Introducing… Canabrism’s Little Bobby Tables

In an extremely late presentation of this year’s RPM challenge album – but just in time for Christmas nonetheless – we have the XKCD-inspired ‘Little Bobby Tables’ by Canabrism…

Comic Timing

As you may know, the RPM challenge takes place each February; the idea is to write, record and produce an album in a month. However, this year I was out of the country for a week during the challenge, so I decided I would take another week after February to complete the album.

While this seemed like a good idea at the time, I think it also illustrates the importance of sticking to deadlines. At any rate, I did finally get the thing done. The concept for the album is derived from this XKCD cartoon:

XKCD 327

Sound and Vision

Each track on the album contains a sound derived from the “Exploits of a Mom” cartoon. To achieve this, I added a bit of colour to the panels and fed them into Nicolas Fournel’s freeware program Audiopaint.

According to Nicolas, this is how his program handles the conversion of image to sound:

A picture is actually processed as a big frequency / time grid. Each line of the picture is an oscillator, and the taller the picture is, the higher the frequency resolution is. While the vertical position of a pixel determines its frequency, its horizontal position corresponds to its time offset.

Consistent Issues

The sounds generated by Audiopaint were heavily processed and added in to tracks retrospectively. As is my usual process for the RPM challenge, I created all the tracks on separate days early in the month (naming them after things I had observed that particular day) and then spent the rest of the time revisiting and refining them.

Here’s the opening track from the album, ‘panto acid’, accompanied by some guaranteed Irish timelapse clouds:

This process is OK for getting the requisite number of tracks in place, but in this case there were significant continuity problems. These were/are clearly a collection of very different creations, and under normal circumstances wouldn’t be grouped together into an album. Finding a way of fitting them all into a vaguely acceptable whole took quite a bit of work.

To illustrate what I mean, consider the following two tracks. They are now on the same album, but they certainly wouldn’t be natural bedfellows…

Canabrism – My Vegetable Spider
Canabrism – Oscillating Diaspora

Of course, these could use a lot more work to get to a more polished standard, but that’s not what the RPM challenge is really about. None of the songs are classics, but the album is finished at last.

If you would like to hear how I linked these two gems together, then you can download the entire album here:

Canabrism – Little Bobby Tables (RPM 2010)

Little Bobby Tables


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