Interview: Jean-Daniel Pauget
Jean-Daniel is the author of Groovit -
a drum machine/synth/sequencer with a
nifty ability to tweak some parameters
through a three pot box (which you'd
need to build yourself) connected to
the midi/joystick port.
He and some friends also have the 1'30
Club which has a website they put new
pieces of music up at once a month.
Recently Jean-Daniel talked to us by
email from Paris and Tel Aviv.
> Do you have any strong musical influences?
strong ? maybe my music background : doublebass player for more
than 10 year since the age of 14, classical player in a lot of bands,
not that much jazz. I was very surprised when I started to encounter
people who were listening and dancing to repetitive music several
years ago. it sounded exactly what I was tripping over with my atari-ST.
I could not imagine that this kind of music could become popular later !
for my own, I listen to anything that is "experimental", usually without
classical use of guitars or synths as violins.
> Ha, so I guess you were never impressed by Programatic classical
> music. Yes, I agree: a synth as a violin might be interesting as
> an academic, programming, or economic excercise but it's not too
> interesting musically. If it's a perfect violin sound, then it's
> a violin and if it's not perfect, it's something else again
> (which might be interesting!).
I mean I don't like cheap uninteresting sounds. if a violin synth
gets interesting, why not ?
> How long have you been using Linux as a music production tool?
Only since my own application has been finished enough : one year and
a half maybe ?
> What prompted you to do the code in a Linux environment instead of ...
> the others? Tell us a little about the features of Groovit.
using linux is natural to me, it's been my working environment since
I moved to network admin. when I started to write code with unices,
I discovered something much more stable than with windows, much more
powerfull also. to use free application is also a great deal for me,
having all those development tools so easily - also for documentation,
was a revolution to me. I can't stand using copied software (for a long
time, I could not buy softwares) you can't trust them, you can't have
support, you can't get in touch with those who wrote them.
Groovit features ? it's mainly something like a tracker with some
integrated filters. there are also some simple emulated analog voices.
It's getting modularized, but I need more time to work on
it. it's main quality: reliable. I prefer to fight bugs than adding
It's totally designed so that it's very quick to get some results.
main current limitations :
the sequencing part isn't complete, so nobody knows about it.
you still have to rebuild it in order to change some features.
for some people, it's not graphical enough.
> The three pot box is quite a nice add-on. What parameters does it control?
for instance they're stuck to the first dynamic filter control :
frequencies, resonance end decay for this filter.
inside the code everything is aimed so that they could be assigned
to any groovit control.
> Oh right, it's a little like an analogue synth with the pots and all.
> Can you do the assignments in user space, or do you need to hack the
> code to do that?
yes you have to be an insider, at the end you'll just click with the
right mouse button to assign to your favorite knob (you can already
try, it works assigning various controls to F1/2 F3/4 etc
> Do you have a particular method of working with groovit when you sit
> down to do something? Do you use other Linux tools in the process?
I usually sit in front of the machine with an idea like just a special
sound, a new sample, or some particular rythm I want to play with.
in a few minutes the idea is more or less realized, and usualy quite poor.
but things go on and with groovit it's almost natural to smoothly get
richer and richer sound on and on... at the end of the session we got
far from the first idea but the piece sounds interesting. I almost
never keep any track from those session, that's why we started the 1'30
site, in fact. also with this one minute and a half deal, I started to
use a sample editor : DAP, so that I can cut pieces to fit in 1'30,
but also to cut samples in recordings.
> Maybe you could take us through 'le bug'?
errr ? you mean explain everything ??
> heh heh, well maybe an outline of the process rather than
> a take by take. BTW, what sound card are you using?
"le bug" process :
I started building the complicated rythm patterns. they are very
numerous and it took me a long time. this is unsual for me to make
so much dry preparations before starting to really play with sounds.
so there it was, dry rythm, very speedy and complicated.
It was then pleasant to play ad-lib with those, you can stay a long
time going from pattern to patterns with these, and just playing a
little bit with filters upon it.
for the 1'30 release I just added an aerial background from the
begining to the end, also used filter with hi-pitch and resonance
quite high so that it almost whistles. for the finish it's a part
of malher's first symphony that sounded apocalyptic to me.
I also have a longer version with the same soprano voice that you
can hear in "much better now ?", this way almost the same soundtrack
really sounds like a commercial !
I'm not using any particular sound card. the sound card on my main
machine is a SB Pro II (old) on my laptop it's an ess, and on my girl
friend laptop it's the maestro II chip. all have their special sound,
I mean none have the same sound when you plug them to a good HiFi amp.
my main problem with soundcards is the outstanding difference when you
play some music with one of them, then you burn a cd with the same file
and listen with any HiFi CD player ! I still don't know how to solve
> Do you or other members of the 1'30 club perform live at all?
yes, three of them do, and a fourth one will in a few month. guess
what : none of them uses linux, but they all want to try. but they
allways say they don't have time !
> Any dates and places?
I must ask them, I'm sure they have have dates for june, may be also
> Have you used jMax from IRCAM at all? Any Linux audio tools
> you like in particular?
no, I should try. I need time to play with all that stuff. I must
also say that I do not agree with Ircam way of asking people using
their softwares to declare to them all their works or shows...
> jMax takes a little time for sure. I found the docs a little
> hard to find my way around.
the most promising to me is alsa project. aRts is also an exciting
project, but I still do not manage to use it reliably on my machine
> What tools do you use to get from groovit's output to the mp3s
> that are up at the 1'30 club?
"lame" is the best encoder I found. it is also internally used on the
web site to resample incoming mp3 from other contributors.
> A geographical question! - I'm curious if the Lyon Opera House is used for
> more than opera. I've only seen pictures of it but some
> of the spaces look ... spacey! Looks like you could have
> all sorts of interesting things there.
well, this place is itself a complete story. built a couple of years ago
with the old walls of the former opera, it's in fact a complete tool,
dedicated to produce operas and dance shows. inside, it's equivalent to
a 18 story building, from the bottom deep under ground level to the
red-lighted ceiling. inside you'll find from bottom to top;
a replica of the main scene for building the next opera, a small 500 seats
theater, the main room in a kind of giant iron-cast cauldron hanging to
giant iron pillar for silent convenience from outside. 1200 seats in an
italian style. This shape is perfect for operas but prevent any use
for, let's say, a global show. the shape is devoted to the scene, colours
also : inside everything is black, you can focus only to the scene...
upward you'll find a huge dance floor for ballet training, just under the
glass roof with a nice view.
for me it's an almost perfect tool, but completly aimed for operas. I've
seen very modern style operas there, with only coloured lights over
curtains as decorum: astounding !
> I don't know much about Lyon - like to give a short sketch?
hum, I don't live anymore in lyon (and no-one from 1'30 team does anymore)
it's the second biggest french city. in france it's very difficult for
anything to _exist_ if it's not in... ...Paris.
currently I'm trying to live half month in paris, then the other part of
month in tel-aviv.
> Do you mean exist in the context of arts-related things?
no, for everything. France is a very centralised country, anything outside
Paris has to fight to get consideration !
> I'm all for movement :) ...Do you aim to do that for personal reasons
> or is it part of a work thing?
you mean moving to those cities ? I go to tel-aviv because my girlfriend
is working there. I thought I could work easily there but in fact no.
That's why I'm currently working half-time in Paris. We've got a few
weeks to decide where we would stay.
> Thanks and enjoy Tel Aviv!
thank you !