Final Performance: Song Composition

Final performance group: Chloe Wood, Rosie Mountjoy and Ophelia Neville

When we first met as a group to discuss our final performance, we started throwing around a few ideas and all liked the idea of creating a very ambient, eery and abstract song that could prize the use of loopers and vocal manipulation in particular.

We quickly decided on the theme of schizophrenia. Below are some of the notes I jotted down during our first discussion just as some ideas.


We looked up Schizophrenia to find out a bit more about the topic and it talked about there being three different elements of a person being effected: Thoughts, emotion and behaviour. As there are three of us in our group, we thought it would be interesting if we all took on one of these words as our “character” for the song. We through around the concept of having three verses, one verse for each “character”, however, we steered away from this after our first meeting with Tim to discuss our plans as we didn’t want it to be too structured and run like a normal song – we wanted it to be more of an experience/representation of schizophrenia itself.

After meeting a couple of times to rehearse we had decided on a short piano melody which would be looped and create the base of our song and give us an element of time in our song. We set up three microphones and applied some different audio fx as well as a looper for each mic and improvised a bit. Rosie came up with a line ‘voices voices in my head’ which Chloe followed with another line, whilst I sang the word ‘whisper’ overlapping. This became the start of our song which we then improvised slightly to create the rough idea of our whole song. We created a mind map of words which we associate with schizophrenia. Although we didn’t have a typical song structure and it was quite abstract, we knew what each part of the song was and when we would shift into something slightly different.

Finally, we incorporated the drum pad and the push to add some texture.

In terms of deciding who did what in our performance, we thought if Rosie had the drum pad, it could represent some kind of heartbeat within our piece – this also comes into play when we all drop out at the end of the song leaving Rosie to finish by saying ‘help me’ on her own. We thought this could create the idea of Rosie being the person affected by schizophrenia in our piece, whilst Chloe & I are representing the extensions of her disorder.


Module Task 4: Performance Development

Performance group members: Chloe Wood, Rosie Mountjoy & Ophelia Neville

Approach: Vocal loopers, audio effects and vocal manipulation – reverb, delay, saturation, EQ, automation…

We recorded these two takes in two different rehearsals. Having listened back to them, the things we knew we needed to work on were the structure of our song as it is quite abstract, we still needed to know the timings of things and also we needed to be careful to not over saturate and cloud all the elements. We wanted it to be very atmospheric and ambient but we wanted things to be understood and there to be different textures and light and shade.

We also needed to keep on top of our mapping of all the different elements and check they were going to work ok in our performance.

Here are a few photos of our rehearsals and set up and some photos of our notes…


Module Task 3: Performance Proposal

Module Task 3 – Performance Proposal

Group: Chloe Wood, Rosie Mountjoy & Ophelia Neville

Having done some research around different approaches artists take to utilise the use of DAW in their performance, I would love to explore the use of looping and manipulating vocals in my final performance whilst perhaps incorporating some of the other techniques I have seen through my research such as Push and drum pads.

An artist I found as a good example of using looper to create layers and harmonies in performance is Kawehi.

As I will be in a group for my performance with Rosie M and Chloe W, I feel like this approach that Kawehi uses in her video would be easy to apply to our group. We would each have a microphone with a looper applied and we could apply a variety of audio fx and manipulate the vocals in different ways for each mic. In the video Kawehi is able to control a lot of different elements quite easily through her midi programming. If we can do this, we should be able to create quite an interesting performance mainly by just using our vocals.

As a group, we also created a reference track playlist with some other music we liked the ideas of:

Performance Research

Performance using Push/Controllers:

Kaskobi | Shape of you: very good concept for a video – very aesthetically exciting and eye catching

Stro Elliot: quite an inwardly focused concept – not necessarily the most engaging concept for a group performance

Mad Zach: again very inward focused – not the most exciting performance wise for an audience

Conclusion: This technique is a great and interesting way to create a varying soundscape quickly within a song. However, as I know I will be working with a small group for my final performance I’m not sure how this concept would work with a group. A lot of the people who utilise this technique in their work are solo artists or solo dj’s. I also feel like this concept may suit an ‘experience’ better than a ‘performance’ as the audience would be involved as oppose to watching?

Loop based performance:

 Ed Sheeran | Shape of you: Very slick and nice arrangement – good range of instrumentation for a solo artist – a lot of prep involved i.e. a lot of midi programming prior to performance – a lot relying on his timing of triggering different midi controls – a lot to remember

Chameleon: Solid organisation and structure of the song needed i.e. very exact when to trigger certain elements and instrumentation

Delaurentis | As a wink: Love the idea of using looper on the vocals and layering harmonies utilising different audio FX

Conclusion: A lot of them are on their own/solo artists – would these techniques be harder as a group? We’d need to be very in sync with each other, however, it could make it easier to try as a group as we could have less things to be responsible for because there would be more of us and perhaps less things to remember individually

Backing Tracks:

 -great for full bands

-good for traditional band set ups who also have a more unique sound running parallel to traditional instrumentation/band set up?

Module Task 2: Looper in Ableton

For this task I created a simple drum rhythm with Impulse and the ‘Wicked Chillin’ pre-set. I also copied this drum rhythm and applied it to another midi track with a ‘voices’ sound.  I then created a midi track with a piano sound and looper applied where I played some staccato chords. On another midi track I had a synth sound and a looper with a reverb to add a softer texture and played a little melodic clip. I then had an audio track with a looper applied and layered three vocal harmonies on top of one another.

Module Task 1: Audio Effects

I started off my sketch by recording a basic drum rhythm with Impulse. I then recorded a vocal ‘fly away, fly away my dear’ and used the transpose control to pitch it down an octave and I used the complex warp tool to create an eery male vocal sound. I also added some reverb to this vocal and a slight delay.

I then created another audio track which I applied a resonator (set the first note to D#) and looper to and just said the word ‘fly’. This created a robotic bell kind of sound which complimented the drum rhythm.

I also created another audio track which I applied the saturator, reverb, ping pong delay and EQ to. I made a ‘shhhhp’ kind of noise with my mouth and the saturator emphasised the ‘shhh’ part of the sound while the reverb dragged it out which then streamed into the ping pong delay. I played with the automation of the delay and wetness of the reverb in the envelopes tab, so over 8 bars of the sound relating, there would be a subtle build and increase of the amount of reverb.  When this sound sits in with the rest of the mix it almost sounds like an atmospheric drain with water droplets of some kind.

Finally I finished by creating one more audio track. I wanted this to be the actual melodic   understandable vocal so I didn’t do too much to it. I applied EQ, some compression and reverb. I brought down the mid frequencies in the EQ as my vocal was becoming a bit distorted in the mid range and the reverb helped it sit well with all the other sounds I had made with the audio effects.

Mapping a track to Ableton

The track I decided to map to Ableton was my track ‘Shadow’ as there’s a large number of different elements which in a performance setting would be hard for me to perform without something such as Ableton and rather than just having a backing track.

I exported all my different channels from my Logic file as audio files and saved them in a folder called ‘shadow stems’.

I then imported these audio files into a folder I made in Ableton. I selected the files and dragged them into an audio channel in arrangement view. I had a lot of problems at this point as some of my audio files had imported and been set to the wrong tempo. I realised I had not turned the ‘auto warp long samples’ setting off in preferences.

I selected all the tracks and having altered the global BPM to 85, I clicked the warp button which then altered all tracks to match the global BPM. I also went through the tracks deleting any blank tracks that had been imported.

I then began to segment the tracks according the different sections and used the loop brace to help me split the sections. Having the individual section selected I was then able to drag them into session view and create a scene of clips out of this section of my track which meant I was able to individually trigger clips from that section and play around with my track a lot more.

I then created a new midi channel and dragged a guitar sound onto to the channel. I then tried creating an instrument rack by grouping the guitar sound with another sound (synth).

This meant I could layer as many instruments as I wanted and play them together or I could control which instruments would be triggered with different parts of my keyboard. I also had a go at applying some audio fx to the individual instruments.


I also had a go at creating an audio effects rack.  I dragged two different audio effects onto one of my audio clips and grouped them (I used the Flanger and reverb audio effects on the bell clip of my track). I then wanted to map particular aspects of my effects onto one of the macro controllers so I could manipulate the audio clip during performance with just one control rather than having to alter lots of different elements with a lot of different controls.

Screenshot 2017-05-21 22.53.40
I created an audio effect rack with the Flanger and reverb effects on my audio clip. 
Screenshot 2017-05-21 22.56.07
I mapped some specific features of both audio effects onto the Macro controller 1 which would mean I could alter these effects all at once very easily during a performance. 

I played around with the minimum and maximum figures for each mapped element and reduced the maximum amount of decay time and wetness on the reverb as my bell sound became too saturated at the point of distortion if I turned the macro controller 1 up too much.

Finally I experimented with the Simpler. I created a new midi track and dragged the simpler onto it. I then took my audio clip of the bells and dragged that into the simpler. When I clicked on the slice tool, it then split the clip at all the transients and immediately let me play the same piece of audio but with my keyboard chromatically.

Screenshot 2017-05-21 23.14.00

I’d love to perform one of my songs such as ‘shadow’ implanting the use of audio racks and the macro controllers along with using the simpler to map some of my more complex parts onto a keyboard quite simply. It creates so much scope for more experimentation with performance it’s exciting. It’s also such an opportunity to bring some more life and character to parts of a song, which although might sound good on a recording, might need some more oomph in a live setting.