Sunday, August 5, 2007

Instrumental: T-mbourine

August 5, 2007

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Instruments: FL Studio 7: 3x Oscillator, BooBass, Percussion Samples; QWERTY Keyboard.

In FL Studio, there is an option to use your computer keyboard as an input device for instruments. The keys are mapped so that Z, X, C, V, B, N, M, comma, period, and forward slash make a set of white keys, with Z representing a C note; Q, W, E, R, T, Y, U, I, O, P, [, and ] represent the next octave (and a half) up, with Q representing a C note. S, D, G, H, J, L, semicolon, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 0, and = represent black keys.

For the purpose of this instrumental, I wanted to come up with a tune that stayed within a scale on the white keys. Therefore, I started looking for common words that stayed within the two sets of "white keys" on the QWERTY keyboard. Using familiar words gives the player the opportunity to experiment with new sequences of notes that can be easily repeated on the fly. I finally settled on the word "tambourine", which I chose to represent as "t-mbourine" because the letter A does not trigger a note in FL Studio. All the letters in the word are given equal length except the initial T, which is double length to make up for the missing second letter. The resulting riff is repeated for the duration of the song.

With the letter T (which would be a G note on a piano keyboard) as the root of the scale, and with extra preprogrammed backing, the tune ended up being in the Mixolydian mode (a scale formed by running from G to G on the white keys of a piano keyboard). The note sequence of the lead instrument (a high-octave BooBass with lots of effects piled on) was improvised by using other words that fit within the set of white keys, combined with more random improvisation. For example, the beginning of the lead sequence was typed as follows: "z poetry petry utyrterw" (spacing provided for clarity). Other words included in the song are "return" and "erotic", interspersed with improvised riffs. The second half is more abstract and not based on any particular familiar words.

In the background you hear a heavily modified vocal sample of me, Ray N, and Kevin S discussing how different English-speaking areas have their own different (and, for the record, totally made-up) terms akin to "poppycock".

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