A Sketch for Tuba and Tuba-Percussion

I made a drumset out of clangs and bangs on a tuba – you can download it here. (there’s a wav file with all the samples, an Ableton pack, and an Ableton project).

And you can listen to it here!

This week’s Disquiet Junto assignment was to make your own drum machine sounds, do something with them, and share them.

I wanted sounds that were not drumset-ish, but came from one thing. Eventually I made use of a tuba! I spent some time clanging, tapping, and squeaking, more or less with an idea what sound would be the kick, what sound would be the snare, but also experimenting, and also losing track of where I was in the process).

I wanted an Autechre-ish “stream of percussion,” so I experimented with using Ableton’s arpeggiate command on the percussion sounds. It created some good results, but it took a lot of finagling to figure out how to make the MIDI notes random but also constrained to the note values that trigger the drum samples (as opposed to flying up and down the 1-128 note range…)

You can see the FX chain here:
(I think I may have created some redundancy with the scale plug-in).

I copied the melody to the drum tracks, and set up an FX web so that every note of the melody triggered the “kick” sample (which was my palm banging on the mouthpiece of the tuba).

Every note also triggered a cavalcade of percussion – but this track was gated to be silent when the “kick” track played.

The results were generally good, but a little beyond my control – in other words, satisfying!

The melody is played on a sample of the lowest note of the tuba, and doubled by an Ableton synth. It’s an atonal melody (I’m getting ready to teach a unit on atonality in the fall), everything is a variation on the initial cell of {3 1 8}.

Here’s my scrawled score, for those who are into that sort of thing:
sampletime scrawled score

This project *really* made me learn a lot more about Ableton drumsets and MIDI fx!

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