Friday, April 22, 2011

Don't Let the Internet Get You Down

Saturday's 2DC began the same way most of Dyne's endeavors do. That is to say, with him appearing in IRC minutes before the start and exclaiming in bold text that the event is about to begin. This seemed like a strange method to me, since it assumes that potential participants are merely loafing around in the chatroom, waiting for something like a compo to happen. In my experience, it's best to promote events in the hours leading to it, since people generally won't drop whatever they're doing to join in at the last minute. This isn't to say that Dyne should reschedule his real life for the Internet. There are more important things to do than navigate a series of tubes.

The theme for 2DC that night was "Song of Storms" with the clarification that "No, we're not talking Zelda here." Prior to this I had toyed around with Otomata, an online generative sequencer. The plinky, delay-heavy music put out by Otomata fit the round's theme perfectly. This would allow me to make an entry very quickly, expending almost no creative energy. Shortly after the round began however, I suffered an Internet outage. An actual storm pounded outside, presumably causing damage that disrupted service. Fortunately I was able to carry my laptop within reach of a faint Wi-Fi signal from my neighbor's unprotected router. I uploaded my entry, placed by computer down and said "good night" to the IRC people. In an interesting turn of events, I ended up being the only entrant for that round.

JHC on Tuesday featured "A Dark Road" as a theme and brought about a varied selection of entries. As a joke I changed my IRC nickname to "JHCompo" and kept it that way for the remainder of the round. A couple of participants suffered minor technical hiccups with their tracks, necessitating two brief deadline extensions. With two minutes left, someone waiting for the automated listening party asked "can we start?" After those two minutes passed, I answered "yes." I nearly went with "Secret Lab" as a theme, which is totally original and not at all inspired by the then-newly released Portal 2. My attention that night was split between playing the game and organizing the compo.

dusthillguy's characteristic synth-work took an unusual turn as his entry cut abruptly to guitar twanging. His minimal entry description "linux sucks" suggests that a technical problem may have been the cause. Draconiator's track opens with a cymbal strike, reminding me of a past entry of his from OHC068, "All Eyes On You". Whether intentional or not, both intros grab attention before settling into mellowness. In contrast, coda's "zombies on the road" went for a fast-paced jazzy style with vocal samples from Left 4 Dead uttering "yeah!" and "all right!" among other things. OverCoat once again composed something that he plans to include in an future album of his, this time flaunting his "elite 5/4 drumming skills". The moody first half of mu's song gave way to a bright and cheery composition unexpectedly, and ended with a drum and bass section.

Dash's "Never Travel at Night" is inexplicably preceded by 15 seconds of silence, but eventually establishes a mood appropriate to the theme. The ambiguous title of Brandon's "jhctehsuxorbomb.mp3" fit well with his avant-garde track. Obtuse decided to feature a lengthy fade-in for his electronic entry, peaking in volume a few seconds before fading out. Exhalation of breath served as the introduction of Jacob's composition, followed by an effective combination of piano, strings and light percussion. irrelevnt's "the Black Path of Metal" remained true to it's namesake, and the waveform displayed underneath was punctuated by Draconiator's comments: "I come for the wuggas" and "stay for the jiggy-juggas". Jarski gleefully put out "breakbeats everywhere" for his entry, while mv rounded things off with an extensive foray into IDM.

For Thursday's OHC, starla chose the theme "Lost at sea" without further description on the page. When asked for more detail, she insisted that the participants "break it down" and proceeded to give examples on how to interpret the theme. I used her explanation as a script of sorts for my entry, consisting of vocal narration. In the description I included a photo of my Kindle displaying the script I used when recording my vocal. Cyril evoked the theme of loneliness with his entry, using bass guitar and various effects. Kaxon beat the system by submitting a composition from Chrono Trigger, "To Far Away Times". Draconiator employed woodwinds to complement a spaced out, ambient piece featuring synthesizers. Filter sweeps permeated Flexstyle's song, surrounded by richly textured percussion.

The quiet intro of sci's track evaporated as a chip-infused melody burst into existence. Arcana provided a composition containing orchestral instruments panned to opposite ends of the stereo field. Acuity offered an intriguing take on the theme, using sine waves to create a "new navigation system" for those who may be marooned. Jakesnke17 ventured into the orchestra pit, then layed down some drumming before ending with sound effects of the sea. Once again melody proved his name's worth by submitting solid piano lines layered with funky drum riffs. Brandon had supposedly forgotten about the compo and put up an entry featuring live ukelele playing in the final 15 minutes of the round. DDRKirby(ISQ) broke it down with a multi-tiered tune, presenting several time signature changes, various genre choices and a mixture of synthetic and acoustic sounds.

CJthemusicdude went for a constant, overarching motif that takes on a multitude of forms until fading out. The swelling strings, flute and gentle piano of Usa's track was accompanied by a thorough text description on the OHC page. More tickling of the ivories was present in td244's interpretation of being lost at sea, and subtle background noise could be heard as he improvised on the keys. Finally munchi's track worked in ominous bell tolls and howling wind, building to a crescendo of harp, strings and soft thumping of timpani.

It wasn't until I went into composing hiatus that I realize how many connections I've made in the musical community. I was contacted by at least four people in the past week for tracks I was supposed to do for them. Even if I move away from composing altogether, I will always be delighted to hang out with such skilled and talented colleagues.

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