The Mandelbrot Set: Let's Get Rolling!

edited June 2008 in JoCo Projects
(New thread for a new attempt at moving this forward.)

This thread is for discussion -- let's not say discussion. This thread is for progress on the longest-lasting, most inert forum project ever, the Jonathan Coulton Internet cover band, The Mandelbrot Set.

Previously, we decided that our first cover would be "Re Your Brains." Then everyone kinda stalled there waiting for someone to tell us what to do. So here's what to do:
  • If you're not a member of the Mandelbrot Set Google Group (, join!
  • Record yourself playing the entire track through in a normal way, suitable for accompaniment. Keep it fairly simple. Use the karaoke track, available from the Google Group, to guide you.
  • Then record yourself playing one verse and/or chorus "in a style of your choosing" (still using the karaoke track for guidance). Don't change the chords, but go ahead and get a little creative, if you can. Check out Borba and MaW's "Repent Your Brains" recording, also available from the Google Group, for an idea of what I mean. (And feel free to piggyback off of one another's recordings and ideas.)
  • (Vocalists may do the same, but don't sing the "All we want to do is eat your brains" lines of the chorus.)
  • If you're recording yourself on multiple instruments, e.g. guitar and voice, submit each as a different track.
  • Please leave a comment here to say you're planning to participate!
Let's try and get as many recordings in by June 30 as possible. (The earlier you get it in, though, the sooner other people can play with it!) We'll evaluate where we are at the start of July.

Okay, GO!


  • I still have not acquired a microphone. My budget won't allow it right now, so I may have to bow out this time and participate in some other cover project instead. (Yes, I could get a cheap mic just for this one project, but I would rather invest in one good mic so that I can use it for more recording in the future. Best use of limited resources and all that.)
  • I've applied to join the group.

    I play the electric guitar (still waiting to get an accoustic one) and bass guitar, and I sing. Unfortunately I only have a PC microphone, and so the quality isn't very good... But i'll try my best. :)

    (also I'm not good at recording/editing overall)
  • Colleen: Could you video-record your vocals? If you can get it on YouTube, even, we can pull the audio from there.
  • Hmmm. I'll see if I can borrow my friend's camera again. I'll know after this weekend.

    What software pulls the audio from video? I have Windows Movie Maker and Audacity. Will either of those do?
  • Itunes does it, that is the easiest piece of software that i know does it. All you have to do is put the video and another song in a playlist. Select both, right click on them and click convert to [your preferred audio codec] and it will do it simple as. However it will also convert the audio file so best to use your shortest audio file. I use a 3 second audio file i have in iTunes when i do it.
  • BryBry
    edited June 2008
    There's this webapp, which I've linked before in passing; that's the easiest process for files already on YouTube. For files that you've got on your computer, Ben's trick will work, I believe. Haven't played around with Windows Movie Maker, but there might be a solution there as well.

    ETA: I haven't tried this, but someone random suggests here:
    ...drag the video from the "Video" part of the timeline to the "Music" part of the Audio timeline. If you export your project as a movie, it will save as a wma file!
  • Thanks, Ben. I'm not so proficient with the iTunes, but I'll give it a whirl. And thank you, Mr. Bry. I'm sorry that you did web research for me. I thought someone might just know off the top of their head.
  • uh, you guys could just use
  • BryBry
    edited June 2008
    Uh, which would involve uploading to YouTube or a similar site and converting to FLV first, then processing it via webapp. (Uh, which is also no more powerful than the equivalent webapp I linked in my previous post.) The iTunes and Win Movie Maker solutions, on the other hand, could be run on Colleen's computer, saving her the trouble (and the bandwidth) of uploading an entire video.

    [To note for the future: One of my many pet peeves (I should start a Jon Who-style list) is corrections or explanations that begin with "uh" or "um," as though one is addressing the dimwitted. I tell myself I should not take pleasure when such corrections or explanations prove totally misguided or uninformed.]

    ETA: @Colleen: No need to apologize! Really wasn't much work -- just shuffled Google search terms around until I saw something promising. Has anyone ever tried MediaCoder (freeware, for Windows)? It appears to include functionality to extract audio in most formats from video in most formats, though again I haven't tried it. (mtgordon, you mentioned somewhere westa Woostah that you were extracting audio from YouTube files using some utility whose name I've forgotten -- is it Linux-only?)
  • Hee-hee! Windfall money = Handy Recorder H2.

    (I can use it for this project and also use it for my kids' chorus, recording rehearsals and practice files. :-D)
  • @Bry: One can theoretically save .flv files using a Firefox plugin such as DownloadHelper, and one can theoretically extract the audio track using ffmpeg, which is theoretically available (though dubiously legal, due to patent issues) under Linux, Windows, and OS X, but it's probably easiest to get it running under Linux. Bear in mind, in addition to the patent issues, this practice runs contrary to the YouTube terms of service, so if you actually do something like this, you're probably best off not saying that you've done it but rather saying that it's theoretically possible, if you know what I mean.
  • Two things I should've said in the first place:
    1. If you're planning to record on multiple different instruments, e.g. guitar and voice, submit each as a different track.
    2. Will everyone planning on recording something please post a comment here to say so?
  • I plan to submit a voice track. If I submit an acoustic guitar track, I'll be surprised, but we'll see what happens.
  • Voice track here.
  • I would be interested in participating, I don't know if I'll be able to translate my head-music into ear-music, but I'll try!
    Joining group... now!
  • edited June 2008
    Mate you've got a link to my stand alone verse chorus one through on the old thread. Can somebody pull the audio from that for me? I have no access to my mixer for awhile and early next week is my birthday and does not work. Other than that. did we decide if myself or whoever was mixing?


    And this is me performing Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution at a concert back in mid may. It just gives you an idea of my physiology and willingness to be completely insane. But since it is ACDC my vocal quality is crap.

    Sorry I can't link proper.
  • I want to recommend that we agree on a tempo and have everyone use a metronome of some sort. Combining any recording with erratic tempos may prove to be frustrating. The original is somewhere in the neighborhood of 78-82 BPM.
  • (I was thinking everyone would play along with the original, or at least the karaoke track.)
  • I'll *try* and do a better vocal recording than last time. We'll see what happens. I've not been happy at all with any of my attempts yet. Something about this song just doesn't suit me, I think.
  • Okay. New vocal track up. That's as good as I can do on this song. No really solid ideas for playing around with it as yet, so I'll leave that. Will consider a recorder part, I've got a few ideas there so will play around with it when I have time.

    I may, however, have to sit back and wait for a more suitable song. This one's a lot harder than it looks.
  • Currently laryngitic. :-(
  • edited June 2008
    @Mark: Oh, no! The curse of the Mandelbrot Set thread is back! I sure hope you're feeling better soon.
  • Eh, I'm doing a lot better than Sonia. She's barely gotten out of bed today.
  • Youch. One of my RP group's got appendicitis. What's going on this weekend?

    Keep that voice well-rested and mollycoddled, you hear?
  • edited June 2008
    w00t! The Handy Recorder H2 works wonderfully well, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a digital recorder.

    That being said, I have uploaded a bunch of vocal tracks to the Google Group - mostly raw files, but one with all of the vocal tracks mixed just to see what it sounds like. All of the raw tracks are really soft, since I had the mic gain on low to avoid picking up any ambient sounds in my apartment. I figure it can be normalized later as needed.

    ETA: I had to record the lead vocal track first thing in the morning, while I still had a low C. :-)
  • Excellent, perhaps tommorow I will upload the guide track. It's pretty devoid of emotion, but sounds good. Although, it will be axed later in production.

    Would everybody feel better if we agree on who is mixing?
  • You put me to shame Colleenky. That was beautiful!
  • edited June 2008
    Thanks, MaW! Probably too pretty. It needs to be zombied up a bit. ;-)

    Re: mixing (not your brains), 1) I am not skilled in this area, 2) I will be traveling a lot this summer, and 3) I have my fingers in too many pies already.
  • Mixing -- if anyone wants to volunteer, that'd be great. The idea that was floated about anyone being able to create his or her own "remix" of the song, with no canonical version (or multiple canonical versions), sounds kinda in the spirit of this whole collaborative thing, but, y'know, we need one person mixing before we can have multiple people mixing, anyway.

    (Actually, I like the idea of multiple mixers, since the other way seems to put a lot of pressure on The One.)
  • I can mix, at least what I consider mixing... (going into Cool Edit Pro, editing and making magic :D)

    I can also talk myself into the idea that I can sing... but I really have no clue for sure, and I'm too self conscious to record anything while people are home O.o
  • edited June 2008
    I can handle mixing mate. To make sure I can, slash test to make sure you guys are satisfied with me I will need one vocal track, wav. that is exactly in time with the original. Do that and I will slap together a tester. All of my mixing is done on a Foskek MR-8 mkII DMT. I recently upgraded my memory on it to over 400 minutes, so I'm reading totry it out.

    EDIT: [email protected] is the email you should send to.
  • On the Google Group is my vocal track that's as exactly in time with the original as I can manage. Not exactly in time with JoCo's original lead vocal, but with the karaoke version of the song, which is just the ordinary song without the lead vocal track.

    Not that I'm saying it's good enough to be our lead vocal (I don't think it is), but you can use it for your mixing demo.
  • (I have been struck by the curse of the Mandelbrot Set thread. For now, it's just a cough and a stuffy nose. I assume it will get worse. Who are these people who have mild colds? I'm not one of them. Oy.)
  • I've only just gotten around to listening to all the posted tracks. Wonderful! Thanks, everyone. (Colleen, it was fascinating hearing all those harmony tracks come together!)

    Can I hope for a couple more? Time to start badgering ukeists of my acquaintance, I fear...
  • I hope to do something over the weekend.
  • w00t! Ian uploaded a uke track and a banjo track. :-)
  • Sorry, I've been kind of busy lately - an inordinate amount of unpaid overtime, for one thing - but I love what you did Colleenky. Can't wait to check out the uke and banjo now!
  • Thanks, Borba! And a belated thanks to Bry as well. :-)
  • BryBry
    edited June 2008
    Sorry work's been so busy, Borba. Hope things clear up a little soon, and not just because I want a track out of you. ;)

    (Also, Borba, according to the Google Group, your e-mail seems to be bouncing.)

    ETA: I've theoretically ripped Jsten's track and added it to the group files.
  • Okay I am pissed now... It is not allowing me to listen to any of the tracks on the group, nor will it let me download them... If I am going to do the beta thingy we have to send them direct to email. [email protected]

    Also, thnanks to Bry for ripping my audio from youtube. Not sure if it works but it must for all you.
  • Jsten, I downloaded your track and tried to sync it up to the others, but to no avail. Were you playing along with the recording? Your tempo seems to be slower than the one karaoke track.
  • I had upload issues, so I ended up emailing my lead vocal contribution to Bry. I'm afraid I didn't really have a chance to do anything too creative. The move was officially completed yesterday; hopefully I'll have some leisure time again soon.
  • Let's try and get as many recordings in by June 30 as possible. (The earlier you get it in, though, the sooner other people can play with it!) We'll evaluate where we are at the start of July.
    All right, it's not yet the end of June 30, at least where I am, but lets go ahead and do this evaluating thing. I've heard from a few people saying they need just a little more time. Can everyone get it in by two weeks from today, July 14? How does that sound?
  • If you need me to do any other parts, I am available.

    Question: Who is attempting the solo and on what instrument?
  • BryBry
    edited July 2008
    Good question. I don't know. Hey, guys, anyone wanna do a solo? ;)
  • I'm always up for soloing, but if there's someone else who's got a burning desire to solo, I wouldn't want to take it away.
  • Dave, I think if one of us were burning with desire to do the solo, he or she would have done so by now. I may be wrong...
  • BryBry
    edited July 2008
    I don't know anything about this, and I'd appreciate the input of real musicians. Everything else might be able to be divided among people, but I'm going to assume that "solo" means "solo" -- that is, that only one person is going to be able to contribute the solo. So the rest of this post hangs on this assumption.

    This also depends, in part, on which method we choose for mixing -- if we have multiple canonical versions, then perhaps there'd be room for multiple solos.

    I'm going to encourage everyone who might want to solo to go ahead and record and submit it, WITH THE CAVEAT THAT the solo might not be used. So if you're going to submit a solo, set your ego aside, please. I'm serious -- this is supposed to be fun, not competitive. If this causes any sort of infighting or bad blood, be prepared for the executive mandate that the solo will consist of my crinkling a paper bag into a microphone for sixteen measures.
  • Arguably better than most of the solos would be :P
  • Only the ones from Song-Fu contestants.
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