#Blaugust – A New Direction

So, once upon a time, I used to write music, some of which ended up on my Soundcloud account here. I studied  composing, recording, post production, experimental audio coding etc. over several years, and have entire hard drives full of effects and samples. But somewhere down the line, I stopped. So I’d like to start again.

(This was an undergraduate track. The inspiration for this was Japanese Gagaku, James Clavell novels and a lot of artsy self-importance. I’m still proud of it, but I’ll be aiming for something a bit more easy-listening now.)

My friend Yoni (his Soundcloud is here) did a challenge a few years ago where he was putting out new new composition every month, and I think I’d like to do the same. It’s been a long time since I’ve used Cubase, or tried to compose anything, but I’ve been listening to various electronic/ambient playlists on Spotify and YouTube lately, and I know I used to be able to write music as good as any of the stuff that I’ve heard. Plus, when I move into my new apartment, I have some plans for the office space – getting my keyboard, guitars and microphones set up permanently and putting together a little recording studio space – or at least, that’s the dream!

So, after a brief panic in which I couldn’t find my Cubase USB authenticator, I’m getting started with some new synths, and starting to find my way around again. Restarting with Cubase is definitely worth a few more Blaugust posts, too.

playtime

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Latest YouTube Video – Baqueira-Beret Trip, January 2018

I finally finished up and published this video just yesterday, so I wanted to have a copy of it up on here. Is there a less appropriate time to make a video about being in the mountains in the depth of winter than during a July heatwave?

This is a pretty short snapshot travel vlog, made of some short videos and images I took on my phone whilst out skiing/exploring. Most of it is less about the actual skiing (since I can’t easily ski and film) but it’s still a really nice little reminder of the trip, and it’s always fun to keep my hand in with basic Adobe Premiere functions.

Blaugust Day 11 – Links Round-up and Thoughts

For today’s post, I had a bunch of a interesting links, but I didn’t think that I had enough thoughts on each one to create an entire post around it. So here’s two different interesting stories with my own annotations.

(Image from Techcrunch.com)

I’ve been using SoundCloud a lot more lately, particularly for listening to podcasts since my phone decided to start having problems with downloading them. I’ll admit, I personally don’t use it as a site for new music in the way that I do with Spotify – another site that struggled with profitability at first and only started to think about profitability late last year. However, most of my music friends have used it as an online portfolio – as did I as a music student. We use SoundCloud extensively at work for musical clips to advertise concerts and event to a potential audience – it makes for great content. It’s a fantastic site and I’ve glad that investors have stepped in to help it continue, but despite the obscene amount of wealth in the tech start-up industry, they can’t keep doing that forever The problem is that the free version of SoundCloud is almost too good. There isn’t enough incentive for most people to pay them, and asking users to pay for previously free content can be an issue. It’s a tricky situation and one that I hope they can find a way through, as SoundCloud is too good a platform to lose.

I’ve got less to say about this link but I did want to highlight it here, because it suggests that video streaming has hit a similar point to where audio streaming was ten years ago, when laws finally started to come in regarding how streaming could be used streaming technology had progressed to the point where lots of companies could create their own proprietary platforms. It didn’t work for music companies and it likely won’t work for video companies, so it may present a crossroads for the industry as a whole.

 

Blaugust Day Three Sound Impressions: A Salford Acoustics Experiment

A few days ago, The University of Salford’s Acoustics Department posted a link to an online survey/experiment called ‘Making Sense of Sound’ which (after I’d hunted down headphones and then realised that I didn’t need them) turned out to be about grouping sounds, that is, choosing words from a list and putting them in groups. You then had to choose a title for each of your five groups.

The link to the survey (assuming it’s still live whenever you’re reading this) is ‘Sort our Everyday Sounds’ on http://www.sound101.org

It was quite hard not to overthink this, as I only had a short time to do it in! (And there really isn’t a wrong answer.) The study seemed about the psychology of how we categorise and understand sound, and after end of the experiment, a page came up which explained a little more. The end goal is to improve audio search terms, so it was looking at a whole host of words that could be used to describe audio, from ‘urban’ to ‘unpleasant’ and trying to find out what people actually mean by those terms. It will be really interesting to see the results of this experiment, and how those results might have changed from the short-term study outlined on the web page.

Back to Video Editing 

Last night, I was downloading some footage off my sisters GoPro, I was reminded that I started to edit a video of some of our skiing trips. I loaded up the project, and was immediately reminded of how much I used to enjoy editing. After working on that project a little more, I went rummaging through the dark corners of my PC’s hard drive, and was reminded of how much different creative stuff I used to do. Photoshoots, Photoshopping, music, and videos. I found an old file of vlogs from my masters degree, and they weren’t anywhere near as cringy as I thought they might be. I could even be tempted to make more! (Maybe). 
So I’ll be revamping my defunct YouTube channel at some point soon (especially if the weather continues to be as wet as it currently is) and throwing up some videos, just for the fun of making them, and to whip my editing skills, such as they are, back into shape. 
One of my video problems has always been that while I enjoy editing I feel I’m less good at actually having an initial idea and filming it, which is something I would like to get over. So for the time being I’ll be looking back over any remaining old video clips on my computer, and seeing if there is anything that I can do with it.

Blogpril April 5th- now with more music

So I squandered the time that I should have been blogging listening to a lot of old favourite songs, which actually turned out to be no bad thing. With the rise of music streaming services, especially Spotify’s carefully curated playlists, which I have praised in the part and still think are a great idea to some degree, I’ve realised that at some point music became just background noise to me, rather than an actual emotional force. Since I’m now working for a musical organisation (as of this week) I’ve decided that won’t do at all. 

As a result I spent quite a bit of this evening deliberately picking out songs and pieces of music that I love/have loved and giving them a proper headphones on/eyes closed listening to. Some of them brought back strong and unexpected memories, which is something mood music playlists (though they absolutely have their place) can’t really do for me. I’ve resurrected my old MP3 player too, which will be travelling with me from now on, and I’ll be seeking out some new music from artists I already like, and trying to make some new emotional memories rather than treating music as part of the acoustic furniture.

Blaugust Day 29 – The Sound of an Empty Office

Full confession – the ‘strange post’ that I referred to in yesterday’s blog… Is not this one. I had much of that one written up, then as soon as I posted Friday’s blog and was about to go back to finish today’s… I decided that I didn’t like it. Moreover, I felt I had a better topic, and immediately decided to roll with that instead. 

I used to wrote quite a lot about sound and acoustics on this blog, since I did study audio for a long time. But the less I was was involved in audio, the less I wrote, and eventually those kind of posts petered put altogether.

Alongside this I had another realisation – I don’t listen in the same way any more either. A few years ago, picking sounds out my environment, isolating them in my mind, analysing them and even considering how they might be reproduced, or altered in  studio environment, was almost second nature to me. 

This hit me today while I was at work, probably because, usually, there were hardly any people in our large open plan offices, and for long periods of time I was sitting there completely by myself. I found myself starting to pay attention once more to the background noises that I’ve quite unconsciously learned to tune out – road traffic, the food processor in the restaurant downstairs, people chatting under the window.

Back when I was studying film audio, knowing about these sounds was vital, because they are what part of what make a film seem real, even if the audience don’t fully realise it. Picking out those sounds and recognising their importance is a learned skill, and one I’ve realised I don’t want to lose, even if I’m no longer in that field.