Wrestling with the new app
A screenshot of my desktop, showing different sections of the app. It’s taking some time to become acquainted with its functions. I filmed a session, showing which settings being used and sent it to Terry. He replied:
The repeated bell strikes are definitely feedback— the pitch tracker is hearing the bell strike from the computer speaker and thinks it's your voice. You need to use headphones to isolate the speakers from the mic. Good to know it's working!
I felt excited that I could work it, and understand the functions. I love working with anything tech, but it can take me time to understand and use new applications.
Carolyn, 6 July
Sending more voice sounds
I've been using these fantastic sounds to develop a new module which responds to the timbre, or colour of Carolyn's voice.
I'm calling it the "Vocal Straker" -- it will have a far more expressive range than simple pitch tracking to accommodate these wild sounds!
Terry 17 July
Here's a few excerpts from the files: some vocables, harmonics, fry, ululations
Two short studies using the bells and voice
where when who what how
I was interested in the sustain and decay of the bell tones. The bells’ sounds vary widely: after the initial strike, each bell has its own decay, duration, and harmonic content. Some tones are very pure, others consist of a number of pitches.
In this example, a series of short vocal glisses are sung on each of the five words, where when who what how. The app settings are programmed to be responsive, and sensitive to pitch, resulting in multiple bells triggered within the sung range. Clusters of bell strikes are followed by long gorgeous clusters of sounds.
Seven phrases of fry
The overtones of vocal fry are used to trigger the bells. At first the bell strikes are sparse. Then the settings are altered to allow for more bells, resulting in chaotic melodies and downward chiming, following the descending vocal harmonics.
I like each of these effects. The austerity of the opening phrase highlights the voice, which contrasts with the unleashed melodies that ensue, the voice disappearing into the cascading bells. There is an ongoing tussle between the attack and sustain of voice, and the strike and decay of the bells: balance is tricky. Fry is so satisfying to do: it is a shower of vocal attack.
Carolyn, 24 July 2020
Seven short studies using the harmoniser
The voice leads.
At first the bells are individually sounded, then become more frequent and in harmony. There is a sense of foreground and background, that the bells are accompanying the voice. The unique tuning and unexpected harmonies are highlighted.
The number of bells gradually increases, both vertically and horizontally. Without a sense of the downbeat a wonky complex rhythmic quality evolves.
The voice is (mostly) tonal. Singing in time and in tune, without referencing the bells, is definitely one way to sing the bells.
I’m singing in an underplayed way, a stealthy way, and with a breathier tone. I’m trying to merge the vocal sound with the sound of the decay of the bells. I’m trying to diminish the distinction between bell tone and voice tone. I am one with the cluster.
Na na na na
A bell sounds when the vocal note sings its pitch.
The harmonizer tinkles away.
Call and respond
The bells respond to the last pitch that is sung. I paused the harmoniser at certain times, allowing the clusters to ring out. The harmonizer's unusual pitch choices can be delicious.
Giving the voice space creates a variety of textures, with sections variously sparse or active. I'm trying to gently meander with my melodic choices, as a response to the out-of-tune quality of the bells: I like the back and forth effect, the long slow vocal notes followed by the pattern of faster bell attacks.
The bells respond well to extended techniques and unconventional vocal sounds:
Two descending birds
The phrases created by the harmonizer descend in pitch as the voice pitch descends.
Fast vocals with rapid textural and pitch changes are matched with a fast, frenetic harmoniser. The outcome is a busy, energised duet between voice and bells.
Carolyn, 31 July
These renditions demonstrate the power and beauty of collaboration. Delicate, robust work. Completely unexpected.
I had no idea what Carolyn would come up with once she became familiar with the software and was able to experiment with it: Carolyn has unleashed a remarkable array of beautifully expressive little sonic "haikus" -- I feel we've just scratched the surface of possibilities.
OK that's enough cliches in the one paragraph, but this is really exciting and inspiring for me!
Terry, 1 August