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Gleam is perhaps the iconic Sevish track (or so I am told), but have you ever wondered how it was made? Lumi’s recent video analyses Gleam from a music theory perspective, explaining how I used 22-tone equal temperament (22ed2) to make a catchy piece of music.
The British Library sound archive seeks to collect sound recordings that can be preserved for generations to come. They are home to one of the largest collections of vinyl recordings in the world. They also curate a library of digital recordings. The collection includes not just music but also drama, literature, field recordings, and oral history.
A representative from the library reached out to ask if I would donate some of my recordings to the sound archive. Of course I was happy to do that. It’s fun to wonder what some futuristic person would think if they discovered early 2000s xenharmonic bangers.
Project OutFox is a rhythm game simulator that brings together over 15 styles of gameplay. The OutFox team have just released Serenity Volume I, a community pack of songs which you can now download and play for free. The pack includes the Sevish track Some Things Must from the album Bubble. It also contains music from Aspid Cat, Drazil, Jack5, Matduke, mmry, PizeroFox and Seo.
Newcomers to OutFox/Stepmania are advised to check online for setup instructions. A (probably incomplete) summary for first installation is below:
It might surprise some to know that I got into Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution and Andamiro’s Pump It Up some time around 2001 and it was some folks on the DDRUK IRC channel around 2003 who convinced me to start making my own electronic music. I quit playing rhythm games for a long time but I got a high quality DDR pad in early 2021 and the obsession has well and truly returned.
I started a small project where I take existing Sevish tracks and adapt them to different musical tuning systems. It is called Re-Tuned and is available from my Bandcamp page to stream or as a free download. In this project, you’ll hear many tracks with altered tunings. Many of these are originally written as microtonal pieces that are re-tuned to standard 12 equal!
Why have I done this‽ The project originally started out as trolling youtube videos which rendered familiar microtonal tunes in 12edo. It turned out to be an effective demonstration that 12edo is just another tuning with its own character, and that this kind of retuning subtly or dramatically altered the feeling of the music. I then started to produce microtonal retunings, for example Desert Island Rain (originally in 313edo) is rendered in 24edo, 19edo, 14edo and 9edo.
My musical philosophy is that music is a fun craft to be involved with and I’m glad it exists. When expressing yourself through music there are various tools in the toolbox – for example dynamics, timbre, tempo, tuning – though tuning is often forgotten about. I hope Re-Tuned makes the case that deliberate use of tuning is one more powerfully expressive and aesthetic parameter that musicians can use to hone their craft further.
Cover artwork by Juha Penttinen.
A new original Sevish album is coming out next month…
Next Saturday (March 13th, 5pm UTC) I’ll stream from my home studio via Twitch. It’s a chance for me to demonstrate electronic music production and working with microtonal scales. If there’s something in particular you’d like to see then send your requests in Twitch chat – it’s an unscripted event where we hang out and nerd out over music.
From time to time I’ll also live stream impromptu sessions of me just working on tracks. These will be unscheduled as I make music whenever I feel like it. Those sessions will be less interactive but potentially of interest to folks who are following my music and want to see how I work.
Until then, check the below vod of last Saturday’s stream. It starts out with me refining a work in progress and then viewers suggest topics for the rest of the session:
I learned a few things from chat last Saturday, for example x.iso encouraged me to try MPE polyphonic pitch bend in Bitwig on VST instruments that already have microtunings active. Turns out that it works! If you’re working in any equal tuning, you can set the pitch bend amount so that everything lines up perfectly. My mind was blown. I’ll definitely use that trick in the future.
Terra Octava is a collaboration album from the collective at STAFFcirc.
Sounds of digital fusion, chiptune, jazz and electronic music in a variety of equal tempered tunings.
Featuring Cryptovolans, Reuben Gingrich, Jaq, Chimeratio, petet, manfish, STC_1001, STC_1002, STC_1003, STC_1004, Vince Kaichan, Hunter Van Brocklin, Tancla, Emelia K., Abd al-Mahdi, Themnotyou, Sintel, 0x70457465, limeboiler, clown core, b-knox, amimifafa, ordinate and Sevish.
The microtonal tunings include 34edo, 22edo, 19edo, 16edo, 10edo and others – but also the tiny ones like 6edo, 4edo, 3edo, 2edo, 1edo, 0edo!
My track Fuschiamarine in 7edo is on there.
I’m actually blown away by what everybody was able to achieve here. They’re all deep into their musical craft – and some of them are pros at tuning already – some are trying microtones for the first time. Hope you’ll enjoy the listen!
Release date: January 1st, 2021
Available on Bandcamp and major streaming services
The new Sevish album will be called Bubble. It is a continuation and refinement of my own little musical world. You can expect microtonal wonky melodies and harmonies with IDM flourishes throughout. The album has a mix of styles – drum and bass, midtempo groovy jams, techno. The album closes with something very warm and fuzzy.
If you’re looking for more music like my previous albums Harmony Hacker, Horixens, Rhythm & Xen, Sean but not Heard and Golden Hour – this is it!
Bubble will be available January 1st 2021 on all major streaming services. Digital downloads will be available on Bandcamp for £5.
If you want to hear Bubble one week early, I will host a listening party on YouTube where you can hear the album in full. Simply join the link on December 26th starting 8pm (UTC) and enjoy some new sounds. I’ll be present in the live chat so come and say hello!
Update: the listening party has already happened and it was a big success, thanks everybody :)
Influencers, disc jockeys, bloggers etc. — please request a press pack via my contact form and I will send you a full album download plus a copy of the press release.
The album uses microtonal tunings like 22edo, 7edo and just intonation.
All tracks are new, written in 2019/2020, using Bitwig Studio on Linux (KDE Neon).
8 tracks / 42:12 duration.
Thanks to the blessing of YouTube and Spotify’s suggestion algorithms, plus a helpful mention from Adam Neely, last year I saw my audience grow faster than ever. Almost 20,000 of you are now subscribed to my music on YouTube and nearly 20,000 Spotify users streamed Sevish last month.
There is a lot of music in the world and yet you’re tuning into mine – so I want to thank every one of you!
If you would like to own a vinyl record featuring songs from both Sevish and Brendan Byrnes, here’s your chance.
We need your help to decide what tracks to include on the record. To find out, we set up two polls. Go ahead and make your selections!
Later we will kick off a crowdfunding campaign to manufacture the records.
All tracks will be specially mastered for vinyl.
Stay tuned as the campaign hasn’t yet started.
By choosing your fave tracks, you’re helping us take the first steps. Thank you! :)
If you are looking for a quick introduction to microtonal scales in computer music, then I invite you to watch my latest tutorial video.
Using Microtones in Electronic Music explains how to tune software synths to microtonal scales, for composition and production using a DAW-based workflow.
Microtonal music is a deep topic, and this tutorial video is just one possible starting point. If you know of alternative approaches then please do share your knowledge with others!
0:30 What software
2:00 Tuning up
4:37 Messing around with 19edo
14:40 19edo semaphore
18:19 A golden ratio inspired tuning
27:00 Some chords of 22edo
32:07 How a song like Gleam looks on piano roll
Possible Worlds Vol 4 is out today – a compilation of music using alternative tunings in various styles.
The lineup this time includes Runningonair, Javier María López Rodríguez, Jonathon McCullough, Skiks, Stephen Weigel, müesk, Kristofer Svensson, Filtercreed and myself Sevish.
My track Disorient was rescued from a cassette tape recording (with some bass overdubs done a few weeks ago). It’s an ambient piece in 313edo island featuring field recordings from Qingdao beach and field recordings from a playground near my apartment where I used to live in Beijing. I often miss my time in China and I hope my piece conveys an unsettling dreamlike fading away from that land.
Possible Worlds is a series of compilation albums that take a snapshot of the international microtonal and xenharmonic composition community. If you enjoyed the collection, try Vol 1, Vol 2 and Vol 3 next.
Spectropol Records is run by Bruce Hamilton who sometimes composes under the name Skiks. Stephen Weigel interviewed him earlier this year on the Now&Xen podcast. They both feature in the new Vol 4 record.
Thanks for listening and if you enjoyed the sounds then please share them around!