forbidden parallels

finally time for some music again. remember the project where i worked together with two classical musicians from zwolle? well, we did not only record a piece they brought, they also played one that i wrote; and that is “forbidden parallels”.

as the name might already give away, it’s heavily based on parallels; and parallels that you usually do not use in composition are fifth parallels. that’s why the title.

juan and martin, my sincere apologies for the torture i brought to you with this piece, and thanks for still performing it so greatly.

poulenc’s “sonata” – recording two musicians at ArtEZ

two weeks ago, i met an ensemble from the ArtEZ Conservatory in Zwolle. myself being a student at ArtEZ Enschede, i was asked to record two pieces, of which one i would write and the other would be selected by the musicians. so i wrote a piece for piano and alto sax and then met Juan and Martin for rehearsals. i still remember when they first played the piece, a sonata that Poulenc actually wrote for oboe and piano, but Juan’s genious soprano sax play gave it a whole new tone. we moved on to the theaterzaal, where we recorded it.

for the audio nerds, i recorded this with two AB stereo sets, one placed in front of the two players and one behind the piano, and two supporting mics inside the piano and around the sax. while mixing, i found out that the stereo mics created such a clear and distinct sound, that i actually did not have to blend in too much of the direct mics.

i am proud to present the video of the performance:

the second piece, which was written by me, requires some more editing and will follow soon.

for now – a collaboration with petrichor and tip van den bos

during the recent projectweek at the conservatorium, i got to produce a complete song during one day. obviously, mixing took me a little longer in the end, but i also worked together with tip van den bos, another mediamusic student. it started as a song featuring vocals by els and piano by marius (both forming the group petrichor), but we ended up in this collaboration adding drums, basses, synth strings and a lot more to make this, i call it, alternative pop song.
the song is about a person who suffers from a sad mood, but is fine with it for the moment, thus has accepted this mood and has even found some kind of pleasure in it. that’s why we chose quite a quiet arrangement (tadaa!) in the verses and a rather massive broad sound for the chorusses.



take the time.

yes, that is a song by dream theater. no, i am not talking about that song.

what i actually wanted to share with you, is an important lesson that i learnt over the last year. i’ve been thinking a lot about what makes the difference between professionals and amateurs, and this is what i have come up with yesterday when i dedicated 5 hours to writing a one minute a capella piece:

professionals are people that put a lot of their time into work.

as a student, you often have the feeling that you are way behind with your work and also sub par with quality. i have now come to the conclusion that this is mostly a time issue for me; i just do not give enough room to my (home)work. often i force myself to work way to fast because that is how i expect a pro to work. but that is not the case. professionals take the time to work things out in detail, giving the process a lot of time instead of just listening to their intuition.

the consequence for me is, that i have to do a lot of prioritizing, which also means to delegate more work to colleages, but also that i will turn more of my hours into work hours.

dear 17 year old me, take the time. do not rush on your compositions and productions. take the time.

blikwisseling 2016 – our final presentation

two weeks ago, I participated in a masterclass called “blikwisseling” (read more about it here!)

this is a quick collage of different sounds we used in our final installation.

it was a science fiction themed game presentation that was installed in a dark room, imagine wires everywhere and a big giant ball of metal in the middle. then the game started with a introduction given by two AIs, which then continued to give you puzzles to solve. the solution to the puzzles would be objects that had to be connected to the ball of metal.
in this edit, I added the different loop layers right after the puzzles so that you could possibly figure out the answer. these layers were actually made the said objects, they were all field recoreded and edited, no synthesized sounds or other samples involved, so good luck figuring out what it was.

the objects are (here in a different order):
an iPhone
a door
a bar of plutonium
a  banana
a clock
a can of coke.


masterclass blikwisseling in eindhoven

what happens when about 20 students of different studies such as engineering, music theater, interaction design and media music, come together and get thrown in a giant sandbox which is filled with toys and tools by a dutch composer and two guys from the u.s. that work at MIT medialab, organize hackathons and the like?

as you might have guessed, a giant room of creative chaos starts existing. thats what i did last week in eindhoven: tinkering (or as i learnt what it should really be called, froebeling) around with tools such as the makey makey (a programmable interface, i’d call it), processing (a development environment just made for doing something with audio) and a lot of different materials that we liberated from our environment.



look at this kick-ass organ we made!


this week was incredibly fun, inspiring but also informative. i got back to programming in java (which i haven’t done for a couple of years), recorded the sound of a banana and in the end formed a grooup that created an interactive real-life point and click  adventure. it was a story about building a time machine in order to find out if people in the future still talk to their phones instead of talking to  each other. in the end, it was a very weird mix of portal-style voiceovers, people tripping over ten thousands of cables and my group being amazed that things actually worked.

this has certainly been one of the more amazing weeks in my life and i would not want to miss this experience that shifted my perspective completely and opened my eyes to new creative ways.

oh and we saw two very weird guys live, visited dutch design week eindhoven a couple of times and shared a thirty-bed dormitory. if anyone of you guys is reading this – thank you for this awesome time!


photos & video by maarten zaagman