A Sad Robot

A new tune.

Of late, I’ve become kind of tired of synthetic timbres. They can sound unreal, intangible. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that I mostly work with virtual instruments inside a computer as much as the sound itself. Staring blankly at a computer is something I do rather a lot of in work and at home, so it was nice to try something different for this track. Sitting at a piano certainly makes a change from my usual methods. This is the first fruit of recordings I made a few Saturdays ago on Adrienne’s piano.

I can’t play piano (or any instrument for that matter) and usually create melody either via midi sequencers, or by painstakingly entering notes one by one on a keyboard. I sat down, turned on the recorder, picked a key (E harmonic minor), and began bashing away. Unfortunately, I wasn’t confident enough to try and transpose or otherwise create more fluid melody so the best I could manage for that first recording was no more than a bunch of 4 or 5 note phrases in amongst other random or misplaced notes. Thankfully, these phrases were enough to sample and loop into a longer piece.

I made a number of recordings with my trusty Zoom H2 recorder placed at different locations inside and around the piano. The recordings are quite noisy and I should probably have spent a bit more time setting up the microphone and getting an optimal position for recording. Despite this, I was pretty happy with it. Quite a lot of incidental sounds also made their way onto the recordings which appeals to me and was kind of what I was looking for.

The recordings were then loosely chopped into smaller bits and pieces and then sequenced in Renoise. I was surprised at how alien and unsettling a piano can sound when reversed. A very simple yet effective technique. Apart from reversing some of the samples, there wasn’t much else added to the final piece except some reverb and eq. I also submerged a field recording of a Spanish playground in the background for added texture. I’m a sucker for such things in music and enjoy picking out incidental sounds when the foreground goes quiet.

The name of the song was lifted from an interview with Amanda Brown in a recent issue of The Wire magazine.

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2 comments
  1. Rob said:

    Hey aid, really like this

    • Aidan said:

      Chairs Rab. See ya Saturday.

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