Before beginning this project, I found it was necessary to explore some of the basic assumptions that I was taking for granted regarding:
1) A structured system for sample processing and performance that is suited to the particulars of this project
2) A clearly communicable and reproducible process for carrying out this work
My first basic assumption was that I have an established method of sampling that would suit this project. Upon exploring this I realized two obvious but unconscious factors:
The majority of music I have created in the past has relied on samples from commercial recordings – thus the amount of sample processing required was minimal (as samples were already polished to a professional standard). Thus I have had no structured process for gleaning samples from my own recordings
To create a workflow for processing long studio recordings, which is efficient but flexible. After some experimentation with various pieces of software I have chosen to use Adobe Audition as the main tool for this purpose, as it seems to have a superior sound quality to other pieces of software, and the interface design suits my needs well
The structure of my produced music has previously been entirely dependent on interface paradigms of whatever software I was using at the time (Modplug Tracker from 2000 – 2008 and Ableton Live from 2008 to the present), neither of which suit the production and improvisational flexibility needed for this project
I will use my own software instruments for all aspects (other than the initial sample editing in Audition) of effects processing and improvised laptop performance as I know their sound intimately and they provide a finer grain of spontaneous effects control and playback manipulation. It also allows me to customize and alter them as needs arise.
My Second basic assumption was that my production and performance methods would be self-evident to the reader, towards my intended aesthetic goal, and thus not need to be explained. Another two factors are thus revealed for clarification:
By beginning to document the technical aspects of this process so far, I’ve realized how many discrete steps are involved -- encompassing a broad spectrum of audio production techniques.
This workflow from studio to laptop performance is thus not necessarily self-evident, even to a professional, as it could be approached in many different ways.
In the interests of clarity and achieving a degree of reproducibility, the process will be documented step by step in this blog:
This may also help to delineate what methods are intuitive for me and what are grounded/researched practices – for example microphone placement in the studio is, for me, intuitive rather than precise, whereas sample editing is careful and meticulous.
My intended aesthetic outcome is not easily communicable to others. I have a clear intuition about it, and can easily cite influences, but there is no specific musical performance or audio production techniques that I can ground the work in. However, I’m not working towards free improvisation either – rhythmic structure and tonality will not be completely subsumed by timbrel and temporal manipulations.
Through the process of practicing my laptop improvisations, I envisage that this methodology will become clearer – I will discover with increasing specificity what works and what doesn’t in terms of sample combinations, control methods (MIDI and OSC mappings), sample manipulation, and my own performative limitations. I can only speculate on this now, but the process will also be carefully documented in this blog.