story at all--just that I'd thought it was entertaining. And I laughed at the anime, a lot.

There wasn't anything else I felt like doing, so I did that. That's how it goes, sometimes.

* * *

Anyway, tomorrow is Monday, and we have a busy week ahead. That's okay; work Mon-Wed, cook Thu, then relax the next three days. That's fine with me.

#7906: Un-disappeared

They must have figured out what gulag she got sent to. That chinese tennis star--she's not saying where she was but she turned up at a tennis tournament, so she's still alive, at least.

* * *

That chicken dish--

Mrs. Fungus didn't like it. I can eat it if I put sriracha on it; but otherwise all I can taste is salt and garlic. It was supposed to have some sweetness in it; I looked at the recipe again and saw that no, I'd used the right amount of honey (a third of a cup) so whatever went wrong with this recipe, it wasn't because I made a mistake. I used more meat than it called for; that usualy doesn't change the nature of the flavor, though; at worst, it just makes it less intense. Probably, it should have called for more honey, maybe even twice as much. The recipe claims it's "sweet" but this ain't nowhere near "sweet". It's not even in the same county.

Oh well. We're not having it again, anyway.

* * *

Brandon Lesco comments on Rittenhouse trial. I'm not the only one who noticed it.

* * *

Man, whichever coworker of mine it was who had the personal time available to take off the whole week of Thanksgiving, I envy him. Oh well.