Ringtone: Soundtrack for Synthesizer and Voice

A friend of mine and I were tinkering around with a synthesizer one day in the studio. He was making different kinds of sounds and going through all kinds of loops. We recorded the whole thing.

Later I sat down with the footage and thought it might make a good mantra-like track, so I cut it up, decided I wanted one word to go with it. Just one, repeated over and over again. It took me forever to decide which one.

It finally occurred to me to look up what words have recently been officially added to the dictionary. (I forget which one, whether it was Webster’s or whatever.) One of the new additions in 2017 was “ringtone.” It was perfect for this project. I hope you enjoy it.

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Power and Light: A soundtrack from Kansas City

About a month ago I visited Kansas City, MO and, as I always do, recorded some sounds while I was there.

 

I finally got to mixing this track in early January, and I wanted to get it done before I headed out of town again, so in my haste, I put it together, assured myself that I applied enough EQ, mixed it down, posted it on soundcloud, and called it complete.

That was a mistake.

When I got back to town, I sat down with Cubase again and figured out relatively quickly that the whole thing would be vastly improved by fiddling with the bass EQ in just about every channel. This took a lot of the background noise out of the track without sacrificing any of the richness of the sounds that I wanted to feature in the track.

In field recording, the bass range is often rife with useless noise (rumbles, wind) and wasted speaker power. A hi-pass filter will do a lot of the work for you, but often you have to go a step or two further. And, as I now know, you can’t do this right when you’re in a hurry. Ears don’t hear as well when they’re on the clock.

The above clip is the new and improved version. It features crosswalk signals and the streetcar from Kansas City’s Power and Light District. The building pictured above is the Power and Light Building. The track also features footage from the December 10 matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. I hope you enjoy it.

Recent Cubase Soundtracks

I’ve made a series of soundtracks recently from field recordings I’ve taken here and there. These are not always the easiest to put together, but it’s always a lot of fun.

Anyone who knows me knows that I drink entirely too much coffee. I consider it to be one of the four food groups. I’d sooner give up alcohol–I think. I love the fact that Bach wrote a Coffee Cantata, at a time, according to Victor Borge, when coffee was considered a vice more akin to illegal drugs today. I decided I wanted to make my own coffee cantata, but instead of stringed instruments and singers, I decided to use the percolator that’s in my kitchen.

 

Another recording I made was of Philly’s famous Trolley Poet, Mike Fuller, who’s been featured in a number of stories. First I recorded him, then I mixed the soundtrack, then I got his permission. Perfectly backwards process, but it worked. I didn’t do much manipulating with this one, as I wanted to preserve the deliberate rhythm of his speech and the long pauses he employs, several of which allowed other sounds to come out of the texture and make music along with him.

 

(That’s my picture in the soundcloud link, not the Trolley Poet’s, alas.)

I’ve been using Cubase for my soundtracks. I’m now in the process of learning Reaper, a program with lots of potential. Hopefully I’ll have some results from that experiment soon.

I truly believe that music is everywhere, and I listen for it constantly in the most random things. If I didn’t, I’d go crazy from the oppressive prosaic character of day to day life.

New Projects

I haven’t been here in a while, but I’ve been keeping myself busy. In the past year, I’ve been putting together a lot of soundtracks that make use of field recordings–musique concrete, in essence. Music is everywhere, really, in everything from machines to the melody of the speaking voice, and even in the creaks and groans of equipment that isn’t working properly. My goal is to bring it out of the texture of everyday noise and synthesize it into something cohesive.

Here is my first effort in this genre. The material was collected from a series of protests held in Philadelphia during the 2016 Democratic National Convention. It not only makes use of human speech, but also a recorded heartbeat, and a Gregorian chant. This will be the first track of the album I’m currently finishing up.

 

Commissions

If you would like to commission me to write a piece, please contact me at hocket [at] gmail.com. We can discuss details and negotiate a fee depending on the circumstances. I’m adventurous in terms of genre, so please don’t be afraid to throw your wildest ideas at me!