Sound From Diagrams and The Vivarium

posted by on 2010.04.01, under art, design, exhibition, music, performance

The Diagram

For a long time now, I have had a habit, or method, of laying out my audio/installation/performance projects by drawing simple, yet detailed, diagrams of all the parts.
These diagrams would help me to organize the signal flow, parts list and layout for the projects. I would actually use them to figure out how many cables to buy, with what connections, and so on. Often I would start with a looser version, that helps to lay out the conceptual parts of the work, and how the parts are related, which I refine a few times until I am ready to draw every little cord, element, and plug.
For the performances of Public/Private and Local Music I scanned and cleaned up my diagrams and included them in booklets I made for each show. Here is one from Public/Private:

This little diagramming habit got me curious about other sound diagrams, and I dug up some interesting ones out there, including this gem from Brian Eno, showing how his analogue infinite tape loop system for Discreet Music worked.

There are also tons of people around the internet either posting their sound rigs, or diagramming bands set ups, so you can finally find out what kind of hardware they are using, in what configuration, to get that specific sound.
Here is a simple diagram of a guitar rig (found here):

Here is an example of a pedal-board layout, used as a guide for Ronnie Cramer here to build a flight-case mounted effects board.

The diagram is getting more representative here, and this is the prevalent style on the Guitar Geek website, a database of performers’ guitar set ups diagrammed in this fashion by fans. Check out Robert Fripp’s set up here.

While these diagrams are interesting, they are merely graphic representations of the arrangement and connections of the tools of some musicians. They borrow the logic of the circuit diagram, long used to draw out and conceptually test circuits prior to actual constructing them, but keep none of the symbols. It is actually in the symbols that the circuit diagram really gets useful – the ability of the drawing to represent the functions of physical objects in such a precise way that you can actually trouble shoot your circuit from the drawing. I am interested in these properties of the diagram, and the possibilities of using the diagram to structure sound in a more direct way.


The Voice of Saturn synthesizer (used in video below) schematic

Vivarium

Several months ago I got into a conversation with Juan Azulay of Matter Management about Moog synthesizer wiring. I think he had just posted looking for someone who knew how to wire a Moog (I do not), and I responded with some video of a (much simpler) kit synthesizer that I had built.

The legendary Moog


My synth and delay setup

This short exchange led to my joining his Vivarium team as sound designer. For this project, I was vaguely tasked with creating a hybrid bio-electronic synthesizer which would take sensor input from a collection of living organisms and their support systems (light, heat, water), merge them with a set of software based systems, and output sound which was responsive to changes in both the living organisms, the support systems, and the software systems.
The sound system was to work in parallel with a video system of even greater complexity, created by a media team headed up by Doug Wiganowske. It will be taking input from cameras, feeding that to a series of virtual organisms (built as an evolving software construct by Nicholas Pisca), and merging all of that with video shot during the whole process of making the Vivarium. This is all finally output to a set of monitors in the media field of the final installation.

I began the sound design process by diagramming inputs, processes, and relationships that could be set up within this system, based on an assumed list of organisms and support systems. At the same time I began to search for sensors that could take the data we wanted, and translate it to MIDI so I could use it to work with the audio and data signals within the software. At this point I was worried I would have to build these sensors and processors by hand, and was looking to side-step that long process. I also started research into what software would be best for the set up.

The media and sound teams then collaboratively worked out a diagram of all the media for the installation, as a framework from which to develop our systems.

I found a couple of patch-based software packages that would be appropriate for the project, and began working with one of them, Audio Mulch, to develop test patches.
From the Audio Mulch website:

AudioMulch is an interactive musician’s environment for PC and Mac. It is used for live electronic music performance, composition and sound design.
AudioMulch allows you to make music by patching together a range of sound producing and processing modules.

I also found a source for the sensors I needed, an ordered a few so that I could test my input devices with my software patches. The result of this first test (using some of my sounds and a short sample from the band Double).


(video was generated using Akira RabelaisArgeïphontes Lyre software)

In Audio Mulch, patches are created by objects dragging onto a “patcher” area and connecting them with patch cords. The objects themselves are chosen from a list of various types of audio handlers, generators, or processors. Once a patch has been assembled, in flow-chart diagram fashion where you can actually follow the path the signal takes through the patch cords, then adjustments can be made to each element in the editor panel beside the patcher. The power of this program for me was that each object was able to have midi input assigned to adjust any of its parameters, enabling sensors to be to control almost any element of the sound. Also, the complexity and fidelity of the available objects was quite impressive.

Here, the diagram has become the instrument and sound generator itself, and as I constructed patch diagrams, I was building the software synthesizer the would generate sound from my array of sensors.

After working within this system for many weeks, Juan and the team suggested I look into using MAX/MSP to build my patches. MAX/MSP is also a patch based, flow-chart like software tool, but in contrast to Audio Mulch’s small set of fixed audio objects, MAX/MSP is simply a visual programming environment of limitless application. From the MAX website:

An interactive graphical programming environment for music, audio, and media. Max is the graphical programming environment that provides user interface, timing, communications, and MIDI support. MSP adds on real-time audio synthesis and DSP (digital signal processing), and Jitter extends Max with video and matrix data processing.

While this would open up the sound system to many new possibilities, it would require that I learn a whole programming syntax – quite a bit complex than just using new software with a simple user interface. I set about going through tutorials, taking apart demonstration patches, and building simple sound elements to test what I could and couldn’t learn to do within the time frame of the project.


A simple MAX patch synthesizer from the MAX tutorial pages.

Unlike using Audio Mulch, configuring the sensors to work with MAX/MSP was a challenge at first since it required unraveling the syntax of the sensor manufacturer’s proprietary MAX objects. Once I had figured out all the tricks to get MAX and the sensors to talk, I made a simple light driven MIDI piano patch. You can see in this short video how casting shadows on the sensor will affect the simple MIDI piano sounds being generated randomly through the software.

With the sensors now talking to the software, I compiled an array of individual MAX patches, one for each type of sound or effect I wanted to include in the final sound system. Here I was limited a bit by my new knowledge of MAX, and will continue to refine and add to these patches throughout the duration of the installation. The complexity of the MAX system as compared to my previous Audio Mulch is system is more additive – building many simple elements into a large patch rather then building each element to create more complex sounds.

The modules in the above patch are color-coded by type, and each separated into boxes for clarity. Below them all of the individual audio channels are run into a mixer made up of individual faders and volume displays, then mixed down to the two speaker channels. In the final patch I added a filter at the end of each channel to guard against damaging low frequencies. I also had some help here from Michael Feldman in getting the patches to do what I wanted.

The patch at this point consisted of the following modules:

Stereo file player with sensor controlled pitch (on each stereo channel) and speed
Stereo file player with sensor controlled phasing and delay effects
Microphone input 1 with sensor controlled filter, phasing and delay effects
Microphone input 2 with sensor controlled filter, phasing and delay effects
A chorus of cricket sounds, each with sensor controlled speed (to replicate the acutual crickets that will be in the Vivarium)
A minor chord synthesizer, with the root note created by sensor data, with sensor controlled octave switch and filters
A frequency modulation synthesizer driver by sensor data
And two simple tone generators driven by sensor data

I ran a studio test, using the sensors I had available and the ambient conditions of my loft to control the patch. In the real installation, there is be an array of eight sensors, placed among the biology inside the Vivarium to control the patch.

Last week the final sensors arrived, I made the necessary tweaks to the patch, and spent several days installing the whole system while the Vivarium was being completed around me.

The Vivarium officially opened on March 26th with a small SCI-Arc reception, but over the next two weeks we will continue to refine the systems on site, getting everything optimized for a public reception and talk (between Matter Management’s Juan Azulay and SCI-Arc’s director Eric Owen Moss) on April 9th. During this time, I will also be working on getting the whole sound system to broadcast live over the web.

Matter Management’s Vivarium Installation is currently on display at SCI-Arc‘s Gallery.

Mountain Mountain

posted by on 2009.12.11, under music, products

Mountain mountain spread 1

This past weekend I finally finished putting together my latest collection of songs/audio experiments. Mountain Mountain includes tracks from 2004-2009, some are soundtracks to video or installation works, others solo guitar performances or studio sound experiments using a handmade synthesizer, various small instruments, my trusty e-bow and layered delay effects.

The CD is available as a first edition of 100, signed and numbered on the inside of the fold and made right here in the Rise Industries studios. Its super DIY, handmade music.

The CD is $15.00
with 3.00 shipping and handling
1.50 S&H for each additional CD.
(from Jeremy J. Quinn Design store)

Payment accepted from either PayPal or credit card (with no need to sign in).
I will be shipping these up until the 19th of December, then I will resume on the 5th of January, so if you order in between those dates it will take a little longer to get.

Here are excerpts from each of the tracks:
01. The Winding Path 1:20

02. Soundtrack to Western Descender 8:11

03. Soliloquy 2:22

04. Curlicues and a Broad Marker 10:26

05. Sounds From the Afternoon (with Michael Feldman) 10:12

06. Whale Song 8:18

Bonus Track: Tetsuo Loses Control 5:30

MM front sml

MM open

Building a better cricket trap

posted by on 2009.12.08, under art, music, video

Lately I have been experimenting with a slew of different audio tools, both hardware and software – analogue and digital. Eventually the ideas and methods will work their way into this project, Matter Management‘s Vivarium, which I am doing sound design for. It will be constructed, birthed, and will die in the Sci-Arc Gallery, and is the creation of MM’s CEO Juan Azulay. The sound portion of the Vivarium takes on the identity of a sort of organic and machine hybrid synthesizer with many layers of interactivity.
This little test is a tongue-in-cheek software and MIDI input test (using a simple controller to alter several different parameters in how the sounds are shaped or generated) using the 80’s ballad The Captain of Her Heart by Double, a variable sine wave, and an ethereal audio track of my creation as its main audio inputs. Later on the controllers will all be sensors, and the sound will be – shall we say more brooding and insectile? The video up there was created using Akira Rabelais‘ intriguing software, Argeïphontes Lyre, which I have also been messing around with lately. Its rather difficult to get something intentional out of it (for me), but quite easy to find pleasant surprises when you just let it go ahead and do what it does (which, incidentally, is not actually obvious on the first, second or sometimes third tries).

Stay posted.. more to come.

Don’t let LAUSD cut Arts Education!

posted by on 2009.12.04, under art, design, education, music, news, performance, politics, video

This Tuesday, December 8, the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education will be voting on whether or not to cut 50% of all elementary arts education, with 100% cut the following school year. We cannot let this happen!

Please sign this petition and forward it on to anyone you know. This is too important to ignore, so make some noise and spread the word!


Arts District Open Studio Tour – This Saturday!

posted by on 2009.12.04, under architecture, art, design, music, rise info, video

Rise Industries will be participating in the Arts District Open Studio Tours
This Saturday, December 5th from Noon- 7:00 pm

We are located at 837 Traction Ave. Suite 307, Los Angeles 90013 on the third floor. Traction is diagonally between 4th and Alameda, right next door to SCI-Arc.

Come on by and check out our space and some of our ongoing and recent work. We will be hanging out and perhaps rocking some impromptu sound performances with fellow Rise member Michael Feldman. Mike will also bring some of his recent works for you to check out.

We will have some prints and CDs or DVDs for sale as well.

There will be a shuttle/limo taking people around to the different open studio sites, and there will also be an after party at EAST 3RD STEAKHOUSE from 7pm to 2pm hosted by Edgar Varela and Jerico

LOFTS AND STUDIOS PARTICIPATING:
Traction Avenue Lofts (traction Avenue), Neptune Building (E. 3rd Street), Art Share LA (with group exhibition, holiday Bazaar and children performances 1pm and 5pm, Crazy Gideon store front (Traction Ave), Café Metropol (3rd Street) , 900 Building (1st/Vignes), River Front Loft (Santa Fe Ave), Toy Warehouse Loft (Santa Fe Ave), Barker Block, Toy Factory Lofts – Daniel Lahoda Fine Arts – Biscuit Lofts – 1820 Studios – LACE building (Industrial Street), Factory Place Lofts (Factory Place), EVFA (on Alameda, Seaton Street Lofts (Seaton Street)

For more info see the Facebook event page here or the LADAD website.

reverse color organ

posted by on 2009.11.23, under art, music, news

This is a project I started working on with painter Ellen Hackl Fagan several years ago to convert/interpret abstract visuals into sound.  She has continued it with several other collaborators since.  This is the current iteration.  They are working on a version that works over the web…

Reverse Color Organ

Cousin Junebug Live at Dinner House M

posted by on 2009.10.10, under music, performance
CJB will be playing at easily the coolest music club in DTLA (if not all of LA). This place is what happens when integrity motivates. Couches. Great service. Hot food. Hot people. LATE drinks. (early drinks.) Come as you are. Be who you are. Dinner House M loves all.
When:  Saturday, October 17th
We hit it at 10 and go to around 1:30.
(That’s a whole lot of funk.)
Where:  Dinner House M
1263 W Temple St. 90026
$:  6 cover, all of which goes directly to the band!
RSVP on our facebook page!
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149855707257&ref=mf

enough about human rights

posted by on 2009.10.10, under music

I heard this song on KXLU last week, was really intrigued by this guy, Moondog.  Lived on the streets of NY for 20 years and was known as “The Viking of 6th Avenue” due to his following of beliefs of Viking god Thor.  I purchased his album “H’art Songs’ and discovered a delightful exploration of piano harmonies, and bach-like fugues mixed with quarky lyrics of sociopolitical and philosophical themes.  This guy was out there, to say the least!

Long Beach SoundWalk 2009

posted by on 2009.10.06, under art, music, performance, public art, review

This past weekend Michele and I headed down to Long Beach to install her video and check out this years crop of sound works installed for their annual audio-art festival. The show was bigger this year, and a good crowd showed up, but I didn’t find much work I found interesting this time around. Last years show was a real stand-out to me, got to see if I have photos lying around of that I can post later. There were a few things this year that grabbed my attention of course, notably D. Jean Hester’s field recording style audio tour of the SoundWalk (which made me want to carry a mic and headphones around everywhere I go), and Flora Kao’s sound sculptures. Michele’s video installation too of course, but I may be a bit biased towards that one.
Down there we met up with Rise member Mike Feldman and some others friends in the music industry, and talked a little about what failed to capture our attention this time around. We came to the conclusions that there was a bunch of work that had some technical things going on, but failed to bring any conceptual drive to it, and a bunch of work that was more traditionally “fine art” with sound added as an afterthought or not really bringing anything to the work. That and the usual sprinkling of works that either are rehashing of older artworks (when is an homage merely a copy?) and stuff that just didn’t work out at all. The event is so large that we may have missed a third of it altogether, so perhaps there was more out there which would have impressed us. I really wish it could extend to two days, as now its getting a bit large to take in during the course of one evening. Criticism aside, it really is a fantastic event every year – pretty amazing to see/hear sound art taking over a whole neighborhood for a night, and to run into little projects in every little nook and street corner. If anyone else was there and has some other project to point out that I missed, leave it in the comments please.

Sound Installation by Flora Kao from Jeremy Quinn on Vimeo.

Also check out more of Flora’s work on her website.

SoundWalk2009

posted by on 2009.09.29, under art, culture, exhibition, music, performance, public art

My new video/sound installation, i dream in your language, will be presented at this year’s SoundWalk, “a one-night event of sound installations by over 50 local and international sound artists.” Works are spread throughout the area encompassed by Broadway, Atlantic Avenue, Ocean Boulevard, and Elm Street with a sound corridor on 1st Street that will connect the East Village and Pine Avenue. The art is exhibited in a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces. Mine will be at Phantom Galleries on the southwest corner of 3rd and Elm Ave.

SW09 PARTICIPATING ARTISTS:
Aaron Drake / After School Program / Alexander Jarman / AMO / Amy Ling Huynh / Andrea Dominguez / Bekkah Walker / Braden Diotte / Caroline Chang & Kyoung Kim / Clowns and Fetuses / D. Jean Hester / Divine Brick Research Sound Projects / Double Blind / Elisabeth McMullin & Kegan McGurk / Erin Scott / Eric Strauss / FLOOD / Flora Kao / Francene Kaplan & Ryan Hunt / Gary Raymond / G. Douglas Barrett (Buffalo) / Gintas K (Lithuania) / HOLLOW BODIES / HumanEar / j.frede / Iris Lancery & Cyril Marche (France) / Jeff Boynton / Jeff Rau / Joe Newlin / John Kannenberg (Chicago) / Joseph Tepperman & Dorian Wood / Julia Holter / Justin Varis & Kevin Ponto / Kadet Kuhne / Karen Crews & Brian Hendon / Kari Rae Seekins / Leah A. Rico / Lewis Keller / Machine Head / Madelyn Byrne, Randy Hoffman & Ellen Weller / Mark Cetilia & Jon Coulthard / Michele Jaquis / Mitchell Brown / MLuM (Singapore/USA) / MPG Interactive Arts / Noah Thomas / Object Control / Ori Barel & Gil Omri Barel / OTONOMIYAKI / Paula Mathusen / phog masheeen / Phil Curtis / Phillip Stearns / Redux / Sander Roscoe Wolff / Scott Cazan / Small Drone Orchestra / smgsap / Song-Ming Ang / Steve Craig / Steve Roden / Steven Speciale / Stuart Sperling / Tamara Mason / The Hop-Frog Kollectiv & Friends / The Carolyn Duo / Tom McDermott / UEM / Warren-Crow + Warren-Crow

Start Time: 05:00
Date: 2009-10-03
End Time: 10:00

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