Surround Sound Podcast?

Lately, I’ve been working on a lot of podcast editing. But something has been bugging me about content delivery: its still just stereo. And sometimes just mono.

A recent technical passion of mine is to understand the mechanics of surround sound, ambisonic sound, and how to bring those formats to listeners. My ideal is to embed an audio file into either a flat, rotate-able video or AR experience that people can focus on the audio, solely. Or, to deliver a head trackable audio file that works for surround sound files. Now, it doesn’t necessarily have to be multi-channel, such as 5.1, or even full ambisonic. It can be just rotational binaural and give a nice spatial affect. But since I now have in my mic arsenal both in-ear binaural mics and a tetra-capsule ambisonic mic, I am shooting for the moon while keeping my feet on the ground.

My CoreSound TetraMic and an Orah 4i

So, is there a method to deliver ambisonic or surround audio to an iPhone or Android device for a podcast?

Audio compression seems to have stalled at mp3 for content delivery. AAC files are nice, as are Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and the like. But what about standalone AC3, the compressed version of 5.1? How could that be delivered sans video? There are no players for AC3 for mobile without video. Heck, there’s not even a Mac desktop version. Is this a pipe dream?

I bit the bullet and I purchased Waves NX, a bluetooth head tracker that works with Waves’s iOS app, effectively acting as a VR headset minus the visuals. If a sound is encoded to be behind or to one ear or the other, moving your head will focus the sound accordingly. But it appears to be a closed system. I’ve reached out to their support team to find out how if they plan to open it up to content creators.

Maybe all this is too much too soon. The recorded music industry has moved on to streaming stereo, no surround sound plans yet. Even though the forthcoming update to AppleTV will include Dolby Atmos, the consumer end of things just isn’t there yet. Plus, who wants to spin audio around your own head when mono is fine on the commute to work?

My conclusion is there has to be a need. Or a visual cue. No one is going to pay attention to complexity if it isn’t warranted. More to come as I head down this path.

SaveSave

The Heroine premier

On Saturday, November 14, 2015, the Composers Collective held our first orchestral performance. Led by maestro David Štech, the Composers Collective Orchestra played through sixteen world premieres by members from the group at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, NY.

From the program notes:

The Heroine: Chapter 12 – After being away for many days, our heroine returns home to a warm welcome. Chapter 17 – It seems inevitable that the encroaching evil will… Chapter 23 – A new sword, a new companion, life is good on the road! Chapter 24 – It is all around: war, evil war! Chapter 29 – …if nothing else, her burned flesh will heal and leave marks by way of hardened skin, ready to tackle the next challenge without fear.

I attempted to create a cinematic scape with hard, dynamic sections butted against melodic movement. The solos were performed by concert master Eugene Muneyoshi Takahashi and principal violist Brian Thompson.

Upcoming Performance with The Bakery

At the end of the summer, 2014, I played alongside my good friend and the amazing beat-boxer Chesney Snow for a variety show written and produced by The Bakery. This trio of actors/writers is amazingly talented and I am so excited to be playing with them again this May 1st, but this time with Kaila Mullady.

Check out the promo video and, if you’re in the city, check out the performance!

The Bakery Presents: Devil’s Food Cake from Christopher Davis on Vimeo.

Folie A Deux winter concert

The winter Composers Collective took place at Flushing Town Hall in Queens, NY on February 13th and I was so excited to have a new piece premiered. In December, for this concert, I wrote Courtship, the first of a multiple movement piece called Twin Spirits, specifically for the viola duo Folie À Deux (fa2violas.com), comprised of Nora Krohn and Nick Revel. In addition to being incredible performers and wonderfully professional, they are also engaged to be married. This fact settled on my mind as I began writing what I planned on being a long-term project that describes the different stages of love that a couple goes through.

Continue reading “Folie A Deux winter concert”

Brahms Piano to Small Orchestra

Before the end of 2014, I was tasked with orchestrating a piano piece. I chose to arrange Brahms Piano Sonata 1 and was able to get a reading done of it. I recorded it with the Rode iXY on my iPhone. Quality was superb on the tiny $200 device – all the way up to 24-bit/96kHz.

Arranging the piano score to string instruments was very simple coming from the Brahms piece, mostly because the entire structure was there waiting to be uncovered. Any mistakes you hear in the recording is due to the fact that the players only had 2 times to play it and this is the second – stellar musicians. The ensemble consisted of five violin I’s, four Violin II’s, three Violas, 2 Celli, one Contrabass, and one harp.

Teaching at the Apple Store

This week on December 17th, I did a training session for GarageBand on iOS (iPhone/iPad) at the Lincoln Center Apple Store in Manhattan. Along with Eimi Tanaka and Matt Mezzacappa, we covered pretty much every aspect of composing from a portable device, to the desktop, to recording live singers and mixing them. It was a fun experience and I’d love to do it again.

You can read my review here on the Composers Collective site.

Holding Your Breath

I wrote this piece, Hold Your Breath, at the end of 2013 and “rediscovered” it in the recordings on my computer. I’m very proud of it as I was venturing out into strange meters and opposing two-handed rhythms while experimenting with the range of the piano.

But beyond any compositional features, I think what really gave this recording life was the amazingly expressive playing of Blair McMillen.  I was so impressed with his rendition upon the first read I really had no comment or correction. He basically nailed it. On top of that, he’s such a nice guy.

Here’s his second take, recorded on a Steinway at Juilliard:

The Bakery show

Last week on the 12th, I had the pleasure of performing alongside my good musical friend Chesney Snow again for a show called “The Whole Enchilada”.

The Whole Enchilada
The Whole Enchilada

The wonderful Rachel Harrington, Orlando Arriaga, and Liz Days, also know as “The Bakery“, put together a sketch comedy show at This Theater in NYC. Chesney and I provided the soundtrack for three short comedy films that were showing between set changes. It was so much fun and the trio is a very talented group. It was no big thing to meet during a quick whirlwind dress rehearsal the night before where Chesney and I knocked out composing three songs for the short interstitials. That man is a beatboxing master! Such a good collaboration.

“Cannon to the right of them! Cannon to the left of them!” Kudos to The Bakery team! Looking forward to the next project!