The Making of Pulse — Explorations

A lot of learning went into the making of Pulse. Firstly, this was my first venture into the world of virtual modular synthesis, an eye-opening experience for sure. And the learning curve is steep. For starters though, here's the music.



Track descriptions are here.

The making of Pulse -- VCV Rack PatchThe Virtual Hardware

I'm always open to a challenge. And this was just such a challenge. Well, it continues to be a challenge. Nevermind the acronyms, VCA, VCF VC0, EG, and CV to name a few. What's a gate, a trigger or an envelope? What does a sequencer do? Regardless, I plunged in.

It's all done on a computer which is what makes it interesting. The software emulates real-world hardware and it's free which means it's even more appealing. It's complicated. But it's fun!

So, this is how it works, essentially. Virtual representations of various (and there are lots of them) hardware components are connected together with virtual wires in different ways to produce sound. Without the wires, nothing would happen. But, that's just the beginning. Then, comes the really fun part, all the virtual knobs, sliders, and switches. The wires set up signal paths. It's all the tweaking that makes it musical. Well that and a few other goodies.

What really makes this album pulse?

And the short answer is "sequencers." Sequencers are modules that repeat patterns of notes. They perform at various speeds and can be wired to clocks to alter their timing. They can play very slow or very fast. One of the main characteristics though is that they repeat themselves. This is what gives Pulse its pulsing feel.

Some of the tracks on the album use a single sequencer. But others utilize two. Overtones, for example, has one very slow sequences and one that varies in speed but is generally faster. Changing the pitch of the sequenced notes is what makes the music evolve over time.

Lasting Impressions

This Album is just the beginning of a new adventure. I still like working with hardware but I find virtual synthesis to be very copasetic with my style of improvisation. I recorded each track on this album in a single pass. That's having fun! Bipolar Dimensions is all about making music. And it doesn't really matter how it's done.

The Making of She’s an Atonal Mess

The Set Up

Each track on this album has a degree of improvisation to it (some more than others). But each also required a degree of planning. There's a great deal of sound manipulation going on behind the scenes in She's an Atonal Mess. And that becomes more apparent as the album progresses. From the first track, the choosing of the instruments has great importance and setting up these sounds is a time-consuming task. But it's all part of the creative process.

What's an Atonal Mess?

Is this true atonal music? That's a good question. What's for sure is that there is no key signature involved. And at times the music slips into electronic noise which certainly defies the western concepts of a scale or chord, melody or even harmony. It's intentional chaos that seeks to find its own order. Rhythm breaks down into fragments of sound, leaving the mind to put it together in its own way.

12 Notes and Electronic Noise Combine to Make an Atonal Mess

There are 12 notes and countless variations of frequencies to choose from. I fear I'm just scratching the surface. But that's what keeps this musical adventure going. And that's the fun in it . . . the exploration.

Improvisation vs. Composition: I have written music note-by-note on a staff. It's its own kind of fun and comes with its own challenges. What happens though is that I invariably write music, I can't perform. First, there are many different instruments involved. Then there's the matter of my own performance proficiency. Suffice to say, my mind tends to outthink my hands.

When I improvise, all the constraints are let loose. And I'm able to create without the limitations of a score. The metronome is always playing when I'm recording but I've learned how to ignore it occasionally. I have my own sense of time that relates to my scattered upbringing and an inability to keep track of life events in relation to time. It all comes out in the music and the atonality fits the timelessness of it.

Bipolar Dimensions’ Music Meets Cyberspace

Find Bipolar Dimensions on:

So, what's this all about? That's easy. Music--mental health and music. Music makes for good mental health. Therefore, this website is filling up with music. You can find some of this music on YouTube, Spotify, Google Play, and other outlets. But you'll also find it all right here.

Discography

Each album or EP in the discography differs musically. But it's all electronic. And it's all improvisational. It's also experimental. But that is where the similarities end. Each has its own character. And each comes with its own mix of styles.  So, this makes it difficult to associate the collection as a whole with any particular genre.  Particularly, when the individual pieces defy simple classification.

And the music keeps evolving. It's yours to define. If you have a strong opinion about the genre of a specific piece, you can always drop a line in the comments section at the bottom of the post.

Communications

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Share what you like (or dislike) about the music and articles posted here. There's a comment form at the bottom of each article.

Bipolar Dimensions and CommunicationsContact Bipolar Dimensions

You can always send your questions and comments in an email using the Contact Form here.  I'd be delighted to hear from you and will respond accordingly.

Finally, bookmark http://bipolardimensions.com so you can come back for more great music as its produced. And, thanks for stopping by.

Tripdeion: A Journey through Space and Time

Tripdeion -- Cover art for the song on the album Unknown Planet by Bipolar DimensionsTripdeion is the first track of the new album Unknown Planet. It's a gentle exploration of space that introduces the ever-expanding universe of music to come. But it's just a beginning. One of many possible beginnings. An open door to the many faces of alternative reality. So, here's the music. You can read the rest of the page while listening.

Time

Everything happens in slow motion aboard our spacecraft, Tripdeion. Galaxies drift by as we sail faster than the speed of light through the cosmos. It's a journey to a future beyond the portals of time.

Space

The fabric of space bends around us as we travel through it. We left Earth in search of an unknown planet. But, we take with us our dreams. Each molecule of our being, becoming one with the dark matter around us.

The Making of Tripdeion

Firstly, I wanted a spacey feel to the music. This required creating gentle, relaxing sounds and forgoing any form of timekeeping. Abandoning a time signature and set tempo is rather easy for me. The creation of the sounds is another matter entirely. You see, I am not a natural synth nerd. So, building every sound is like pulling teeth.

Secondly, I wanted adventure. This is tough to do while toning down the piece at the same time. But I think I've accomplished something akin to a journey.

The mixing of this piece was pretty straightforward. If anything, it was about getting the soft tones to come through at a decent volume without loosing their gentle ambiance. I used the car-starting sound in the beginning as a baseline and worked from there.

In short, Unknown Planet seeks to move the mind. That is the journey. That is the destination. Tripdeion is just the first step into the unknown.

Sarkathian — The Space Beyond Space

Sarkathian is that space beyond the known Universe. Some call it an alternative Universe. Most certainly, it's existence is highly debated. So this piece of drone music attempts to grasp the mysteries of that space. It offers a glimpse into the order inherent in the chaos. It's a mindset of discovery. But also a journey into the unknown. Here's the music.

The Making of Sarkathian

This piece is the result of two improvised takes. Each with a different underlying sound,  arpeggiator pattern, and various parameter settings/changes. As such, the sequencer layers them in a way that creates a variety of different voices. Also, panning adds to the dimensionality of the piece. I composed and recorded it over the course of an afternoon and evening. But, the mix-down was a real challenge.

Sarkathian -- The reaches beyond outer space.

Journey to the Void

Galaxies drift by as we approach the edge of space. We've searched in vain for a new planet. But we're traveling faster than the speed of light. And we're running out of Universe. Perhaps the next will yield an inhabitable world. We used the last of Earth's rocket fuel to get here. Perhaps we should turn back. But what is there to turn back to? So, we push on.

Unknown Planet has many twist and turns. Sarkathian pulls us to the edge of space where we become a part of the the void's presence. Also, we take on its essence. Finally, we simply become it. There is only so much time to pause and wonder. It's life on the edge for crying out loud. Before you know it, it's over.

In conclusion, there is much to be explored beyond the edge of space and time. We just need a better form of transporting ourselves. I think what we need is a wormhole.

Wormhole — Another Mode of Travel

Wormhole -- Cover art for the third track of the album, Unknown PlanetTheoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler coined the term 'wormhole' in the year 1957. This is an experimental work composed in 2019. The two events seem lightyears apart. But, they both approach the unimaginable. Tripdeion is low on fuel. We need another mode of transportation. So we slip into a wormhole.

Anatomy of a Wormhole

This music takes the concept of 'droning' to another dimension.  For example, the composition stems from a single note played in two consecutive passes on the synthesizer along with a few gongs. As such, all the sounds in the piece stem from this one note (x2). The dramatic dynamics of the piece derive from parameter manipulations over time. The two passes represent the two mouths of a wormhole. The resulting sound fosters a bridge between space and time inside the mind. That's the idea anyway. Here's the music.

Outer/Inner Space Music

Unknown Planet is an album of music for your mind. So there is a lot of dynamic range between the different tracks. There are three completed tracks right now. So, it's an incomplete collection for the moment. This track is a drone, simply because of it's one-note origin. And there is a pulse (no matter how faint or distorted) throughout. The structured chaos and the ebb and flow of energy converge to transport the listener to a new frame of mind.

In Conclusion

Describing avant-garde music is difficult. So, that is for the experts. I enjoy creating music. This album is an adventure for me as well as you. It's a journey of discovery. And it's not finished yet. There will always be more to do but that's where the enjoyment comes from. I  hope you enjoyed your time here. It's been a honor to share my music with you.

Peace and blessings.

Richard

Course Corrections — Space Driving

Navigating the wormhole requires many course corrections.Tripedion is soaring into the wormhole. As it flies through trapped galaxies, the captain must make course corrections to avoid a catastrophic collision. It's a delicate task. But she is good at what she does. Meanwhile, the crew is busy monitoring the plasma reactor. There isn't much I can do but record it all. There are knobs and gauges everywhere. The drone of the engine mingles with the whirring and whistling of the circuitry. And the planets keep flying by.

Course Corrections -- The Music

Firstly, this is drone music. There are at least two drones vying for attention in the piece. Secondly, there is a spacy aspect which tugs and pulls at the drones. I recorded this in two improvised passes. The dynamic range caused all sorts of havoc in the mixdown process. So, it took about 20 takes to get an acceptable mix. Here's the result.

The Album Progresses

I've been piecing Unknown Planet together and posting as I create the tracks. There's a story here. But it may take a double album to complete it. We've navigated the wormhole deeper into the realm of Sarkathian. It's a foreign space. But a welcome destination. Our search continues for the perfect planet. So the music will mutate to reflect the next phase of that search. Stay tuned. There's more to come.

Dedication

Bipolar Dimensions was created to advocate on behalf of those who struggle with mental illness. I am one of those people. This album and my other album, Electric Rain are dedicated to my friends and family who have supported me during rough times. I don't know where I'd be without them. Also, I want to dedicate this album to the friends I know who suffer from mental illness. I wish them all the best. I hope my music can be an inspiration for others. It is what I have to give.

 

Emergence — New Dimensions

Tripdeion exits the wormhole battered yet still intact. But its emergence only marks the beginning of a new adventure. So, the search for our unknown planet continues. The plasma drive pulses. The craft gently navigates its way through the new space. And everyone brims with anticipation.

Emergence - New worlds abound in the space beyond the wormhole.Planets are everywhere. Nearby stars shimmer with promise. I make an entry in the log.

"New constellations -- Tripdeion intact -- Captain and crew optimistic -- Deep into Sarkathian -- No turning back."

The making of Emergence

Firstly, the music is two tracks: a spacy, chordal, pulsing drone, and a track of woodblocks. Secondly, these simple tracks rely on subtle manipulations of the sound to achieve movement. As such, it's a quiet divergence from the energetic music preceding it. So it requires a shift in attention. In short, here's the music.

Finding the Unknown planet

Our sensors detect an oxygenated planet. Finally, our search bears fruit. We enter into orbit and begin to scan for signs of life. There are rivers and oceans, mountains and plains. Wait, there are cities and roads. But no signs of life. The geography looks strangely familiar. It can't be! It can't be Earth! But it is.

So, where are all the people? A closer look reveals that the cities are overgrown and crumbling. Something has happened. And no one can explain how we got here after traveling across the Universe and entering another. Was the wormhole a loop? Above all, have we traveled into the future?

I wake up in a tangle of sheets and blankets. Tripdeion vanishes. The realm of Sarkathian collapses in my mind as I stare at the four walls of my bedroom. Finally, the dream has ended. I'm back where I started. My cat jumps up onto the bed. The phone rings and everything is fine.

 

Electronic Music — Cosmic Dragonfly

Here's the first track on the album, Electric Rain by Bipolar Dimensions. It's a lively introduction to this otherwise eclectic collection of electronic music aimed at illuminating the many different sides of mental disorder. Cosmic Dragonfly opens the set with a gentle but somewhat moody arrangement of strings and piano. They portray the lighter, yet still volatile, side of mania.

Listen on YouTube: Cosmic Dragonfly


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Electric Rain and Electronic Music Genres

Electronic music comes in many flavors. Each track on Electric Rain explores a new musical direction. I hesitate to classify each track by genre as some just don't fit any particular genre. Having said that, the music ventures from upbeat and dreamy to ambient and drone, from melody to dissonance, and harmony to noise.

I improvised each track on Electric Rain on a Korg Krome Music Workstation from January to May 2019. My apartment dining room in Evanston, Illinois is my studio. Each track represents one to two days of work. I then recorded it into a Digital Audio Workstation on my computer. From there I mixed and output it to an audio file.

This album represents a labor of love and it's been a long time coming. Seems that my studies of art and music in college some 30+ years ago turned into a worthwhile endeavor.  That and the toil for months in my apartment studio. I thank you all for coming along for the ride.

Finally, it's great to share my music with you and I'd like to make it available for free listening. Therefore, you can enjoy the video above as many times as you like.

Furthermore, if you're interested in reading about the album, you can find a full album description here. But most of all, enjoy!

Rem Sequence From Electric Rain

Electric Rain's second track, Rem Sequence, follows Cosmic Dragonfly with a short, pulsing venture into dream space. And because I like free music, here's the video.

Listen on YouTube: Rem Sequence

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A woman engaged in a Rem Sequence.

A Rem Sequence

Rem sleep isn't a mental disorder but it is an important product of the mind. In a manic phase, for example, it becomes impossible to sleep. As a result, dreaming is suspended. This can lead to psychosis or delusional thinking if left unchecked. Rem sleep is important. This track is about settling into our dreams. Even more so, it is about having the peace to dream.

Electric Rain is an eclectic album for sure. The tracks as a whole are not of a specific genre. This is eccentric. But, given the improvisational nature of the album, is also expected. This track, for example, differs greatly from its predecessor. Its moody overtones shift away from the energetic strains offered up in the first track. In short, its a different animal.

Recording Rem Sequence

I enjoy the process of fleshing out a song. I usually start with a basic "feel" in mind. Then, I start improvising. And it doesn't typically take too long to get into a groove. Each track adds dimension to the song. Probably, the first track offers the greatest challenge. I have to find the right sound. Then it comes down to setting up a tempo, a time signature and other aspects of the recording process. After recording the base track, I can really start to jam. I composed this song in an afternoon.

In conclusion, this song is about finding peace within our dreams. Good mental health starts with good sleep, good nutrition, and good exercise. They say that music is food for the soul. I hope this finds its way into your soul and brings you pleasant dreams.