Aavepyörä – Complete Works USB

The complete discography with all of Aavepyörä´s music is now finally available in lossless FLAC format. Available also in a deluxe version with separated stems for several songs, and with a poster featuring the artwork of the last album. Also included is over 2,5 hours of unreleased and new tunes. As a special content, I decided to put out also the very first Aavepyörä album, previously only released in a limited CDr format, and which was never available from the website.

Back the project at Indiegogo!

 

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Aavepyörä audio crafting #3 – Physical filters

Hello!

Have you ever lamented how all synth sounds are so similar in timbre? And how sometimes using effects still fail to lose that uni-sound digital sheen on everything?

Today I will teach you the single most effective way to bring up and transform sounds in a mix that I am aware of, without using any effects.

The idea is simply to run the sound through a physical object, and let it´s formants and resonances be imprinted on the sound. This is a common sound design trick in movies, but less used in music production.

The best way is to use transducer elements. They are basically a bit like speaker elements without the cone. Alone they are almost silent, but when they touch an object, the vibrations will be transported, effectively creating a sound radiating surface out of anything.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The instrument is upside down so that I don´t need to worry about how to attach the transducers to the instrument. I can just let gravity do the job!

Here is a basically anemic bassline first run through a waterphone, and then a darbouka. The harmonic content will get noticeably louder, and both objects have very much a sound of their own. The waterphone is moved around while the sound is playing, and then a stereo track is created out of two mono instances, creating that lovely flanger-like sound. The darbouka just sits there, but you can really hear how the bassline takes on the timbre, if you have ever played one yourself.

I have a large diaphgram condenser microphone placed above the objects to capture a bit of air sound, but basically what you hear is the sound from a contact microphone layered over the original bassline.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Self-made waterphone. The transducers are the white elements on the left.

The transducer elements are around 20-40$ or so on Ebay. I´m using a super cheap Lepai amp from Ebay to run them. They cost  from 10$ upwards, and are high quality! I use quality contact microphones from K&K. You can also build a contact microphone out of a buzzer element, there´s lots of tutorials on the net. The twin spot mics I use are around 70$ online, and the preamp is around 100$, so combined you would be spending around 200$ for a quality setup, and less if you scavenge and get creative. You will want contact microphones anyway sooner or later, so they are a good investment.

If you are too lazy to work with the transducers, you can also just place a loudspeaker next to the object you want to use, and use contact microphones like usual. At least some of the vibrational energy will be picked up by the object, altough I suspect you will be losing a lot of volume, and probably get a bit more coloured frequency response.

I bought my mics and the preamp from Experimental Musical Instruments, the company of Bart Hopkins, who is the grand old man of experimental instrument building, and who used to publish Experimental Instruments, the probably most interesting (maga)zine in history of music publishing. The complete back catalogue of the issues is a very cheap and much recommended buy, and will provide you with at least a lifetime´s worth of ideas for sound creation and design. (the site seems to be experiencing problems as I´m writing this, but I´m sure it will be online sooner or later…)

So, that´s all! Now just go and experiment. This will work wonders with pads etc. Also you can create a plate reverb with a bit of tinkering (I might make another tutorial on this later!), and actually the waterphone has also a decay of several seconds if everything is set right, so it can also act as a more portable version of a full-sized plate element.

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Lau Lau 11.5.2016

So, it´s going to be a hot dancefloor again in Israel this spring:

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Other news? Well, a few parties that are yet to be officially announced, but this one in Finland for example will be great I think:

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Other than that, no new music or much else. I´ve been busy moving my house and studio (again!), I´m writing my master´s thesis, and so on… But I have a ton of ideas, I hope to get back to music as soon as possible, maybe next winter or so.

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Aavepyörä audio crafting #2 – Image editing of sounds

Hello, and welcome to the second installment of my audio crafting series.

This series aims to teach you about the fine craft of sound design by hand, and promote free non-commercial tools.

Ever wondered how it would be to be able to edit sounds in a more visual way just like paintings?

In case you are not yet familiar with the technology, I have good news: you can!

Mac users might be familiar with Metasynth, and Photosounder opens up the possibilites for Windows users. But there also exists a free cross-platform tool called VirtualANS, available to all operating systems. I am using the Linux version, but the other versions should perform in an identical way.

So let’s start with a speech sample here:

I found that the resynthesis actually sounded better for this speech sample using the low sound quality option. The “high quality filter bank” option resulted in some ringing. I chose 2048 pixels for the height, and 64 pixels per beat with a BPM of 141. Higher settings give a more accurate representation of the sound. Use a low pixel height for a more robotic sound. I selected only 6 octaves for the sound in the import window, and around 150hz for the lowest frequency, since the original Youtube source did not contain any frequency data above octave 7. Now the data is nicely represented by the whole size of the image.

virtualANS.png

Here is the image exported as PNG to Gimp

speech.png

And here I have created a grid of 1/16th of the image width, so I could sync the sounds to a 4/4 time if needed.

gimp-export.png

I then made a few transforms, rotating two of the layers a bit, moving them around, and applying a mosaic effect and left/right mirroring to the upper harmonics of the final words. You will now see how conditioned the human brain is to understand speech. When the spectrum changes, it quickly turns to almost incomprehensible noise in our minds. Here, I rotated the layers at most just a few degrees, but already the speech starts to be hard to follow at times. Also note how I have pasted every word to their own layer, this makes it much easier to do edits if I wanted to continue with this sound.

gimp-export1-edited-basic.png

Be prepared to do a lot of back and forth jumping between VirtualANS and Gimp to fine tune what you are doing. And don’t stress about the sound becoming more and more alien sounding between each edit for now, it’s part of the spectral fun!

Now import what ever you did back to VirtualANS. After you have imported the image, VirtualANS will lose all settings, so you must set the octave, lowest frequency and speed settings again. But you can also abuse this. Using different values from the original will distort the sound, stretching or compressing the spectrum.

I got this:

A more useful thing to do is to work with the harmonics of melodic samples. You can tame instruments that have dissonant harmonics, and in general have more freedom over the timbre of the sound than is possible with any other method of editing.

Here is a sound of a softly plucked muted kantele I built some years ago:

Here is how the unprocessed sound looks like when exported to Gimp. I used the high quality filters option and all 12 octaves in VirtualANS for this particular example. There is no sound in the uppermost octaves in the original recording, but I wanted to have that space available in case I wanted to put something there to make the sound more crisp:

kantele.png

I copied all the harmonics except the lowest one and pasted them into a single new layer. I then stretched them horizontally so that the longest decay is now as long as the fundamental of the original sound. I then moved the layer in “lighten” layer mix mode so that the ex-second harmonic closely coincides with the fundamental. This creates a somewhat beating, metallic sound.

kantele-harmonics.png

And now, for something completely different. A lecture. This will help in thinking creatively about acoustics and harmonics.

Why does that sound sound “metallic” to us? Why do sounds quickly degrade to glassy/watery noise when doing spectral editing?

In the real word, most instruments have very specific harmonic content. A vibrating string will generally create a fundamental, then a harmonic an octave above, and so on. Practically all melodic western instruments are dominated by the octave having an 1:2 ratio in the harmonics.

In practice, it’s quite rare that a vibrating object would create no overtones at all. An ocarina gets close, creating a vibration quite close to a sine wave.

Ever attached a weight to a guitar string? Go ahead, try it (wax, Blu-Tak, or anything that sticks works)! You will change the mass properties of the string, thus wildly changing the overtone content.

A notable exception to the vibrations of musical instruments are the ones made from vibrating masses of metal like bars and tubes. Go look at the frequency content of a gamelan instrument, and you’ll see that the overtone content does not follow the familiar 1:2 octave-based relationship of guitars, flutes, pianos, and whatever we area accustomed to listening. And actually the same goes for marimba bars too. Ever wondered why they are scalloped at the bottom? That’s to move the harmonics around for a more balanced sound, especially when more than one note is played at the same time.

We have a great memory. Sounds with inharmonic content sound “metallic” because we have heard enough pieces of metal being hit to associate their particular overtone characteristics with metal materials.

Consider sounds created from photographs with image synthesizers. The overtone content has arguably a very sensible structure, like a picture of a dog for an example. But probably it would be almost impossible to think of a physical object that could vibrate in such a way as to create a similar overtone content. And our brains, having no point of reference, can’t really connect the with anything in the real world.

If you want to mimick sounds that resemble something real, try to stick to horizontal harmonics that don’t bend too much, and have some vertical recurring structure.

Next, I recorded a sound of a wine glass being hit.

And here the same sound after resynthesis. I am losing the attack (and some volume, but that could be remedied by increasing the brightness of the image), but who is interested in perfect recreations anyway? This is mutant sound art! Give me those artifacts!

glass.png

What if we want to do some more careful editing on the spectrum? We need a guide. Luckily we can snatch one very easily from a screenshot of VirtualANS, since it helpfully shows the corresponding notes of the different frequencies on the left.

I cut, pasted and scaled it from the screenshot to a transparent layer over the sound. Now it will be very easy to move the harmonics around, or even create new ones where desired. You could even tune a gamelan hit…

guide.png

Let’s zoom in and see what we have here?

guide-closeup.png

The fundamental is at C2 (which I knew already, since I tuned the glass by filling it with water and checking with a guitar tuner before sampling), and then harmonics at almost every C and F until C6, where we have a lot of diffuse stuff. That’s not a lot of information actually, yet our ears and brains unmistakably can place the sound as “glassy”.

Actually most of the information we use to recognize sounds come from the noisy attack portion. Sadly, that is the hardest part to resynthesize from sine waves, since the phase information of the partials is lost when doing the required fourier transform and windowing . Another important source of information (since the lowest partials resemble each other on any instrument anyway) are the upper harmonics. Here most vibrating physical objects lose the simple octave relationship, and much more complex interactions occur.

What this means in practice is, that we can make subtle psychoacoustic tricks by mixing the fundamentals of one sound with the harmonics of another sound.

I want to raise those F harmonics to G, and also want to increase their sustain, imitating a physical object with less internal damping. Which would be a requirement hard to meet in the real world, since glass already has very little damping.

Actually another way to promote the partials would be to excite the object harder. But just try hitting the glass much harder than I already did… And of course you could bow it. Actually should too. Bow everything and sample it. Everything! Bowing is a very good way to impart a continuous flow of energy into the object, and interesting sounds can be found from many things. I used a bowed multisample of that same wineglass on several tracks already… I really love the effect!

But back to editing.

It’s just a simple matter of copy and paste here. I also duplicated the harmonic at F4 to C4, since C4 didn’t have one. To keep things more interesting I deleted the the fundamental and first harmonic of the kantele sound used earlier, and moved the rest of the harmonics of the kantele to coincide with C and G harmonics of the glass sound. Now we have a completely new, composite sound, exciting, no?

Here is how the sound looks like after all this:

glass-composite.png

Sounds laser sharp, really! (laser harp?)

And there, all that remains for now is a small test loop with the three sounds for the melody: first the harmonically enhanced glass sound, then the original unedited resynthesized sound, and finally with the original raw recording that didn’t go through VirtualANS.

Remember, here the imagination is the only limit! And I suggest having some method when doing this, because it’s easy to end up with sounds that are not really very useful. Also vocoding, etc is possible. Just think about it: the sounds really are opened up on the operation table, and you are the master surgeon here.

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Aavepyörä audio crafting #1, intelligent drum replacement

For some time I have been thinking about starting to write a series of inspirational journal entries about creative sound design. I assume that you are familiar with all functions of your DAW, as well as other basic sound processing methods. Sometimes you might need also special hardware.

I am mostly working in Linux using the KXStudio distribution and Bitwig, but the principles and mostly software too will be identical to any other OS.

First up: intelligent drum replacement by hand.

Why intelligent? Because it’s you doing all the work, of course :)
If you need to process long recordings with hundreds of individual drum hits, or are working on a schedule, you might be better off using a drum replacement plugin. These, however, struggle to deal with loops with multiple types of percussion sounds, and recordings with melodic instruments. Also, it’s always good to be aware of free ways of doing things. And third, I just enjoy a crafting approach to building sounds, I prefer to do things from ground up by hand.

First choose the beat. I chose a track from Haikara, a Finnish 70 prog band. There’s a nice classic beat, with an instrumental stab on top.

I matched the BPM of the song to hit the grid nicely, just to make things that much more clear. In Bitwig, just place the first beat on beat 0, and tweak the clip tempo until you see the beats fall nicely on the grid.

Beat grid matching

Next, listen to the loop and decide which instruments you want to replace. This beat has only a kick, snare and one hihat, pretty straightforward.
I chose samples I sampled from a SammichSID synthesizer, it’s a great piece of kit that uses real SID chips used famously by the Commodore 64 computer.

Then it’s just basically a matter of dropping the samples to place by hand using the loop as an  guide. Easy! In Bitwig there is an extremely useful “layered editing” option to zoom in the clips and do exactly this kind of surgical work and line up different samples. It’s visually very well thought out, making it a snap to line up samples in different clips. I keep the BPM fairly slow at this point to make it easier to hear what’s going on in the track.

Bitwig layered editor close up

Here you can see all the individual beats lined up in the editor:

Bitwig layered event editor

Here you can hear the sounds mixed with the original track, as well as the dry C64 drums.

So that’s the very simple method, that works in any DAW. But what if you want to afterwards change the sounds? Here too Bitwig comes in real handy, since you can do layered editing also with instrument clips, and choose an audio track as the background.

Bitwig lining up notes to audio

So I created a drum machine with the three samples loaded, and wrote a MIDI track. Remember, you’ll want to work with all snap options disabled the whole time, so you don’t lose the timing of the original beat.

Here is now the finished loop with the hihat track made earlier in the background. And of course now you could trigger a modular synth with these samples by placing square wave samples to use as gates on the slots, use MIDI filtering tools, and whatever you can come up with to spice up those tracks.

Finished drum machine clip

And here you can listen to the dry signal from the drum machine and the original track mixed with the triggered drums :

And of course, now that you have a groove going, you can just use the hihat track as a guide for example to place a bassline, play a lead from they keyboard, picking up the feel of the beat, etc…

That’s it for now. I hope this gave you some inspiration or fresh ideas for your productions!

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Hengen aurinko, the new album is SO REALLY OUT!

front-net

There is really nothing more to say, but: enjoy with love!

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Kaleidoscope

Soon, welcome friends old and new in Ukraine to:

SlN-GRMOdPA

Main stage live acts:

HUX FLUX , SHAKTA, DERANGO, INZECT, TAIGAN SUNSET, TIME FOR SLIME, LACERTA and of course AAVEPYORA :)

+ lots and lots more of nice stuff!

Oh, and the album is ready. More about that hopefully still before June ;)

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