Creative Restrictions For Podcast Kaos

The value of having a unique selling point for your music has never been more important than in the era of Web 2.0. One approach is the ‘made entirely on…‘ strategy, where an artist creates a song, or preferably an album, using a single piece of equipment. The more esoteric this piece of equipment, the more effective the gambit may be – creating an album entirely on a laptop does not qualify…
(from Music Technology)

Keeping It In The Box

I came across this post on James Frankel’s blog today, where he professes his love for the Korg Kaossilator. He has even gone so far as to create a Kaossilator Orchestra with his students, and you can hear some of their compositions on his podcasting site. The Kaossilator is related to the Kaoss Pad, which is a favourite performance and composition device of Brian Eno’s.

This leads us to ‘The Yellow Album‘ by Gary Kibler – created entirely on a Korg Kaossilator, a touchpad-based device that allows for two-bar looping and live synth performance. Korg themselves refer to it as a dynamic phrase synthesiser. It’s certainly not designed to be a stand-alone DAW, which is what makes the album such an interesting concept; the challenge inherent in producing the work lends intrinsic value to the results (which are actually very pleasant).

Join The ‘Made Entirely On’ Club

As one of the most hyped ‘alternative’ electronic instruments, it was inevitable that the Tenori-On would get its own album. Norman Fairbanks was very quick off the mark with 7 Days Microsleep, and managed to get himself mentioned in Yamaha’s promotional campaign for the device. Although the restriction of only using one device can inspire creativity and may be worthwhile in itself, this example clearly illustrates the additional publicity advantages that can be gained with the right approach.

Other devices to (almost) get the ‘made entirely on’ treatment include the Monome and the FM3 Buddha Machine, as used by Robert Henke of Monolake. The Buddha Machine is a very limited device, which plays back nine lo-fi loops that vary according to imperfections in the manufacturing process. Henke’s approach to generating a performance from this material is interesting:

The recording contains audio information up to 48 kHz, which makes it possible to transpose the loops down and expose otherwise inaudible hidden details. The pieces on this CD have been created by granulating, filtering, pitching and layering either the original loops, or new loops which were re-assembled out of parts of the originals.


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