28 Jul 2010

Uphill: Live and Fake!

Here's the final already finished, "off-the-shelf" piece for the Trek album. From now on, I'll have to become creative again. Ouch!

  Uphill by pethu 

This one has more of a "live combo" feel to it compared to previously published pieces, basically because it is slightly more live - but not much. In fact, the only authentic thing in here is my pretty Epiphone Les Paul:
However, the amp it runs through is a just a Fender Twin emulation inside the computer:

Moving on, the piano part that the entire piece is built around is played in real time by me on an S. Erard 1922 Half Grand Piano:
However, I'm not using a physical piano here and not even a sampled one. No, the Erard has been recreated as a pure mathematical model in the amazing Modartt Pianoteq software, so what you are hearing are — maths. Sounding very, very much like a piano.

Finally, the drums are sampled but neither played nor fully programmed by me. Instead, they are played by an artificial brain inside the Rayzoon Jamstix drummer software. When given a basic pattern to play, this "robot drummer" then tries to recreate all the little embellishments and imperfections of a real drummer — in fact, one has a choice of several artificial drummer personalities to spice up the rhythm!

24 Jul 2010


  Field by pethu

Here's a mostly ambient piece where almost all melodic and some of the rhythmic content is generated by a single patch programmed on the Moog Modular V 2, a virtual synth beast emulating the gigantic modular synthesizers of the late 60's / early 70's. You even have to drag patch cords between the modules, just like the real thing! (Interesting Facts Department: Hence the term "patch", nowadays used for any type of sound preset on an electronic instrument.)

Anyway —  this is likely to mess with your head a bit the first couple of times you listen to it due to the lack of traditional melody, so apologies for that. Also, the first piece of mine incorporating the sound of a marxophone. Also, the first piece to incorporate the sound of a tractor.

In case you absolutely hate it, here's a piccie of Harry as a puppy to make up for it:

21 Jul 2010

In Deep Shade

...is a good place to be over here right now, especially if you're a dog like my flatmate Harry:

Please don't think I've begun producing new music at a breakneck pace all of a sudden; this is another one I prepared earlier, as the TV chefs say. If it happens to be equally hot where you are, I hope it can offer some cool- and wetness.

(Nice Touch of the Day: The small, tuned gongs coming into play at about 1:33!)

  02 In Deep Shade by pethu

17 Jul 2010

The Old Church

Back in the saddle again, after some days away from home and studio. I started off by finishing a piece that's given me considerable grief — although mostly in a good way. Musical transitions are fun. I might do an entire album called "Transitions" one day!

The Old Church by pethu

It started out quite sensibly, with the "choral organ" chord progression in the first part. I was sure that would be the base for a whole piece, but suddenly it had become merely the intro for an electronica-style part going off at right angles to the first bit. Well, the church in question was a disused one, modern times encroaching on its space. So, slightly mad but still logical.

Then I got stuck. The only thing I knew for certain was that I needed a third part. I could not go back to something based on part one, beacuse the energy built upp in part 2 would be lost.

Tonight, after several weeks, I came up with these punchy harpsichord chords which sounded a bit repetitive but worth exploring. It turned into not quite an all-nighter, but certainly two-thirds-of-a-nighter.

I wasted a few hours trying to come up with a new, proper melody to put on top, until the solution presented itself — just bring in the choir again and throw lots of symphonic instruments on top, Alan Parsons/Andrew Powell-style, until the the old church "reappears", as it were.

In the process, I think I reached the highest track count in any of my songs yet. There's about 21 of them:

Choir Voices
Gravel Steps
Choral Layer:
  • Positiv (Portable Pipe) Organ, holpijp register +
  • Bolivian Pan Pipes +
  • Novachord Marcato Strings
Metal Gate
Synth Harp
Wind Noise
Synth Bass
Distorted Harp
Synth Blips Sequence
Overdrive Electro-Acoustic Guitar
Tubular Bells
Bubbly Synth Sequence

11 Jul 2010


Well, that was fun (as in "not much"): I spent the evening re-organizing sound samples from 230 different ethnic percussion instruments to make them easier to play as instruments in my main sample player.

As a result, I have this to add to the "interesting facts" section. Here's your chance to claim superiority over most other people through your knowledge of what a kkwenggwari (or koeagkari) actually sounds like. Just don't ask me what it looks like. Or where it comes from. Or how you play it. The only thing certain is that it's metallic in origin:

Kkwenggwari (Koeagkari) by pethu

There you go! Ain't I just too educational for words? :)

10 Jul 2010

Tribute - How Not To Make It in the Rock Star Business

Meet Tribute from Norrköping, Sweden. Arguably one of the most talented bands ever to come out of Sweden, and sadly they did not really get much further. They had some exposure in Germany too, but now there's not even a Wikipedia page anywhere as far as I can tell.

Tribute were like a turbo-charged Mike Oldfield act. They were so good Mike's former percussionist Pierre Moerlen temporarily gave up his own band Gong, moved to Sweden and joined them as their drummer. But starting out towards the mid-80's, I guess everything about them was already commercially wrong:

* Their songs tended to be rather longer than 3 minutes — like, 28 in the complete version of the above.

* The front men did not really act as front men but rather as part of the team.

* They emphasized content and musical performance over style.

* They had no lyrics and the two girls in the band were percussionists, not dancers.

Very little in the form of videos have survived, and none with particularly good sound quality. (I saw them live once, and they had the best front-of-house sound mix I have ever heard, period.)

Here's a small sample. From this and some Joe Jackson gigs from the same era comes my firm belief that every live band should have a minimum of two percussionists!

9 Jul 2010

Join in the fun!

Over the weekend, I'll be working on this:

A small, free tutorial and software package that will have you playing a simple synthesizer on your bog standard Windows computer within 5 minutes of downloading it. Getting into computer music will never have been easier and less techno-babbleish, or so I hope.

The synth in question is one of the simplest and most beginner-friendly synths ever created. In real life it appeared in 1982, and this is a software recreation made by yours truly lots of years later. In the piece below, I tried to demonstrate that if you layer enough of them — say 25 or so — you don't really need anything else to make a song.

And so, back to 1982:
12th Night's Dream of '82 by pethu

8 Jul 2010

Moving Mist

Another of the finished tracks for "Trek". (Well, it has to be — I've made so many changes to my software setup since I worked on it last, I simply don't have the energy to re-create the editable version of it!)

Moving Mist by pethu

The influences behind this one is uncharacteristically easy to pinpoint: It's Jean-Michel Jarre meets Bo Hansson, pure and simple! (Well, OK, so there's a little bit of Oskar Lindberg in there as well, maybe.)

7 Jul 2010

pethu? pethu??

Well, it's just a signature, really — some initals from my first and last name, which once upon a time yielded fairly few hits on the Googleweb. Now, it's sort of my general-purpose nym on the 'net.

As luck (or misfortune) would have it, it also seems to be an Indonesian name — and I have no clue what it means. If anyone knows, please tell me! I'm from a radically different part of the globe, you see. (Sweden, to be precise.)

To wit, the singer/group/whatever "Pethu Pem Pethum" on Youtube is NOT me, although there are also one or two videos about my software synthesizers over there...

Iron Artery

More about everything later! Here's a first piece of hot-off-the-digital-audio-workstation music, presented to you courtesy of the excellent Soundcloud service. Note that you can download a higher-quality version by clicking the small arrow icon on the right hand side of the Soundcloud player below.

Iron Artery by pethu

This is a fairly complete piece from my work-in-progress album "Trek" (as in "hiking boots", not the celestial on-screen pointy ears type!). It might still be a bit too bass-heavy, I think. Also, the electric guitar part in the middle will possibly be replaced by a real live guitar in the final version. (It's about time I got some more use out of my sadly neglected Epiphone Les Paul.)

As I hope you'll be able to hear, the "iron artery" is a railway cutting through the landscape, living its life at a radically different pace than, and disconnected from, its surroundings.

P.S. This is my first post in my first blog ever, and I have no clue what the heck I'm doing. Please bear with me as the design inevitably changes over the coming weeks!