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Kick Studies

It's an eight channels audio piece written in SuperCollider. One could say, it's a glorification of kick drums. 

produced by: Ewa Justka

Project report 

The piece was written in SuperCollider. Since I have never used this programming lanugage before, I had to learn the basics first. My main aim was to write a multichannel piece, which would focus on one simple motive - the kick drums. The piece is written in 9 different section, first one is focused on quite random LFOs, which slightly morph into more kick-drumy sounds. I used the code from the SC forum, which was very helpful. The LFO sounds 'spread' through 8 speakers, so no sounds are happening simultaneously.  Bits of the code like ",5)" are responsible for 'spreading' the sound fluidly through all of the 8 speakers. 

There are three LFO sounding sections, each one is a bit different, different frequency ranges and LFO speeds. I just played with different values and experimented with various sounds until I achieved satisfying result. 

The SynthDef part, it's a recipe for the next sections (9) which are basically kick sounds in various forms, one could say. Again, the Kick 'recipe' was based on an example I got from SC forum, I just played around with various parameters. Basically, it's a combination of sine waves and envelope generators. 

Then, each kick section is a little bit different, I included a proper description in the source code file. I used different sequencing methods, from Pbind, to Pbrown (adding a little bit of randomness) focusing on modulation of duration, amplitude, speed and drive.

The piece is a celebration of kick sounds, I wanted it not to be too obvious, so sometimes the sounds would morph into ravy, gabber-ish sound and then they would morph back to weird, deformed-like bassy sounds.

The concept:

From tribal rituals of possession dance ceremonies, or spirits’ music, to gabber raves, drum sounds have been playing an essential role in inducing trance like states, where progressive acceleration of tempos and crescendos would then trigger violent and convulsive dance in participants.

In Madagascar, ndop ceremonies are described as follows: “the tempo increases, while at the same time interjections ring out: ‘your hands!’, ‘louder,’ ‘clap all of you’, ‘it’s getting hot now, sister!’. The beat of the drums speeds up, then a little later, as they announce at the same time cause the possessee’s collapse, the movements and the drum become very fast” (Rouget, Gilbert, Music and Trance, p.83). The above description of the traditional ritual trance process is uncannily familiar to every raver. In hardcore techno (gabber) the climax is always a focal point, where the speed of distorted kicks can accelerate up to two hundred bpm. Those stimulate violent a convulsive dance, trance-like, where, similarly to shamanic rituals once could observe in ravers “rapid extension and bending of the arms, in an oblique line to the axis of the body, and a violent swinging of the head up and down” (Ibid, p.86).

The piece is a celebration of kick drums, distorted, ravy, gabbery, 808-y, morphing, as if hammers were stretched to the point of being no longer recognisable.



Source code:


I want to thank Roc Jimenez de Cisneros for teaching me basics of SC as well as SC forum.