Borrowed Names

About Borrowed Names:

I'm very drawn to ambient/experimental music. I have always enjoyed the concept of generative music-which is where you establish criteria and then essentially "push play" on a process and see what comes out.

I am a part of a songwriters group where we each work on finishing a song every two weeks. For this song, Borrowed Names, I took the first and last name of everyone that completed last weeks song and put all the names in a list. I then built a patch in MaxMSP that would look at that list and output a number based on the letters: a=1, b=2, etc. A space between names = 0. L = 12 and then after 12 it would go back to 1 so M = 1, etc.

Those numbers were fed into a midi note generator that would spit out the notes at a regular interval (1/4 note at 80 BPM). Once I had that stream of notes, I fed that in to a pitch quantizer and scaled the piece to be in a certain key, swung it, and generally fed it through a bunch of "chorders" and quantizers. The output was then analyzed and made into a harmonic progression and the pitches were rescaled into this new progression.

Once I had that basic framework, I fed it out to my various synths, drum machines, etc. The cycle of names goes three times-with different layers and modulations being introduced each cycle. You can hear the end of the cycle happens when there is a mid-range bass synth that plays a little motif once all by itself (the only three times in the song that happens).

I actually find the harmonic structure to be incredibly beautiful. It's amazing to me how (almost randomness can be coaxed into beauty. I hope you enjoy it!

Track Credits:

Generated in Kihei, Maui in Feb. 2018

Programs used:
Max 7
Ableton Live
Text Editor


Song Title: Borrowed Names

ISRC Code: QMDF81800003


Length: 8:30

Artist: Joel Laviolette

Composer: Joel Laviolette

Publisher: Joel Laviolette Publishing

Cleared For Licensing: Yes