NodeBeat and Clarinet
The second challenge for ‘10 Weeks : 10 Sounds‘ is a little more complex than the first and resulted in three long pieces in a fairly laid-back smoky jazz-club sort of style.
NodeBeat is a graphical sequencer for the iPad and iPhone that is simple in concept, but can result in some complex music. It uses a series of ‘nodes’ that trigger either a musical note or a drum beat according to how close the nodes are together. This can be further refined by use of specific scales and waveforms, tempos and transpose levels, as well as the ability to turn on movement and gravity. Under these last options, the nodes move around on their own accord, introducing a gradually changing random factor.
I’ve worked with NodeBeat before, to provide the rhythm for Drei Viertel Drei’s ‘Igor’s Jigsaw‘. For that song Katharina put the rhythm together and I used NodeBeat’s MIDI-out to trigger body part samples; this time I stuck to using NodeBeat’s own sounds, rather than introducing another instrument, but the MIDI facilities really turn the software into a serious tool for creating musical patterns.
The clarinet is a Rudall Carte Graduate model, B-flat, which is a bit of a culture shock for a guitarist used to playing a ‘C’ and hearing the same note. I’ve only used the instrument a few times before, mostly on The Lunacy Board’s ‘Difficult Second‘ album, but I needed to dig around to make sure I was using the right fingerings, since there are rather a lot of keys on a clarinet.
The first piece uses both NodeBeat’s rhythm and its built-in keyboard. I set up a group of nodes, then switched them all off, before switching them on gradually a few at a time, in-between improvising a lead line with the keyboard. Clarinet parts were then overdubbed, treated with some reverb and a little EQ.
The second track was created in a similar manner, though I changed the waveform halfway through the piece as well as moving some nodes as the piece was playing. There is a little less keyboard use on this track, leaving room for the clarinet parts to take the lead more than on the first one.
For the last track, I switched on the movement and gravity options, resulting in the nodes wandering around the screen and creating a more sporadic rhythm that was a little trickier to keep time with, so this piece is shorter and sounds a little more like free jazz than the others. To avoid the rhythm becoming a sludgy mess, I kept the number of nodes to a manageable number, leaving plenty of space in the resulting track.