Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Passive Dead - The Walking Dead Season 1

Ori finished the video for our cover of A Perfect Circle's "Passive" ! Check it out here:

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cover of A Perfect Circle's "Passive"

Passive mix 1 by sloafmaster

Here's the original (bonus keanu flatline dialog to set the mood):

So, this song started out as part of the vaporware "Tapeworm" project between maynard, danny lohner, and trent reznor. In fact, it was a much heavier/darker song to start out with. Here's APC performing an early version

Anyhow, I thought this song would be cool as a heavier song so I wrote it as more of a modern rock/metal tune.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The last origin theory song!

Here's your very last dose of Origin Theory overindulgence. It's called "The Divide".

The Divide - mix 1 by sloafmaster

8 minutes of epic self-love. Enjoy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mad World Video!!!

Check out what Ori Ratner made!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mad World - Mix 3

Mad world mix 3 is here! Changes in this version:

  • Adjusted vocal levels throughout song
  • Added more attack to the kick drum
  • Used the UAD precision limiter to boost the levels of the whole song, hopefully without sucking the life out of it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Cover - "Mad World"

Just finished mixing a Tears for Fears cover called "Mad World" - (and, more recently, covered by Gary Jules). Vocals courtesy of the esteemed Brian Vaughn. Some new vocal and guitar effects on this one, check it out!

Mad world - Mix 2 by sloafmaster

Download link here

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Apartment Recording: Putting together songs on a decibel budget- Part I: The process

So I thought some folks might be interested in reading about someone's attempt to record songs with a very limited money, noise, space, and time budget. 

Disclaimer: It should be made clear that I'm still a complete n00b despite having been doing this kind of thing for about 10 years now. However, here's to hoping that these notes might serve to help someone else who's looking for some pragmatic advice on recording at home. Or, at the very least, it might motivate some more knowledgeable folks out there to dish out some protips in the comments section.

This series will be illustrated by a running example - an Origin Theory song that's been completely written, but hasn't been recorded yet. The posts will, therefore, follow the order of the recording process that I've been using. With that in mind, it's probably helpful to show you all, at a coarse level of granularity, how this all is going to go down.

The Process

To borrow a software development term, my recording process can best be described by the oft-made-fun-of Waterfall process. For those non-programmers out there, the Waterfall process was something a bunch of electrical engineers at IBM came up with in order to save a hopelessly out-of-control software project. In this process, requirements are fully thought out and documented before any code is written. This prevented those wild-eyed programmers (or their indecisive bosses) from changing what it is they're building after it was built. It did so by making requirements changes extremely costly if done after the requirements gathering phase. This process worked out very well to save that misguided IBM project.

With time, the industry probably realized that changing its mind is just part of the game. Nowadays, most sane software development is done using iterative processes (e.g. RUP, extreme programming, scrum, etc). These processes recognize that requirements continue to be refined and discovered as the product is being built. They have built-in steps to double back, re-evaluate, and potentially start over in a new direction every so often.

In my experience, an iterative process sucks for recording music. Sure, folks like Klayton from celldweller pride themselves on their massively iterative songwriting and recording cycles. However, it takes him years to finish a recording. You do want to get it done in a couple weeks, right?

In a nutshell, here are the phases an Origin Theory song goes through:
  1. Writing
  2. Project prep
  3. Record scratch guitars
  4. Record drums
  5. Practice vocals with scratch tracks
  6. Record bass
  7. Record real guitars
  8. Record vocals
  9. Compile and tune vocals
  10. Project cleanup
  11. Mix!
Notice that there are no repeated steps, save recording scratch and then real parts. The takeaways:
  • Write first! During recording, you'll pay a dear price for any changes to song structure / rhythms / etc. In general, the price will be greater the further down the list you are when the change is made.
  • Record scratch parts. Temporary stand-in parts (or "scratch" parts) can help you avoid unnecessary (or circular) dependencies and enable parallelism that otherwise would not be possible. For example, some drummers (including mine) like to play along to guitar parts during recording. However, I, as a guitarist, prefer laying my final guitar parts down over top of the final drums. We can both be satisfied if I record a low-fi (but well-played) temporary take.
  • Record final drums first. In heavier music, drums (and, to an extent, bass) provide the drive of the tune and set the rhythmic standard for the rest of the instruments. 
  • Parallelize. If more than band member has a basic recording set up, then they can potentially track their parts independently. If you use scratch tracks appropriately and set up the project well, you'll be able to share the project and merge in tracks from your bandmates as they come in.

Disclaimer: This process is specially adapted to my work habits and my band situation. For example, note step #5 - I do this because our vocalist and I tend to fiddle with the vocal parts once it comes time to record. By moving this earlier in the process, we can avoid tracking entire verses that might get rewritten.

Next time: We'll take a look at some song setup and guitar scratch tracks for THE FINAL (ORIGIN THEORY SONG)/(COUNTDOWN)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

First post on the Rosetta Stone blog!

I wrote my first post for the RS blog! It's about how to design for unit testing in Flex. Check it out!


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Release - Mix 2!

Some minor tweaks to overall song dynamics as well as some corrective work on a couple bass and vocal parts.

Get it here!

Monday, May 24, 2010

New Origin Theory Song: "Release" - Mix 1

Mixed with the help and advice of master mix craftsman Kevin131 from Assembly Line Studios!

This is a pretty proggy tune some of you might have heard at the latest shows. Lots of Porcupine Tree-esque clean sections mixed with some metal interludes and, of course, finished with a Tool-style breakdown. Comments on the song and mix welcome.

Listen / download link here!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

New Origin Theory Song: "Emergence"

This one's just acoustic guitar and voice. Lots of harmonic minor, a triplet-feel section, and even some sharp 11s for your ears to guzzle down.

Download it here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Introducing: Better-AS3-Collections!

Anyone programming in Adobe Flex using ActionScript3 has probably felt the need for a more featureful collections library:
  1. The Flex built-in primitive collection types (Array, Object, and XML) are not related to each other in a useful way (Array extends Object, but Array is not an associative array). 
  2. The built-in collection operations don't cover enough common use-cases.
Unlike some other attempts, better-as3-collections is not a port of the java.util.collections package. In fact, it doesn't set up a type hierarchy at all!

Why not?
  • Interoperability. If you have existing code that uses Arrays and Objects, then moving to a new type hierarchy will by necessity involve a lot of casting and new Objects. Indeed, if you want to make use of Flex's GUI types, using Array is almost a requirement.
  • Sugar. If your new collections framework doesn't inherit from Array or Object, you won't be able to use bracket syntax to retrieve items from or set items into the collection. 
Rather, it extends the functional style hinted at by Adobe's own Array: see the map() and filter() functions. My implementation draws heavy inspiration from the Ruby Hash and Array types. In spirit it's very related to this post by Bruce Eckel, who talks about extending the Flex collections types with more functional-style methods.

A more concrete introduction can be found on the project site: http://code.google.com/p/better-as3-collections/ .

Feel free to check out the unit tests for example uses, or just check out the source!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

"The Myth" - First mix!

So here's the first mix with the new UAD-2 card! A new origin theory song called "The Myth".

The PSP VintageWarmer is still getting love on the main bus, but I'm now using an LA-2A on the vocal and an 1176 on the parallel drum bus comp. Also experimenting with the UA Pultec EQ to get Stephanie's vocals to sit right.

Let me know what you think!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

"All You've Got"

I've just finished a draft mix of yet another tune with Brian Vaughn. Have a listen:


Gear Notes:
  • Guitars through a Diezel Herbert into a Palmer DI
  • Drums are still DKFHS 1.0
  • PSP VintageWarmer on the drum and main buses
Mix Notes:
  • I'm not too sure about the big volume drop at 2:12. I'm trying to push some dynamics into this mix but it feels a little too extreme right now.
More on this tune to come!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Latest collaboration with Brian

Have a listen to the first draft of "Alpha" here: http://epistemic.org/mp3/alpha_mix_0.mp3 . Read on for some details on the recording and mix:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Adding functionality to objects while maintaining object identity

I came across a cool design problem at work today, so I thought I'd share my approach to it. Let me know what you think!
Names of types have been changed to protect the guilty.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Old Research!

As part of moving to this new blogger system, I need to find a way to host my old research papers. I've decided to just add them all to this post, right here. Enjoy!

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Please have a listen to my latest collaborative effort with Brian Vaughn. Maybe we should tackle "Wild, Wild West" next?