Tag Archives: Songs

Brad Ormand Ibanez 8-String RG Prestige

07.11.2016 – New Ibanez Prestige 8-String Guitar

Yep, that’s right!  I got a new guitar.  It’s beautiful!  Now I have a USA Stratocaster and an Ibanez RG on hand to work with (Plus the Precision Bass and my acoustic, a Fender Del Mar).  This Ibanez has 8 strings (with a low B and an F# below the standard open E).  Some of you already know about this kind of guitar.  It’s an RG Prestige model with a  Hazelnut Ale finish.  It has EMG 808 pickups, and I really like them, actually – I don’t plan on changing them.  Very “woody”, and with lots of grain.

But, yeah – I was looking for more strings to play than the standard 6.  And, I at least I knew I wanted the 7th string for a lower appeal.  I wanted to continue the scale down and was looking to be able to play some lower accompanying notes with my chords and double-stops as well.  Muting has been a challenge, though.  When you wanna play, for instance, the regular E major shape, you can’t just pick the bottom 2 strings as well, you have to either mute them or skip them on the fly before the strum.  Ha – I’m still getting used to that, but actually, it’s helping my technique.  But, other than that, I have no other problem at all navigating the vertical direction.

Brad Ormand - Ibanez RG Prestige 8-String

Coming from 6 strings, the “targeting” is different.  Usually, you’d just either do it by feel or count strings from either top or bottom, from either E, to find out where to fret/pick in the moment.  But, with the 2 additional strings there, if you need to get to the low E, you have to be able to quickly count from the high point: 1 (F#), 2(B), to 3 (the low E string) to get the quick targeting right.  Or, you could just think in terms of F#.  It takes a while to get used to it – just like if you get a new tool belt with more slots on it, it takes a bit of practice to become familiar with it to where you can just reach, grab, and go.  But, it’s no problem, it’s fun to learn.

In the horizontal direction, lengthwise along the fretboard, the scale length is 27″ – an inch and a half longer than my Strat than I’m used to.  But, actually…  I find it even more comfortable!  Especially past the 15th fret.  I’m excited to pick it up every time.

F# to B is a fourth, B to E is a fourth, as E to A is a fourth, and so on…  So, I can continue scale patterns right down the strings and the patterns are the same.  And, believe me, it’s awesomely fun to rip through an extended scale or lick from the lowest to the highest string, doing all 8 in a row – great fun!

I have experimented with tuning on this thing.  As I said, the standard tuning is: F#, B, E, A, D, G, B, E, (although Ibanez, I think, ships them all with a step lower) and I tried to turn the B down to an A, like F#, A, E, A, D, G, B, E, so I could have and extra “fundamental” tone when I play in Am or Cmaj.  And, it allowed me to do similar dropped-D-style  playing in the middle there.  However, it just was awkward and I felt like I’d be better off using standard tuning and just reaching when I need the dropped stuff.  I also experimented with dropping the F# to E, but man, that low string gets floppy fast when you deviate too much, but it’s possibly workable.  Maybe one day, I will write something specifically for that, but for now, I like the standard fourths.

Brad Ormand Ibanez 8-String RG Prestige

So, I recored a demo of it – take a listen if you want.  I think it sounds rad!

http://www.bradormand.com/audio/music/crusher_inst.mp3

I look forward to writing more and more songs in the rock and metal genre this Summer and Fall.  Also, I am learning how I can incorporate the lower strings to standard chords to get really full ring-outs.  And, lastly, I’m really enjoying the Ibanez RG Prestige “sound”.  There’s so much tone to explore, just by holding notes, bending them, pinching harmonics, and the pickup positions – You can make this guitar “talk” – it’s really a great experience!

 

 

 

 

Sheet Music Unfolded

04.07.2016 – Guitar Practice and Crafts

I just spent the month of March on an initiative to improve my music theory and guitar playing skills.  I worked on other projects, too during this time, but haven’t finished anything to show.  The results of the practice are pretty amazing, though.  I’m doing it again for April.  I wanted to be able to take my existing guitar skills and augment them to be able to play all of my Major and Minor scale shapes, plus the Blues scale, clean, in every key, all up and down the neck at 90 BPM, sixteenth notes.  I couldn’t do it March 1st – it was too fast, but by April 1st, I was able to do it!

I’m not primarily a guitar player, but I knew the keyboard and a lot of theory, so I could visualize the intervals and know what each sounds like on the keys, but to use my left hand fingers to do it was hard.  I have been playing guitar at a casual level for a long time, and have come up with the parts and recorded guitar on all of my songs, but wanted the ability to express my ideas with more ease.  And, I’m getting into using the guitar as a MIDI instrument and harmonic EFX generator, too.  So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  I’ve practiced every day for at least 30 minutes for 30 days – getting these left hand fingers and picking hand stronger!  It’s a lot like working out (and speaking of, I have been exercising for 30 days straight, too, but that’s beside the point).  For May 1st, I’m trying for that group of scales and positions, up and down, at 100BPM, sixteenths.  120 in July.

After I get to a good technical point, then I can start creating patterns and phrases and learning the songs I had previously written in a new light and see where I want to take them.  New stuff, old stuff, and stuff yet to be laid down.  And, re-create these ideas in a way that inspires the greatest of good-feeling emotions.  That is the goal for that.

Brad Ormand - Guitar Practice Left Hand

TENDENCIES

My other projects, like the audio granulator, woodcarving, and drum construction, are in a holding pattern.  I notice my tendency to “cycle” through each discipline every few months.  But, actually, I’m fine with that.  I noticed last night when I came across some code for my audio apps while backing up my drive, that I actually held myself back from working on it, as if to say, “No, not now – I’m practicing guitar and I have green paint waiting to be used on the canvas before I can get back to you, audio app“.  And, that’s fine.  Why not?  I think…

I’m inspired more to explore ideas that are just surfacing and “hot” right now so I can “lock them in”, and then get back to them on the next cycle.  But… the downside is that I lose some momentum.  But, I capture the “hot” ideas in the stream of consciousness.  Just an observation.  Evens out, I guess.  And, this project log shows me what I come back to and what I don’t.  Most I cycle back to.  I sure do have a lot of interests, though – that’s for sure.

However, I do think about the different categories of projects I have active every day – and I always have a base level of inspiration for them all that never leaves.  And, it’s more exciting to get back to them after a bit of a break and after a large success in another field.  Rationalization or not, it is what it is right now, and until I get to the point to where I do them as my primary business, I can continue to operate in this way.

THE GOAL

My job takes up most of my time (as does driving to and from it).  I’m okay with it because it funds my projects.  However, I would rather my PROJECTS fund my PROJECTS.  haha – I mean that makes the most sense, right?  I’d be hard at work all day on them if I didn’t have these other responsibilities.  On the flip side – my career is in Software Development right now, I’ve worked hard on it,  and they need me and I need them and it’s a good “handshake”.

So, for now, I’m happy.  But, fueling my choices, somewhat, when I decide how to spend my project time is definitely motivated by what I can come up with that #1) I love to do, and #2) that will provide me a profit to put back into the skills that created it.  The audio app and drum construction ideas are the hottest right now, as far as crafting.  And the idea of making excellent music that does well in the marketplace and licenses well (and that I really like!) is an inspiration for my theory and guitar practice right now – to really bump up my ability to produce well-made songs.  Better than before.

Sheet Music Unfolded

Sometimes, I just want to paint for relaxation and sometimes, I just want to play music for enjoyment, so it’s both – a desire to make worthy “products”, mixed with a desire to enjoy my skills.

Either way, I’m getting better skills in the process.  And, that leads to being better able to express my vision, which would be the ultimate goal – To be able to express myself in the most powerful ways possible.

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

09.14.2015 – The Music Journey

So, my album “The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal” was released this month on the 4th.  I wrote the songs, played the parts, sang, recorded, produced, edited, mixed, and mastered it.  And, now I have released what I made to the public.  I’m both excited and relieved!  Now, I can mature my style and move on to the next batch of songs.  I have lots of new things planned!

It’s out in all major outlets – iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, XBox Store, and a lot of other places.

Here it is on iTunes  &  Google Play  &  Amazon :

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It’s out for sale and stream, but it’s also simply a statement that “I’m out here, too” and “I want to have fun with music, too, and engage in business with it, too“.  And, I’ve been receiving some attention for it from players in the industry.  It helps to put me in place to do more and more and more of it.  And, I’ll only get better and better at it because I’m determined to do so and I just work all the time.

Brad Ormand Album on Google Play

This one was far better-sounding and more balanced than my last, and the product gets better with each release.  My plans are to keep continuing to release every year or so until I am coming up with hit records every time with Grammy potential.  I may or may not be capable, in the end, we’ll see, but I’m sure going to try. 🙂  I mean, if you examine a successful entrepreneur’s or artist’s or businessman’s early work, it was likely not his defining work.  But, when they do succeed in a big way, the lessons and potential came from practice and those earlier experiences and their grit.

I’m already inspired by other July and August releases, such as from Dr. Dre, The Chemical Brothers, Astralwerks, and Skrillex’s labels that have forged my image of what better, more intricate touches the next album can contain.  I’m not saying the album I released this month is not strong work, because it is, but I am saying that I have even better-sounding stuff coming through the pipe, which is why I am somewhat relieved – it’s because now, I get to switch over to work on the new ones and prepare them for massiveness!  I’m going to keep doing this.

Brad Ormand Album on iTunes

In 2013, I completely re-vamped my production and engineering style.  I went back to basics and learned other ways to do many things, and then combined it with what I was already good at.  The process and practice paid off.  Now, in 2015, I am at that platform again.  I have dug deep into the interworkings of modern vocal synths and more advanced synth parameter automation with Pro Tools in the last few months, which was my 2015 goal – to do more with synthetic harmonics using formants and organic, voicebox sounds – both beautiful AND retched!  And, I can’t wait to take it to its depths in the next few months.  Also, I have a much better narrative and storytelling sense now, and I have an idea how I can improve my mastering approach.  I have so many ideas for sonic production that I can hardly stand it – from heavy songs to really chill, beautiful, warm songs.  A lot of good stuff is coming, I truly believe.

Anyway, I’m excited about Spirit of Adventure because it contains a few gems, some great choruses, and some powerful sub bass and kick drums (that I’m proud of) – all of that can garner attention and be licensed for broadcast, sustaining this.  I want this business to fund my writing and production process (and each upcoming album), and so the engine goes on and on, etc…  That’s all I ask.

Brad Ormand - The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal - Music Album

All this is part of my journey as a music producer.  The album had varied genres, and it can stand for what many things I am capable of doing up to 2015, my versatility.  I am an unknown artist, right now, but this album at least puts me on the map so that my next one comes through with people already paying attention.  I’m open for business, tho.

I’m dead set on making top-quality songs – songs that evoke real emotion and spread love and dazzle you and make you excited about life!  And, I already know where to go from here.

 

Spirit of Adventure - Playlist - Brad Ormand

08.25.2015 – My music will be released!

I have been working on music every available moment that I have, trying to make a deadline to release on September 4th, 2015!  Of course, the songs have been close to ready for a long time, but I’m just tidying up the production touches around the landscape, here and there.  Still, there are a million little things that I’d like to have solid.

It’s gonna be good.  I really have something exciting to share this time!  I have decided on a tentative mastering order, but I’m still seeing where Tonight, I and Doing Fine will go….  The songs are my best effort… ever!  They are more than I could’ve ever dreamed of, but I know my skills are actively growing and I have new ideas all the time, so even better music is to come.  Blood, sweat, and tears went into the production of this.   This one marks 2015.

Spirit of Adventure - Playlist - Brad Ormand

There’s so much left to do.  But, I am determined to get this music out to all avenues and to do it properly – the writing and recording work is done, just the lingering mix and master issues are left.  These songs mean a lot to me and have been re-worked to the bone, over and over, to get just the right aspect to them, over 2 years.  From the kicks to the hats to the vox to the production touches – everything paid attention to, time and time again – practicing parts relentlessly and overdubbing – listening countless times with maximum discretion and taking notes – listening on the phone, the tv system, the truck, in the studio…  Now, it’s time to set them free.  And, as with every album I release, it marks the time to start new music.

This one’s called: “The Spirit of Adventure Springs Eternal” .

May I have good luck with this album and may it bring with it the opportunity to make much, much more!

 

Brad Ormand Music 2015 07 17

07.17.2015 – I Love You

I put up a new version of “I Love You” this evening after working on it for a little bit, cleaning up the vox and adding a nice little melody.   I wanted to make the sub-bass kick hard with the bass drum, so I kind of “blended” the two with some cutting EQ for some tight interlacing.  There’s a lot of sub there, tied to the kick, and I want the typical car system driver to feel the bump in their chest and throat – and to feel the sub in their armrest, so I added a few freqs at different q’s to the kick to really cut through – like what an 6″ or 8″ sub is good for.  And, as for the sub, I decreased the 60 to 90 and accentuated the 30 and a half and 40 – like what a 12″ or 15″ would be good at.  Big bass!  But, with a tight kick – as I did in “What You Lookin’ For?”.  It really helps the chorus feel fat, too.

I also added a little melody line in a high synth hollow triangle sound that mirrors and accentuates the vocals pretty good.  It’s a bit funky, too – couldn’t help it.  Love that kind of stuff.  I have recorded these vocals like…  about 8 times to get the right feel.  Bout time it started to come together!

Also, I cut some parts out completely – a few parts that I sang that sounded really exotic and has good potential for dance.  While I’m sad about not using them in this song, I just can’t justify it for this song’s continuity.  It’s the nature of the biz.  I’ll revisit them later for a more appropriate song to tie them with.

Brad Ormand Music 2015 07 17

And, lastly, the lead vocals needed a lot of tenderizing.  Like, I cut a lot of 2k-ish and took some 500 hertz honk out of them.  I increased around 8k and made them sizzle a bit, along with a little more doubling – on top of all the other past EQ.  I increased the level of the second harmony for a bit of solidarity and the whole stem is sounding pretty good.  I’m surprised, actually.  I never thought I could *really* get this cut to work.  But, it’s turning out ok.

The cymbals on the chorus I left pretty much as they were.  I played two takes of sticks on a bell of a 16″ Zildjian A from, like 1976 (or something) – it’s a really old school cymbal with the marks rubbed off that I hand-picked when it came in used to a drum shop I used to work at.  I used to go over there and test crashes for a prime non-standard-sounding candidate, and this is my favorite one.  I hardly gigged with it since I wanted to preserve it for the studio.  It’s bad, man.

Ok, that’s it.  I’m really excited about this song.  I think it has some good potential for the market, and well…  I really like listening to it – That’s the main part of all my songs – if I keep listening 🙂  Take care.

Brad Ormand - Music Player

06.08.2015 – What You Lookin’ For?

I’ve turned over a new leaf in my music production style, recently.  I branched out a bit.  During the production of my other song, “The Crew’s in the Kitchen“, I thought of some stuff that I had been meaning to develop.  So, I spent considerable time this weekend (including time in which I should have been sleeping) tweaking production techniques and synth instruments to use for that idea.  And, then I applied them to “What You Lookin’ For?“.  It sounds considerably different.  It’s the next step in the evolution of my maturity as a producer.

A few months ago, I wrote about the sub bass parts I generated for the chorus, and it has been a thrill to listen to, but I had been wanting more out of the entire stack.  I kept running into problems with too much presence when using screech sounds and high formants.  So, that’s what I focused on – getting a majorly dynamic instrument that fills up the frequency gaps in my chorus, that cuts, sounds dope, but that doesn’t squeal too much at around 2 to 4k.

A new chorus lead part was written, along with accompanying strings.  Also, I tweaked the verse parts to be much more interesting by adding a melodic arp and honking lead chops.  I really like the result – the chorus is actually kind of sexy and laid back, but with an aggressive vibe.  The resulting bends and wah effects just hit the spot for what I was thinking about doing.  So, I was pretty excited to have finished something like this.

I feel like it was all done through just natural inspiration and rawness.  The point had come to where the idea had matured in my head.  There was a wakefulness I felt while programming that track during that time.  I showed up with an intention…  and it all just happened, in session.  I can learn from that.  Don’t have to have a solid idea beforehand – just have a direction and walk up to the canvas and paint, so to speak.  See what happens.  I still want to make it less abrasive in places, but while retaining some aggressiveness.  I’ll work on that as I continue through my listening tests and analysis.

Painting - Color Bubbles - Brad Ormand

05.23.2015 – Shake That Move & Painting

S O N G S

Well, I’m full into the new job and everything’s stable.  So, I started re-mixing a lot of my songs and painting and building a bit – whereas the last few weeks have cut into my personal and project life, since I really wanted to get the work stuff settled.  I added “Shake That Move” to my music playlist.  I can still cut it down a few minutes and remove some of the repetition, but the kicks and snares and vox are sounding really nice and all of the filters are leading into one another nicely.  I’m happy with how it’s going so far.  Days of work, addressing each little thing.

The opening kick sound is just what I have been trying to go for.  I mean, I am very, very happy with it!  And, the rest is getting more and more balanced every time I work on it.  And, of course, “Strike” and “Doing Fine”  have had a lot more work done to them.  …Just getting them all ready to be done and released…  I also worked on 3 of my “on deck” songs because I had ideas for them (not posted until “in beta”, so to speak).

Sometimes the best thing for assessing if something is working is a night’s sleep, some dreams, and fresh ears.  And, I can’t stress enough how much having a sub in the truck helps keep my kick and sub levels in check.  In the studio, I have a few 8’s, but there’s nothing like running the songs through real-world scenarios in between mix sessions.

Brad Ormand - Music Player

I have a zillion other ideas, and I can feel my workflow and creating ability, along with my production quality improve every time I do a song.  So, I’ll be happy once these are released and I can move on to some of the other ideas.

P A I N T I N G

So, I had an idea to do a whole bunch of circles on a gradient background like bubbles in a fizzy drink.  At first, I was inspired by a Sprite can that had a similar pattern that looked really beautiful.  I wanna see if I can do my spin on that kind of thing with acrylic on canvas.  Also, I did one really similar to that when I was in high school a long time ago on a concrete wall.  It came out cool.  And, I saw an art installation in Houston that had primary colors as different shaped square blocks around it, and that was striking.  I’m going to try something 🙂

Base Painting - Brad Ormand

Painting - Color Bubbles - Brad Ormand

I was going to run a prominent feature through the whole thing once I got the bubbles laid out.  There are like a thousand more bubbles to go, but one I get them in, I can start thinking about the finishing part.

A note about the feelings I’m getting lately…  I took a break from painting over the last few months, and realized that I was happier when I had the time to paint and was in the process of creating something artful.  And, now it’s confirmed – I feel more alive and happy if I have a painting or some creative visual art going at any point – I feel great just starting a piece and re-evaluating every so often to get it closer to my original vision.

I have other projects pending such as the Honeycomb Light and the Synth prototype, but feel like I have to spend some time painting to get my senses back and to get some creative juices flowing before I can effectively get back to those.  It’s about “catching” that wave of natural inspiration and motivation for me.  I can start making it “wavey” and then the right wave will come and in no time, and I’ll be surfing.  And, right now, I’m inspired by the painting and songs, and can feel the right stuff starting to stir up.

JP8000 V8 Fender Bass Brad Ormand

02.04.2015 – Job, Painting & Songs

It has been a heavy week at work – plenty of ups and downs, and plus, there’s a lot of code to write, as well.  So, I’m a little consumed by it.  Thinking about it.  Planning for it.  Etc.  Even off-hours.

Yeah, it’s almost like painting and songwriting are like the perfect compliment to code development.  That’s what I do when dev levels get too high.  Then, when the “logic levels” get too low, I crave shifting bits and pushing pixels.  And, sometimes, the balance is half-and-half.  And, like I said before, mental noise from sources that I’m not inspired by dampens my ability for creativity, but it also dampens my programming ability.  Most of the enjoyment of my work comes from inspired times when I’m mostly peaceful.  However. there *are* other times when good work gets done, just..  I guess I don’t enjoy it as much.  I anticipate that enjoyment factor, and that motivates me.  It is what it is.  Just speaking freely.

So, I haven’t gone forward on my hex light hardware like I was going to do.  But, I did manage to mix another version of “Doing Fine”.  I think it’s the best version so far.  And, I’m in pre-production for an animated video for it.  Already drew out the prime character in my sketchbook.  As for the song, I put the best stuff right at the top, and made the chorus hit soon after.  Hard.  I’m excited about it.  My focus is on getting usable material for people – for my listeners, for film sync, for songwriting integrity, for replay’s sake, for emotional and memory recall – all of that.

JP8000 V8 Fender Bass Brad Ormand

And, having it “usable” means that it’s valued for some reason or another and listened to or used fairly frequently because of those attributes.  So, it’s kind of like how a businessman would add value to a product.  I do what I feel, yes.  But, I also have a vested interest in making the song “solid”, and not letting it go until it is that – mostly because then I don’t have to keep working and thinking and working on it… cuz, it would be… Done.  In the case of “Doing Fine”, I think the value added is the chopped, pitched vocals arranged in such a way that provides for a unique, pleasurable chorus, and the way that the lyrics and synths seem happy, then sad, then happy again, and so forth – kind of a pushing-pulling effect, over lyrics like “Drowning in my mind”  and then “But, I’m really doing fine”, etc.  There’s much more to it, but that’s all that I can write in words right now.

I have one more thing to do, though.  When I messed with the compression ratios on the drum sub and master bus, I made the mix breathe better, but somehow reduced the overall power of the kick.  So, damn, well – I’ll see what frequencies of it are hitting, by analysis, and which are not.  I’ll increase some choice freqs and give it power without damaging the mix, or having it pump and breathe.  It’s delicate at this point, cuz the mix is so right, I feel.  It’s the game.  It’s the balancing act.

So, I’m really glad about that mix.  I’m also pretty satisfied with how the new painting is going.  It’s not finished, of course – there are plenty of highlights and shadows and details to add, but, it’s on the way. 24 x 30.  A work in progress that I’ll keep around for whenever I get inspired to tap on it again.

Brad Ormand - Painting 34

The premise came from my moon painting and how the ridges create shadows.  And, also from some clouds in another classic painting I saw recently.  I want to try my hand with that kind of stuff – see how it goes.  I like clouds.  I look at them.  Stare at them.  Marvel in them.  Just, it seems like they’re a challenging thing to try to paint, but really fulfilling if I can get ’em okay.

Brad Ormand - ProTools Shot - Strike1

01.26.2015 – Song Submissions & Hex Light

I have been feeling under the weather lately.  (ugh).  I had to take a break for a bit, and I don’t have any fancy craft pics to share this time 🙁  I replayed Far Cry 3 and watched a few movies. I had to take a few days off of work.  It wasn’t a picnic.  It really set me back, actually.

But, since then, I have been feeling better ( a LOT better), I returned to my job and have been tweaking a few songs to be at their best – namely, “Strike” and “The Crew’s In The Kitchen”.  I submitted a few songs to labels and libraries.  Even though they aren’t “done” for production, they are really, really good demos.  And, I feel confident submitting some of them that are near their mark.

Brad Ormand - In Studio

I ran them by friends and saw that this was some of my best work (engineering-wise and songwriting) to date.  The rest, I’ll keep working on.  Once they are all ready for production, I’ll release.  I estimate, maybe June, for the drop – if I don’t have any under contract, I’ll drop ’em, that is.  If not, I’ll have an album that I can use to represent my work from 2013 to early 2015.  I’ll drop somethin’ down regardless, and promote it in the first half of 2015.

But, I am considering moving on to making production music for a while after that.  Music royalties have been good to me over the years, and I think the whole process is exciting.  So, I feel like I wanna try that road again.  I write and produce for “scenes” anyway when it comes down to it…  And plus, I have much better material now than I did when I was successful in music, before, so…  let’s go!

Let’s talk about “Strike” for a minute.  For metal fans out there, I think you’ll love it…  But, for those on the fence, I don’t want it to get misunderstood.  It’s not about fighting (between humans).  Haha. Let me say that I want you to envision a caveman that is facing an unintended encounter with a tiger.  The tiger knows you are there and that you are tasty, and moves in for the take.  It’s at that moment that you want to put on the headphones to listen to “Strike”.  No headphones for the caveman, of course, but that’s the attitude it portrays:  Survive this.  Put your brows down into position.  You’re going to have to pull out all that you’ve got!  And, maybe even have tiger for dinner, I say.  Ha. “Strike.  Hit back!  Yo, grab ahold and get that!” (not playing) and “Take control and bring back”.  Seriously.

Brad Ormand - ProTools Shot - Strike1

The big takeaway for me with “Strike” is that there’s no guitar recorded, but it sounds very metal-like.  It’s the way I mixed it and tweaked the mod wheel during recording to make it sound like pinch harmonics.  That’s just what I set out to do.  It was an experiment.  I wanted to go SUPER heavy on the main instrument and provide a full spectrum bandwidth during the chorus, with the sub bass and accessory instruments, but with my closest synth approximation of what it is that makes those famous molten metal songs work.  There’s a gap or lull in the shore for the pre-chorus, then BOOM – full wave bandwidth chorus.  White noise like crest smashing.  I like this direction.  I want to do more.

And, in other news, I started another painting, recorded a snippet for a new song, painted the existing Dodecahedron (I hate it lol), and started a possible collaboration for a metal (like steel or aluminum) version of the Dodecahedron!  That will be nice…  Also, I realized a fatal fault in the Hex Light.  Yes.  Port PD6 was crossed over (by design in my circuit layout) with PB6, because it would lay out just right, but it makes it super unreasonable for the software to have to split PORT D over my ROW 3 of Common-Cathode RGB’s, in which 1 of 3 is at PORT B.  I’m not going to go all into it, but saying: ROW_3_PORT |= (1<<ROW_3_B)… would fail since ROW_3_B would be of a different PORT than ROW_3_G and ROW_3_R . It’s not clean.  It’s not what I really want.  I’d rather have a top jumper on the board than to have this major compromise / hardship in the firmware.

Ok, so, I’ll fix that, and hopefully get the thing working, now that I’m back and active on the project again.  It’s so damn close!  Happy Monday to you. 🙂

 

 

Brad Ormand Synth OptoCoupler VCA

01.06.2015 – Synth VCA, Job & Songs

J O B

Today, I chased down a software bug at work for about 6 hours.  For real.  Sometimes, it’s like that.  But, yeah – it ended up being because of a leftover overridden function in one of the data models in the client code.  I can’t go into details because it’s work/job stuff, but that function was empty and did nothing and got called, and thus, messed up the whole call stack, but threw no error.  Urrgh!

Haha.  But, I followed the stack trace deep into the libraries – Underscore, Backbone, and Marionette to find what was happening, but it led me to my own code in the end (yeah).  So, it was a roundabout way of getting to the bottom of it, but effective, since it led to the discovery of the override.  I mention it because I feel a good sense of accomplishment from finding and fixing it.  It was a fun journey, looking back on it.  But hours ago, I was starting to get frustrated a bit.  I could see my mind blaming the libraries, and then questioning using them at all, and then mentally commenting on the whole library stack decision, etc.  But now, I don’t really think any of that.  It was just when I was deep in finding the solution.  But, at least I just observed my mind instead of reacting.  And, that’s the lesson I took away from this:  If you just persist through the difficulties, technical or emotional, that come up while doing something that you really want to learn or have a deep desire to be proficient at, there are rewards waiting, and actually, joy at the end of it.

I did a similar thing with the circuit design program Eagle the other day.  I couldn’t find an part that fit my bill, and I had to make my own LBR spec.  I hadn’t done that before.  And, I just got kind of angry that there were no default quick keys for Mac.  There actually are, but they aren’t the standard CMD-modifier keys, instead there are F keys and assignable quick keys.  I was sensitive to that for a moment, overlooking the amazing tool that Eagle is.  Ah, but I quickly overcame the frustration once I learned the steps, and I love Eagle more than ever after having gone through that process.  Haha, I’m noticing that there’s an element of struggle involved to get used to something before you can really appreciate it.  I did the same thing 10 years ago when trying to get CSS down.  I remember massive frustration, especially with IE 6 vs Safari vs FireFox (Chrome hadn’t been invented yet). But, I love every bit of styling stuff up now.

It’s interesting how I was compelled to write about this “failure” and how sometimes I don’t when I achieve a massive success. I guess it’s like the story of when you broke your arm or took a ripper out on the climbing wall.  Ha.  Just, there’s something about going through it that adds something meaningful to life.

S Y N T H

Anyway, there’s the job story of the day.  But, I also made progress with my synth modules in the last few days.  I built an opto-coupled, bipolar-driven voltage controlled amplifier for my VCO.  It’s not the first one I have built, but, it’s the best one so far 😉  I built one for a compressor in about 2002 like this, but it was pretty shoddy and I was still learning.  I’m much better at the layout and design these days.  So, in addition to it being functionally working, it also looks super cool while it’s operating!  By opto-coupler, I mean the input voltage is controlled via a light/LED that gets sensed by a resistor that’s light-sensitive.  I don’t need it to be fast, and I’d rather take the character of the electronics, in fact.  Also, I have it uncovered to show the light now (it’s beautiful), but it’ll be sealed in production.  I have a gain reduction LED tapping off of it for the UI anyway.  The light is bright at -∞ dB, and off at nominal.

Brad Ormand Synth OptoCoupler VCA

I implemented a filter in between, but haven’t finished it.  This is just me picking away at the synth build as I get spare time.  Like I said in a previous post, it’s priority has been suspended until March or so while I work on the lights and the songs.  But, I can see it coming together, and it sounds really great!  Oh, I can’t wait to do something with it!

For the synth UI, I defined a few more attributes as I was going through this process.  Actually, I had a dream about effect circuits and that led me to more ideas.  (A lot of my ideas come from the dreamworld 🙂 ).  For instance, I have a good idea for a modulator/envelope using a similar opto-coupler, but with a big cap charging up for a log delay.  Then, I’m thinking about splitting the output, taking one side to a distortion circuit or similar and then to the inverting input of an op-amp, and the other split to the non-inverting, and let that deal with the mess coming in, trying to balance them.  Then mix it back in.  I imagine it’d be kind of like an inverse distortion or weird levelor if I got the signal levels right.  Those are on the block for experimentation.

S O N G S

For “Kitchen”, I added some sub bass to the chorus to fill it out, and it sounds so good.  I’m leaving it.  The kick and sub work well together, creating a good stiff lock for the chorus, while the verse still has a pretty low and round kick sound to it, a bit louder, and with a bit of a knock on it.  I think the difference is a pretty nice contrast.

And, I also added that octave sub to parts in “Lookin’ For”.  I went a bit crazy and just created a whole new bassline for it to vibe with.  It goes with, but is alternative to, the synth bassline and lead already present.  All of it comes from a regular sine signal generator. Ha.  But, I added some comp and a bit of light fuzz to it.  Anyway, it’s really coming along.  I tested the levels today, and it’s right up there with commercial tracks.  Good balance, “feel-able” sub, and pretty present, as well.  It’s almost ready for packaging 😉 .

For both of the sig gen parts, I had to re-mix after testing because the 100Hz range was overpowering the 40Hz range, so I put a lo-pass shelf in the middle at about 80 and knee-d down until 100 was about 3 dB down, leaving the low sub at the same level after gain compensation.

Brad Ormand - Synth UI

12.29.2014 – UI Art Design & Songs

I had a few ideas, recently that I wanted to draw up as real interfaces.  This one, I wanted to do as an interface for controlling a synth module with your fingers, lighted up, of course to the beat or ambient sound.  I also liked the “bird-ness” of the last one I did – kind of like an eagle or a falcon drawing from New Mexico or the ancient Aztecs.  So, I was kind of in that “vibe” when I drew this.

I drew a place for an LCD or OLED matrix display where you can program the machine to do several things, like assign pads to voices or control timbre or routing.  Now, my synth, the “guts” of it, at least are wAy down the road to being able to do this kind of stuff, but…   Well, now I know what Im going to want it to do. 🙂  So, it’s like that synergy between concept and design, and iterating back and forth, I guess.

Brad Ormand - Synth UI

So, going forward, I’d like to cut this one out, route it, drill it, paint it and try to attach the touch sensors I’m building to it, and then combine my synth module (currently on my biggest breadboard) with it.  So, this will be my first synth integration with pads and digital control.  I have built various synths and compressors and EQs and noisemakers in the past, but they were very “project-style”, not really a presentable product.  They sounded awesome (I think – and my friends thought), but I would stuff a proto board into a plastic cup I found in my kitchen and take it around with me, before.  And, shit like that.  haha.  I want a real product prototype that is presentable and that flows with fascination.  Actually, I want that for me.  But, I hope others will like it as well.  We’ll see how it goes as we go along.

Brad Ormand - Synth UI Creation

And, as for my music….  I went ahead an put some clinical bass into “Looking For” straight from the signal generator!  Pure sine at 58 Hz, and more in different places.  But, I listened back, and well, I think I need a few more harmonics – at least one, an octave above.  I want the chorus on this song to pound with bass, but not be just put in there loudly, willy nilly.  Nah – I’m going to need some of those harmonics.

And, for “Kitchen”, I finally got the kick to be so super tight that I don’t want to touch it anymore.  It’s tight with a subsonic release, too.  I just like it.  I mixed more parts in and out, too.  This one is on deck and pretty much ready.

As for the rest, I think I’ll just continue to take it easy with no deadlines, no pressure, just going out of pure interest and motivation to let them “fall in” where they may.  Each one gets better and better and better.  I can afford to take the time.  I have arranged it that way.  And, plus, it’s going to be better, in my opinion, to get something GrEAt, instead of just putting out songs, just to put out songs.

K that’s it for today.

 

Brad Ormand - Blog Posts

12.06.2014 – Songs and Site

Yup.  I made a whole bunch of edits and adds to these songs.  I was sitting at the computer programming my site, listening to “Find That Feeling” and had a melody idea, and just stopped everything and was singing it on the way to the audio workstation so I wouldn’t forget it.  I powered it up, jumped in and recorded it quite nicely.  I played it out beforehand on the JP-8000 synth just to solidify it.

While I was in Pro Tools, I went ahead and got in to my list of tweaks for 3 other songs, as well.  So, I have a few good, clean mixes to turn on tomorrow while I drive.  I drove the woofers in the studio to more than I’m used to in order to overcome the consistent error that I make of not having enough low end – since the very first post of this blog, in fact.  But, it is well taken care of now!

It’s likely to be too much, in fact.  …I keep saying that to myself and it never is, but this time, it’s right on the edge.  The goal is to have full-ass range in these songs – for the kicks and bass to shake any woofer it comes in contact with as much as the big studios mix theirs to do – but with also the presence and loudness of the instruments, as well – without sacrifice there.

Brad Ormand Pro Tools Session

And, it’s not just the gross bass level I’m concerned with, of course.  It’s the proper mix of the right high-mid punching frequencies and lower subsonic support – all working together to make something powerful.  It defies words – BY FAR, and it is only achievable by monitoring your built-in sensors – ears, of course, but the way your fingers vibrate on whatever surface you’re holding, the way your clothes tingle your leg hairs (if you’re a man, I guess) and the way your chest cavity responds to each transient, and the emotions you feel out of “in-tuneness”.  I mean – it’s not communicable.  You can’t tell someone what feels right without feeling it natively through those methods, first.  And, then, the words are hard to come by and usually come in metaphors like “punch” and “woofing” and “low” and “throaty” and “rumble” and “tight” and “loose” and “sub”, etc…

That’s why I like this shit.  It’s hard.  It’s not straightforward.  It requires the “native” stuff of being connected to your body and listening to your feelings.  FFT and analysis won’t help you if you don’t have the sensor-brain connection going on.  In other words – listening and feeling it, artfully.

But, anyway…  The mixes are, again, better than ever.  There are a few items that I might re-do or adjust bandwidth on, but all of it sounds like it could go out right now, really.  I’m not in that recording phase or the song-construction phase anymore.  I’m setting up the final mixes.  The whole last year was the other phase.

I’ll have QA sessions coming up with friends and I’ll run my own internal QA regimen on various systems, too.  I can’t be more excited about this release!  I mean, it’s my best effort to date, and it something special.  Something that I’m really liking – and that says a lot, right there. 🙂

As far as the site…

I built a couple of custom WP_Query (s) that make my Project Log home page  (where you’ll eventually be able to get to this post 🙂 ) show various selections of my blog.  And, the rest of the time was spent getting the CSS right for the design and for the different device widths.  Most of the blog / project_log homepage interface will be through “icons” of featured image and title as opposed to previews of blog posts.  I like it like that.  I have always wanted to do something like that, and here it is.

Brad Ormand - Blog Posts

I’m adding a Digital Art section, as I came across some of my earlier work and just felt like I want to show that as well.  I’m not a through-and-through “designer”, but I have done stuff, and that “stuff” is kind of cool, and I like how they turned out.  Most of it is user interface renders and 3d model renders.  And, some of it is design stuff like audio players and video players that I designed.  So, yeah.  It’s just that kind of fun stuff that I like to do in my spare time.

As for the server, I’m still downloading my complete server down to my local computer and organizing what other stuff I want to upload to the new server.  It’s a manual process.  It’s a little more complicated than “select the root folder of the old server and drag it over to start downloading all of it”.  Uhhh, yeah, because, well, my current host has major, major, problems and I can only get a few directories off at a time via FTP before an “Unrecognized” or “Lost Connection” error occurs.  Disconnect, reconnect, and it goes away.  But, I’m just being patient and moving on.  There’s no need to get mad or tell them anything.  I contacted them before I started the blog and well, it’s just really not very effective, let’s say.  They got bought out by a bigger company, and then I noticed serious degradation starting about two years ago. I have been patient.  But, anyway, the details are really boring.

So, now, I just have my home page to design and then I’ll be right as rain.  I’ll start that tomorrow.  I showed a circular sci-fi style interface before, but it’s not going that direction anymore.  I’ll have a cleaner style and something more modern happening.

And, I worked on so much other stuff around the site, too.  I was trying to profile the user’s bandwidth connection to my music player so that I could display it or select an appropriate baud rate for them.  I will still implement that, but really just for display.  I will set all music coming from BradOrmand.com at 128kbps instead of 192kbps.  I updated the legal section for users to read my policy on copyright.  It’s ultra short and that’s all it needs to be.  I changed some hover colors, search result formatting, h1 header styling, track listing layout, small display layout, and much more.  I’m exhausted, actually.  Ok, until tomorrow…  Thanks for tuning in.

Brad Ormand Music Player

11.29.2014 – Songs & Website

Basically, I spent the whole day programming my painting gallery and music player for my site.  I’m making progress.  It’s looking good.  I have this abstracted music player that I built a while back (about 2 years ago with the HTML5 Media API) that I named B.Audio.js, and it has two components: the player root, and the controller, which takes a root and a PlayerUI as arguments.

From back in the day, I have probably built 50 different audio players in Flash, Java, and HTML4/5 for many different purposes for myself and for jobs over the last 10 years, and about the same amount of video players with audio.  In fact, one of the music players I made that I included in my resume portfolio landed me the gig to work on the website for the video game “The Conduit”.  He saw my work and gave me a call.  That particular one actually included a full, 32-band, real-time FFT spectrum analyzer, as well (in Flash).  And, it was part of the game itself as an in-game puzzle where you went to this site for a reward from the publisher (or something like that – can’t remember exactly what).  None of this is to brag, Haha.  In fact, I feel like I’m writing this to my Project Log to record my thoughts, to tell my ongoing story like I would do in a diary, pretty much like everything else in the Blog.  I felt like including those tidbits would provide context for my current experiences to whomever is the reader. 🙂

So, yeah, back to the BradOrmand.com Audio Player – once I provide the audio root and playerUI to the Controller, then I can configure my client JS to manage the additional functionality specific for this site, while the core player controller can be used with different skins and functionality, even a concurrent player.  I wanted to keep it open to be able to be embeddable or searchable later.  I’ll cross that bridge when it comes closer to the time to augment it…

Brad Ormand Music Player

I have the B.Audio.js dispatching events to it’s subscribers and they just do what they need to do on trigger.  For instance, on the music page, the “onLoadProgress( type, time, progRatio, src )” gets triggered by the core player, and it updates the UI, which it gets in it’s class constructor, but doesn’t know what kind of HTMLElement it is, but just that *is* an HTMLElement, being polymorphic, with those standard properties.  That lets me make it whatever I want it to be in the UI as long as it’s a block element, and the playerUI will operate on it.  Here in this call, “type” would be B.Audio.LOAD_PROGRESS, “time” is the timestamp from the event system from B.js, “progRatio” is how much has been loaded so far 0 <= r <= 1, and “src” is the URL of the track.  So, anyway – that’s the kind of stuff I have been into today. Been back in that world.

Brad Ormand Painting Gallery

I mentioned “trigger”, and that’s the name that jQuery uses for dispatching events, but no, I don’t use jQuery for anything here.  I love jQuery and John Resig and like to use jQuery Mobile sometimes, and I even went to their jQuery Conf when they came to Austin.  But, I like to write things in straight JavaScript pretty much as much of the time as possible – like with document.getElementById and querySelectorAll and classList and element.style, etc…  Tending towards the verb: “write” instead of “use”, most of the time.

Some people think it’s harder or more unmanageable to write straight JavaScript and that they *need* a library or two to do anything.  Some won’t consider it.  I encounter it all the time – libraries are added like candy in a shopping basket: Backbone, Mustache, Underscore, Dojo, Bootstrap, jQueryUI, and let’s throw in Angular because, well, I heard it “was good”. Haha.  I’m just having some fun in a rant-y kind of way (It’s funny because it’s true, and I hear this in person lol)…  But, yeh – it can be taken too far.  There’s a balance.  And, it depends on the project.  For instance, Backbone is not the only way MVC/MV* can be implemented (it’s just one way that became popular), nor is Bootstrap’s reset style the best for every application, etc.  And, I generally err on the side of “get something if I think I need it for my specialized needs“, instead of “start a project with these popular libraries and go from there“.

To be fair, when working on large projects with a diversified team, I really do see the wisdom in using a specified library stack, and I work on a project like that at work, and have in many previous jobs.  In fact, I think it’s absolutely vital to understand the popular libraries very well if you want to get a good JS job in the industry.   However, it’s kind of a fun challenge to write something from the base level and write your own libraries to use (utils, MVCs, DOM tools, etc), without anything to “do it for you”.  You learn about the base level.  And, if you stick with them, they get better and better and better.

I think there’s something great about using what API the browsers provide natively as much as possible, going closer to the “hardware” (as possible).  The new DOM core is much more advanced, lately, with better standards adoption across all browsers.  For instance, supporting IE 9+ and the latest FF, Safari, and Chrome is straight easy without jQuery or any lib, actually, with no difficulty (with things like querySelector, XHR2, addEventListener, some CSS transitions and/or requestAnimationFrame, etc).  If you’re supporting back to IE 6, 7, or 8… well, then – you’ll have to go back to earlier tools invented to use with those.

I do, though, make methods to abstract the funky bits like removing a specific class or getting a calculated style, and for bigger projects make MVC structures, etc.  When there’s an id that needs to be gotten, for instance, I just reach for elem.getAttribute( “id” ) instead of $( elem ).attr( “id” );  And, when there’s a style that needs to be set where a class change isn’t appropriate, such as opacity animation, I just go straight for elem.style;  That kinda stuff.  Sometimes, it’s easy to “lose touch” with what browsers actually provide underneath (with clarity), natively, if you focus so much on higher abstractions.  Promises and Deferreds, for instance… not always necessary.  Never really have been, even with XHR1.

Working with the core – it’s a little bit faster, there’s no overhead to manage, keeps me practiced up with the base level and on the edge of the tech by keeping track of what the browser vendors come out with week by week.  And, it’s really not that different at all from using libs in projects, in most cases – you don’t have even to learn a second (or third or 5 ) API on top of what there already is. 😉 .  Personal preference, too, I guess.

I also do the same with my display programming in C for embedded systems.  I’d much rather be close to the hardware and write the driver myself to learn about the different ways devices operate, what voltages they take, different power-on sequences, the rising/falling edge scheme, and etc…, because it’s something in life that I enjoy.  Again, it goes along with the personal preference.

Anyway, enough about that.  I hope I wasn’t that rant-y, but more presenting it from my point of view 🙂 .

I also mixed down a great copy of “Doing Fine” today.  Just great stuff (compared to what I have done before).  It’s really coming along.  I’m finally getting to the point to where I can just really go in to the studio and ProTools and get what I want done and walk out happy.  But, I didn’t always feel that way.  Now, it’s rolling strong.

Brad Ormand Old Audio Player

11.09.2014 – Friends, Music Player & Songs

I spent the whole day with family and friends.  Oh, I’m whirling with wind, spinning with delight and loving life.  Regenerated.  We shared project details back and forth and just chatted about life and new babies and falling stars.  For hours.  I mean… any person with an active creative process needs this.  Just, interfacing with people who love you, and people you love.  It’s part of the creative process as far as I’m concerned.  It’s fundamental to revealing the underlying reasons why it’s okay (and naturally preferable) to tend towards being happy and enjoying stuff – you discover and re-discover life reality and natural laws by this process.

Relax, it’s okay.  Nothing’s wrong.  Nothing’s on fire right now.  ThAt was the mood.  Just chillin’, watchin’, lookin’ like big cats on the ledge of a den.  It’s Sunday.  Watch squirrels together, talk about mathematics, kick the soccer ball around, help an old lady, hug the kids, look up to the sky and discuss.  There’s just a wonder and intrigue I have about life right now.  It’s compelling.  It contributes to why I even pick up the soldering iron or drumsticks or the grid paper.  I want to express it.

I mixed a hardcore version of “Kitchen” just now.  The kick and bass are so tight and have that low 50Hz touch, just how I have always imagined it.  I tweaked the bus compression a bit to accommodate the sound I wanted overall, at about a 1.8:1 ratio with about 15 db in the thresh, an attack to let the kick transients through, and a high release – tweaked by sound so I don’t remember the numbers.  But, it sounds better than ever.  I loosened it up a bit.  The sound is full and crisp. And, this is all after thousands of little tweaks today with the internal tracks and EQs and automation for about 3 hours.

And, in other news, I really want to learn to play those sextuplets as fast as what I wrote in for “Kitchen” a few days ago on my guitar.  I mean, I’m pretty close!  But, I’lll need practice 🙂  I used the guitar to help me write it with MIDI, but…  well, I just can’t muster it all, live.  So, I’m changing my strings back to 10’s on the Stratocaster and adjusting the neck to be optimum.  I got a new pack of strings waiting on the bench.  I used 13’s to record all of the rest of the guitar parts on “Kitchen”, and now I want to change them out and learn to play that solo live with some light strings.  Actually, I kinda have a stiff road ahead of me.  I can’t even play 16th triplets at 120 with an minor standard scale.  I just will have to work it up..  In fact, the first hurdle to try for might be just that:  Play the different permutations of the minor scale up the neck at 120 in sextuplets.  We’ll see…

I worked on my site music player for 5 or 6 hours.  It’s almost there.  I have it transferred over to the Bradster BlueTech theme WordPress.  Most of the modification was in the CSS, since the JS was very much abstracted as a standalone audio player.  I had it on my old site, as in the photo:

Audio Player

And, so, it’s still in the works.  And, it’s going to be augmented to show the details of each song, to provide a download button, and to re-configure sharing and it’s operation on Androids and iPhones.  I guess the biggest thing is to get the music itself ready!

 

Brad Ormand Recording Tambourine

11.08.2014 – Synth Solo & Recording

Man, I wrote a really great synth solo for “Kitchen” yesterday.  It rocks hard.  I’ll stand by that.  I really think it’s gold star shit.  It’s interesting, soulful, and intelligent.  It’s just in the right place, too.  I actually don’t know how I did it.  I just set my mind to it and started writing with the intention of getting something useable, and boom, out came that.  I’m happy.

So, I’m really happy about that.  And, I think the kick/bass combo is finally on the level of finished.  All I have to do is check it, test it, and sleep on it a few times and love it.  When I love it, that’s when it’s done.  I put care into this stuff and try to make my own dreams come true, and I’m not going to sell myself short and just scratch something together over a few days and publish it out.  Things turn into other things over time – they morph, they mature, they solidify.  That’s why I’m glad I’m not in a rush.  This version has that maturity written all over it.  I’m happy about it.

Brad Ormand - Pro Tools Shot

And, it’s the same thing with “Fine”.  It just keeps getting better and better.  I was playing pool listening to it and thought, ya know, that chorus could sure use a hi-hat or shaker or tambourine…  So, I tested a few instruments out from my percussion bin of various bells, shakers, tambs, and noise-makers.  The brass tambourine was the ticket.  I set up the gear and overdubbed it in.  Makes a huge difference – it really distinguishes it from the pre-chorus, now.

Brad Ormand Recording Tambourine

I had yet another deadline to reach yesterday for work and thus I couldn’t get started with much this week.  Mainly, it’s just been crafting the WP theme up and mixing these songs.  The theme is looking awesome.  I’m in CSS and JavaScript monster mode, since for work, I have had to spend nearly 8 hours a day putting together a pixel-perfect site layout, and send data back and forth from the server, and show/hide different parts of the UI based on user actions.

So, it really keeps me “in the groove”, working with site stuff in both places – toggling back in the morning.  It’s like staying warmed up.

Brad Ormand - Pro Tools Shot

11.05.2014 – ST7565R, Philosophy & Songs

It’s another heavy work week for me folks.  Some uh that early rising stuff again.  But, oh well – keeps me keen.  And, more and more tasks pile up, but that’s ok…  That’s what work *is*.

Also, a quick mention while I’m thinking about it…  I don’t let myself get *too* busy at any one time.  I’m never rushed or have too many things to do – at least in my personal projects / personal life.  It’s like I protect my peace of mind, firstly.  I seem to resist melodrama well.  I’m pretty chill all day.  It might seem like I do a lot, and I do, but it’s all “fun” for me and about the enjoyment of life.  Sometimes, there are mistakes or requests at work that press me pretty hard, but I’m talking about my personal projects.  I’m observing this…

It’s like I have an actively monitored “pressure sensor” in my head.  I can sense when I’m getting in the red, and discover why I feel this way and then focus on bringing the pressure back down – which might be actually doing some work, taking care of some things, talking with people, or backing off of aggressive goals.  I have an operating region where I work best, I have noticed, and staying there is critical to maintaining my “big picture view” and my creativity.

So, yeah, I kind of have a low threshold for getting too stressed.  I have worked stressed for years in my youth, but it’s like I found out that I just don’t have to do it anymore.  And, also because my strength is in letting my interest and creativity flow naturally, and that’s the fuel for the engine.  Other people have other strengths, and I have my weaknesses (believe me 🙂 ), and everybody’s different.  I mean, I don’t go around creating corporations or winning the Olympics or leading men into battle – haha.  Some other method works for those skills, I imagine.   But, it’s just something I have noticed since keeping track of projects – I have resonance when I am allowed to flow, and it’s dampened in proportion to the demand, and unusable beyond some threshold.

I have been writing in the blog directly, recently. Today, I’m remote and have some thoughts, so, I’ll write in Notes on my iPhone and transfer / edit later. My blog is just hosted locally now so there’s no way to use the internet with the WordPress app, etc, but I might consider that for later. I like Notes, anyway..

Mainly, I’m thinking about the display animation and music. First off, I’m having a large amount of fun doing them, and I have more ideas like I mentioned in a previous post. But, I am also craving a system integration and a controller, such as that capacitive touch display that I have in my lab (waiting for me lol). But, I feel like I just want to do one thing at a time. I can port those graphics and animations over easily. Basically, I can just finish the animations I wanna do with the SSD1306 and then maybe make a Time Clock UI with that display later.  I might make room on the breadboard for the ST7565R display and while I’m working on that, I’ll decide on an installation approach for the SSD. I don’t know. Just thoughts for now, but that seems to be the direction for now.

Ok, and I got a list of song tweaks, too:

– “Fine”: raise kick freq overall 1db. This is almost finished. Raise ostinato bell parts about 2db to cut through a bit, or find where they fit in more, freq-wise.

– “Kitchen”: write and record that guitar solo/ synth solo for the pre-bridge. Clean up digital noise on outro. Raise kick attack for all choruses. Experiment. Align square wave synth to position point on up beats in chorus to talking track.

– “Strike”: Kick is better, but still needs more attack and about 150hz.

– “Looking”: Bump 50 at top chorus chords – must match it’s resolution to second chord in volume. More tension! Electrocution, then release. Also, consider making top chorus more interesting with chopped talking bits.

– “Crush”: Cut 3k on main vox in chorus. More rough-sounding, not brittle. Second chorus sounds better than first, Why?? And bump the entire kick up 1db (again).

– “Action”: “Lights, camera, action” vocals need higher, vocoded accompaniment. They seem lonely 🙂 Increase kick attack at 2k-ish. The fundamental is plenty loud and fine.

– “Dive”: Bump kick at about 90Hz. Investigate TB-303 parts to be more prominent?? Chorus melody with more activity behind it? Consider.

Better get started 🙂

 

Brad Ormand - Moon Painting Outside

11.03.2014 – Moon Painting, Future Projects & Songs

I went ahead and put those ridges onto the painting with plaster and painted them up.  Also, I applied some granular spray paint with some kind of fiber or rubber or something in it that makes the surface rough.  I left 4mm grooves in the center of each to run the light pipes.  I haven’t put the pipes in yet, but while working on them at the bench, I had a bit of trouble making the light uniform through the light pipe with a one-ended LED (even with a superbright, at max current).  So.. I got sand paper and roughed up the outside of the light pipe and tried that.  There was more light coming through the length of it, and it looks super cool, but it’s too defined – it looks like “light scratches” when illuminated, it doesn’t diffuse it, and it’s non-uniform – looks cool, however…..  nah, I don’t think it’s going to work for this installation.  At this point, I think I’ll just go ahead and cut the pipes into about 4 cm chunks and put LEDs on each end and make a “snake” out of it wrapped in some kind of wax-like paper to get a soft glow, running the wires inside the whole burrito. 🙂

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In other news, there are other projects in the pipeline as I move forward.  I have 160 green LEDs on the way for a 16×9 custom display/matrix.  They’re about 3.8mm each and should pack pretty tightly without being overly tiny to handle and solder, through-hole, not SMT.  I’ll arrange them in a little case and try to diffuse them a bit, and light ’em up in different patterns and animations.  It’s in preparation for some other art projects I am thinking about down the line that will require these skills.  I have an initial schematic that I drew up with a few shift registers (already in stock) and I want to get a feel for myself how far I can take it – both from a processor speed/memory perspective and a volts/current perspective.  About 10 to 20 of them will be used for my current Moon Painting, and the rest will go to the 144 that I need for the display.

Also, I have a new display coming in as well.  I have wanted one of these since they surfaced up on the scene.  It’s a chip-on-glass reflective dot matrix LCD.  128×32.  It’s super dope.  It’s the ST7565R (controller name).  (The entire part name is NHD-C12832A1Z-FSW-FBW-3V3, and I’d rather not call it that 😉 ).  It paints grey pixels on a white backlight, and I can’t wait to dig into that, for sure.

As for the SSD1306, I have had some other ideas that I’d like to see implemented.  I’m still in the R&D phase for that.  For instance, I can set up some basic 3D and draw wireframes, I’m sure.  But, I think I’ll probably have to turn down the frame rate or write it in assembly.  Even the 3 sine wave scrolling animation missed frames, and it was visually slow, so I doubt it can handle polygons.  However, as a precursor, I’ll at least make a “star blaster”, like where the stars come at you in 3D.  That’ll be less expensive.  And, I can animate the camera left and right so that the z-axis is offset back and forth.  That might be all I can do, but we’ll see.  And, I still have that box and grid thing I wanna do…

I might go ahead and start on the triangle wave conversion for that VCO while I’m at a good stopping point with the painting and SSD1306.  And, I want to see what kind of adjustable filtering I want to do as well.  I know I want it voltage-controlled as well, but like I said in a previous post, I want to select my values very carefully and put some real time into it. And, maybe I’ll try to digitally control the VCO and VCA while I’m at it.  Might put up a rotary encoder to an ATTiny and have it spit predefined levels out so I can get like a sweep of the notes or some sinusoidal patterns for the low-pass.  I’ll be getting into this world soon enough.

I have a list again for music updates, too.  The “Strike” kick needs some punch – I overdid the sub before.  I want to write a square wave synth solo for “Kitchen” going into the bridge that sounds kind of like a guitar had done it, bluesy/funky.  And, there are little vocal tweaks that I want to do to “Fine” and “Crush”.  Also, “Feeling” could use a bit less synth bass and more kick, <1db, micro change.  And just a few more as I wrap these songs up to go out.

This is how I like things.  Having plenty of projects that I care about, going through each one, making progress, toggling back, growing my toolkit, relaxing, no deadlines, expressing myself.  Multi-discipline, using all areas of the brain, trying to fulfill my potential, but doing so in a gentle, chilled style.  There’s no goal, just seeing what comes out if I follow my interest.  Nothing contrived.  Everything enjoyed.

 

 

Brad Ormand in Austin, TX

11.01.2014 – Moon Painting, SSD1306 & AX-450

Holy Smokes, there’s a lot going on.  Well, it’s just that I updated my moon painting (it looks a zillion times better), I tore down the Brother machine, found a few surprises inside, and I compiled a video of all of the SSD1306 animations I have done to date.

First, I painted the moon landscape over, after I receiving some insight about the texture of limestone, which is plentiful here in Austin (I brought a big rock in from the yard).  It was kind of a shame to paint over the previous work, but…  That’s how it goes – incremental progress – better techniques replace what came before them.  And, well, it looks a million times more realistic as a base.

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This time, I only used a tiny bit of blue and green, and made it almost totally desaturated.  The craters look fantastic as a base and I haven’t yet decided what to do next.  I’ll sleep on it and wait for the next inspiration to surface.  What I end up doing might be different that what I thought of in the beginning..  Or..  It might be the original idea, squared.  Let’s find out…

And, here’s my halloween costume..  Uh yeah, regular dress for me this year.  I was tired from the late night of the 30th and the project delivery on Halloween, so I just stayed around with a few close friends and chatted.  I rarely talk about personal stuff in the log, but..  since this Halloween pic was taken, and it’s a holiday..  what the hell:  I was going to go to a costume party as a warewolf wearing those neon orange sunglasses and some gold bling.  I was really looking forward to it back in September, but circumstances changed and time went quickly and well…  It never came together.  The moon was eerily plump and the breeze cool. I was looking forward to howling at that moon. 🙂  It seems to be the first day that really feels like fall this year.

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Aaaand, in other news, I made a video of my collection of SSD1306 animations.  I got really involved over the last 2 weeks, blittin’ frames, just coming up with new ways to bang that screen up, and put them all together in a tidy format.  I’m sure when I look back on it in a few years, I’ll get inspired and want to re-create or extend these.    It’s a good supplement to the stuff going on right now.

The song I chose to go with the vid was a song I started in 2006 called “Afterburn”.  It made it over to some music libraries, but it wasn’t ever sync’d to anything (or anything prominent) like “In Tha Den” was from the same group I sent over (sync’d to a prime time Veronica Mars episode).  But, I still luv it – it’s got lots of energy and good synths and kick, However, it was made with my old mixing style, so I have it on the block to be polished for release soon.  It’s not out there as of now.  But, got nostalgia feelings working with it again 🙂  Anywaeeees…

The animations in the vid are of varied kinds – particle animations, bar graphs, sinusoidal wave explorations, and math graphing.  I still have some sci-fi / free-form things that I still want to do like I mentioned in a previous post.  However, this is a good collection for now.  I got what I came for.

And, wow – I did more…  I tore down the Brother AX-450 Electronic Typewriter (from ’89) to look at some stuff, and I found a cool surprise inside.  There’s a tape mechanism that transfers the ink to the paper that also “records” the previous keystrokes, and it was just cool to see what the previous owner had written about – haha.  There was mention of “Monday Night Football” and “Adventure” and “Party Machine”.  haha.  Didn’t mean to be snoopy, and there was nothing juicy in there, I assume just a fellow writing some shit like I’m writing right now – my intention anyway was to to see how the power supply worked, the display, and the keyboard unit (nice spring-loaded feel), and I was just pleasantly surprised with this extra finding.

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And, also, I feel like I struck gold with the display – it has a “real” HD44780 QFP chip – the board was actually *from* Hitachi, with the “HD44780” QFP chip branded on back – not like these days when I mostly see just a chip-on-board black gunk-dot on the back – who knows what those are.  I know the HD44780 is super-prevalent, but this is cool to see in it’s ’89 form 🙂 .  I get excited about these things.  It’s kind of cool to look back into history and see this type of stuff. Fun.

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I traced out the power supply circuit and tried to see how it was managing the electro-mechanical stuff, and also found a pretty cool “font-set wheel” in there – it’s like each letter has a position ratio (n/numSpokes)*(PI*2) in the spectrum, and when you push a key that corresponds, the MCU looks up that keystroke and the motor turns that wheel to that ratio in the table and waits for it to be “whacked” on it’s back to smudge the ink (through the ink rubber) to the paper.  I don’t know – something like that, I assume…  Just guessing.  It was cool to look at.  Nice.

 

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I mean, there’s a lot I got out of breaking it down. Justified time spent, for sure – as it was with the LG bluetooth-audio subwoofer unit and the Casio keyboard that I jacked open in September (before I started keeping log).  And, that reminds me – it’s that actual jacked sub that I’m using in my truck to provide the boom-booms right now.  Forgot about that…  Anyway… So, yeah – I always get a lot out of these investigations.  I have been doing this type of stuff since I was about 10 at my dad’s shop.  And, I’m still as fascinated as I was then. 🙂

Brad Ormand Early Moon Painting Work-Up

10.30.2014 – Songs, Job & Moon Painting

I mixed down “Fine” again this morning before going to work. I added the beater side kick track back in. The kick is full and plenty. It might just work as-is, really. “Strike” is sounding excellent since I boosted the metal guitar synth around 2k – it’s almost surreal when the chorus hits. I think it’s a good balance and I hesitate to do any more work to it at all.

On the job front, I am nearing the end of my site project. Honestly, I have been a little anxious about it. I procrastinated some, just due to the sheer amount of work I had to do in order to get it right, plus animation. It had been up and down, my emotional level – nothing severe, just like a feeling of “this has to get done soon” feeling. The opposite of what I feel with my personal projects, which have no deadlines and no pressure (that’s becoming a theme). But, anyway, I’ll say this though: I love the people I am working with and am fortunate to be working in this field at this company doing what I do.

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I painted up a storm last night. My clothes and hands got all “painty” and I even got some paint on the pool table felt. Oh well… It’s a comfortable place to paint, and it has good lighting. Lol.. But, yeah, I originally intended a moonscape, and mixed the color to start that, however once I began, I started to get more and more ideas, and well, I modified my direction vector a bit. It’s a little more: abstract, with natural aspects to it 🙂  I think I’ll try to rough it up with some kind of texture next, and I’m still thinking abut those ridges, too. It’ll take days and days to finally finish it, but it’s going in a pretty good direction! Especially displayed under overhead lighting.

Brad Ormand's Tektronix 2235 Oscilloscope

10.22.2014 – Job, Synth & Mac Pro

I’m split two ways. Haha – between work projects and my own. It has always been that way, I guess. I seemed to have lost a bit of steam in my creativity and enjoyment factor. I have to put the deadline for work first – because it’s my bread and butter (literally), and they count on me to do this in several ways, and I don’t mind doing it.  I like my job. It’s a wonderful project and I’m blessed with the opportunity to do it, but the fear lies in not being able to get it all done in time.  However, I met with some project leads and got a few of my questions clarified, so I feel waaay better – The project is still on track!

 

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This morning, I had thoughts of building my synth package up, again. I might refine it to be more of a Frequency Generator with different waveform options as opposed to a musical instrument (yet). I need one for my lab bench anyway. I want to build a prototype digital multi-waveform oscillator machine from scratch to get the reps in – to learn their principles well. I’ll build that, program the UI, make the boards, set the case, and start using it to run clean signals through my analog filter experiments, and, also cuz I wanna use my Tek 2235 2-channel Oscilloscope to measure the input and output of each wave post- and pre- filters.  Tek analog is a beautiful blue-green-juicy candy cane blast to use – more than any other oscar I have worked with – nothing looks cooler lol..

Plus, it would be waaay cooler to have a freqGen that I built personally than to have a store-bought one. I’ll make sure it’s accurate. And then… Based off of what I learn from that experience, seeing it all the way through, touchscreen menus and all, I will build a musical multi-voice synth, and even more synths after that, including a digitally-controlled analog synth – I have mentioned before that that’s what I want to be capable of.
Yet, I can’t dump myself into it now. Gotta get that site for work built first. Enough writing. Here we go 🙂

A few hours later… I have a really cool-looking set of animated panels, in and out that I think will Wow the audience (that work is presenting it to) and gain interest for the product – nice, smooth Quadratic eases and the panels are all functional, as well. Screen size detection for centering elements, a nav to switch states in-page, non-refresh-style. Loving it! It’s coming along. I don’t think I can show the screenshots or video of it since it’s proprietary / under NDA, but you can see my style of web UI from this and my other public sites.

K just ordered the DDR2 FB-DIMM RAM for my Pro Tools Mac Pro from New Egg – after returning the generic DDR2 RAM that I mistakenly purchased the other day. Ugh – glad that’s done. Now… As soon as I get that RAM installed (and it works), I’ll be getting back to those sub and kick parts for “Fine” and “Kitchen”. It’s weird having that system out of service right now. I miss it. 🙂

Brad Ormand Pro Tools Session

10.19.2014 – Songs & Synth

Lots of activity this past weekend regarding projects…  The most notable is the new vocal chop melody I arranged for “Doing Fine”.  It really has impact!  I am really happy with how that song is sounding, and can’t wait to iterate over all of them again.  I keep pressing my own limits and it’s apparent that if I just keep going, I will create the sounds that I have dreamed about.  But, it seems to just come from staying relaxed and following my interest and “letting” myself go – having no deadlines or pressure, but just dropping into the creation of these songs because I like to improve the impact of their delivery – making the speakers talk!

Speaking of “talk”, I said that because it sounded cool (ha) to make a speaker “talk”, but halfway because also I have really been interested lately in formants and vocal box harmonics and how they shift over time and all of that.  One of the books I got in the other day describes some of that.  I had first heard of this topic back when Antares introduced AutoTune.  Glad to get more into it.  I want to synthesize vocal sounds.  I’m no expert right now, but I will implement something to that effect (somehow) in my designs.  It’s just where I’m at, I think – sound-wise.  The vocal chop I did for “Fine” is a testament to that (sounds great to me).  I love that style so much! I want to try synthesizing it, too.

Brad Ormand - 8x6 Font Set

10.13.2014 – Font Set, Time Clock & Philosphy

Ahh, so many advances are happening at the same time! First off, I’m still listening to my free association vocals from yesterday, and I’m loving that shit…  I remember my brother and my compadre S.B. busting out hardcore in the past in recording sessions and blowing my mind – when back then I had trouble forming a single noun on the fly, sticking to the beat-writing and mic placement, and I’m glad to come from there to here, at least.  And, going from a fully written style to busting out on the fly is, like, pretty new to me (and awesome!), since I’m a “studio guy” and not a major performer – I guess that could be a defense mechanism, idk, but whatever…  I took stage acting / improv classes recently, and that definitely helped my awareness / relaxed level.  Still..  loving where it’s all going.

And, today I drew a really cool-looking tiny 8×6 font set for my project, with pencil. I think it came out pretty awesome. 🙂 I have started to digitize / translate them, but I am a long-ass way off right now. 128 characters to write data for and stuff it into EEPROM and then test using it… Whew, but it’s all part of the process.

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As for the code, I was glad to have spent some time in advance to be able to access each letter definition like:

asciiDefs.a.charCode

Inside the main ascii collection C struct / typedef, the letters and icons have their own structs with names like “a” and “G”, and “leftCurlyBrace”, etc. was glad to have done that as opposed to charDefs[ 114 ][ 3 ] , etc. ugh

Next up, yesterday, I tweaked my timing functions off the main instruction clock prescaler to be the basis for what I think will be the most accurate time of day clock possible with this CPU’s internal timing (without using a crystal oscillator).

The math works out, but I haven’t checked it out in practice. But, consider an 8MHz hardware osc prescaled by 256 to yield 125k, and then my program takes over by integer counting inside that interrupt to yield a 25k audio sample rate (enough for this embedded system – up to 12k harmonics will be sufficient for my Nyquist freq). And then, I scale out to have a 25Hz user input / button debounce and display refresh, leading to a 1 second tick-off, by counting up to and resetting every 25 iterations, leaving 1000 milliseconds. Before, I was getting a result like 0.997 seconds per second accuracy. Instead, this time of day clock should have the same error specs (0.00001%) of the original instruction clock (in theory) Whew! I’m going to replace my waking alarm clock if this works with that accuracy! P.S. Why do we put up with an annoying wake alarm when it could be something satisfying or soothing (but, I guess some of you have already figured that out 🙂 );

On the music front, there are a few things to report. I got “Kitchen” to finally sound right! I mean – it’s really close to completion. The kick is sounding pretty great with that high ~120Hz bass guitar. On Friday, I actually thought I was going to have to replace that kick.. But, I totally flattened the EQ curves and re-mixed the signals, and completely turned off the D-112 track on that 18×22 kick, because it was not needed. It was fighting. In the end, I got something that I am quite happy with!

I had to wake up at 5-something for work again, but it’s okay. Gotta wake up early again tomorrow, but then.. It’s back to normal 🙂 I’ll have a new HTML5 / Javascript / CSS project to start on. Designers did a great job, I think! It should be a fun ride to dope it out.

And, wHEw! One last thing… (It’s no wonder that I have a hard time scheduling – My time is always booked to the maxx! Ha [but, I like it – wouldn’t wanna do anything else with my time :). I’m voluntarily doing all of this out of pure interest])… Yesterday, I designed / re-purposed a scoreboard UI for my brother’s live billiards broadcast screen. It looks pretty dope! It’s just a starting concept, and we may not use it… But, I was inspired by “Destiny”, the Bungie game for the HUD layout. It’s got a fair bit of gradient on it though, not exactly “flat design” like I see in that HUD. I’m happy with the result, tho. We might do a V2 on Wednesday if this one is a bit too “modern” or “right field”. I love that type of work, though.

This is a really exciting life! I’m going to speak freely, now: All of that training and sharpening and education and focus I did in my 20’s really is paying off. I feel like I can do anything within my interest field, off the cuff, and on demand. I have built up the skills and put them in my metaphorical development toolbox. Other things, I suck at (like basketball or first aid or server networking)… But, my strengths are definitely here, and I’m feeling like I am highly capable in UI dev and design, musical audio engineering, producing music, and, recently, display programming.

As far as life goes as a whole, I am really in the zone there as well. I don’t write in this log about my personal life very much, like my spirituality, dating / romance, exercise, or what my nutrition plan looks like, etc. (sometimes, I write about philosophy, though). I do that primarily because I started these log pages to be kind of like a “standup” or project management update log… But, I just wanted to mention this aspect of life-balance because a balance there equals a balance here when it’s time to put on the thinking cap (or creativity cap, in those situations), and because it wasn’t always this way for me, and partially to serve as a reminder to myself, in this log, that it is important. That base layer is important. Knowing my deeper motivations and cutting through the mental and external noise, etc.

Brad Ormand - Waveform of Good Kick

10.10.2014 – Analog Filters, Skrillex & Philosophy

Ahhh, yeah.. Detour yesterday. I forgot that I had ordered some (like 3 of them) Analog filter design books last week – used, for like 1/10th of the price, each (Goodwill listed one that I had been looking for for a long-ass time that went for over $130, but I got it for 8 bucks.  It’s totally readable – I mean it’s just like the books I got used from the University bookstore – totally all good for learning the information contained inside, even if there *is* writing in it). Totally exciting.

Well, I got one in yesterday, and I dove in. Totally informative. I had held off on getting them before because they were all well over $100 each. Anyway, I had been wanting to clarify and solidify my knowledge of signal filter circuits – for audio frequencies, especially. I’m not going to redesign my Audio Tool, but for my next projects (specifically the synth), I want to be very precise with my values.
There are 2 things that I want express about this whole experience:

#1)  The purpose of diving in to learning this topic is precisely so that I can deeply understand the theory and coordination between the components in each configuration so that I can commit to memory the operation of each configuration.. So that when the time comes to design a certain idea that I have for a device, I can just pull out the myriad of design angles from my mind at that point in time and get right to designing it without going to books or the internet first. It’s like having tools in my toolbox that have been tempered with experience and focus, ready to be used in the real world, instantly.  That’s what I’m going for, in the end.  That’s probably how Edison and Einstein and Michelangelo and Leonardo did it, I think…  Like, being able to produce on the fly with existing knowledge – not always having to detour out, saying, “Now, what was the way that went again?”,  “How do I do that again?”, “Better ask Google”.
#2) The reason for getting 3 books on the same subject is for reinforcement. I take this approach for pretty much every topic I learn – I get multiple sources. One author teaches from his/her experience, another from thiers. Also, it’s parity towards authors who may not be so experienced, or are motivated to write the book to impress their peers or for publishers to make money.  I’m not cynical about this, just aware that this exists and that it’s human nature and it’s “ok” to do so, but it is noise over my endgame. Never can know.

I’m also looking for real love of the subject by the author. There are just a lot of books to choose from, and establishing habits at the beginning of learning something is very influential later on and hard to break, thus..  the 3+ sources.  The important thing to me is the actual understanding (leading to real-world capability) of the subject to use in daily life.  So, by having a few sources of learning for a subject, they act as patches over each other – where one book was weak, another may “fill in the gaps”. So, that’s a sentiment that I have been wanting to write down for a while. 🙂

Anyway, back to the topic at hand…

So, like 6 hours were dumped into 100 pages of analog circuit design yesterday – following schematics, more theory, etc…  I sat outside in the breeze. However, I did manage to mix out some songs: “Kitchen” and “Looking for” for kick and sub frequencies. Better, both of them.. But, still needs more work. The kick on “Looking For” is nearly perfect for what I can do, and I’m stopping right there, but needs some sub help on the chorus. Ahh – so tricky…

“Kitchen” is gonna have to have it’s kick replaced, I think (again) – can’t get this kick I recorded to work (it’s an 18×22 kick I have in my studio), tuned low with its fundamental at about 47hz. It just doesn’t have the tight characteristics I’m looking for for this particular mix. Plus the bass guitar is high and tight, too. Ahhh, on second thought.. I’m just going to re-mix the bass and kick altogether. There should be enough 80 to 200hz frequency info in the beater-side track.. I’ll version it out. I’m somehow gonna get it right and tight, but keep that 50hz resonance, slightly. I’ll try that.

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And, the version of “Dive” that I did Sunday rocks so hard. I really love it’s sub & kick frequency combo. Also, I think “Fine” is working out nicely as well. I mean, I do hear some inconsistencies between mine and commercial tracks. I know I am not “matching up” to the best of the best, yet, but I really do think this is my best mixing ever – It’s a far cry from what I was producing 5 years ago, and in another 5 years, I think I ‘ll have come in to my own personal resonance 🙂

Speaking of Far Cry (I mentioned it…)..  haha I am looking forward to Far Cry 4, for real.  Love the series, played them all to the bone.  Big environment, great textures, immersive world, story – all of it…  Highly influential to me…  Plus, they had Skrillex’s track (Make It Bun Dem) in a prominent scene in the main story in FC3.  Oh god..  Just love to hate that track because it’s so good.  Lightens my life.  Love this guy. All of his stuff is gold as far as I’m concerned.  Dat boy good…  Plus, I’m loving, right now, the Reggae philosophy of peace, love and happiness and harmony, mon.  For real.  Irie! So, I took a liking to it.  The kick audibly clips, but sounds so good, actually. (I’m not a traditionalist 18db-of-headroom kinda guy 🙂 ) I had to study it, since my focus is on kick & bass mixing right now.  It’s got this certain knock/punch, but also has the sub to match – all together balanced.  One of the best I have heard for impact – louder than most.  Here’s a waveform capture.

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Brad Ormand - Audio Meter

10.09.2014 – Job, SSD1306 & Songs

New mixes! Ok, just listened back – instructions are: (all kick-related, at this time): for “Fine”, increase resonance of kick 2db at about 50hz. For “Kitchen”, increase the punch/knock at about 150Hz about 2db, and for “Strike”, turn down the attack at about 1kHz. Super-small tweaks, incremental, listen back and go from there. Bottom line: they all sound better than ever! Now, it’s just those production touches…

In other news, I’m really wanting to write that driver for that device I spoke about yesterday – the 32×16… However, I will first write the driver for the Solomon SSD1306 OLED display using SPI, instead. It’s monochrome, but it’s so sleek and the pixels are very tight! I’ll sink my teeth into that for a few weeks, wrap a good driver and produce my animations (and maybe a custom font/ascii lib)… And, at the same time set up a tele keypad driver to interface with it.  That’ll keep me busy and learning for my next few projects – and might integrate the results into the digital audio granulator/synth, the analog synth, and my portable directional audio spectrum analyzer, ambitious, long-term projects. (About a year). That’s all I feel like engaging in at this time.  It’s a big enough chunk. I’m thoroughly fascinated right now, and the spirit of invention is strong in me right now, outside of work.

I’m still going to work (to my software engineering job) at 5:45 every day while we have to coordinate with the international team. It’s not a big deal, actually. I mean yes, I am tired. But, I needed to shift my sleep schedule up a few hours anyway, and although this is overkill, when it’s over next Tuesday, I’m sure I’ll have at least an hour circadian rhythm shift. And, which is why I don’t complain about it – even to myself. Perspective, man…  There are benefits. Also, traffic is like non-existent.  Good thing. And, I go home earlier. All good.

Brad Ormand - Audio Tool - First UI

10.08.2014 – Job, Songs & Animation

Damn – life is exciting right now! In addition to my personal projects, I have to be at work at 6 every day for the next week.  Yeah… in the morning. It’s 1/2 exciting and adventurous, and 1/2 kind of uncomfortable. But, overall, it’s fine.  It’s something new. I saw a shooting star on the way to work, for instance.. Right now, it’s 6:30 and still dark, about to get coffee and start the day.. I actually feel wonderful! Got plenty of adjusted sleep last night and feel a sort of excitement of the adventure of it all and, of course, from the buzz of my Audio Tool.

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Speaking of… I spent several hours on the case for the tool – hooked up 3, 1/4 inch jack units, the power switch, the speaker terminals, and started the Mic/Line switch, etc. I mounted the board in the case, mounted the battery holder (with a nice hot glue pad for stability), and marked the top cover for all of the rest of the switches to go on there. Of course, I always try to spend the extra time to get everything symmetrical and evenly spaced – like CSS for the real world UI lol.. It’s looking great, and it’s a great next level in my advancement. Growing and learning through doing actual implementations and getting actual experience. That’s the ticket.

And now.. Back to music… “Fine” needs a 3db boost to it’s kick at about 125Hz, and perhaps a 1db boost, overall. “Kitchen” is gonna need a little cosmetic surgery to it’s kick – it’s a bit more severe. ..(I’m really focusing on kicks right now).. It needs more body, but not at it’s fundamental, way down at like 50, because it’s just too low for the song. I need a bump more like at 70 or 90. I even considered this morning to swap out the kick type altogether if I can get it to work.. I don’t know, tho.. I’m going to keep fixing it until the song gets what it needs and deserves.  Might switch it out.

And, in other news, I’m preparing to write a driver for a 16 x 32 RGB LED matrix so that I can produce a few animations – some int physics and some Bresenham drawing to the display as an entertainment installation. It’ll end up being mostly a two-button input animation switching interface that just sits there and looks awesome. The only problem I see is that the datasheet says it writes two pixels, together, at a time, per clock cycle, and for (single-point) particle physics, I hope I’ll be able to write one of them to “off”. Ha.  We’ll see.
For animations, I’m thinking: #1) 10 to 20 random-tinted particles with gravity bounded by the box (display wid & hgt)… #2) a random vertical spectrum analyzer-looking thing, and #3) horizontal single-pixel rays of varying length shooting by at random speeds and colors, left-to-right.