Last weekend, a collection of popular songs remixed into swing versions went viral on the Internet. They all used the “swinger.py” script in the trunk of Echo Nest Remix, a new python web services API for creating song remixes. The script sends sound files to Echo Nest — a Somerville, Massachusetts company — and then, using the data about the beats and song sections collected, manipulates the track into a swing version by “time-stretching the first half of each beat while time-shrinking the second half.” The result is rather uncanny, with the songs immediately more upbeat and swingy, without significant artifacts.
Although similar effects, at least for swing, can be administered in Ableton Live and other advanced Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), there is something magical about creating interesting remixes straight from the command line (especially with open source software!). Additionally, having the power of Python, along with the Echo Nest data, to manipulate song segments potentially enables an entirely new approach to remixing that is more algorithmic and comfortable for coders.
On Friday, June 25 at HacDC at 7:00PM, Todd Fine will introduce the Echo Nest Remix framework, do some live mixes (bring your mp3′s and wav’s), and the group will brainstorm about interesting algorithmic approaches to remixing (including music video manipulation). He will also talk about how SoX (Sound eXchange) effects can be added to Echo Nest Remix scripts to create an extreme command line studio. When Todd heard about the swinger.py example, he immediately created a version of Rick James’s “Super Freak” which has received over 2,500 listens on Soundcloud in the last several days. He is still learning the potential of the Echo Nest framework, and would highly encourage others in the D.C. area with experience to stop by and describe the work they have done.
On July 7 at 7:00PM, HacDC and DorkbotDC will together sponsor an event with a very innovative and interesting local musician, Keith Sinzinger.
Sinzinger goes under the performance name Fast Forty. He calls his genre of music Intense Ambient: “found sounds, altered electronics, scrap metal and other devices, blended to soothe and stimulate.” His music is anchored by homemade tubular bells which he plays and routes through various audio effect processors.
He is originally from Cleveland, Ohio and his music reflects the industrial sounds of the Ford plant and the railroads of his early surroundings.
At HacDC and Dorkbot, he will explain how he conceived of, researched and constructed the tubular bells, and will then offer a demonstration of their sounds. The audience will also be able to play them afterwards.
I’ve gotten in a bunch of XOR chips, and that lets us do ring modulation — the key to getting that tuning-in-the-shortwave-radio sound. (And more!) It’s lots of cheap, easy fun.
Once we get a handle on the XOR, we’ll make variable-width pulses. This gets us a cheap phasing sound and will let us sync a bunch of oscillators to each other.
But do we dare combine multiple sync’ed oscillators with XORing?!?! Oh yes.
Bring in breadboards (preferably with your 74HC14 and other chips). We’ll be making a bunch of quick and dirty circuits and there’s too much room for experimentation to be soldering this stuff up. As usual, I’ll have parts if you need them, but today you can also re-use any of the stuff you haven’t soldered down.
An 8-step bleepy-bloopy sequencer? On a shoestring budget? Impossible! (Or is it?)
This project is a fair step up in complexity, so we’ll assemble and test on breadboards first. I’ll try to pick some up at Radio Shark, but please bring your own if you’ve got ‘em. Also, feel free to bring in your old noisemakers; we can splice the sequencer circuit right in.
And if you’re just coming to a workshop for the first time, this is paradoxically a good time to jump in. You’ll be behind on some of the “theory” but we’ll catch you up quick.
See you all at our regular time — 7:30 at the HacDC space!
For the next few Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Elliot will be leading a workshop on sound hacking from the ground up. We’ll mostly focus on building our own gear, but we’ll also borrow a couple tricks from the glitch/bender tradition.
April 16th, we’ll start off by scratch-building a mess of raw sound sources. After that, we’ll work on smoothing out the rough edges and trying to make this stuff more musical. (Or you could go for more cacophonous. It’s up to you.) After the first two or three weeks, I’m open to suggestions. Let’s see where we can take
This workshop series is going to involve soldering, (ab)use of digital CMOS chips for analog ends, a smidgen of electronics knowledge provided), and enough noise to ensure that you leave with a good solid headache.
Bring $5.00 to cover the cost of materials for April 16th.
Bring around 3-6 volts’ worth of batteries if you’d like to leave the space with something powered up. Two to four AA, AAA, C, or D cells will do. Three if you’re using rechargeables.
Also, if you’ve got a breadboard and would like to use it, bring that too. Otherwise, you’re going to be doing it dead-bug style like me.