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Messages - ffcal

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Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: AtmoWorks Compilation(s)
« on: January 06, 2009, 12:43:58 PM »

Sounds like a fun idea. I'd be happy to contribute a piece.


Everything and Nothing / Re: Vinyl Mastering
« on: January 06, 2009, 12:42:17 PM »
I have not mastered vinyl myself, but in the days that I released on vinyl, records were mastered to conform to the RIAA equalization curve, which cuts the record with greater highs and less lows, then inverts them on playback.  I copied this explanation from a Wikipedia entry (

IAA equalization is therefore a form of preemphasis on recording, and deemphasis on playback. A record is cut with the low frequencies reduced and the high frequencies boosted, and on playback the opposite occurs. The result is a flat frequency response, but with noise such as hiss and clicks arising from the surface of the medium itself much attenuated. The other main benefit of the system is that low frequencies, which would otherwise cause the cutter to make large excursions when cutting a groove, are much reduced, so grooves are smaller and more can be fitted in a given surface area, yielding longer playback times. This also has the benefit of eliminating physical stresses on the playback stylus which might otherwise be hard to cope with, or cause unpleasant distortion.

A potential drawback of the system is that rumble from the playback turntable's drive mechanism is greatly amplified, which means that players have to be carefully designed to avoid this.

RIAA equalization is not a simple low-pass filter. It carefully defines transition points in three places - 75 Ás, 318 Ás and 3180 Ás, which correspond to 2122 Hz, 500 Hz and 50 Hz. Implementing this characteristic is not especially difficult, but more involved than a simple linear amplifier. The phono input of most hi-fi amplifiers have this characteristic built in, though it is omitted in many modern designs, due to the gradual obsolescence of vinyl records. A solution in this case is to buy a special preamplifier which will adapt a magnetic cartridge to a standard line-level input, and implement the RIAA equalization curve separately. Some modern turntables feature built-in preamplification to the RIAA standard. Special preamplifiers are also available for the various equalization curves used on pre-1954 records.

Digital audio editors often feature the ability to equalize audio samples using standard and custom equalization curves, removing the need for a dedicated hardware preamplifier when capturing audio with a computer. However, this can add an extra step in processing a sample, and may amplify audio quality issues of the sound card being used to capture the signal.


Congrats on your vinyl release, Martin!


Everything and Nothing / Re: CD-R Deterioration
« on: December 23, 2008, 01:49:24 AM »
I think I may have mentioned this before in an old thread, but I've had some success making playable CDR copies of discs that otherwise skip because of scratches etc.  This works best when I use my CDR recorder.  I'm not sure why this is the case, but it does seem to work for me most of the time, unless the disc is completely trashed.


Hey, that is cool, Fern.  Sorry I missed it.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Dreamlike/ambient Classical Music ?
« on: December 21, 2008, 03:05:43 AM »
I have mixed feelings about the use of classical samples.  Sometimes it can be done effectively, but it can also be a very lazy way to compose.  Probably the worse use of a classical sample I can remember was Shuttle 358's crude misappropriation of part of Harold Budd's 1st Obscure Records album on "Understanding Wildlife."  Ugh.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: SPV Popol Vuh remasters
« on: December 19, 2008, 01:46:17 PM »
There are also the High Tide remasters from around 1992.  I have a few of them and they are not great, but are better than the Spalax versions.  For Hosianna Mantra, the OOP Celestial Harmonies version is best.  I have the SPV version of Bruder des Schattens, which is better than the High Tide version (though it doesn't have the bonus electronic pieces), but is more muffled than my original vinyl on Brain.


Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 17, 2008, 09:25:23 PM »
Still in the 80s time machine:

The Lucy Show - Undone (finally made a nice LP dub of this onto CDR)


Yummy! Full CD please!  ;)


I'm working on it!  I'm actually very close to finishing it, but keep making last minute tweaks here and there...little things I only seem to hear on mixdown that drive me crazy until I can fix them.

To keep that other file company, I've added 2 more unreleased pieces to my page.  One is an extended Spirit Oscillator piece from 2001, and the other is music I composed for a video that Michael Bentley did for Foundry Night in 2004.  These 2 new files are downloadable.  Thanks for listening.


Everything and Nothing / Re: 2008 winter weather
« on: December 17, 2008, 09:18:34 PM »

May 2009 be a great year for you all!!!

Same to you, Bill ... and to other forum inhabitors  (posters and non-posters).


Likewise, Bill!  It's been a relatively balmly upper 40s in the Bay Area today.  Yesterday, there was snow in San Francisco, which was downright bizarre.  I've been hunkered down, getting my last minute online shopping done before Christmas.


Everything and Nothing / Re: Ancient Gugin Music
« on: December 15, 2008, 10:29:13 PM »
I'm glad you liked the track.  Robert actually strung together the listenable bits from two different gu zheng improvisions.  I had tuned the zheng to an unconventional scale that seemed to fit with the mood of Robert's backing tracks.  I don't think I would have the chops to sustain that kind of mood for an entire album.  Thanks for the encouragement, though.  I prefer to work with a "multiple instruments" sound anyway--a lot of layering.  I did recently play a short zheng solo as part of an extended piece that should be appearing on my next album.  I'm not sure how the CD was received by others, but I liked it a lot and it's definitely one of my favorites of Robert's releases.


Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 15, 2008, 10:18:09 PM »
Been listening to:

Thom Brennan - Strange Paradise (very nice floating ambient CD from 2001; it used to go under the title of, "The Secret Faiths of Salamanders")


I've just added a new track for streaming to the page someone previously posted in my name.  (I might as well get some use out of it!)  It's a 6 minute piece called "Cicadas" that I finished in the last month or two.  It should be appearing on a fundraising CD for the WWUH show, "Ambience" by late February 2009.

Here's the new page:


Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 13, 2008, 09:48:23 AM »
The Chills - Brave Words (time for some old school 80s New Zealand pop)


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Fabio Orsi
« on: December 13, 2008, 09:46:34 AM »
What ever you do, I would steer clear of the Find Electronica release.  It's a 5 minute piece that is about 44 minutes too long.  As Alan noted, Wild Light of the Moon is a veritable bargain, though it's a CDR.


Everything and Nothing / Re: Ancient Gugin Music
« on: December 13, 2008, 09:41:05 AM »
Clarion is a great store.  I used to go there in the late 80s when my office job was near there.  I bought my first gu-zheng at that store.  The (then) owner recommended my gu-zheng teacher.


Everything and Nothing / Re: CD-R Deterioration
« on: December 13, 2008, 09:38:52 AM »
I have two players in the computer in question and neither reads the last track.  Both players are less than 2 months old.

Are you getting the same results in a conventional CD player?  I would think that the CD mechanism in the CD-ROM drive is relatively modest, compare to that of a standalone CD player.


Everything and Nothing / Re: Tinnitus
« on: December 09, 2008, 09:24:12 PM »
The discussion makes me wonder if I might have some mild form of tinnitus, too.  On occasion, I'll hear high pitched ringing when my sinuses are congested, but it doesn't seem to be triggered by anything, and it goes away after a short while.  Of course, there have been those occasions when I have experienced severe temporary ear pain when I have patched out of a mixer when I should have patched in.  Probably the worst sustained ringing I experienced was when I attended a Glenn Branca performance without any ear protection.  9 highly amped guitars and a pounding drummer at an indoor pier.  My ears rang for nearly a week afterwards (though it was a great performance).

I'm also sensitive to high pitched sounds.  Wierdly, I can distinguish individual pitches that comprise my computer's hum.


Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 08, 2008, 11:04:20 PM »
Stephan Mathieu - Radioland  (my copy arrived today, and it sounds great.  Beautiful packaging to boot.  This is apparently the 2d pressing, which is the size of a conventional CD case, if a little thinner.  Can't remember who was looking for this in the US, but Mimaroglu Music Sales has it for less than $20.)


Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 07, 2008, 08:56:35 PM »
David Borden - Music For Amplified Keyboard Instruments (on vinyl--still my favorite release of his; very listenable electronic minimalism)


Everything and Nothing / Re: How the CD format compromise the music
« on: December 07, 2008, 09:29:23 AM »

I think you give Immersion a little too much credit.  I took his remark to mean that those of us who prefer to listen to or create shorter works listen to "superficial" music.  That statement has about as much validity as saying that persons who don't enjoy artist X "don't get it."

I think you bring up an interesting point about non-Western cultures, but I don't think that most solo ambient artists work in that kind of cultural context (at least not without some faux new age trappings from the West).  The closest thing to that might be the 90s rave/ambient scene, where continuous ambient pieces might fill a "chill-out" during the wee hours.


I agree that ambient musicians operate largely outside of the mainstream.  I also think that the "bonus track" phenomenon probably had more to do with the transition from LP to CD.  Thankfully, there seems to be less of that going on now, though it seem to crop up a lot on CD reissues, where the record company seems to be trying to persuade the consumer who has the bought the album once before to cough up the dough again for some "remastered" tracks and a few bonus crumbs.


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