SCDAWNREM20 general rehearsal

A week ago I made a similar trip to Volavlje, eastern-most part of Ljubljana municipality, but it was during the sunrise. A week ago that meant I was able to see the surrounding landscape on the way: the valley that starts at the end of the basin after crossing a steep hill and then final ascend to the rise, but through weirdly positioned and maintained houses – some obviously weekend holiday types, some rustic ones without the isolation. A peculiar aesthetic experience.

Today I got up at four in the morning, quickly made some non-coffee (rye, chicory) and off I was into the night onto the motorway, the ring around Ljubljana until veering perpendicular from it eastward. I It was a good thirty-five minute drive, and when I arrived to my spot, it was not completely dark anymore. The birds were already loud. There was a light breeze, but nothing substantial. Good conditions for my microphone, which I managed to attach to the top edge of the car’s front windshield. The USB cable then came through only small openning of the side window and into my laptop.

Here’s a little technical bit – since I couldn’t get the USB mic properly into the system (jack, SuperCollider): PulseAudio took hold of the device and wouln’t let alsa_in (and therefore jackd) to access it. The solution is in pacmd suspend 1 command. Very useful to know when PA and Jack are fighting for devices. alsa_in -d hw:1 -r 48000 -j ZoomH2n was then successful. In order for the PulseAudio start working again, just do pacmd suspend 0.

After fixing the mic bit, I started the hotspot on my phone, connected the laptop to it via WiFi, plugged in the headphones, fired up scsynth – the SuperCollider sound server, started an external limiter (CALF multiband limiter), started a streaming client darkice, checked the IceCast streaming server, and I was good to go. I wrote few toots on mastodon instance, and checked the matrix room

There was some noise from the microphone, just a constant hum, that was quite present, but there was also plethora of bird songs, announcing the dawn. A dog was barking in the distance most of the time. At one point a plane was heard high up. The constant hum in the mic was actually slowly fluctuating and I now believe it was a combination of internal noise and wind rubbing against the mic’s small “dead cat” windshield.

There was another problem I encountered: the so called cpu throttling (automatic changing of processor’s working frequency – its speed – in order to save power/computing cycles) was creating small glitches in sound (jackd, probably). I was able to quickly fix this by changing the governor from powersave to performance governor on all 8 cores using cpufreq-set -g performance -c 0.

The rest of the 45 minutes was spent either changing parameters in Ndefs in my SuperCollider program, or looking through car’s unwashed, dirty windshield directly to the east were the light was chasing the night away. It was overcast with scattered clouds, but not too much. The sun was not visible. The whole thing went by and was over almost too quickly. The lingering feeling was there was a strange disconnect between code fixing in the computer, monitoring the sounds, and tranquility demanded by the environmental events.

After I faded out the sounds and disconnected from streaming server by stopping the darkice streaming client, closed the laptop, put away the microphone, I was standing in the morning light for about five minutes, enveloped by the bird song, trying to take it all in, not wanting to leave really.

Some lessons from today’s general rehearsal:

  • go to sleep early, as early as possible
  • get up 1.5h before the start of the stream – next week that means 3:30am (it takes time to get up, get coffee, get out of house, depart-drive-arrive, setup equipment and streaming)
  • have more code ready, less improvisation

Luka Prinčič: SCDAWNREM20 (live improvisation)
3. May 2020 / 5:00-5:45 CEST /

SCDAWNREM20 is a live improvisation using SuperCollider, live environment atmosphere sound and CC-licenced field recordings. It will be performed from remote location 46°01’27.4″N 14°43’54.3″E – the most eastern part of municipality of Ljubljana – to which we are locked due to the pandemic. The location is high enough for a possible good view of sunrise. The sound broadcast will happen roughly during civil twilight: it will start 45 minutes before sunrise.

CONA, SoundCamp, Acoustic Commons, Reveil