Blog Post 3 – Idea execution and testing

On Saturday, we set off for a trip to Batu Caves and other few historic places around the city area. The four of us (the RMIT students), planned to capture footage and atmospheric sounds at Batu Caves. As part of the Hindu community in Kuala Lumpur, the Batu Caves was definitely a place for inspiration in regard to our project. Inside the caves we saw very unique rock formations. The temples attracted many devotees and visitors. I captured very interesting soundscapes while walking and visiting the temples. The rest of the day was followed by lunch and a visit to some monuments where we captured footage and took photos of some interesting visual elements and symbols. Meanwhile, Harith and the other two Malay students went to Kuala Lumpur city from the morning to capture footage of the sunrise and record more ambient sounds on the streets. However, a clear shot of the sunrise was impossible due to clouds.

Group work at studio x

The project work resumed on Monday with more planning ahead for the week. We had more footage and sounds to work with. The team had progressed in creating elements for our piece. I focussed on Linking Ableton Live and Resolume Arena together using the Korg Nanopad MIDI controller to change scenes (music and visuals) across both software. Despite the Link button in Resolume and Ableton, the MIDI input from Ableton does not convey to Resolume Arena. After some reading from online forums, I managed to connect both software using the MIDI clock sync. However, I had to map the controls on both software applications. It connects and works seamlessly! Later in the afternoon, one of my friends from Melbourne, sent us the drone footage that will be used in some videos.

The next day we spent a few hours in the morning with Naily to record a Malay poem which we could potentially use. In the afternoon, Vini and I continued working on the sound. He started learning Ableton Live on that day. We came back to the apartment and we continued working on the samples and adding musical elements to the soundtrack. Daniel joined us at the apartment to help Jolly with the visuals. After dinner, I learnt a bit more sampling on Ableton. As I am including the Malay Gamelan as part of the soundscapes, I did some exploration and came across the interesting documentary below.

What I find interesting was how the vibrations of Gamelan travels through the floor and connected to one of the musicians. They also mention how the gamelan is an intricate instrument and it is a bit tricky to record the Gamelan as they all have unique sounds. I tried finding some recorded Gamelan sounds which was tough. I managed to find a free sample library on www.freesounds.org. Yet the sounds were digitally created.

Creating samples of a the hornbill bird

After the trip to Malacca on Wednesday, we decided to do some work at the hotel. We had a quick meeting and identified that time short and we needed to alter our action plan for the next crucial days. There was some slight communication breakdown on some aspect of the projects. Each of us spoke about some common arising issues. As a team, we worked it out and progressed through the night. Vini created an atmospheric soundscape along with another track that included the pedestrian crossing beeps from Melbourne. I created an electronic drumkit on Ableton Live using the Gamelan samples that I collected the day before. After two hours, we both came up with a soundtrack for each city. His concept involved the streets of Melbourne, the trams and people waiting at a pedestrian crossing. My idea elaborated the rain, the hornbill bird and the Malay Gamelan.

The bottom highlighted section shows the drumkit pads which can load custom sounds


Adding some audio effects to boost the drum samples

The next day, Linh and I spent some time at the exhibition site to setup and test our work. We were happy to see that Resolume Arena was working seamlessly with our computer system and the projector. We played the soundtrack and I noticed that some sounds were conflicting and some off the base note. Being new to Ableton, I found myself challenged at that moment. Luckily I was helped by another RMIT student, Vlado who was setting up his installation. He showed me how to add compressors, boost the drums and how to match beats on Ableton. We tested a base video along with other generative art that Linh created. The other teams joined and they were happy to see how it is all linking. We are now finalising the other base looping videos so we can conclude our milestones on this project.

The video below illustrates one block of the composition with the full music track. Apologies for the low quality due to dark environment.


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