I had the nicest dream.

Thanks to a little encouragement (and a lot of help) from my friend Jonathon I recently started learning how to use After Effects – the software that I’m now realizing is used to make every car commercial that you see on TV. I picked it up fairly quickly, probably because of the similarities with audio software. I think I’m only barely scratching the surface, but it’s a useful skill to have, and I thoroughly enjoy it, even though waiting for video to render is the most mind numbing activity ever.

In any event I used After Effects to compile a lot of footage that I took at the Farm one day over the summer, and I lengthened and remixed an old song of mine to create a music video! I’m fairly happy with it. I think it’s a good initial foray into the world of video.

Click here to watch or download. It’s a 20 mb quicktime file, so be patient! Make sure your volume is turned up or else it gets kinda boring.

Tony the night guard

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’ve been working on a short sound documentary. I originally wanted to use it as part of my Handface documentary, but now I’m not so sure. In any event it was a very good exercise for me, and I hope you enjoy it. Click here to listen or download.

As usual, it will be much more enjoyable if you are able to listen on real speakers or headphones…laptop speakers are not so great.

Please let me know what you think! This was definitely an experiment so I would like to hear some opinions.

Handface Episode 1

The past few days have been spent working on the Seznec Brothers recordings, which are turning out well, a little bit of Rolo music, and my Handface documentary.

For those of you who don’t know, Handface is my band. Well, I suppose it was, since the drummer is now off in Chile for six months.

In any event, a few months ago I realized that the Handface story is compelling, funny, and in a way is an analogy for (among other thing) Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon, techies vs luddites, America vs TheRestOfTheWorld, etc etc etc

So I decided to make a documentary that would show all of these things. I finally settled on making a series of short audio-only pieces that would then be animated by my friends (and me).

Handface was composed of three people, who I will call Alberto, Jon, and Yann. Handface theorists often point out that Alberto represents the acoustic, Jon the electronic, and Yann (me) the electro-acoustic…therefore I figured that a good way to start the project would be by making short vignettes about each of the three members that somehow epitomize their characters.

All this is to say that I have finished the outline of chapter one, and you can listen to it here:
A Story About Techno

I would strongly suggest listening to it on headphones or real speakers. Laptop speakers won’t cut it for this one…

This episode is about Jon. He wrote the story, which can be found on his blog. When I read it I was struck by the stark imagery and poetic quality of the text – I found it reflected his personality quite well. I wrote the music, which is a remix of a Handface song.

It looks like my friend Aurelia will be helping me with the animation for this episode. I will probably add a lot to the soundtrack once the animation is finished, but I thought you all would be interested! Questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome.

The bros dot com

Finally! My brother and I have a website for our music!

  • www.seznecbros.com
  • Go check it out! There’s some new music on there.

    The past few days have been spent working on the rest of the tracks that we recorded in October, so check back soon for more Seznec Brothers music.

    A big opportunity.

    Category : Admin

    I’ve arrived in Pittsburgh, and I’ve unpacked most of the stuff from my car. That’s my new house in the middle. The blue one.

    My room in miniscule, and I will henceforth refer to it as my cabin, since I feel like I’m living on a boat. I think my room will be the subject of another post entirely.

    For now my plan is to get as many projects done as possible. Among my projects:

    – An audio documentary about Handface
    – The album my brother and I recorded in the last month
    – Two (very) short movies
    – Play lots of piano
    – Learn to play the accordian

    And that’s the short list. So I’ll be keeping myself busy. This blog will become the public diary for my endeavors, and I hope to update it every couple of days, so check back soon.

    what I’ve been up to.

    Category : Amazing Rolo, Music

    I’ve been working on all sorts of projects lately…I’ve made a lot of test recordings of new songs, for one thing. I bought some new microphones that let me do great quality recordings of acoustic instruments, so I’ve been going wild. Here are a couple of samples for you:

    A Ray Charles song
    An original rag

    Let me know what you think!

    A fun little project.

    It was really rainy here on tuesday, and I really liked the sound of the rain on the shed where we keep the Truck with a capital T. So I made a little movie about it. Let me know what you think!

    A good idea.

    Category : Sound Design

    Car horns have not really changed for a hundred years. Other than those novelty horns that play “Bolero” or the like, car horns have always made the same obnoxiously loud noise – whether you are beeping hello to your friends, telling someone to hurry up, or honking simply as retribution.

    In addition, there are tons of situations when a honk simply doesn’t convey your emotion. How do you honk “I’m sorry” or “Thank you”? It’s virtually impossible with the standard hardware. I was discussing this problem with my friend Dan, and his original idea was to have a dedicated “thank you” horn, which could potentially double as an apology horn. From a sound design perspective, this wouldn’t be particularly difficult…two short ‘beep’ or ‘boop’ sounds, the first at a higher pitch, would probably do the job quite well.

    This got us thinking, however, and we tried to figure out how one could convey a whole range of emotions through a car horn. Our solution, as the picture suggests, entails a touch pad with an x and y axis, the extremes of which would correspond to a pure emotion. I labeled these as Anger/Happiness and Grateful/Apologetic, but those could certainly be improved and refined.

    The difficult part of this project, of course, would be the sound design, particularly since the sounds should probably be as simple as possible. What does monophonic anger sound like? And is it be possible to make a smoothly variable sound that can shift between anger and happiness, and nail every nuanced emotion in between? More philosophically, if it is possible to find an anger sound, could one find a happiness coefficient?

    Another aspect of this, that my designer friends would understand better than I, would be the effect on the user. Would someone be able to eventually become familiar with the interface enough to instantly be able to pick the precise spot that reflects how they are feeling? Righteous indignation, or embarassment, or pride… what would that sound like?

    Maybe eventually people could use a device like this to communicate without words. Maybe.

    In other words, it’s interesting to think about the possibilities of sound design, and its limits.

    Tremendously fascinating…

    Category : Sound Design

    I recently discovered a website about playing music with animals (“turkeys, wolves, kangaroo rats, lemurs, as well as orcas and beluga whales”). Best of all, it has audio samples!

    It’s called “Interspecies.com” and their information page gives us something to think about:

    “Artists’ perceptions of nature are different than scientists’ [sic]. Biologists operate by a logic of perceiving the world objectively, symbolizing their experience as numbers and objects, doing their best to stand outside and separate, peeking in at nature, albeit observantly, sincerely, wholeheartedly. But to view nature from a perceived outside vantage also voids it of subject; diminishing a personal connectedness, feeling, kinship, obligation, intuition, and other forms of direct relating. Yet it is the way things are perceived in our culture.”

    That paragraph sounds an awful lot like the conversations I would have in anthropology class in college…

    The idea, though, is that music offers a method of interspecies communication. On the site you can listen to a guitarist playing with killer whales, among other things.

    There are two things that I thought of when I browsed this page…

    1. I find it saddening that this is such a fringe issue. The information page begs us – “Please don’t make the mistake of dismissing this view as newage fluff.” I guess I’ve always taken it for granted that animals are responsive to sound and music. It seems impossible to me that dogs, for example, which have far better hearing than humans, would simply ignore musical sounds. It’s too bad that this website dedicates so much time and effort to the “balancing” aspect of it all, when it just sort of strikes me as normal. I think that anyone who has spent any time with animals would agree with me.

    2. I definitely respect the musicians who are involved in this project, and I think what they are doing is really cool. That said, I must admit that I was not exactly entranced by the guitar playing on the recordings. I would love to hear a wide variety of good musicians playing along with orcas or manatees or what have you. A good upright jazz bass player, for example, or a Max/MSP wizard or a classically trained english horn player. Something like that.

    Anyway! Go check it out. www.interspecies.com.

    My First Review!

    Category : Amazing Rolo, Music

    Fredo from em411.com posted some really nice comments about my album:

    “I have recieved the cd and had a chance to listen and really loved it! It’s like a strange mix of Radiohead, Cornelius, Beta Band, Fantastic Plastic Machine and… well some strange music from a childs vivid imagination. I love the dark, romantic, Spanish influence. I love the production. Your voice is lovely to listen to. A+ !!!”

    Thanks Fredo! Check out his awesome music and videos at http://fredo.em411.com/