Sunday, December 16, 2018

The Point Of Meetups

I get a chance to talk to a lot of people about synths, software, music gear, DAWs and other goodies. Most of this 'talk' actually happens virtually - via email, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. But I'm also blessed to now live in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota), and we have a great meetup that occurs now-and-again. This meetup (the Twin Cities Synth Meet) is a great time to check out other gear, but mostly too meet - or catch up with - musician friends both new and old.

For example, that picture above is with Logan Erickson, a great local figure in the synth scene, and a person I interviewed for my podcast long ago. He's become a friend, and brought his new Chang-model Serge system to give some hands-on time for the locals. I always look forward to the Synth Meet to crawl out of my basement and spend a little time chatting with him - and checking out whatever craziness he brings to bear.

But it's not always about old friend - sometimes you get to meet new people, too. Bill Henson had a killer modular rig that looked largely DIY-oriented, and got my mind spinning with options from places like Befaco and AI Synthesis. Beautiful stuff, and Bill was more than happy to fill me in on any questions I had.

Conversely, sometimes you get to help out someone as well. Max Otto was wondering about the Monome Grid and modular, so I made up a little system to do a show-and-tell. Turns out he brought his system, and it was rocking that Supercell module. Took a closer look, and am starting to fall in 'humina-humina'.

Does any of this happen if I just sit around the house? Not a chance. Man, I love meeting my synth friend in meat-space, and I'm making a strong suggestion that you do the same!


Monday, December 10, 2018

OP-1 Take a Left Turn

Well, now that it appears that Teenage Engineering won't be producing OP-1's anytime soon (and the OP-Z isn't the right kind of replacement), it's Crazy Time. Given the limited production and massive desire for this product, I guess this was going to happen.

I remember the land grab for TB-303's. It started with people loving the thing. Then it continued with people buying them up an flipping them as the Crazy Money started flying. My wife, Kristin, was in Japan at the time, and during a visit there I picked up a used 303 with the CV/Gate mods professionally done (Thanks Five G!). It was great fun - but then a good friend started bugging me about wanting to buy it, and he decided he was willing to thrown Crazy Money at it, and I decided to let 'er rip.

Since then, I've picked up a TT-303 (whose sequencer is a few generations better while properly retaining the original's charm) for about 20% of what I got for the TB-303, and had a nice time with it. But I didn't regret selling the original. Not sure why, but I didn't. I guess I don't like being a participant in Crazy Time - nor being a holder of the Crazy Thing. I wonder what that means for the future of my OP-1...

I know so many people that will never sell something once they buy it. Maybe I'm unsentimental, and maybe I should be more careful about hanging onto my instruments. But I don't know - I'm not into it when the collectors start making it rain: that's normally my signal to move along...


Friday, December 7, 2018

Oh Hell's Bells

I got slurped into something this evening that I really regret. Someone called me out in a lines community page, and I made the mistake of responding. Why did I go there?

It was all about how useless visual programming tools like Max and Pd are because they are hostile to Git. I suggested that, because of their nature, they might always be hostile to Git. Then I realized something: I could have used that time to try out the new LFO I just installed in my modular. Or done another sample-mapping run with the MPC. Or figured out another one of the synth engines of the OP-1.

Instead, I jumped into some discussion about Git. Is there anything in the world that could feel less creative to me than doing that? The answer is "no". I'm going to go set up a patch now.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

In Honor of Focus

I've been playing with this for a while (I took it to North Adams this week as my only hardware instrument), and decided to treat learning this machine like I learned my modular: pick a thing, learn it deeply, then pick the next thing. I started with the Cluster synth engine, then the Delay effect - and so on.

I've come to really respect the decisions that Teenage Engineering made - and stuck with. I'm sure that the temptation to make Shift-Click and triple-key combos was overwhelming, but once you learn a few things, you really can get up to speed quickly with other. Once I got the idea behind a couple of the synth engines, they all started making intuitive sense. I wish the LFO architecture was a little more flexible, but there is enough there to be super-creative (LFOs have the kind of constraint that push your creativity). I've got plenty more to learn - I've just started cracking the Sequences, and need to spend time on learning that Tape and Album systems, but I feel like I've got a great start.

Oh, and the color-to-screen mapping? Brilliant in a way very few other devices have been even close to matching.