Song Coding Documentation: Suzan Sadek

I was really intrigued by the idea of coding the karaoke to a popular song, and the melody of ‘Bad Guy’ by Billie Eilish. The song had a very distinct and fun melody and I thought it would be fun to try translating that into code. What I failed to take into account, was how complex and strange the beat would be, and how difficult that may be to translate into code.

I started with the bass in the beginning. Before finding an appropriate instrument, I began to experiment with the beat using a bass drum . To finally understand how this beat worked, I had to pull out sheet music, translate it into Logic, and even pull out a ruler figure out how to make the beat pattern.

The initial beat pattern for the bass

After finding a good sound from SuperCollider’s library, I adjusted the speed, and knew the pitch was next. Because the melody was so unique, none of the #speed features worked, so i had to individually find the pitch of each note and try to match it with the song. This proved to be really frustrating, and I now have a lot of voice memos in my phone humming the melody to match pitch. Eventually, I figured it out, and played around till the pitches matched the beat patter. Once I figured this out, the gain, and the reverb to make it sound as close to the song as possible.

Pitch pattern for initial bass melody

After that, the claps, high hats, and bass drums weren’t as difficult. The claps had me confused for a while, because I couldn’t figure out the code pattern that would translate to the beat, but eventually got it. Again, I played around with speed, gain, and reverb to make the sound match.

The last big difficulty was the chorus’ melody. At this point, I was better at figuring out code patterns, so it wasn’t as time consuming. The pitch, however, took me days, and for some reason still sounds off key. When matching it to the sound, the pitches match right, but doing the performance this code always sounded strange.

An example of how many different trials I did for the final melody

Finally, I had to tie it all together, sing along, and have the cues right. This took a little bit of practice, because I would often miss a cue, or initialise a code wrong (miss the shift button and end up just pressing ‘enter’). Some parts of the song had the beat going silent, so I matched this by simply muting my laptop. The most difficult part, however, was trying to get the timing between the silence of the pre chorus to the beginning of the melody (the ‘duh’ part). No matter how much I tried, the timing always came in wrong, and I know not whether this was my failure to have an internal metronome, or nerves, or a mistake in my code. I did, however, change the placement of the melody so it loops at a different start and end point, but even that couldn’t get me to get the right timing. Eventually, I settled for what I had.

Final live coding performance.

Week 1 – Reading Response: Interactive Art and Embodiment

Nathaniel Stern sounds like he has a big vision of his own work when he talks about how his interactive artwork enter allows for meaning making through moving, thinking, and feeling. He talks in philosophical terms and it is hard for me to grasp the essence of his words in the beginning. I agree with him on the importance or central aspect of interactive art being embodiment defined through expression of the most inner as well as intake of the outer. In his paper “The Rhetoric of Video Game” Bogost writes about how games create a space of possibilities for exploration without certain constraints and it seems that Stern sees a similar potential in interactive art to make us experience insight of the constraints by the artwork/installation/experience and gain new reflections.  I believe that the combination of art which makes us feel and philosophy which makes us think in the culmination of interactive art which makes us feel, and think, while moving and being moved that Stern outlines has significant importance as an educational tool as multi sensory experience can lead to deeper understanding of an issue. As in interactive art the viewer becomes participant and is necessary for the artwork to exist. Stern poses “that we forget technology and remember the body”, however he defines interactive art “as including works of electronics”. I want to disagree with this and believe that interactive art can also take place without electronics, for example focussed on the interaction between human beings but I understand the need for a definition to allow positioning in the art work and also discussion about it.