Sketch Me

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to spend more time being creative. I used to draw religiously in high school, and I'm not exactly sure when drawing took a backseat to Ruby on Rails, but I'd like to get back into the creative swing of things. I bought a new sketchbook just for that purpose, and this is one of the first drawings that popped out of it.


Arizona's Picturesque Parks

I spent a short vacation in Tuscon, Arizona where my friends brought me to park after park, making my trip the perfect photo opportunity. Below is my favorite photo of the batch:

as well as an interesting reflection shot:


CU Wind Ensemble Concert: Fall 07

I finally got around to putting up our mid semester concert on imeem, which you can of course feel free to listen to. There aren't any noteworthy tuba parts, though I did enjoy our repertoire. Black Dog is the most technically impressive in my opinion; no doubt because the soloist is a clarinet teacher from the nearby music conservatory.


Computer Graphics: Part One

Subdivision Surfaces are the current mainstay for rendering complex models in computer graphics. The surfaces are composed of either triangles or quadrilaterals, and undergo a recursive subdivision process in order to create very smooth models. This semester for my Practicum requirement, my partner Ben and I had to create a program that subdivides meshes; below are some screen shots.
Our program subdivides triangle meshes triforce style, 4 new triangles for every 1 original triangle. Creating exponentially more triangles does not, however, produce smooth meshes. After a subdivision, each vertex position must be recalculated using the positions of the vertices around it. There are many accepted ways to calculate vertex positions and not one is considered to be 'more correct' than the others. Ben and I chose the common Loop subdivision scheme.

Written in rather bloated Java code, our subdivider can load in meshes with about 2k triangles, and subdivide five or six times before running out of heap space ;) We added real-time deformation of the mesh: you can drag a vertex to a different world space location and the program will update all of the subdivided triangles affected by the change. It will also linearly interpolate the texture coordinates of the model as shown for the brick-textured cube.

If you’re even more curious about our implementation, or want to see more nifty subdivision screenshots, just leave a comment and let me know :)


Tuba-Listening 101

I know not everyone is a tuba expert, so I thought I'd share my limited expertise. Tuba is hard to hear in most songs (assuming that there even is a tuba!) for a number of reasons. Tubas don't often play the melody, it's difficult to get a crisp, clear note from a tuba because the sound waves have to travel through lots of tubing, and the human ear has a harder time distinguishing really low pitches from one another than really high pitches from one another.

Every week or so I have an artist continuously playing on my ipod. This week is John Legend. I invite you to listen to his song "Alright" that, as you might have guessed, features tuba. You can hear tuba particularly well because it plays the musical hook for the song. Just more hard evidence that tuba is a sexy, sexy instrument.


Appropriate Proprius

Two weeks ago, Spencer* made fun of me for naming my composition "Cosmic Dust Cloud". For Five minutes straight. Apparently the Spark Music Festival competition I entered it in will take my entry as a joke with a name like that.
Fine by me. The composition was an academic exercise anyhow, so I wasn't expecting it to win. I've renamed the piece "Proprius" which roughly translated in latin means 'unique self'. It's the closest I could come to naming it "I'm a Pretentious Composer, Just Like You" without offending anyone.

The piece, which I just added to my imeem, is the introduction to a 4 movement piece [of which 3 movements have yet to be written :D ]. All of the source sounds are either recorded by me using Tom's Firepod, or created by me using Reason. It was edited in Cubase LE. Also, all the source sounds are percussion instruments, including timpani, celest, and chimes.
Although this version is in stereo, the final version makes use of some very cool ambisonics. I may or may not post the final version, depending on whether or not the Max/MSP patch decides to cooperate.

*Spencer: (spen-sir) proper noun. The graduate student who agreed to instruct me for an independent study in digital music. He is quirky and brilliant, he has perfect pitch, and studied at Julliard for his undergraduate degree. He likes to shake hands.