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Update about Geonkick development



I have finished to connect some essential UI parts to the API and here I have tried to quickly synthesize a kick to test at this stage what can be done with it. There was involved only Oscillator 1 (sine) for the base layer, and Oscillator 2 (triangle) for the high end. The filters and any effect were not applied yet, development in progress. After doing this test there a plenty of ideas came, like modifying the oscillator phase (really necessary), oscillator overtones, and instead of a Oscillators as a logical split to be the layers that is essentially an entire kick. Probably there will be needed at least 4 layers. The API (with small modifications) supports this in principle, i.e. can create several kicks and combine. So all this for the next release. For the current release that is going to be developed, I will stick with this general configuration.Also for the UI there is some work with the envelopes to make them work with logarithmic scale, i.e. the user to have more control on the small parts of the envelope. Also to draw the kick graph in real time, i.e. to be able to see the resulted kick, and other stuff.

Here is the repository of the current development: https://gitlab.com/iurie/geonkick/

Working on a kick synthesizer

When finding free time and feeling that I can’t concentrate to compose, I am coding a free software (GPLv3) kick synthesizer – Geonkick. There are some free software plugins for kicks on GNU/Linux, but all of them are sample based, and there is no (at least from my awareness) a kick synthesizer that could synthesize kicks. There is one integrated in LMMS, but have limited functionality. The last two weeks worked on the UI interface, and I want to finish it all, and then make the connection with the kick API that that was developed earlier for this project.  Before I have synthesized some kicks with a simple “version”, but now I want to add more functionality and release a version for use. The current functionality should include:

  • Two oscillators: since, square, triangle, sawtooth, amplitude and frequency envelope, filter (low & high pass)
  • Noise: white, pink, browninan, amplitude envelope, filter (low & high pass)
  • General kick amplitude envelope and filter (low & high pass)
  • Compression and Distortion DSP effects for the kick
  • Jack support, 1 MIDI in, 2 audio out
  • Export to a lossless format like WAVE (with stereo, mono option for export)
  • Save/Open a kick preset
  • Standalone and Lv2 plugin
  • Maybe also a VST and a release for other platforms than GNU/Linux, it would be really interesting to develop the cross-platform adaptation.

I started to develop this software because I need for my Geontime Studio to synthesize kicks and compose music. 🙂

Time

Time is my new piece that I have started to compose at the beginning of this summer. I was inspired when crossing a wheat field, so the cover image is that wheat field from Melbourne, Cambridgeshire, England. The piece also contains voices by Vlatko Blazek and another one “Time” published by Tim Kahn, both from freesound.org. The main instruments are Piano, Viola and Violin.

Download

Credits & License

Upgrade of my home studio

Upgrade of Geontime Studio
Upgrade of Geontime Studio

Here is the upgrade of my Geontime Studio. So, now I have:

  • USB MIDI Keyboard with 61 keys
  • Keyboard stand
  • USB audio interface for microphone and guitar
  • Two microphones, dynamic and condenser
  • Pop filter
  • Microphone support
  • Two headphones
  • Desktop: PC and GNU/Linux (Debian) OS
  • Software: Ardour, LMMS and free software plugins, latest, built from the source by myself.
  • New table

The next I am going to get a guitar, probably a electric one. Now I am finishing to compose a piece started on laptop with LMMS. When finished I’ll mix it in Ardour.

What I’ve done since moving myself to Cambridge

When I moved to Cambridge this spring I couldn’t compose too much because the only thing I had was my laptop. Anyway I composed on it a new piece called The Fairy that was released at the end of May. Now  I have received my MIDI keyboard and the sound interface. Waiting for the table and I think to get some new tools for the studio. I hope at the end of the month to be able to setup the home studio and start to work on music more intense. Here are two photos I took at the beginning of this summer and now of the same wheat field that inspired me to write the current piece.

A wheat field, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. License CC-BY 4.0
A wheat field, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. License CC-BY 4.0
A wheat field, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. License CC-BY 4.0
A wheat field, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire. License CC-BY 4.0

My last days in my home studio Geontime in Chisinau

These are my last days in my home studio in Chisinau. Establishing myself in Cambridge will take time and probably after several months I’ll receive there only the MIDI keyboard, and the sound card plus the microphone. During this time I don’t think I’ll be able to write much music. In Cambridge probably I’ll change my workflow, and also the software and the platform. I need a high quality strings sample library, good reverb, and other better quality DSP. Due to this, there is a need to change a lot, also the DAW and the platform unfortunately.

Notebook: Thoughts about harmony

Now I am working on a new piece that involves more orchestration. I use there piano, violas, violins, trubas. I’d say it is a kind of post classical style. In comparison to the previous piece here understood and succeeded how apply better ostinato and how it can be used, and how can be passed (switching) to various instruments, especially for violins, creating interesting effects, but in the frame of harmony.  Here also developed a harmony progression guiding myself by functional harmony to create a phrase with a half cadence, and an authentic cadence. First time voiced the chords in the open position, but I had to struggle too much with fixing parallel fifths and octaves, and than left them in closed position, maybe later I’ll modify them.

I thought about the form. Understood that I can create a kind of theme and its variation, but is not very strict, rather there is used melodic ideas from the first two phrases, and just passing them to different instruments, often playing them in staccato and maybe I’ll do other tricks.

What I started to think is that probably just a repeated chord progression is not the right way, probably I need to develop more varied harmonic progression using functional harmony, and develop the ideas, phrases and cadences to create form I want to create with the desired emotional impact. I am trying to study about this, and also the harmony progressions (functional harmony) in Bach Prelude 1 in C Major BWV 846 from the Well-Tempered Clavier  and Mozart – Symphony No. 40 in G minor.

Studying Bach’s piece it forces me to understand and focus more on 7th cords, and the dominant sevenths, until now I avoided these chords, but now I started to think more about them. Motzart’s  Symphony No. 40 teaches me how I can use a chord across the instruments, and how I can voice them in  different ways, I even started to use some of these kinds of construction in my current piece. But there are lot of things I don’t understand, and need to learn how to apply.

Started to use more MuseScore first to write the notes and compose, and than put them into Ardour DAW. Now I think this is important to develop the skill to write music ideas on the “paper” first… but this is relative, anyway this craft for now I am considering the most important for me – to manipulate ideas in my head, to think in terms of the form.

Recurring Dream


Here is my new piece “Recurring Dream”.  It is a kind of style I like most of all, and I would like to compose more like this. It uses various instruments: paino, violin, viola, flute, horn, clarnet, and synth. The percussion are some samples from VSCO library and the kick is from my library that I synthesized with GeonKick developed by me for my studio, but I have released it as free software.

Download

Credits & License

Some kick samples synthesized with GeonKick

Here a is list of samples (released under CC-BY 4.0) that were synthesized with my own developed kick synthesizer GeonKick. I am developing it for my home studio Geontime, but its code is under GPLv3 and you can find it here. It is still in the very beginning stage, and I don’t know how usable can be for others. A newer version will come (working on it now) with more complete features, but I don’t know when it will be ready. Compression, distortion, and reverb effects over some samples were done by using plugins in Ardour.

Now the synthesizer have only two oscillators: base (sine, square, triangle, sawtooth), and noise. The GUI part gives the possibility to draw the frequency and amplitude envelopes for oscillators. It also has two audio outputs for Jack. It is standalone, and it is still not a plugin. The next version will have 3 oscillators, 1 MIDI in, two audio outputs,  envelopes (amp and freq), and filters for every oscillator. A general filter and an amplitude envelope.

Some of the samples were already used in my composed music. “Evening” ones are used in the current piece I am working now.

GeonKick Evening
GeonKick Evening Compressed
GeonKick Evening Compressed Dist
GeonKick Evening Compressed Noise
GeonKick Evening Compressed Noise Dist
GeonKick Long
GeonKick Med Noise
GeonKick Med Dist
GeonKick Short Dist
GeonKick Short Noise
GeonKick Snare
GeonKick Short Dist
GeonKick Reverb
GeonKick Short
GeonKick Short Noise

Here you can download all the archive of samples in WAV format.

My workflow now started to be stable

Almost finishing my piece completely in Ardour (with MIDI editing). After some fixes I’ve done in the Yoshimi and Calf plugins, and also in the Lilv library,  Ardour started be stable on my case, and the new work-flow to give results… I can concentrate now on music. When the piece will be released, there also will follow a blog post about my thoughts on music creation with free software, and GNU/Linux.