Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Michael Was Worse Than I Thought

Hurricane Michael, while not directly causing a large number of fatalities, rearranged the landscape for tens of thousands of people and caused effects that will linger for many years.  The category 4 hurricane, which at landfall was only 2mph below category 5 status sent in a storm surge that nearly wiped Mexico Beach off the map. The barely weakening storm wrecked the east side of Panama City and roared north through rural Florida entering Georgia as a category 3 hurricane.  It appears that millions of trees, many of which were planted in pine forests to be harvested, were downed. People were being rescued from their homes for days after the passage of the massive storm.

In one place, that I first came to know and love in the 1990’s, the St. Joseph’s Peninsula, the geography was rearranged.  Hurricane Michael cut through the peninsula in two places, isolating the T. H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park.  Satellite imagery released by NOAA on October 11, the day after the impact of hurricane Michael showed the Gulf of Mexico flowing through the channels cut in the land.

I have loved “The Emerald Coast” for my entire life, even when folks called it “The Redneck Rivera”. The kitschy outdoor games, the beautiful bay, the unparalleled Gulf of Mexico with its sugar sand beaches have been an enduring part of my life.

If you can, please contribute to a verified charity that will endeavor to reduce the suffering of the folks along hurricane Michael’s path of destruction. The citizens of the Emerald Coast and those living inland who are digging out of the destruction will be grateful.

Monday, October 08, 2018

I've Got a Bad Feeling About Michael

I've got a bad feeling about Michael.  This hurricane popped up from a tropical gumbo where it stewed for a few days without any defined characteristics. Then, BOOM, this hurricane forms and it is tracking toward our beloved Florida Gulf Coast. The amount of shear (not so much) and warm waters (quite a bit) and approaching cold front are forecast to move Michael to the Florida Gulf Coast in less than two days.  It might "bomb" and explode in intensity bringing it onshore as a Category 3 hurricane.

I don't normally blog about this sort of thing, but there is a feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that this might be the worst hurricane to hit Panama City in my lifetime. I really hope this is not the case.

Prayers, crossed fingers and hopes - "please, no!"

Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Who Knew About Auditory Illusions?

My friend O.Z. Hall passed this on the Birmingham Electronic Music group’s FaceBook page today. This is quite an intriguing experiment, one that you can do alone which will cause you no discomfort.

While working on some deep learning related audio projects I came upon an interesting
auditory illusion that shows how our brain associates memorized phrases with auditory stimuli. Below is a sound generated by randomly stimulating a neural net that was pretrained on approximately 1000 recordings of brass sounds (both single notes and entire musical phrases). The resulting “drone” is totally uniform and has no temporal development at all (in the sense that there would be individual notes present in that mixture). If you first listen to the audio file it just sounds chaotic and maybe a bit disharmonic, nothing to see here, move along. But wait! Try running the file in the background for several minutes in a loop and you will notice that it appears as if there are suddenly notes, even entire melodies emerging from the mix. ” 1

1. Quoted from his blog post: Stephan Bernsee’s Blog , August 31, 2018

Friday, October 05, 2018

Tonight’s Modular Synthesis Update

Well, this won’t be a daily feature but tonight there was some success in areas that needed it.

The DLD was patched to handle two Mother32s who were sequenced by the GRP R24.  Bingo! Each synth was running through a separate channel of delay simultaneously with its own custom delay time.  This not only worked beautifully but sounded great.

Later, using some radical off the wall patching the tELHARMONIC began to sing in a voice never heard before.  This patch will need documentation because most previous efforts to play this module ended in non excitement.

Lastly the TimeFactor was tested with each channel separately and it puts out beautiful delays as well. So it appears that four voices can be delayed separately.

The next goal will be to take existing stand alone VCOs and run them through one or the other of the delay paths.  The first test along this line using the ER-101 was not impressive. I’m sure that somewhere my technique went off the rails. 😀

Thursday, October 04, 2018

The Weather So Far in 2018

It’s been a very busy year. One of the consequences of that busyness is that I’ve neglected to track the weather as close as I prefer. Tonight I ran through the F6 from the Birmingham National Weather Service (NWS) station.  The F6 is more widely known as the PRELIMINARY LOCAL CLIMATOLOGICAL DATA form.  The data in these forms are in all CAPS for some reason. One day I’ll look into why that is the case. Anyway, as I was saying, my investigations into the first nine months F6 forms and my comparison to the current Climate Normals yielded some interesting “headlines” for this years weather. 

First a small digression to provide a salient definition. “Climate Normals” are the current 30 year average of weather for each month of the year. The current Climate Normals are comprised of the averages from the years 1981-2010.  Every ten years the NWS puts out a new dataset. In the year 2021 they will deliver the next range of years for Climate Normals: 1991-2020. 

These Climate Normals are precisely what climate is: a thirty year average of thousands of weather measurements at the Birmingham NWS station. Every NWS station utilizes a set of data from which they derive their own Climata Normals. Using the Climate Normals and comparing them to our current year’s weather is the motivation behind this evening’s blog post. 

The first “headline” this data produces is: “The Month of February is Missing from Calendar Year 2018”.  Well, my calendar has February in it, and so does yours, so what does this headline mean? It’s actually quite simple. If you take the average highs and lows for this year’s February they are almost identical to the average highs and lows for the month of March found in the Climate Normals. This year’s weather just skipped the February temperatures and went from January to March temperatures.   And since this year’s March was just barely warmer then the March of the Climate Normals, this year we got double the fun!  Two month’s of March weather. 

The second “headline” this year is that the May-September period was hotter than the Climate Normals. This extended warm spell started out wet (6.98” in May) but ended up dryer than normal. July only saw 1.81” of rain at the bottom of the rain gauge. 

The third “headline” this year is that the weather in September was a clone of August.  So, this year we got two month’s of August weather, and that was following a July that was noticeably hotter than the Climate Normal.  As a matter of fact this year’s September was warmer than this year’s August! 

The fourth “headline” this year is a continuation of the last one.  “September is Hotter than the Normal July”.  Now everyone around here knows that July is the hottest month of the year. August is the second hottest month, followed by June. This year’s September’s temperatures were as hot as or hotter than the Climate Normal July. What we are saying here is that you could be more miserably 
hot this September than you could in the vast majority of the thirty year’s month of July (1981-2010).   Wow, that is hot!

The year is not over yet!  We just started the fourth quarter on October 1st so I’ll have to return to this topic in January for a look back at any future “headlines”. Until then, keep your eye on the sky. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Celestial Cruze

I’m not sure why this last piece of music has entranced me.  It’s not the most beautiful, not the most danceable, not even the most ambient piece I’ve recorded.  It resonates with me on an existential level and repudiates my conscious efforts to produce anything along the lines of Berlin School space music. There are no atmospheric cloud banks of sequencers pulsating at different tempos and timbres. The soft and sweeping violin pads are not to be found in this sound scape.

This piece is in a unique way a piece of me.  The drones expanding and contracting interrupted after a length of time with struck notes sounding like a gigantic collection of piano strings connected to a steel I-beam. Sound, echo, and silence feature and fulminate in a sometimes turbid, other times timid embrace.

This piece is not recorded to any media other than video, and hence is both a live performance never to be repeated, and a recording that cannot be edited later to correct errors or oversights.

Living and breathing, sounding and resounding, starting and finishing. From the depths of deep dark notes to high pitched three to five octave leaps and sweeps, this piece moves slowly toward its denouement.

Celestial Cruze:

Thursday, September 06, 2018

The Seven Sisters in a Veil of Snow

This is how you know that you've waited too late to take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I'm standing on the shore of Lake Tomahawk in Black Mountain, North Carolina looking north at the Seven Sisters mountain range. An early snow fall has covered the high elevations above 4,500' and rendered the parkway closed at that point. We were blessed with abundant sunshine in the valley below the peaks and even caught a rainbow on that chilly day in October 2017.