More Than a Little Digital

All of that said, I have increased my use over the years of tools and techniques that simply did not exist when I was young. Some of the sounds on my albums were produced using completely digital synthesis. These are often in the form of digital audio samples or the output of VST plugins using software like Ableton Live and Sonic Pi. Using Ableton Live, I can play a keyboard (to within the very narrow limis of my skill) to produce more conventionally tonal music. Some pieces consist only of tracks recorded in this way, while others combine analog and digital sound sources in various ways.

For example, the two versions of Farandole Lamentoso on my recent album The Modern Temple of Amusement were created using a single Sonic Pi program generating output in two ways: the "8-bit mix" consists of a digital audio file generated directly by Sonic Pi using some of its built-in digital synthesizers. The "2600 remix" uses the Behringer 2600 as the sound source, driven by the same Sonic Pi program, but by sending a sequence of MIDI commands rather than generating digital audio directly. Because the 2600 is monophonic, the latter version required running the program multiple times with slight modifications each time to produce the MIDI sequence for each voice separately.

Another piece, Ghostly Reminiscences, on the same album as the Farandole, was produced entirely as the output of another Sonic Pi program. Even when using digital tools like Sonic Pi, I tend to use randomization and sonic layering to produce unconventional timbres, rhythms and harmonies that will vary endlessly no matter how long they are looped. These Ruby source code files are the closest I am likely to come to writing "scores" for any of my music. This is my "West Coast" approach applied to using "East Coast" inspired gear and software.