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Sound[e]scape
       
   

Before composing this one, I'd been listening to quite a lot of post-rock. The likes of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mount Zion, and one or two others. At the same time, someone mentioned to me that the trouble with computer made music was that it always sounded mechanical, unemotional and rigid.

Now to me, that sounds like a challenge.

A common device used by post-rock bands is instruments playing not-quite in time. It doesn't sound like it should, but it can actually be surprisingly effective. Ordinarily when I create music digitally, I manually correct the notes to start at exactly the right time. It's a process known as Quantisation. Most MIDI programs will do it for you automatically, but I tend to disable this option, as it often interprets what you wanted innacurately, and is generally quite sloppy. I prefer to do it myself, by hand. An important point to mention though, is that I only quantise the beginnings of the notes, not the ends. If the notes start and stop at precisely the right time, it really does sound overly mechanical and rigid. I leave the endings of the notes as I played them, for a more organic sound.

However, for this song I didn't quantise the beginnings of the notes. In fact, I didn't even make any real effort to stay in time. It's actually quite surprising how much listeners rely on percussion to let them know just what the right time is - versions of this song I tried with drums included sounded horribly sloppy and out of time. Without drums, though, it works quite well as a soundscape.

The instruments here are sampled guitar, sitar, gong and cello, with some very strange reverse reverb on the guitar. The sitar largely follows the guitar, but with some variations, and the cello part was entirely improvised.

 
       
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