Thursday, August 11, 2011

Don't Hold Back

Monday saw the return of the MIDI Monday compo, an old favorite of mine. While I was rarely able to join back in the day due to my work schedule, I enjoyed the freedom of composing purely through .mid files. The compo organizer dusthillguy offered the night’s theme: “Compose a song for a mid/early 90s video game". With that in mind, the five entries covered a varied assortment of styles. coda’s “hompio the smirking rodent” carried a bright and energetic sound that would easily fit a game about a speeding creature. bw sent along a reggae beat backed by choir and a fair number of tom rolls before changing up drum patterns. dusthillguy characteristically brought in a composition channeling the spirit of the Sega Genesis. JDruid seemingly took most of his allotted time to focus on the sound design of his short but effective “reapertest” waltz. Finally kattywampus figured out how to use “the3seashells” and delivered a piano-centric rock piece layering various harmonic elements.

JHCompo on Tuesday featured a theme that involved seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Amaterasu | Chris stepped in briefly to submit soft percussion and keys accompanying his deft violin playing. chunter’s repeated shuffle sound lent to the minimal trip-hop vibe of his tune, later joined by staggered synth arpeggios. Obtuse implemented low fidelity rhythm piano and a disco beat, topped with several e-riffs. jonnythefox showed off an ambient composition well suited for the title “Bathed in Light”, including tones that ebb and fade along en electronic drum line. MisfitBYTE starts on bass and an ambiguous grinding noise, then picks up the pace with a short rap section before mellowing out again amongst the guitar soloing. nikola established a 4-chord piano progression and places his other instruments incrementally including e-arps.

mv’s entry earned heavy praise that night, particularly in reaction to his warm, full pads and rhythmic change-ups that caught the listening party off guard. zorg chose to use only free VSTs for his track, preceded by a whoosh of wind and covered by a generous helping of reverb. sci appeared late in the round, but managed to create something in 35 minutes; his start-and-stop beat and unusual vocal-like synth lead is attributed to “lazy sample selection”. Jarski experienced a “flashback” taking him to time of acid bass, delayed hi-hats and fast dance patterns. Detective Tuesday chose to “Fight It”, holding on for dear life even as a choir, bongos, affected piano and plucked strings seemed to spell out his fate. At the end of the party, LuketheXjesse came out of compo hiatus with heavy dosage of metal and triumphantly took his “Escape from the Tunnel”.

Thursday's OHC presented "share the word" as its theme; the organizer starla fittingly spread the word of compo that night on IRC via smartphone, being away from her computer. RAMPKORV plinked away at the keys for over a minute, bringing to mind the faraway age of ragtime. circuitfry stayed true to his namesake by uploading a cascade of blips and manipulated voices spread across from the stereo soundscape. Zovi appeared after a significant absence to submit a very loose mixture of recorded speech, singing and beatboxing, distorted to the point where even he marked passages as "unintelligible". zorg was late to the Greek forum, but wrote an orchestral cue suitable for the entrance of Zeus. In an unusual turn of events, Tomapella discovered that the "word" of the round was Chill and thus fired up 8-bit salsa to set the mood.

nikola proclaimed "We All Need to Dance More" and rhythmically alternated left-hand/right hand piano chords backed by a shuffle beat. Acuity also worked the ivories and covered them with sustained synth tones, urging the audience to celebrate a birthday using frantic arpeggios. ProjectSpam summoned his string section to compose a theme for "Great News". sci recalled "That One Show" and chopped up samples therefrom to create a breakbeat. DDRKirby(ISQ) showed off a tune running at nearly a thousand beats per minute containing 800 measures, but somehow comes off as cohesive. Forty-Two's harpsichord and woodwinds were met with pads, strings and vibraphone for his self-described "filler #148". Shadix went in with a bang, then settled on spacey harmony, guitars, soaring e-lead and keyboards.

Dr. Arcana used a vocal clip as the basis for his drum and bass, quickly "Running to the Top". DarkSim built a jungle track around a Tears for Fears sample and unabashedly shed "Tears Before Bedtime". Usabell submitted a poem to go along with his majestic violins and horns, eventually introducing a cinematic motif. Rounding out the listening party, siebensus4 gently expressed his work using the piano thickened out with bass and pads, thereby making his "Freedom Call" for the night.

When someone asked why I chose a particular premise for my comic strip, I responded that it was a case of do-what-you-know. Now that I reflect on that reply, I believe that the forms of output of mine that I am most proud of would be the ones that reflect both what I know and what I love. I am never more fulfilled than when I express myself using a skill in which I have a solid background.

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