Operatic Orangutans?

Yesterday I went to the chamber operetta Abyssinia by Stuart Paul Duncan, a doctoral candidate in music composition at Cornell University and an acquaintance of mine. My dear friend Xander Snyder conducted one of the scenes. Although I won't reveal the whole plot to you, here is a section from the synopsis:

"Initially frightened of the cyborg orangutan, the princess quickly becomes friends with him (Scene 6), and they hatch a scheme to break out. Using a wireless computer system built into his body, the orangutan contacts an art collector who wants valuable originals that hang in the palace, previously thought to be reproductions, in exchange for which he will employ a network of double agents to help the princess escape."
But wait the best is yet to come. The following is from Scene 6:
Orange: Lady, I told ya, I'm robotic (tic-tic-tic) Looksee: I'm flesh and metal--ya got it?
Princess: You're just a monkey. Huh. This makes no sense.
Orange: Are you denying my intelligence?
Princess: No. -Yes... No... -Yes!
Orange: Well, then, I must confess, I doubt that you would pass the Turing Test
That's right, ladies and gentleman, I have been to an opera that cites the Turing Test. I can now die happy.

The opera does make me think though, exactly how possible is a cyborg-orangutan? Or, on a more serious note, are all operas this hilarious for their native speakers? I've never seen an opera written in English, and even though the plots of foreign operas are somehow outrageous, they somehow retain credibility. Maybe English just isn't a very romantic language? Of course if you'd like to know more of what I thought about the opera musically or otherwise, just ping me.


Big Buck Bunny and the render farms that give him life

Big Buck Bunny - Official Trailer from Andy Goralczyk on Vimeo.

I couldn't get away without blogging this very cute movie being made by Peach Open Movie. This is a really neat concept, since all the ideas coming out of Peach are licensed under Creative Commons. And it's an open project... in fact for donating 30 euros you can get your name in the credits as a sponsor.

What's cool is their blog hosts a ton of stuff on the process behind animated movies. You can go there to learn about their render farms (above) as well as stages of animation (below).

PLUS, if you listen to the music at the end of their trailer, there's a tuba playing. That makes this project a definite win.


Ithacan Weather in Pixel Format

I've taken special pains to document the freak weather we've been having in Ithaca. The results are as follows (a la Flickr):


SB converts a Live set to a recording, has major issues

Here is the piece I composed for my computer in music performance presentation. It's a little more upbeat than what I've been churning out recently. With the exception of the vocal tracks, all the tracks are midi.

(Wet Skin link)

Composed in Ableton Live and Rewired with Reason, this was originally a strictly performance-only piece, and so recording it turned out to be a nightmare. I started by running Live out from Jack into Audacity, but the JackPilot didn't see Audicity's inputs. It didn't see Cubase's either. It saw Ardour's, but the Ardour running on the machine had a font bug and all the text in the program came up as square boxes. UGH.

Day 2 I came back with a PD (PureData) recording patch made by my teacher. Jack didn't see PD's inputs either. I was about to try a different studio when I ran into Spencer and he offered to help. After messing around unsuccesfully in Jack, he went into Live and recorded from the master out of Live onto a track inside of Live (how completely intuitive). Then Live has a "render to disk" to output the WAV file associated with that track.

That almost worked except that I was Rewired into Reason and the render to disk option apparently can't see that connection. I ended up yanking the raw sound file out of Live project space and just using that... which, unlike the render to disk, contained exactly the audio track that I had recorded (huh?). Namely, the entire Live set in WAV format was finally in my grasp. Sorta.

I went ahead and recorded the vocals again in the studio, but real-time buffering at playback made them clip out every now and again (apologies). Still, I think I'm pretty happy with the result. I better be, since I spent as much time trying to record it as I did actually composing.


Slightly Smarter Music

The music I've been writing has been pretty mellow recently, and with good reason. I'm composing for my advanced game design course, and the musical style my team needs is a relaxed one. More on the project details to follow, but for now check out what we're trying to do with the music:

In the game, your character has an emotional state dictated by interactions with the nonplayer characters around you. In order to reflect feelings as naturally as possible, we're trying to avoid an emo bar, emo counter, or displaying any numerical value whatsoever for how you're feeling.
Instead, we are (among other things) changing the music to suit the mood. I'm not going for a drastic mood change from one part of the music to the other... but rather a small change that helps you better identify what's happening in the game.

That said, here are three variations on the same theme, each with varying levels of happiness/sadness. Let me know what you think: Are the changes between variations very obvious? almost unnoticeable? Does the happy one actually sound more happy than the other two?

(stageIV_Average link)
(stageIV_Sad link)
(stageIV_Happy link)