The process of composing was very interesting and entertaining, but at times also tiring, since it usually involved a lot of steps to reach the goal in mind. I tried to make the process as smooth as possible, since I realized that it limits my capabilities to have to interrupt my creative process with coding work, but of course, the swapping back and forth between Ableton and Pure Data was always present. I will try to lay out here how the process of composing looked like.
My concept for this piece was a dreamy and atmospheric base layer that is interesting enough to be listening to it alone that gets accompanied by some subtle melodies in the background. The more activity a listener shows, the more percussive and beat-driven elements will slowly wander into the scene, up to a point where one might describe the track as energetic or ‘dancy’. There should always be some element that is directly controlled and easily noticeable by the listener, to not cause confusion or frustration.
The first point of starting the composition was trying to find a good atmospheric base layer. This would also be the idle state of the composition which should be enjoyable by itself and not get boring too quickly. I chose two stereo recordings I made myself: The first one was made in a heavily visited cathedral that consists mainly of many spaced out low voices of visitors with a very long natural reverb. The second one was recorded in a museum about ships (that was itself on a ship), that features sounds of water splashing against the outside of the ship, cracking of metal, water drops on metal and the like. Together, those recordings create a slightly eerie and mystical atmosphere.
Since I am usually very percussion- and drum fixated, I also created the drums next, but already with an interactive goal in mind: I wanted to have the drums emerge from a different sound, depending on the activity of the listener. Next to the drums I created a wind noise by using an LFO on a filter on white noise. With a spectral morphing tool, I could then let the drums use the spectral profile of the wind and blend them together. As soon as I was happy with the drums and the wind, I mapped the activity level variable I wanted to the morphing index and a volume parameter.
I continued like this for most other instruments – I created a software instrument or a sound and instead of putting them into the arrangement, I decided what parameter to map to which variable. Sometimes I had to remap things that did not fit anymore, or program some new logic that I needed, but mostly this process was quite straight forward.