Mike Wilson - Music

Music on this page that I have written is licensed under the Creative Commons by-nc license unless otherwise noted. If you use some of my work please credit me as "Michael J. Wilson" and, if format allows, include the title of the piece you used. Feel free to email me at mwilson@alumni.caltech.edu if you have any questions.

If you're looking for a place to start listening, for something "computer music" check out Let It Ride and for something more "standard" check out 6AM.

Done For Me Lately February 21, 2015 Duration: 3:35, Genre: Demoscene / Oldskool
This was my entry to the Combined Music Compo at Tokyo Demo Fest 2015, where it placed fourth. It was a lot of fun to write a demoscene song. The low end is unfortunately pretty muddy but I'm satisfied with how this one turned out. In order to maximize confusion I decided to use Wilsynth as my handle, so this is Wilsynth on the Micro Wilsynth (featuring Wilsynth). I used Muse2 as a MIDI sequencer.
  • Supplemental Files: .nfo
  • Licensing note: This piece was released at a demoparty, and thus may be freely posted to demo sites credited to my handle (Wilsynth). The above Creative Commons license also applies if you would like to use it in your own work, in which case you may credit it to either my handle or my real name.
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Robo City December 21, 2013 Duration: 1:38, Genre: Chiptune
This piece is basically a short love letter to the music of the Nintendo games I used to play as a child. In order to roughly replicate the capabilities of the NES I set up the Micro Wilsynth with two pulse wave channels and one triangle wave, and used my standard drums since they could theoretically be approximated with the noise and 1-bit PCM channels on the NES. The title is a nod to the MegaMan series of games whose music I greatly enjoy, although this piece doesn't necessarily follow in that style. The actual piece is only about 44 seconds long but it loops as if it were background music in a video game. I used Muse2 as a MIDI sequencer.
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It's OK February 3, 2013 Duration: 3:18, Genre: Synth Pop
This is the third live performance piece for the Micro Wilsynth. Its first performance was at CCRMA's Transitions 2012 concert on September 28, 2012. It is an amalgamation of a few themes, old and new, and was in some sense my way of saying "goodbye" to CCRMA. But it's not a sad piece; transitions are a natural part of life. It's OK! I re-performed and tweaked the lead line and used Muse2 as a MIDI sequencer.
  • YouTuber ccrmalite1 posted some video of me doing a rather poor job of performing this piece at Transitions 2012 here! In my defense, it was pretty cold and my sustain pedal reversed polarity.
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Efficiency August 23, 2012 Duration: 5:17, Genre: Synth Pop
This is the second piece I played at Modulations 2012, and the first complete piece I wrote using the Micro Wilsynth. This piece uses some repeating rhythms and a few chiptune-inspired gestures, and has a sufficiently charming and goofy solo section towards the end. The idea I had in mind while composing this piece was working diligently on something for a long time in the belief that it will have a short but sweet payoff. So, in a way, it is a metaphor for my entire Modulations experience. Like the Machine Triumphant recording below, I re-performed and tweaked the lead lines and used Rosegarden as a MIDI sequencer.
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Machine Triumphant August 23, 2012 Duration: 5:13, Genre: Progressive Rock / Synth Pop
This is the first piece I played at Modulations 2012, back on April 28, 2012. Besides a bit of vocals, the sound is all from the Micro Wilsynth - a software synthesizer I wrote myself. If the Wilsynth were a commercial synthesizer this would probably be Demo Song 1. It shows off various features of the synthesizer: virtual analog, FM and physical modeling synthesis, filter effects, nonlinear distortion, 16-channel FDN reverb, microphone input, etc. It was also a lot of fun to do. It was actually the second complete piece I wrote using the Wilsynth, but just felt better as an opener than Efficiency. This version has had the lead line re-performed and tweaked. Vocals were recorded in CCRMA studio E with the U 87. Rosegarden was used as a MIDI sequencer.
  • Remix by Chris Carlson here!
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6AM, Vocaloid Edition November 11, 2011 Duration: 4:03, Genre: Pop Rock
This is a remix of 6AM with vocals rendered using a Vocaloid database of my voice created during my internship at Yamaha Corporation. Vocaloid is software that uses samples from a human singer along with a sequence file to synthesize a singing voice. Recording for the database (dubed "Wilsoloid") was done at one of Yamaha's studios with my coworkers there. I made the database myself. There are some artifacts that could have been eliminated if I had more experience and time to work on the database. It was a lot of fun! I did the final mixdown in CCRMA's main studio control room with the same effects chain as the original 6AM.
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Lucidity June 9, 2011 Duration: 5:50, Genre: Synth and Piano
My 220c project, which premeired May 26, 2011. This is a live recording which was made on the CCRMA stage while it was empty, using a pair of AKG C414-XLS microphones in mid-side configuration. This is the longest piece I've written and I'm really happy with the way it came out. It uses freely-available open-source synthesizers and a MIDI-controlled acoustic player piano. You can read more about the piece here.
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All's Well That Ends Well June 3, 2011 Duration: 2:06, Genre: Jazz / Experimental
My 222 final project. I took ambisonic sine sweep response measurements using a Meyer speaker and soundfield microphone from the inside of a ten-foot long PVC pipe that was closed with a thin rigid plastic membrane on one side, and also from inside a large plastic trash can. I converted these to ambisonic impulse responses. I then recorded some flute, whizzy whistle, seed pod shakers, drumsticks, and one of the small CCRMA gongs in Studio E with the U 87 microphone (because hey, why not) and processed them with the impulse responses through jconvolver, a convolutional reverb program. Then I mixed this along with an ambisonics rotator plugin. This is ideally for use in the listening room, but since ambisonics can be converted down to any number of speakers (with varying degrees of accuracy) this is a stereo version produced from the same mix.
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All I Need (remix) March 14, 2011 Duration: 2:24, Genre: Dance / Remix
This is the remix of the below piece. All of the remixing was done in ChucK using the LiSa live sampling unit generator. I exported all the tracks from the non-remixed version. I did have to re-generate the drum machine track due to significant electrical noise in the original recording.
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All I Need March 8, 2011 Duration: 2:09, Genre: R&B
My 220b final project was to write an R&B love ballad and then remix it into a dance song using granular synthesis. This is the R&B love ballad part. The bass and sine wave instruments are from the FluidR3 soundfont, and the 808 drum machine sound is from the Vintage Dreams Waves v2 soundfont. Layered electric pianos and slow strings are from my YDP-223 digital piano. And vocals are from me, recorded on an SM58 in CCRMA's studio D.
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6AM March 7, 2011 Duration: 4:03, Genre: Pop Rock
This is my 192b final project. I used to have to put in a lot of late nights working on homework as a college undergrad. After one especially stressful evening, as I was decompressing in the courtyard my good friend Tina Hsu said something I thought was rather profound about working through the night: "It's like you think if you never close your eyes then the sun will never rise." A couple of years later I wrote this song, but never had a chance to record it because I didn't have the necessary skills or equipment. Fast forward to CCRMA, overflowing with skill and equipment. I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out. Recorded and mixed over several sessions in the CCRMA main recording studio and control room.
Hunter McCurry on bass
Mike Rotondo on drums and backing vocals
Chris Carlson on rhythm guitars and backing vocals
Elie El Noune on lead guitars and backing vocals
Michael J. Wilson on piano and lead vocals
Special thanks to Jay Kadis and Nick Kruge for mixing advice, Jonathan Abel for plugin selection advice, and to all my friends who suffered through long nights with me trying to achieve something great.
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These Hallowed Halls February 23, 2011 Duration: 3:01, Genre: Experimental
This was written for homework 3 of Music 220b. It uses probability arrays and carefully selected chords along with reverberated triangle waves and some vocal percussion. I then performed the piece by controlling two high-level parameters with a computer mouse. I feel like this piece is the biggest step I've taken in the direction of generative music, yet since I was controlling it as it played and also selected the chords and samples I think it still strongly reflects my musical style.
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Double Dog Dare February 9, 2011 Duration: 1:39, Genre: Experimental
This was written for homework 2 of Music 220b. It uses samples of my roommates' dogs and some comb filtering. No animals were harmed in the making of this piece.
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FM Forever! January 26, 2011 Duration: 1:41, Genre: Synth Pop
This piece was written for homework 1 of Music 220b. It uses several FM timbres that I wrote in ChucK. I made them controllable via MIDI and then made a piece that's pretty similar to the types of pieces I've made throughout my life. Depending on your taste, that could be a good thing or a bad thing :-)
Ge Wang, upon hearing this piece, commented: "It's like MegaMan went to a computer music concert."
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Digital Bridge v1.0 November 28, 2010 Duration: 1:38, Genre: Synth Pop
My final project for Music 220a. You can read a bit more about it here. It's a quadraphonic piece but this is a stereo mixdown made by summing the front and rear tracks on each side. You lose a bit of the spatial cues this way, but it still gets the point across. There was a lot more I wanted to do with these themes but I ran out of time so I'm calling this version 1.0. Maybe there will be an enhanced version sometime in the future!
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A Matter of Perspective November 11, 2010 Duration: 1:43, Genre: Radioplay
Ok, this isn't really a piece of music. This is a radioplay written for Music 220a homework 5. You can read more about the assignment here and more about what I did here. All of the samples were recorded by me with my trusty netbook, USB audio interface, and SM58. This is a binaural audio file, which means it will sound best when listened to with headphones.
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Seasonal Stomp November 2, 2010 Duration: 1:19, Genre: Experimental
This was written for Music 220a homework 4. The assignment was to sonify some data. Something unusual happened when I switched on and off the STK flute model at the sample rate; see what you think. The data being sonified is the mean annual temperature, winter negative temperature sum, and mean summer temperature from 1781-1988 in Munich-Reim from the time series data library. You can read more about the assignment here and more about what I did here. This is a binaural audio file, which means it will sound best when listened to with headphones.
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Stop Following Me! October 19, 2010 Duration: 0:55, Genre: Experimental
This was written for Music 220a homework 3. The assignment was to make an auditory illusion of some sort. I used the boilerplate code from the class for that, but I put a little "surprise" in the middle. You can read more about the assignment here and more about what I did here. This is a binaural audio file, which means it will sound best when listened to with headphones.
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Let It Ride October 11, 2010 Duration: 1:02, Genre: Synth Pop
This is a piece I composed in CCRMA Studio E for homework 2 of Music 256A, using Rosegarden 10 and a Karplus-Strong string model that I wrote in C++. You can read more about the assignment and piece here.
  • Remix by Chris Carlson here!
  • Remix by Sean Coffin here!
  • Acoustic violin cover by Hunter McCurry here!
  • My remix (produced by running the original through effects in ChucK): .mp3 .ogg
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