Whose is the world? (世界は誰のか?)

2019/05/17

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This is an ambient, somewhat drone-ish track, that I wrote back in 2016. You can find it as a plain audio file on the North Coast audio server. I revisited it as part of a recent effort to properly organize all my old compositions, engraved sheet music for it with Lilypond, and made this video. At eighteen minutes it's pretty long to just sit and watch, but if you're interested in what's going on harmonically in the piece, seeing the notation may add something to the experience.

It's all done with vocal samples and frequency shift, basically a digital simulation (in Csound) of the Bode Frequency Shifter effect. I had to invent some notation to represent what's going on: the small notes slurred into larger ones (like "grace notes") represent the frequency shift. I'm playing the vocal sample corresponding to the large note but frequency-shifting it to put the fundamental at the pitch indicated by the small note. With careful listening I think I can hear both pitches. It's interesting that the ear (or anyway, my ear) still gets a strong impression of the original note, probably coming from the spacing of the harmonics, even when it's shifted somewhere else.

There is a piece of software called "ly2video" that makes videos out of Lilypond notation source code, but when I tried to use it, I found that it couldn't handle the syntax I used in this piece. I think that's because it was written for an older version of Lilypond and I'm using the new named-slur syntax extensively. Even if it had accepted the syntax, I would have needed to do extensive hacking to get the timing right, because I'm overloading grace-note notation for my frequency shifts and would have had to make sure the video didn't treat them as real grace notes for timing purposes. Anyway, the long and the short of it was that I had to write my own video generator program instead of using ly2video at all; and even if the result is not perfect, there's a lot of work that went into timing and compositing this video.