Song of the Month 2010.04 - Portuguese Man o' Space

Song of the Month 2010 #4

Song title: Portuguese Man o' Space
Audio files: (plus version) (original version)
Date Recorded: 2010.04.30 (plus version) 2009.09.22ish (original version)
Equipment: KORG DS-10 Plus (plus version), KORG DS-10 (original version), KORG D888

Concept: Two songs this month! Sort of. Not really. The day after I got my first KORG DS-10 in the mail, Tagen and I drove down to Portland to meet up with our friends for Brendan's birfday weekend. I played around with it in the car, sort of creating sounds that I could play along with whatever we were listening to at the time. Since the DS-10 was still so new to me, I kept experimenting with random sounds and trying new things, creating completely different synth sounds in every pattern. Eventually I realized that I could keep all the madness and turn it into an actual song, so my first full DS-10 song was completed in this way. Nearly a year after I started the first song, I got the updated KORG DS-10 Plus in the mail. You can't use all of its features (including the ability to double the total number of sounds you can use by loading two songs at once) unless you have a Nintendo DSi. So I pre-ordered a DSi XL, and as soon as it showed up I decided that my first DS-10 Plus song should be an updated version of my first ever DS-10 song. Hence, this month I'm presenting both versions so you can hear the difference for yourself.

Process: Like I said above, the original version came together as I was playing around with as many different sounds as possible until I eventually found a way to cobble the various patterns I had created together into a song. Creating the DS-10 Plus version was a more logical process, since I was mostly using the added instruments to create transitions that would help tie the random-sounding random sounds together into some kind of a coherent song. Along the way, I discovered a lot of the strengths and weaknesses of the DS-10 Plus over the previous version. In particular, the song mode which was previously next to useless is now EXTREMELY helpful (especially when it comes to things like muting multiple tracks at once). It almost feels like cheating to use it, since it makes it much easier to program in a song to do some things that are hard to do on the fly, while still giving the user a huge amount of freedom to improvise. Too bad they didn't increase the maximum song length.. It was hard to squeeze this song into 200 measures.

Comments: Here's another "hard techno"-ish song... not quite the kind of music that I WANT to make, but I had a lot of fun doing it. My songs seem to follow a pattern... they build up the excitement to a quiet section, which is immediately followed by a loud section (or the other way around), then it sort of reprises the first part of the song before working towards an exciting conclusion. I need to work on not doing that every time.