archive [mike hallenbeck]


water works


[ 01 ] dogpaddle [ 1 : 1 1 ]
untreated field recording : dogs splashing in the mississippi river
st cloud, mn, may 2004

having brought our recording gear down to the river, annie and i are suddenly inundated by a group of of dogs eager to frolic in the water. reason for the brevity of this recording: the dogs were pit bulls, and the humans stewarding them somewhat less than savory. a hasty departure seemed prudent.

dogpaddle : mp3 excerpt

[ 02 ] timeshare [ 1 4 : 4 8 ]
source audio : water under a dock
lake roosevelt, outing, mn, september 2003

this composition is derived entirely from the brief audio excerpt that constitutes the first few seconds of the track: water gurgling and splashing under a dock, recorded on a weekend up at kevin's cabin with some friends.

tonal samples from the water audio were isolated and expanded to create streams of overlapping resonant overtones. excerpts of the original recording found additional voices by various means of software synthesis and/or alteration of playback rate and bit depth; the resulting phrases interact in various ways throughout the piece.

here, as throughout the album, i strove to allow abstraction to occur by means of the audio signal's inherent qualities.

timeshare : mp3 excerpt 01

timeshare : mp3 excerpt 02

[ 03 ] splat on a not-tin roof [ 1 : 5 4 ]
untreated field recording : rain striking a metal roof
back porch, minneapolis, mn, july 2002

rhythms and melodies from rain on metal. excerpted from the same recording that yielded the "rain on a cold tin roof" track from the wandering ear collection.

splat on a not - tin roof : mp3 excerpt

[ 04 ] some other day [ 1 3 : 5 0 ]
source audio : light rain
front porch, minneapolis, march 2004

i found this to be a very plush and nuanced recording of rain, full of subtle variation. so i let the sound speak for itself for a good portion of the piece.

individual raindrops fold into new shapes when "turntabled" by way of the scrub tool in pro tools. tonal samples blur into an evolving resonance sprinkled with warped droplet samples. when the original rain recording reappears, the memory of the manipulated sounds mediates further listening.

some other day : mp3 excerpt 01

some other day : mp3 excerpt 02

[ 05 ] crunch time [ 0 : 5 1 ]
untreated field recording : snow underfoot
minneapolis, january 2004

after installments of the improvised music at acadia series, i'm often inspired to do something creative with sound late at night. on my way home from one show, i noticed my boots produced a compelling variety of crunches on the freshly packed snow underfoot. when i got home i grabbed my recording gear, headed back out, and documented my footsteps as i trudged around the block.

crunch time : mp3 sample

[ 06 ] hear no shovel [ 2 0 : 4 4 ]
source audio : man shovelling snow
minneapolis, january 2002

like "timeshare", the final piece on the cd is extrapolated entirely from a recording that constitutes the first few seconds of the track: a man shovelling snow on pillsbury avenue in minneapolis (excerpted from the same recording that appears on the wandering ear collection).

chasms of dark ambience emerge as the playback grinds down to a fraction of its original rate; the remainder of the track explores hidden crunches and crumbles, eventually dissolving into a haze of throbbing drones.

hear no shovel : mp3 excerpt 01

hear no shovel : mp3 excerpt 02


equipment used

Sony MZ-R 700 minidisc recorder, Soundman OKM II Classic in-ear binaural mics, Sony ECM MS907 stereo mic, Macintosh beige G3/ titanium G4 laptop, Digidesign Mbox audio input/ output, assorted black cables

Sonic Worx Artist Basic (freeware 2-track editor), Real-Time Granular Synth (shareware), Sound Effects (2-track editor/ tweaker, shareware the contact info for which has expired-- tell me where you are and I'll pay for it finally!), Coaster (freeware basic digital audio input), Spongefork (weird-ass looper/ bitrate eroder-- freeware), Digidesign Pro Tools (multitrack fuss-indulger)

Source audio gathered using a Sony MZ-R 700 minidisc recorder. Soundman OKM II Classic earbud mics recorded "Splat on a Not-Tin Roof" and the snow shovelling for "Hear No Shovel". A Sony ECM MS907 set to a 120-degree angle overheard the remaining field recordings.

The resulting audio was fed into a Mac from the not-so-slick minidisc headphone output ("Splat on a Not-Tin Roof" and "Hear No Shovel" into the eight-inch jack on the back of a beige G3 via freeware app Coaster, the rest via the Digidesign Mbox into Pro Tools on a titanium G4 laptop). To excise tedious passages and the blundering interruptions of my own incompetence, minor edits and eq were accomplished in Pro Tools. The general sensibility: preserve the document's integrity while boosting its listenability. Audio was mixed down to an .aiff file, then (for the more abstract pieces) explored further using the assorted software mentioned above. The resulting soundfiles were montaged and mixed down in Pro Tools.

In terms of treating audio to create an abstraction, I like to let the sound guide me where it wants to go rather than drenching it in arbitrary effects that will eliminate what was originally interesting about it. Minute details of a compelling sound can allow a piece to compose itself. The hoary practice of slowing audio waaaaay down, for example, has become my favorite technique: even a brief sample might become a sweeping vista of hidden events (though, just as likely, a really boring ten minutes). Granular synthesis can sustain a continuous soundfield by combing back and forth over a miniscule excerpt, altering speed and pitch, etc. Subtle overtones emerge as long-term harmonic interplay when a sound is drenched in arbitrary reverb effects-- I mean, immersed in a re-imagined acoustic environment.

One fun technique I've discovered: using Pro Tools for digital turntable "scratching". With the scrub tool, it's possible to zero in on a tiny fragment of sound (in "Some Other Day", raindrops are the subject) and sweep back and forth, folding the signal into new configurations. I ran the output into the minidisc recorder, then fed the result back into Pro Tools for further fussing.

A paradox emerges: isn't it somewhat silly to blather on about "letting a piece compose itself" when I am, in fact, endlessly manipulating audio to carry out this process?

Yes. Yes, it is.


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musique plastique by mike hallenbeck

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