Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Reverse Podcast...

So I generally am known for doing a podcast, so it's a little funny when I'm the subject of a podcast. I did a little evening improve with Terry Schubring, the developer of the Chromaris system, and a dude with some cool gear. After jamming with Terry and Paul Berglund for while, I sat down and did a bit of jabbering for his podcast - talking about everything from playing to Kurzweils to being super-cheap. A nice chat and an interesting evening...



Sunday, May 7, 2017

A New Bit (w/video)

I spent a little time this afternoon combining a recent FM/attractor modular piece with a low-res video process I'd done; I like the combo, and the modular patch continues my line of blippy, loopy mono synth pieces.



Friday, April 28, 2017

Modular On The Spot gets an LA nod!

(image from the laist:

My friend Bana Haffar shot me a not about getting some coverage of the Modular On The Spot performances by the LAist online news site?  It was one of the more thoughtful and interesting non-geek interviews and overviews of the MOTS performances, and seems to be from something that might, in some future time, become inspired to get into modulars too!

Read it, enjoy it - but get involved! We need more MOTS' in the world!


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Art Code Time

(self portrait, 2017)

Did something different last night - got out of the house! Whee! I went to an 'Art Code' meetup in the Cities (Twin Cities - Minneapolis/St. Paul for the WTF crew), reengaged with Processing a bit (which reminded me to touch base with Casey Reas for an interview), and hung out with "my people": art-tech folks.

Nothing much modular, but a fun time. If you want to have a blast, check out the GenerateMe github for some easy-to-use and easy-to-modify scripts for weirdo graphics!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Conference Tooling

(Note: I'll be doing an actual conference review for the Cycling '74 newsletter in a week or two; here's just some simple notes from the front...)

It is important to prepare for a music conference - especially one that will be dealing with modern (and especially computer-based) music. The main thing is to get yourself into the right frame of mind, and to have goals that you wish to achieve during your time there.

Goals like meeting great people, or being inspired to make new work, or catching up on your reading.

But it helps to have some grounding material. To that end, I provide you with two bits of reading that have always helped me:

1. David Zicarelli's Keynote for the 2001 ICMC Conference

If you know David, you'll understand the wry humor in full bloom in this speech. What you may not know is that he didn't give it - it was read by Richard Dudas in his place. And maybe rightly so, since it threw some tomatoes at some of the work being shown at ICMC. Nevertheless, it is a great think-piece about the place of all this stuff within the framework of what we actually need.

2. Bob Ostertag's Discussion about Computer Music Submissions to Ars Electronica

Referenced in David's piece is this discussion by Bob Ostertag, which is maybe even more pointed about the sameness and sheep-like herding toward a 'goal' that is rather vague and completely useless. Also a grim reminder of what it is like to be part of any 'competition' when it comes to music.



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Circuit Macro Normalization

I was exchanging some notes with my friend Mark Mosher about the Circuit, where I vented a little bit about the thing I dislike about the Novation Circuit: the eight knobs are 'Macro' knobs, and there is no consistency that I can discern from patch-to-patch on the synth voice presets. Since this is a completely software-hackable machine, I've been going through patches, reassigning the Macro knobs, and making it a lot more of my own machine.

So, in order to have consistency of use, you need to make decisions about the use of the knobs. I decided on 'families of control', meaning that each knob would be a control for a certain type of function. Here's what I'm using:

Row 1 (top):

Encoder 1: Oscillator modifier (detuning, waveshaping)
Encoder 2: Pitch modifier (portamento/glide, pitch LFO)
Encoder 3: Filter modifier (resonance, filter LFO, filter env amount)
Encoder 4: Output modifier (level LFO, chorus effect depth, phasor depth)

Row 2 (bottom):

Encoder 1: Envelope attacks (amp and filter)
Encoder 2: Envelope decays and releases (amp and filter)
Encoder 3: Filter Cutoff Frequency
Encoder 4: Level modifier (output mix, output level or sustain level)

In parentheses you see details and/or examples of the functions, and this breakdown helps me build some muscle memory in using the synth settings. Not that the bottom row is much more preset (envelopes and filter cutoff) than the top (modifiers in general), nevertheless, I test obsessively, and am finding this to consistently work well for me.

Macro knobs in general can be problematic; what do you do on your Circuit, Live Rack or other macro-filled devices to help you come to grips with their use?


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What's Shakin' at Berklee?

This is what's happening at Berklee! The above image is the 'standard' modular that is used in the B51 studio/classroom where I gave my Voltage Connect workshop, and where I also saw a performance by the Berklee Modular Ensemble. It was a great performance, and featured four people (one on each of these machines) sync'd together and putting out a beautiful bit of improv.

And who do you think is responsible for this?

Yup - my ol' friend Matthew Davidson! Dude is rockin' it at Berklee, and has really got a great group of students hard at work. You are gonna see some of these people in the near future...


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Did You Know About This?

And how did you not tell me? This is a gorgeous way to spend $90 if you ask me. Groan (says the guy that wasn't going to spend money on modules this month...).


Monday, February 27, 2017

Calling In The Adjunct

So the time has finally come for me to set up a 'business' modular; one that can hold the modules that I need for my Cycling show-and-tell visits, and one that will be easy to ship to my coworkers if/when they need to do the their presentations. I ended up going with a Structure 96, mainly because it is about the right size for almost anything, but partly because it is a limited thing that will force the creation of a very basic system (and one that is focused on Max-integration).

To start with, it'll have the ES-8 and a Monome Teletype; eventually, it'll have a little analog voice and probably something like a Maths. It'll be useful to show having both audio/CV in and out running to the computer; this will mean that I could (for example) control my reverb mix using one of the static voltage channels of the Maths.

The case should be here on Wednesday; I'll be able to kick the tires a bit at that time. It'll most likely make its debut at the Voltage Connect conference at Berklee (March 10 & 11). If you are there, look me up!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Plink, Bling, Blong...

For some reason, I woke up at 3am this morning. What does one do at that early hours? Answer #1: play some Kingdom Rush. Answer #2: Work on patch editors for the Novation Circuit.

I'd used the Isotonik editor a couple of times and was OK with it, but I thought I'd like the visceral nature of an iPad-based editor. So I went and re-uploaded the Lemur setup (Lemur iPad app, Lemur editor and wedgie thing), then got the two variations of the Circuit editor that was in the User Library.

After grinding around with it for a while, I finally got each one working. That's when the troubles began. First of all, I have an iPad Mini, so what might be a normal interface for regular people doesn't at all fit me and my Trans-Atlantic Cable Fingers. Secondly, and they don't tell you ahead of time, there isn't any way to save your work on these editors! There's no way to save a patch on the Circuit itself, and you can't do it through the Lemur editor, either. Grumble, grumble.

I thought maybe something might be available via TouchOSC, but the only thing there was an editor made by Novation themselves, and all it shows is the macros for the four voices. Less helpful than no editor at all!

So, I went back to the Isotonik editor with hat in hand, begging forgiveness and working on my distorted sine polysynth that is my current obsession. Got it the way I wanted to, went to upload it to the Circuit, and - ZING! - all of the macros are zeroed out before the patch is sent. I fixed 'em up, and 'smartly' saved the patch to disk - which also zeroed out the macros! Reload the patch, only to see that the patch was saved with zeroed macros, too!!!

One last try: the Max For Live version of the editor. And you know what? Works perfectly. So now, I have a Live patch (named, of course, CircuitEditorShitholeDammit) that I can use for my editing. Oh, and my sinewave patch? Beauty, baby. Lost an hour (between 7am and 8am) listening to a 3.9375 bar loop (3-and-15/16ths...) endlessly over a 2 bar percussion loop. Bliss.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

As we say in the Midwest: "Aw Geez"

So, a bunch of people that I respect have been using this thing, and I needed something to write about for an upcoming newsletter article, so I Novation'd.

I'd been reading about, YouTubing around and generally obsessing about this since I saw that John Keston was using one, and decided that it was worth a go. Came in yesterday's mail, and I had all the right batteries lined up ready to work (although it came with Alkalines, I'm a dedicated rechargeable battery user...), so I spent some time playing last night.

And this afternoon. And I'll spend more time with it tonight. It's a ton of fun, it checks most of the Fun Boxes (the main one unchecked is the 'live sampling/looping' box, but <shrug>), and it both consumes and produces MIDI, so I should be able to integrate it with Ye Olde Modular. It actually looks like a decent sequencer for the modular - along with something like the Keystep as a front-end for it - and the addition of user-loadable samples means that I can also develop modular drum samples to be used next to my actual modular.

How fun is that?

Stay tuned for more. At the very least, this is going to be the perfect distraction while I'm waiting endlessly for my MPC Live to show up...


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sharing is Caring...

Argh - this guy (Andy Pidcock) is doing what I'd like to do, but with the foresight of actually doing it, and the simplicity of a Maths-driven system to boot. Enjoy a minimalist system doing The Right Thing...



We are hearing a lot about Alt-Right, Alt-Left, Alt-Truth and all kinds of crap. I thought I'd provide something that I think is pretty cool: Alt-Modular.

My friend Mark Mosher has been able to successfully avoid modular hardware to this point. But he is a little bit into Aalto, and now that he has a Surface Pro, it's become a little more 'real' to him. I often wonder what would be the best in-an-airplane patchable system; I think that Mark might be onto something here...


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Paging all Expert Sleepers...

Icaro Farre has just updated CV Toolkit, and it is a doozy. Version 2.6 has a feature I begged for in my Cycling newsletter review: input handling. Now, your CV inputs (from an ES-8 or ES-6) can be used as modulation sources within CV Toolkit, and you really have round-trip, fully-hybrid computer/modular interaction.

It's amazing to see things that I'd dreamed of decades ago coming together before my eyes. Makes me wanna cry or something. But instead I'm just going to be jammin' with the modular!


Sunday, January 29, 2017

MPC Live - Some Actual Answers...

In my upcoming Cycling '74 newsletter article, I bemoan the fact that Akai wouldn't let me in their booth to check out the MPC Live and MPC X. Bummer. That's the kind of crap that I'd...

Aw, nevermind. and JK Swopes have done the best job of cornering Akai (via Andy Mac) and getting some real world questions answered. They did some videos in the noisy Akai booth area; the result is some useful information for those of us that are waiting (patiently) for the hardware release.

Here are the links to the videos in a row - an order that YouTube doesn't want to seem to provide!


Frankly, I'm looking forward to the MPC Live showing up, even though I feel a little yucky supporting the company at the moment...


Monday, January 16, 2017

A Simple MFL-ES8 interface

So, if you read my latest Cycling '74 review, you'll know I'm pretty knocked out by the Expert Sleepers' ES-8 interface. Of course, I had to start coding for it as soon as possible. While I'm doing all sorts of stuff within Max (as described in the article), I'm also using it as my modular interface from Ableton Live.

So, rather than just keep it to myself, I quickly slapped together a Max for Live device that uses the same technique as in the article, but also provides a 'mono mode' to properly handle note allocation within a monophonic modular context. The result is the simplest direct CV way to interface a modular to Live (i.e., no MIDI-to-CV devices, no scaling or calibration hassles).

You can get this device from my github repo:

I did three tracks with this over the weekend, including part of the theme music for the weekend's podcast (with Joshua Eustis of Telefon Tel Aviv). Completely solid, man!


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Spilling my ES-8 Beans

Man, I've wanted to talk about this here!

I got an Expert Sleepers' ES-8, and just wrote up a long-ish review on it for the Cycling '74 newsletter. tl;dr is 'I love it, and you can't wrest it out of my hands!'

You can read the review here:

I also got a chance to do a bit of a review on SpektroAudio's CV Toolkit, which is a pretty perfect pairing with this device. Loving the hell out of it, and am anxious for future versions where audio input will also be included (meaning that I can pull 'CV' back into the package for even more mayhem).

So, right now, I'm lovin' life!