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: Working Progress
  • Artist: Tripecac
  • Timespan: 2012
  • Theme: underway
  • Length: 72:47
  • Tracks: 17
  • Lyrics: 2
  • MP3s: 17 play all locally
  • Rating: (none) rate this album

Track List

# title lyrics time download listen started recorded rating
1 No Idea - 3:57 download listen locally 2012-04-21 2012-06-05
2 Valley Gals lyrics 4:15 download listen locally 2012-05-05 2012-06-07 (none)
3 Repop - 3:50 download listen locally 2012-05-18 2012-06-14 (none)
4 4am lyrics 4:00 download listen locally 2012-05-22 2012-06-19 (none)
5 5er - 7:05 download listen locally 2012-06-20 2012-06-28 (none)
6 Out of Kontakt - 3:54 download listen locally 2012-07-02 2012-07-11 (none)
7 FMyxeS - 3:53 download listen locally 2012-07-18 2012-07-24 (none)
8 Doom Cough - 3:49 download listen locally 2012-08-03 2012-08-14
9 Unap - 4:59 download listen locally 2012-08-16 2012-08-30 (none)
10 Off Season - 4:28 download listen locally 2012-09-04 2012-09-10 (none)
11 Hot Snow - 3:50 download listen locally 2012-09-11 2012-09-17 (none)
12 Ex Too - 2:59 download listen locally 2012-10-04 2012-10-10 (none)
13 Drumap - 3:38 download listen locally 2012-10-11 2012-10-30 (none)
14 Steps Back - 5:23 download listen locally 2012-11-01 2012-11-06 (none)
15 Loop Forward - 3:56 download listen locally 2012-11-07 2012-11-12 (none)
16 Thumthing - 4:10 download listen locally 2012-11-14 2012-11-16 (none)
17 Windy Up - 4:41 download listen locally 2012-11-19 2012-11-22 (none)
Total 72:47 play all locally album rating: (none)

Notes

It's hard to make musical progress while working so much. Day jobs and parenthood consume not only time but energy. Songs take longer to finish, creative trains of thought are lost, techniques get rusty, and software updates seem to fly out faster than we can keep up.

This year, Sonar X2 was released. Hoping it would fix the many flaws in X1, I pre-ordered X2 and installed it as soon as it was available.

Unfortunately, X2's learning curve and bugs were even worse than X1, killing my musical momentum and much of my enthusiasm. In the future, I will ignore the marketing promises and wait until there is a proven benefit to upgrading. I'm tired of wasting my precious time on technical difficulties.

(Yeah, Trav, blame the racket!)

Despite the software issues, there were moments when making music was a lot of fun, even energizing. If you listen very, very carefully you just might hear the childish enthusiasm trying to shove its way through the mounds of tedium and frustration.

Whether there was any real creative progress over the course of this album is debatable, but there certainly were improvements in the song creation process. I've become a lot more comfortable with soft synths, to the point where I can now start a song just as easily as I could with the Triton. I find myself focusing more on musical ideas and less on the GUIs, which is good. And I'm continually optimizing my workflow, so that I can make the most of the limited time and energy that I do have.

So, Tripecac remains a work in progress. Hopefully the next album will show less scaffolding and more dramatic views and gargoyles.

Songs

No Idea

I hadn't worked on music in several months, and was testing my setup. There had been some updates to Native Instruments' drum kits and Guitar Rig, so I focused on those.

Stylistically, this reverts to the old, muddy, distorted drums-and-bass-heavy sound of the last couple albums. There aren't any new ideas here; hence the title.

I soon got tired of the sluggish same-ness, and started 3 more songs before I got around to "finishing" this one.

User Comments:

  1. "peppy and groovy" - giovanna (2012-06-05)

Valley Gals

Bored with the sluggish first test song ("No Idea"), I started this peppier one.

It was built around an 8-bar loop, featuring lots of different virtual instruments. It's a bit of a mess, mostly making sure my Native Instruments and Cakewalk synths still worked (since during the summer there were a few upgrades that I'd never fully tested).

When I switched to my other headphones, I felt like the downbeat was on the "and", so I shifted most of the notes back a half step. My hope was that this would sound better in the long run.

However, when I resumed working on it several days later, the shifted rhythms sounded off. I couldn't feel the "one" very well, so I focused on adding more emphasis to the bass and kick, ignoring the fact that the song didn't have a melody or any real chord changes.

And of course, it still didn't sound right, so I went ahead and started yet another song, leaving the first two unfinished.

When I later forced myself to focus on this song again, I added still more drums to the "one", trying to solidify the beat. I don't know if it worked or not, but if you have a fetish for loud, heavy, repetitive drums, this song's got 'em. That's about all it's got.

Lyrics to "Valley Gals":

[scat]
valley gals    
  

Repop

I was trying to get a more poppy feel than the last couple songs.

It didn't really work.

12 days later, I returned to it, and noticed how similar it was to another song I was working on ("4am"). Similar, yet inferior. This one lacked melodies and "heart", and was basically an airheaded sloppy messy of drums with a sprinkling of other, familiar-sounding instruments. It was so bad that I was tempted to delete it, but then while listening to it "one last time", I noticed the semi-dancy section, which I decided to make ultra-semi-dancy.

So it kinda has an identity of its own.

Kinda.

4am

The title comes from the fact that I wake up at 4am every day. Back in grad school I used to go to bed at 4am. So, it's a significant time for me. In the old days, I was pretty low-energy at that hour, but now I'm go-go-go. I wanted a song to represent that driving, optimistic energy. Night owls will probably think the name is misleading, but early risers will understand.

I had been listening to a lot of Shriekback recently, and wanted something peppy and semi-synthetic.

This doesn't sound like Shriekback, but it more or less accomplished my goal, which was to shake off the muddy/messy pointlessness of the previous songs. I wanted something sharp and focused, which is how I feel after splashing cold water on my face and having a cup of coffee.

The lyrics, which have nothing to do with 4am except perhaps the cold, were inspired by a recent bike ride.

Lyrics to "4am":

from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes
those are the bits that froze that froze
from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes
those are the bits that froze    
  

5er

Another attempt at keeping things simple so that I could focus on adding "soul". The drums are about as straightforward as you can get, although I added some ghost notes for flavor. The bass is cake. The piano is reminiscent of The The's "Uncertain Smile". The organ is reminiscent of 99% of Tripecac it feels like.

I left many bits of the solos unquantized, to see how that would affect the overall feel.

When it came to to extend it, I really didn't know how to keep it interesting. So I just mixed things up a bit, adding different bass lines, different drums, different piano bits. Over all the changes, I just tried to keep the groove simple, and relatively spacious. It was hard, and I'm not sure it really worked.

The name means nothing, really. The fourth song was "4am", so I briefly thought about naming this one "5am" but then I realized that it would set up a potentially never-ending cycle. Also, I briefly considered making this song exactly 5 minutes long, but I kinda surpassed that. Oops.

Out of Kontakt

As an experiment, I wanted to create a song without using Kontakt. I was curious how this would affect latency, file size, and (of course) the overall "feel" of the song. Therefore, in the interest of making this a legitimate test, I intentionally stuck to the "typical" [recent] Tripecac song structure.

The interesting thing is, this ended up sounding somehow different. The song itself stinks, but in the mix, the toms seems punchier (though out of tune), the synth more insistent than usual, the kick(s) more driving, and the cymbals easier to blend in with the mix. Maybe I just got lucky, or maybe Kontakt doesn't dominate the Cakewalk instruments (in terms of realism and musicality) as soundly as I thought it did.

Something to think about when the next version of Komplete rolls around (which I'm guessing from the recent sales will be sometime soon).

As another experiment, I deliberately kept the quantizing loose on this one. And sometimes I swung and sometimes I didn't. This was an attempt to make it sound more "human", but I think it just ended up sounding a bit "sloppy".

In this was a fun experiment. Too bad the music doesn't cut the mustard. It cuts the cheese.

FMyxeS

I wanted to see how much I could do with an FM (Frequency Modulation) synth. So here come the bleeps and bloops (and arps), courtesy FM8!

The title is derived from a Prince song. Not that this song has anything to do with Prince.

Doom Cough

I returned to Kontakt to check out some recent changes to the Native Instruments drum kits. They're supposed to be more optimized now, but it's hard to tell; I still get occasional pops and clicks when monitoring them. Fortunately, I know the glitches won't appear in the mix, and that's what matters most.

This song is mostly drums; the intro and jam near the end are pretty extreme in their focus. I could have extended the song a bit more, adding solos and perhaps vocals, but it had been so long since I started it that I felt out of touch with it, and decided to move on.

The title comes from the fact that I've had a cough for almost 2 months now.

User Comments:

  1. "love it!" - giovanna (2012-08-17)

Unap

Nap time is the one respite we get from parenting. When it's skipped for whatever reason, the whole day seems shot. Whole-day parenting is a real endurance test. We need breaks!

This song was started on a day when we didn't get much of a nap break. Because of the limited time, I couldn't get far into it, so the original concept ended up a bit shallow. I had trouble adding depth to it on later days, again because of the sort naps.

And ironically, on the day I was finally able to allocate a big enough chunk of time to finish this song, the nap abruptly ended an hour early, so I had to rush this out the door, sonic warts and all.

Off Season

Traveling in the off season is pretty quiet. This music isn't very quiet, though, so it doesn't really fit the title.

Perhaps we can consider this song (and perhaps the entire album) an "off season" affair, in that it doesn't get the same level of attention and energy as some of my other efforts.

So, when will I next be fully focused on music? I have no idea. Ask me in 15 years or so.

This song doesn't really do anything, really. It's just a drum loop with some noisy solos and the same old minimalist chord progression we've heard a hundred times before. I tested a new Dimension Pro string library on top of it; it sounds pretty cheesy and clashes a bit, but oh well. What can you expect for off season rates?

Hot Snow

The weather's been a bit wacky lately, oscillating between hot (20C) and freezing (-2C). I prefer the stuff in the middle.

Anyway, for "fun" I decided to use instruments other than Kontakt.

And "fun" ended up being the theme of this song. It's pure hedonism: light, poppy, and mindless. Zero depth, zero thought put into it. Bubblegum blonde, short and sassy, minimal effort.

Just like the title.

Ex Too

The new version of Sonar (X2) was released in early October, and I used this project to test some of the new features. It started off as a random bunch of unrelated phrases (with completely different tempos), but once I started testing loops, I gradually started pulling pieces together.

This was the first song where I used my mini-keyboard (PCR-A30) exclusively, instead of the Triton. I also used my general purpose sound card (Xonar) instead of the music-dedicated Delta-44. I did this because I was simultaneously watching tutorials many of the days I worked on the song, and prefered to use components that didn't need to be powered on.

There's not much song here. I was tired of the ideas by the time I'd finished working on the tutorials, and didn't want to extend them much further. I therefore finished this up quickly in order to clear it out of my queue so that I could work on something better, or at least something else. I think we can all agree that "else" is better.

Drumap

I decided to test drum maps in Sonar X2. I quickly found them clunky to use within the piano roll, so I decided to try them with the step sequencer as well. I hadn't used a step sequencer since the 1990s!

The step sequencer itself was just as clunky, unfortunately. Editing notes was a major pain displaying triplets was a major pain, switching back and forth between the step sequencer and piano roll (in order to edit) was a major pain. Yeah, basically, the step sequencer was major pain city for me.

Of course, maybe I was doing it the "wrong way" by trying to impose my editing habits on a completely new tool. Or maybe the step sequencer and drum maps in Sonar X2 are just half baked. After posting about my frustrations on the Cakewalk forum and hearing other people's similar complaints, I'm thinking the latter.

Since the technological experimentation was so unpleasant, I decided to try some musical experimentation as well, and that meant: linear drumming. Step sequencing seems well suited for adding a separate note to each beat, and that's what linear drumming is all about. I created two linear patterns, one for each hand/foot combination. A real drummer would be able to kick and hit with both hands and feet at the same time, so I suppose I should have had four patterns instead of two, but oh well. It's not like this "song" comes anywhere close to convincing anyone that there's a real drummer involved; the drums sound more artificial than usual, actually.

The bass part started as a step sequencer pattern as well. You can probably tell by the fact that every note is the same volume and duration. The awful sound quality of the bass cannot be blamed on the step sequencer, but rather my impatience with this song and my eagerness to get it over with.

The rest of the parts were added "normally". And by that I mean "with minimal thought or care". Blaa solos, blaa accompaniment, blaa mix. Blaa everything.

The truth is, I hated working on this song, due to all the technological issues I had when working on it. Sonar X2, the step sequencer, and drum maps have all been extremely frustrating for me. Learning curve, schmearning curve, the tools themselves are just buggy and clunky, a total musical buzz kill.

This song, while having no music merit whatsoever, will at least act as a reminder to myself that early adoption is risky business, and definitely not something to try when my free time and creative energy are so limited to begin with!

Steps Back

My frustration with Sonar X2 got to the point where I decided to go back to a previous version of Sonar. Since Sonar X1 has its own annoyances, I decided to skip it and go all the way back to Sonar 8.5.3, which is the last version I was truly happy with.

In addition to going two steps back with the software, I decided to also go back to using my Triton as the controller and my Delta-44 for the sound. So I'm back to where I was a couple years ago.

The music is simple and funky. The Triton and Delta-44 combination is much more responsive than the Edirol and Xonar combo, thanks to lower latency. This makes it easier to play faster and add subtleties like ghost notes and (slight) swing, improving the overall feel. In short, better latency means better "groove".

Adjusting to Sonar 8.5.3 didn't take nearly as much time as I expected. The colors bothered me at first, but I soon got used to them. There were more pops and clicks when starting and stopping playback, which was a little annoying, but perhaps that's because I was playing more (subtle) drum sounds at once than I've done recently. It would be interesting to see how this sounds in X1 or X2. Once I finish it, of course.

I had more fun working on this song than I have in a long time. Perhaps it shows? Sure, it's sloppy and simplistic, the piano is out of tune with the bass, and the synth sounds too synthy, but there are lots of fun bits in here so in terms of smiles and head bobbings per hour this was a success.

Loop Forward

I decided to try X2 again, but this time I stuck with the Triton and Delta-44 rather than using the cheaper (but more convenient) components.

I also was testing some new freebies from Cakewalk: some Loopmasters drum loops and some "spooky" Halloween sounds for Rapture.

The resulting music is very loopy, but I don't know about "spooky". Maybe "slightly dark" is a better descriptor. There's not much here in terms of plot. Or melody. But hopefully it's not too annoying.

Thumthing

I was exhausted when I started this song, and really didn't want to work on music, but my goal was to finsh the album by the end of the month, so I made myself work on music despite my feelings. Feelings, schmeelings.

So here's the little thumthing I created. It ended up being a lot peppier than I expected, and in fact cheered me up. Imagine that. Making music actually had a positive effect on my mood. For the first time in ages!

And I even used Sonar X2, despite my recent grumbles. So there is hope after all. The song captures that feeling of optimism.

Windy Up

This song acts as a coda, winding things up for the album. It was windy outside when I created it.

For some reason, I decided to give this a West African flavor. It was fun, particulary on the first day.

I recorded the slow intro after I had finished the main part of the song. It doesn't really fit stylistically, and the tempo is all over the place, but I wanted a quick way to extend the song past the album's 70 minute mark.