Recording/Engineering/Editing & Programming
Though my professional focus is very much on orchestration, I have also spent a lot of time in the studio, whether recording and editing multi-track audio, or programming complex midi. My software of choice is Logic Pro, which I have now been using for over 12 years, though I have also worked in Pro Tools and Cubase/Nuendo. As part of my masters degree I also gained experience in multi-channel mixing for formats including 5.1/7.1 and 8 channel surround sound. Alongside my own studio based compositional work, I have also produced demos for pop/folk bands, portfolio recordings for Classical ensembles, live recordings for musicians at gigs, and recorded and mixed an album for Jazz group D.A.T.A. In 2013 I worked closely with composer-producer John Harle to programme and edit his Logic Pro sessions for the album "Tyburn Tree" in preparation for the final mixing and mastering, with the final product released on Sospiro Noir label in February 2014.
In addition to my scoring suite, I also maintain a small facility for live recordings in my own studio, with the ability to comfortably record up to four musicians in one space (with a beautiful hand made Yamaha YUS upright piano) with full stereo foldback for each player and individual monitor mixes. By no means a serious commercial facility, but great for a quick demo, overlaying the odd live instrument, or for group improvisation.
Field Recording & Audio Documentary
I have a keen side interest in field recording, and often keep my trusty Zoom H4N recorder at my side to capture sounds when I’m on the go, whether simply recording a soundscape or environmental noise, or sampling a particular sound for manipulation in the studio to use in a piece. I have also assisted sound recordist and sound designer Martin Kingston on audio recording field trips, where amongst other things I have helped to record coastal soundscapes in North Wales, and the sounds of the Greenwich foot tunnel and riverside, using his Sankem microphones and Marrantz recorder.
In 2011 I integrated my interest in field recording with composition and produced an audio documentary titled “Loud music and the listener”, which used a combination of interviews, recordings from live music events and environmental sounds to explore our relationship with loud music looking at how we value loud music as an experience, but must try to balance this against its potential effects. The piece is presented in the style of contrapuntal radio and can be heard below.
Interactive Music & Electronics
I have completed an advanced course in MaxMSP programming, a piece of software which is effectively the digital equivalent of being given a pile of transistors, processors, quartz movements, bits of wire and so on and using those to build pretty much whatever you can imagine – a synthesizer, an effects pedal, a whole new instrument or way of interacting with music. My most ambitious project involved creating what was effectively a light controlled instrument, where I fitted a blacked out room with a variety of light sensors (using an Arduino board) and gave anyone entering the room a torch to use. The way people in the room used their torches within that space allowed them to interact with the music that was being generated (the room also contained a surround sound system), and would change depending on light direction, intensity, speed of movement, colour, and so on. Of course I have also made a few more simple things, and MaxMSP is great if you want to create your own unique effects processor or something similar!
Sound Design and Studio Composition
I also have an interest in sound design and studio based composition, using studio technologies to create and manipulate sounds to create something new. In films, a classic example of this is deciding what sort of weird electronic sound that space ship is going to make when it lands, but sound design can encompass many things, for instance, creating a naturalistic yet completely immersive environmental soundtrack that adds another layer to a films narrative. You can also, of course, just treat sounds as if they are musical notes and create pieces with them. The piece below, "Dark Water" was created entirely from recordings of water!
All audio copyright Peter Riley except where noted otherwise.