Saturday, December 20, 2014

Come to our show in Cleveland! Sunday 12-28 at the Happy Dog

Five Star Hotel, Juggable Offense, Sodalite, and Travelogue perform at Happy Dog on 12-28!!!  Don't miss this show!  (the other dates on this flyer is the mini tour that Juggable Offense and Five Star Hotel are performing)



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Akai S20

 
 
The Akai S20 was the first sampler that I had bought.  I had played with a myriad of samplers that belonged to various friends before this - some were even borrowed and in my studio for a time, but I never had owned a sampler of my own until I bought the S20. 
 
 
The S20 is a decent sounding 12 bit sampler with very limited sample editing capabilities.  There are no filters, envelopes, LFO's, etc, etc.  There is only start time, end time, loop  points, and various MIDI and button assignment functions.  I actually like how basic it is.  It keeps me from spending hours of time over-analyzing the sound...
 
During the late 90's when I used this a LOT, I mostly used it to sample analog sounds around the studio (mostly drum sounds) and then sequence these using my Ensoniq ESQ-1.  (the S20 does have a built in sequencer but it is only 1 track with no obvious quantization)
 
My unit has updated memory so it can store a whopping 5 minutes mono (yes!  count them... FIVE!!!) or 2.5 minutes in stereo.  This then could be stored in memory but was lost once power was off unless you backed this to disk.  The main drawback to this unit is it only uses floppy disks for memory. 
 
Though I have other samplers now ( like my sampling software on my computer or iPad, or like my Emulator 4XT), I still find myself using this sampler from time to time - mostly because of its portability and no-nonsense architecture.  Recently, I used it live at a show with my Arturia Minibrute.  It was MIDI'd to the Minibrute, then the output was ran into the external input of the Minibrute.  The memory of the S20 was loaded with various waveforms at different octaves - sometimes just a simple saw or analog waveform to thicken up the Minibrute, sometimes string sounds or sine waves at different octaves so I can add various overtones to the Minibrute.  This has brought a new purpose to this old piece of equipment. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Travelogue Performs at Happy Dog on October 4th



Golden Streets of Paradise
High Praise
Travelogue

All performing at Happy Dog on October 4th.

The Happy Dog - 5801 Detroit Ave, Cleveland, Ohio 44102

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Piano and Speech

I find myself often revisiting this video ever since I first saw it last year.  It is fascinating.  Instead of Fourier and sine waves or wavelet theory, a piano is used for the different additive components.  I am glad that they made the piano speak in English so I can be even more amazed at the intelligibility of the speech.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Relational Music

So... a couple conversations came up at Knobcon about writing songs:
 
I suppose that it is becoming more and more scarce that electronic musicians actually sing songs and have melodies, verse, chorus, etc.  It is sort of strange to me that it surprised other people who were previously unfamiliar with my music for me to actually be singing - but I guess that it makes sense because a lot of modern modular synthesizer artists are making impromptu dance music or experimental noise.
 
I like the idea of a song that can be covered on other instruments.  In order for this to happen, there has to be some components to the song that others can latch onto - whether this is a melody, chord progression, or structural latch.  I am not saying that without these elements, you don't have music or you don't have a song.  I am also not saying that other people should cover my songs.  I am simply saying that I try to write songs that have these components which make a song relational.  I like to make music that a person can remember a certain moment in the song or think about when they are not hearing it. 

Portativ Organs

So I have been obsessed with portative/portativ organs lately. I used to think that possibly modifying an accordion with pipes would be sufficient, but the pipes for more than a 2 octaves would end up being to bulky to be small and portable - most accordions are 3 octaves or more. The following is a video of a portativ organ, played beautifully in the perfect environment - a hall for reverberation.  This last weekend, I picked up 2 ranks of pipes to build 2 portativs that I had won in an auction - one out of 4' Tenor Celeste pipes and one out of 8' Flute pipes. Obviously, I will not be using the entire rank but only about 2 octaves. I will have to figure out a good way to make the bellows and action.
 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Arturia MiniBrute

The Arturia MiniBrute is a fantastic synthesizer and really stands up to a lot of vintage synths.  I must point out that it has been correctly stated that the mixer section was designed with a lot of headroom so if your levels are too high in this section, the sound can easily become distorted or unusable.  I tend to keep levels under 75% and often around 50% to avoid unwanted overdrive.
Before I bought one, I thought that the “metalizer” of the triangle wave would be one of the more useful and unique features about this synth.  For me, it turns out that adding more than a little of this effect (turning the knob past 30% or so) makes the sound way too bright and harsh in a bad way.  Though I like noise, the sound is more similar to nails on a chalkboard than grinding metal.
One of my favorite features, it turns out, is the sub oscillator.  This surprised me, because it seems like a rather mundane thing to be excited about.  The sub allows for 2 different waveforms (including sine), 1 or 2 octaves below.   It really sounds fantastic to add a sine wave 2 octaves below the square or saw.  The built in saw animator and pulse width modulation allows the ability to make this synth sound larger than a single oscillator synth.
The ability to control modulation with aftertouch is a huge bonus.  This makes it a great synth for leads or solos, but certainly is not limited to such things.  Since I got it, I have used it for bass, snare, various leads, and external filtering/processing. 
The only thing that I think could have made the MiniBrute even more useful would have been to allow each of the waveforms (and especially the sub) an option or switch to be mixed in before or after the filter, but before the “brute factor” pot.