albums
Underway
2006 Wonday
Compilations
1993 Songs to Sleep By
1997 Songs to Sleep By 2
2002 Sunday Sampler
2002 Dad's Picks
1999 Mix 1 (sy55)
2010 Mix 2 (triton vocal)
2010 Mix 3 (triton instr.)
SY55
1991 Archives
1992 College Collection
1993 College Collage
1994 The Hermit
1997 Where's My Muse
1999 South or Southeast
Triton
2001 In the Margins
2002 Renewal
2002 Re-treat
2002 Convenience
2002 Back Up
2003 So So
2003 So On
2003 So Long
2003 Baby Steps
2003 Baby Talk
2004 Schmocial
2004 Brroom
2004 Chuckadee
2004 Disco Hike
2004 Extra Extra
2005 Coma Pill
2005 Ourboretum
2005 Jaminy
2005 Padden Drift
2005 Gorilla Love
2005 Aminals
2005 Vegibles
2006 Fruitine
2006 Dignored
2006 Miner
2006 Mouseculine
2006 Yata
2007 Zipit
2007 Sixawon
2007 Halfdosin
2007 Whatcom Home
2008 What Roses
2008 Pho Kit
2008 Composed Pile
2009 Decomposed Pie
2009 Swaddlicious
2010 Lost Train
Soft Synths
2011 Out the Margins
2011 Redebut
2011 Reprogression
2012 Working Progress
2013 Tripico
2014 Aerosol Concrete
2015 Reduced to Clear
2016 Motions
2017 The Walking Dad
  • Title: Out the Margins
  • Artist: Tripecac
  • Timespan: 2000-2011
  • Theme: switching to soft synths
  • Length: 76:42
  • Tracks: 30
  • Lyrics: 2
  • MP3s: 30 play all locally
  • Rating: rate this album

Track List

# title lyrics time download listen started recorded rating
1 R and B - 3:56 download listen locally 2000-10-20 2011-01-14
2 Need Plan - 3:39 download listen locally 2000-11-25 2011-01-18
3 Hip Hop - 5:24 download listen locally 2001-02-23 2011-01-21
4 Sonar1 - 5:31 download listen locally 2002-02-12 2011-01-26
5 MELT - 1:39 download listen locally 2004-02-25 2011-01-27
6 EAT - 3:59 download listen locally 2004-10-08 2011-02-01
7 Oh Five - 2:36 download listen locally 2005-01-30 2011-02-02
8 Turday lyrics 2:09 download listen locally 2005-02-12 2011-02-03
9 P5Test - 2:16 download listen locally 2005-05-19 2011-02-22
10 P5Tail - 1:38 download listen locally 2005-05-19 2011-02-23
11 TTS Test - 1:37 download listen locally 2005-05-22 2011-02-24
12 P5 Piano Test - 3:38 download listen locally 2005-05-25 2011-02-25
13 Knees Hit - 2:18 download listen locally 2005-06-04 2011-02-07
14 SSC - 3:09 download listen locally 2005-06-05 2011-02-28
15 Scratch1 - 2:08 download listen locally 2005-06-05 2011-02-16
16 Spoiled Blood - 2:22 download listen locally 2005-06-22 2011-03-01
17 Dusty Fan - 1:08 download listen locally 2005-06-29 2011-03-01
18 Another Bill - 2:16 download listen locally 2005-12-13 2011-03-02
19 Say Something lyrics 1:44 download listen locally 2005-12-26 2011-03-03
20 P5Test1 - 1:24 download listen locally 2007-09-04 2011-03-04
21 Sonar Test - 1:35 download listen locally 2007-09-24 2011-03-07
22 Guitar Improv - 1:37 download listen locally 2010-11-07 2011-03-07
23 Test12345 - 1:10 download listen locally 2010-11-13 2011-03-08
24 Former JazzPatt - 1:27 download listen locally 2010-11-24 2011-03-09
25 Soft Synth Test - 2:24 download listen locally 2010-11-25 2011-03-10
26 Audio Test - 2:29 download listen locally 2010-12-02 2011-03-12
27 Kontakt 4 Test - 1:18 download listen locally 2010-12-07 2011-03-14
28 Komplete 7 Test - 1:31 download listen locally 2010-12-20 2011-03-14
29 Kontakt Full - 2:49 download listen locally 2010-12-20 2011-01-07
30 Kontakt Bass - 5:51 download listen locally 2010-12-23 2011-01-05
Total 76:42 play all locally album rating:

Notes

Just as In the Margins started the Triton-based Tripecac phase with a series of technological tests, Out the Margins ends it.

I had decided long before 2010 to attempt a studio overhaul in that year, as I had done in 1990 and 2000. However, the demands of parenthood, relocation, and a limited budget forced me to postpone any changes until very late in the year, after I had completed Lost Train.

It wasn't until January 2011 that I finally started completing songs with the new setup, which relies upon soft synths rather than the Triton for sounds. To give myself a learning period before jumping into the next "real" album, I decided to finish all the test songs that I'd accumulated since the early 2000s and assemble them into an album.

This album chronicles my gradual transition from the Triton to soft synths, starting with the easy-but-cheesy TTS-1 (included with Sonar) and working the way through increasingly sophisticated virtual instruments (e.g., Dimension Pro) until finally tackling the expensive but powerful Kontakt.

In order to fit all 30 unfinished songs onto this album, I had to keep most of them pretty short. This allowed me to finish them quickly. I completed the last two songs first, and then went [roughly] chronologically through the rest. As the weeks rolled by, I spent less and less time on each song, until finally I found myself finishing two a day.

On paper, that sounds impressive. On headphones, well, that's another matter.

Songs

R and B

I started this test a few months after I got the Triton, back in 2000. By the title, I'm guessing it was from an "R & B" demo template, though it doesn't sound much like R & B to me! It sounds more like typical Tripecac.

The cheesy hand claps and kick drum are from 2000, a few parts are from 2003, and the rest are from late 2010 and early 2011, when I was using this song to test my new setup.

Is this a good song to start an album? Not really. It's sloppy, shallow, electronic-y, and has those cheesy, cheesy hand claps.

Is this the correct way to start this particular album? Yes, because it was the earliest unfinished test, and I decided to sequence them chronologically on the album.

Well, at least the energy is pretty high.

Need Plan

This is another song started back in 2000. It's another funk loop, in the same key as "R and B" and with a similar bass line, but it's a bit darker.

At the time I started it, I hadn't yet finished any real songs, just the stuff on In the Margins. I felt like I needed a plan for how to start working on real songs. More than a decade later, I have the same concern.

Hip Hop

I started this on the Triton in 2001 as a test of a hip-hop template. The only thing I added at that point was the messy drum pattern you hear near the beginning of the song. I didn't bother finishing it for Baby Steps or Baby Talk because I hated it so much. I don't remember why I didn't delete it.

When I picked it up again in 2011, I added the waltzing intro and the sparser jam section which fills out the rest of the song. The mix is pretty horrible, because I quickly got tired of the song, and wanted to move onto the next one as soon as possible.

Can't polish a what?

Sonar1

The title of this song implies that it was the first test I started with Sonar, back in 2002, although that doesn't seem to be the case. It was just an 8-bar loop at the time, which is probably why I didn't finish it for earlier albums.

When I picked the song back up in 2011, I managed to squeeze some trancy repetitions out of it. I like the energy, but wish the mix were stronger. Oh well, onward!

MELT

The original name of this song was "MIDI Editing Latency Test"; I guess I was testing MIDI editing latency. I shortened it to "MELT", partly because it's less clunky, but also because I wanted to keep the song short too.

When I started it in 2004, it consisted of a single electric grand piano part, which I then copied to a clav and looped. Or perhaps I played the clav along with it as part of the test? I don't rememeber.

In 2010 I cleaned it up and bit and then when I finished it (in about an hour) in 2011 I extended it and added the drums, bass, and strings. I kept it short, mostly because I couldn't see how to make it interesting for more than a few repetitions, and also because I wanted to make sure I could fit as many unfinished tests as possible on the album.

EAT

When I created this back in 2004, I called it "Effect Automation Test". I wanted to see how easy it was to automate real-time effects, and tried it first with the Triton and then with a guitar sound on the TTS-1, which is a soft-synth included in Sonar. As far as I know, this was my first recording of a soft-synth.

In 2011 I renamed it, deleted the two Triton tracks (which had been muted anyway), and added everything else, using the TTS-1 rather than the Triton. Except for the [fake] guitar intro, everything you're hearing is from 2011.

Why bother preserving that sloppy guitar intro?

Well, I wanted to keep a historical record of my first tentative (and abortive) explorations of soft synths. The TTS-1 ended up underwhelming me, perhaps because it sounds so much like the Triton, without having as many sounds. And since the TTS-1 (and any soft synth for that matter) used lots CPU back in 2004, I was worried about drop-outs.

Therefore, I avoided using soft synths in Tripecac; the only time I fiddled with them was on my laptop, which wasn't connected to a real synth. It wasn't until late 2010 that I heard sample-based soft synths which sounded cool enough to inspire me to use them in "real" songs.

Oh Five

This is a simple Triton-based jam that I started in early 2005 (hence the title) and picked up again almost two years later. It's full of improvision, a lot less dancy and loop-based than my more recent stuff. I never finished it because I was still finishing up older songs back then.

When I finally completed it for Out the Margins in 2011, I wanted to resist the temptation to lengthen it (in order to fit more songs on that album), and the best way to do that was spend as little time possible finished it up. Therefore, all I did was clean up the obvious mistakes and add an organ part at the end. So, 95% of what you hear is from 2005 and 2006.

Turday

This started in 2005 as a guitar and vocal recording test, with the Triton providing backing drums. I never completed it because my main project at the time was to finish up all the older songs before focusing on new ones.

When it came time to finalize it in 2011, I wanted to expend minimal time on it (so as not to feel tempted to make it any longer), so all I did was mix it and add the bass line. It lives up to its name!

Lyrics to "Turday":

this is the easiest thing you can play
i can do this all day

not another treadmill, travis
please no, let's have none of that, oh
not another treadmill, travis
please no, none of that crap
oh god

16 measures into the song
i realized i had gone a little wrong
16 measures into the song
i wished the audience had been wearing a thong

16 measures into the song
i lost the metronome
16 measures into the song
i realized where julian cope had gone wrong

there's no planning, there's no understanding
of what gets played, of what's displayed
there's no planning, there's no understanding
i am dismayed, the audience is played

why do i keep getting distortion?
i don't know
i don't know why there's distortion
occasional distortion
measure 51 is coming up and let's play something
  

P5Test

In mid-2005, I purchased Project5, which I installed on my main music PC (for testing) and also on my new laptop. I planned to use Project5 and soft-synths (triggered my (Edirol PCR-A30 MIDI keyboard controller) to create loop-based music on the laptop while using the main PC and Triton to create more organic, performance-oriented music.

I ended up getting frustrated with Project5 and abandoned it, returning to Sonar for all my sequencing. However, it's interesting to hear these stabs at Project5, and consider whether the sequencing tool had any influence on the music.

This particular song was my first Project5 test, started on the laptop. It's peppy, but pretty dumb. Standard Tripecac fare for that era. Or any era, really.

In 2011 I converted the song to Sonar so that I could edit it. I didn't change much in terms of the sound or groove, but extended it a little so that it didn't too short.

P5Tail

This was an organ improv that I had tagged onto the end of "P5Test", either on the first day (2005-05-19) or when I picked it back up briefly on 2007-09-10.

It was recorded without a metronome, so in 2011 when I converted it from Project5 to Sonar, I had to fit it to a tempo. What a pain!

I added simple drums, bass, and a piano solo in an attempt to make it less blah, but the blahness won in the end. As it always does.

TTS Test

I was testing the TTS-1 soft synth (included in Sonar) with Project5 on my laptop.

It started as a simple piano improv, not very interesting. At the end it devolved into "Christmas in Cancun".

In 2011 I cleaned it up a bit, added drums and bass, and faded it out before it got too cheesy.

P5 Piano Test

This was a simple piano improv that I started in Project5 on my laptop. In 2011 I added the bass and drum parts.

Nothing new, really.

Knees Hit

I felt like I wasn't learning Project5's interface fast enough, and was getting frustrated with some of its apparent glitches, so I decided to install Sonar on my laptop and give that a go.

I think the title comes from the fact that my knees kept hitting the controller.

I was experimenting with effects automation, especially on the sax. I think I was trying to make it sound "expressive" but ended up making it sound "annoying". Ditto for the brass and strings, which were so bad I mixed really low. The drums and piano aren't too bad, though.

Oh well, at least when I finished it in 2011 I resisted the urge to extend it, since it really doesn't deserve to be any longer. Its main value is to serve as evidence that Tripecac on a soft-synth is just as creatively stagnant as Tripecac on the Triton!

SSC

I was testing out the different soft synths that came with Sonar, and ended up creating this krautrocky jam, which I originally called "Soft Synth Comparisons". I later shortened the name to "SSC", which was the trash company we used in Bellingham.

The drums are sample-based, which adds quite a bit of authenticity. I also like the crunchy organ bit.

If this were on a real album I would have made it a lot longer!

Scratch1

I started this test on the same day as "SSC". Again, I used Sonar instead of Project5.

It was just 8 bars, and pretty dumb, so I didn't put too much time into it when I finished it up in 2011.

Spoiled Blood

This is another Sonar test that I started on my laptop in 2005. I think the title refers to spoiled relatives.

It's slow, sparse, and tenative, but also a tiny bit hypnotic. I didn't do too much to it when I finished it in 2011, just cleaned it up and added the ending (which is a repeat of the beginning).

Dusty Fan

I returned briefly to Project5 for this one, started on my laptop. There's not much here in terms of groove or inspiraton, so when finishing it up in 2011, I kept it very short.

Another Bill

I started this Sonar test on my laptop. I was testing effect automation on the clav part, which is why it sounds so weird at times. I haven't bothered to clean it up that much. The rest of the music is kinda standard jazz/reggae/snorefest.

I think the title refers to the fact that I was getting lots of bills right after buying my first house.

Say Something

I started this basic, loud jam on my main PC using the Triton. I don't know why I never finished it. The vocals are dumb, but the music is energetic and the template is pretty crisp, so it's not too awful.

When I finished it up in 2011, I was a bit dismayed to hear the old Triton sounds; I think the new soft synths have been spoiling me!

Lyrics to "Say Something":

              say something
you gotta     say something
won't you     say something
you wanna     say something

come on you   say something
you gotta     say something
when will you say something
you wanna     say something
  

P5Test1

This is the final Project5 test, started on my laptop. It's pretty simple, and I didn't get very far in it.

In 2011 I just flushed it out a tiny bit before calling it good.

Well, "good" is probably not the best word choice.

Before calling it done.

Sonar Test

This uncreatively named mess was yet another Sonar test, started on my laptop. It uses the TTS-1 soft synth, which means we're back to cheese, especially when it comes to the drums.

The music is pretty horrid. So horrid, in fact, that instead of making the groove any longer, I actually shortened it, removing an entire piano solo, and faded out on simple piano chords.

Guitar Improv

By late 2010 I was tired of the Triton's sounds. I wanted to switch to soft synths, but had a problem. My music PC could run the TTS-1 relatively smoothly, but it sounded cheesy, even less inspiring than the Triton. Sample-based soft synths like Dimension Pro sounded a lot better, but they slowed down my PC, causing dropouts, which forced me to use a high latency, which in turn made recording clunky and less fun.

I decided to start looking at my [faster] general-purpose PC as a possible replacement for the music PC. I hooked my Edirol PCR-A30 keyboard up to it and tried some demo projects, and found that even it was too slow to run many soft synths at low latency.

I then had the idea of recording a part with the TTS-1 (which was smooth) and then later move it to Dimension Pro (which sounded better). This would give me low latency during recording, but better sound when it came time to mix.

The resulting test is this [fake] guitar improv. I started with the TTS-1 (panned slightly to the left), and copied that to Dimension Pro (on the right). Ironically, I thought the TTS-1 guitar part sounded a little better than the Dimension Pro part!

The original improv was much longer, but the last several minutes were marred by my fiddling with random controllers. It sounded awful, not worth cleaning up, so when finishing the song, I deleted everything except the short, more focused early part.

Test12345

This is the second and final test song I recorded on my general-purpose PC. The failure of that PC to perform significantly better than the main music PC (in terms of soft synths) prompted me to buy a new PC, which I would use for everything: music, work, general use.

For some reason, I recorded this clav improv in 5/4. This made it tricky to add drums and other instruments later, but in 2011 I felt up to the challenge. Not for long, though; I only added bass and drums, and extended it a couple measures before decided to call it a day.

Former JazzPatt

In 2005 I recorded a short test on my laptop using a canned jazz drum pattern; I called it "JazzPatt". I don't know if the pattern came from Sonar or the Triton, but it really doesn't matter, since I ended up not expanding on it.

The next time I edited the test (on 2010-11-24), I muted the canned jazz pattern and recorded a completely different idea (in a different tempo) at the end of the project. That's what you're hearing now.

I've therefore renamed this song "Former JazzPatt", and set its creation date to the day I first recorded the idea. It's the first test I recorded with the new PC.

It's supposed to sound mysterious, particularly in the string part, which clashes with the rest of it. My favorite part is the drum-heavy ending. If I had more time on (and for) the album, I'd extend this test a bit more!

Soft Synth Test

In testing a variety of soft synths on the new PC, I created an 8-bar loop, which I later expanded in 2011, adding a couple solos but not much else. I like the tom part.

Audio Test

I was testing audio recording on the new PC. I wasn't really focused on making anything music, just trying to see how "live" I could make the instruments sound, while paying attention to pops and clicks and other PC noises.

When I started it, I didn't have the metronome running. This added a more natural feel, but made it hard to clean up later. When I tried to fit it to a tempo in 2011, I got frustrated at the amount of work it would entain, so I only ended up quantizing the [fake] guitar and ep bit at the end.

So the end result is slop-city, but hopefully there's enough of a live feel to make it an interest break from the other formulaic songs.

Kontakt 4 Test

This was my first "heavy" test of Kontakt. I had multiple MIDI tracks controlling a single instance of Kontakt. The goal was to see how much CPU and memory it would use, and also to get a feel for the workflow.

The music itself reminds me of some of the peppier Anchovies jams. When I edited it in 2011 I kept it very short in order to ensure that the rest of the songs would fit on the CD, but this is one I wouldn't've minded expanding.

Komplete 7 Test

I was exploring the Komplete 7 and wanted to see what the various virtual instruments (soft synths) sounded like. This test is the result.

When it came time to finish it in 2011, I just tweaked the mix a little without expanding the song at all.

Kontakt Full

This was my penultimate soft synth test. I used the Triton as a MIDI controller, but all sounds are generated by Kontakt 4.

It was supposed to sound like a swinging, modern jazz/rock combo, but ended up sounding more like standard Tripecac filler, perhaps because of the short, predictable loops and the cheesy horn parts.

I was really bored by the end of my second day working on it. I had stopped playback, and was noodling around with the bass sound, and thought it sounded cool, so I improvised a bit which later became "Kontakt Bass".

Hopefully the next real album will not sound like this song! This really has that "been there, done that" feel, which leaves a yucky taste in my ear drums.

Kontakt Bass

This was the last soft synth test that I started in 2010. It was orginally a bass improv, recorded on a whim at the end of a different test. I moved it to its own project file, and then fit the tempo to match it. I added drums and other instruments, and a long, jammy section. Most of the sounds were recorded in one take, with no loops.

The mix is a little muffled and bass-heavy, but I like the overall vibe. It almost sounds [to me at least] like a real band, and that was my goal!