Saturday, December 28, 2019

Darwin Grosse

I want to thank Darwin Grosse and the listener who referred me to him for having me on his podcast.

The interview was a load of fun and I guess I have a lot more to say than what a 50 minute time constraint allowed.

There is bonus material for those who are supporters of Darwin's efforts - which if you haven't checked out his podcast, you really should. 

In my interview - I was so caught up in the musical background side of things that I failed to mention anything about going to college and getting an electrical engineering degree.  The difference between my path and a lot of other engineering paths is that I actually thought that I WOULD go into synthesizer building with my background and knowledge of electronic music.   Every class that I took, I paid attention to ways that I could apply it to electronic music.  For example, when we studied FM transmission, I realized that the same theory applied to FM synthesis and paid close attention to the math involved with Bessel functions and how they relate to the spectrum in the frequency domain when you modulate a waveform by another.  The problem was that when I finally graduated, I had already decided to move from California to NE Ohio.  The move was because of a long distance relationship that had started a few years before.  When I got to Ohio, I started working in the musical instrument repair business and covered a small chain of 6 music stores for a couple of years with all of their repairs.  I not only learned how to build up my soldering and troubleshooting skills, but I also learned that musicians are notoriously broke and perhaps I would look for a job in another area.  

As luck would have it, or divine intervention (which seems more likely the case), I was referred to a job where I could use my engineering skills to help troubleshoot, build, design, and test all sorts of electronics for industries such as defense, medical, aerospace, commercial, and eventually got back into some audio as well.  I also really got involved with RF and antennas and have done consulting work with major companies involving some antenna designs in various applications.  

As I said in the interview, I work for a contract manufacturer, but one that also offers engineering design and some higher-end testing (antenna chamber, various test labs, etc).  When I get home to work on my own instruments, I fall away from the world of quantity manufacturing and just want to design and build something with my hands that is 1) going to do something that I can't already do, 2) be built to last and hopefully become a staple in my studio/equipment arsenal, and 3) often are based on concepts and research of things that I don't believe exist - not that there isn't anyone in this huge world that would be doing similar things, but regardless - my designs will still be unique by design because of all the hand work and hand assembly and figuring out-along-the-way that I do.  To me, it makes the things that I build that much more special.  

I would never, for instance, build another VCO or VCF in the traditional sense.  I believe that there are far too many of these available and fairly inexpensive to try and re-engineer.  I am more interested in building new ways to make sound.

Also, even though I like to use alternate controllers in my music or live shows, there must always be a sonic direct reason for using these devices.  As an example, I would never use drum pad triggers to trigger samples because I would get the same sound using a sequencer or keyboard, but I would use solenoid triggers to connect sequencers to acoustic drums so I can obtain new sonic textures-  simulating drum rolls by adding sample and hold to modulate a low frequency pulse wave trigger might be a good example of this.  It also makes products like Buchla's Lightning completely uninteresting to me, where the Seaboard Rise from Roli is very fascinating and useful.  Hopefully that makes sense.

anyway, be on the lookout for the published interview from Darwin Grosse.  

Thanks for reading this post.

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