What will the signature sounds of the 2020's be?

I had this thought about how the sounds around us have changed in so many ways, and in so many others, they haven’t. It made me wonder what would the sounds of the 2020’s be. It also made me wonder what sounds have become the signature sounds of my life.

This is something I’m likely to, or rather, hope to explore in my field recording podcast. If you didn’t know about that, you can find more information here.

Endlesss, collaborative music making on iOS

I’ve been playing with Endlesss for a little while now. A few weeks anyway. To begin with I wasn’t sure quite what to make of it. Now I’m beginning to realise that I’ve only just scratched the surface and that there is a huge amount more that I can do with it, and also that I can do with others, after all, it is collaborative.

The idea of Endlesss is really simple. You create what Endlesss calls ‘Jams’. Each jam is like a track, except it isn’t. It is much more than that. A jam consists of ‘riffs’ (or it may be ‘rifffs’, I’m not sure). Each of these is like a moment in time when you add something to the jam, and as you build these up, adding instruments etc, you get a journal of sorts showing how this track (I use that term simply for ease) has developed and changed.

Here’s what the journal looks like

In isolation that’s pretty interesting in itself. But the more impressive feature is that you can take any point in the journal and then take your jam in a different direction. For me this is probably the most interesting aspect of Endlesss.

Endlesss Journal view

As you can see there are a number of different iterations of this jam and they’re grouped by date. This makes taking ideas in different directions very easy.

The quiet world

I’m not the first to mention that the world is a lot more quiet now. Perhaps not all the people, which is actually a shame, but there is less noise around. Apparently earthquakes are easier to spot as there is less background noise. Birds are making more song, which is lovely, and air pollution is down. These are all good things.

I’ve been recording more things too. Mainly just the quiet of the morning, but other stuff too. So I thought I’d share a few of them with you.

His Dark Materials (BBC)

I was aware of this story and the books, but had never really thought about reading them. So when the BBC announced their new series I decided to give it a go. I have to admit that I had low expectations as they’d not exactly done a great job with War of the Worlds.

But, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It was actually very good indeed. I watched all of the episodes, and, whilst I can’t say it was a story that I found totally gripping or interesting, it was actually good.

I think they’re making more of this too. I would definitely watch more if they do. If nothing else I expect it’ll be diverting.

The other thing it’s made me do is to get the first of the audio books. I haven’t started listening to it as yet, but I’ll get to it eventually.

Original Pebble revived

I backed the original Pebble on Kickstarter, and used the original Pebble device for quite some time. It was great and very useful indeed, but I replaced it with the Pebble Time when that came out.

I had experimented with using the original with an old iPhone, and effectively converting the Pebble to be used as a keychain accessory. This is fairly easy to do with a 3D printed part.

However, on reflection, there was really no point to this, so I gave up this idea. It’s a shame, but if it serves no purpose, then there’s no real point in doing it.

So, whilst it still works just fine, it’s probably time to say goodbye to Pebble 1. Maybe someone else will have a good use for it.

The wonderful world of Griff

The excellent Griff application for Windows Mobile

This is a little journey back in time to before there were iPhones, and when PDAs were big. Ok, not big perhaps, but prevalent to a degree. Back then there were a few applications (we didn’t call them apps back then), that were for music, but, to be honest, they were few and far between. Also there was no standard architecture for things like plug ins on mobile. So it was an interesting time.

One of the most interesting and advanced was Griff. It was a Windows Mobile application, and it had a unique architecture, at least in terms of mobile applications. Griff was essentially a sequencer with a plug in architecture allowing it to be highly extensible.

There was also a reasonable number of these plug ins too. Mainly synths, but also samplers and drum machines. It was very cool in a world before iOS music making.

Whilst it’s not completely abandoned, the web site is still there. It isn’t what it quite was, but you can still find things, and you can still download things I think.

Whilst it’s understandable that Griff is no longer a going concern I still feel a little wistful about it. I remember first discovering it, although I was late to the party. It was a real revelation, and I actually bought a more powerful Windows Mobile PDA to be able to use it.

This is a good project for these times. Especially if you have an old Windows Mobile PDA hanging around. As I do!

Useful ideas and things from Ableton

Just a quick post following an email I got today. Ableton have put up a very handy page with a bunch of useful things for Ableton users and also non users too. You can find the page here.

In particular you should check out the excellent book Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers, which is available in multiple formats. I’ve read this more than once and it is very handy indeed.

I thought you should know.

Waiting Room Volume 1

An album from Blancmange for the quarantine from Coronavirus

A new album from one of my favourite bands, “Blancmanage”. Waiting Room (Volume 1).

Apparently this is a collection of songs that didn’t fit anywhere else. I can understand how that happens. It makes sense to me. I bought it, mainly to support Blancmange in these strange and troubled times. I didn’t expect much, but, on the whole, these are pretty good tracks.

They certainly have a feel of not really fitting together, and, if this makes any sense at all, that sort of binds them together. In a ‘not really binding together’ way. Which I will admit makes no sense either.

I’ll listen to them again soon(-ish), and I may even write something more about this collection of songs. Who knows.


More about Blancmange

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I am annoyed that Blocks Smartwatch will never see the light of day

I know that you can’t guarantee that a Kickstarter project will come about. But when a project raises $1.5m+ and ends up with less than £20k in the bank you have to ask about why and how that happened. This is the case with the Blocks Smartwatch. It did really well on kickstarter and now is in receivership. I’m annoyed about this.

No one is going to get what they ordered. No one is going to get their money back. How do you turn all that cash into a complete failure? I just don’t know.

It makes me, and I’m guessing the other 500 odd backers, a lot more cautious about putting down money for Kickstarter campaigns that may never see the light of day. I’ve still got a couple that are now years behind schedule and fairly doubtful about. These days I find myself resisting most interesting ideas on Kickstarter simply because of being burnt once already.

I would have liked to have seen this device come to life. I think the idea of modular things, but perhaps it was just never to be.

Bermondsey Beer Mile

I did this back in July of 2019 with a friend. It was a good laugh. That is to say, what I remember of it was a good laugh. I started at noon and managed to get a train home about 12 hours later, so it was a pretty big commitment.

As far as I recall (and that isn’t too far), it was around 15-18 bars or tap rooms. Each with its own brews and guest beers too. Also all of it was craft ale, which I’m not always fond of, but there were a few real stand out beers from that day. One of which was Hiver, a honey beer that I’ve now had several times and just doesn’t disappoint in my opinion.

I would do it again I think. Especially in the summer, when the weather is good and so is the company. Either way, I would thoroughly recommend this, or at least some parts of it. If you’re interested then just look up the Bermondsey Beer Mile in Google Maps. You’ll find everything you need.