Goodbye

Death is a strange thing.   You always know it’s coming, but you never know when or from where.   You just know it’s out there.  Because of this, you always think there is going to be more time.  You think of that trip you want to take and say “not now” or that thing you want to do and say “I’ll get to it”…or a memory of a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while goes through your head and you think “I should write them, see how their doing, when I have some time”.

Then you get the message.   They’re gone.  Without you even knowing about it, they took ill months ago and finally found peace a world away and half a day ago.  They’re gone, and there is no tomorrow, no getting to it, and that ‘now’ wil never come.

I met Gert through an oldschool online mailing lists called “The Music Bar” in about 1993 or 1994.  Maybe it was earlier or later than that..the mind goes fuzzy.  I found the Music Bar through the TechLab mailing lists, one of which was for the Yamaha SY85 Synthesizer, my first professional instrument.

What I found in the Music Bar profoundly affected my development both as a artist and as a person.  Here was a group of musicians who were literally from around the world, all engaged in some form of electronic music.  Many of them were older and had been producing music already for decades.  Some were as new as I was to this world.  Some newer.

One of those was Gert Van Santen (or as we called him, the Galactic Space Emperor).
Gert (pronounced ‘Hert’, I was told) was a gentle giant of a man, who’s simple purpose was to bring delight into the world.  And he was uniquely gifted at this purpose, his very presence radiating a positivity and, yes, delight that was simply infectius.   My only regret is that I only got to meet him in person once.

And now he’s gone, and the chance to bathe in that delightful presence gone with it.

I have no words to express this loss.

Don’t wait.  Get to it now.   Go on that trip.  Write that letter.   You don’t know when ‘too late’ will come.

 

What is a ‘NoiseTheorem’?

I’ve been thinking a lot about my artistic identity and the way I express that in my music.

Essentially, I have two modes of working, and the results are very different.

In one, I collect a bunch of sounds in a sampler or other device, figure out the range of parameters I want to play with in performance, and then press play and record and take it all in one pass.  I records direct to stereo, so it’s got to be right in that one pass.  This workflow tends to lead to very long pieces, some as long as 30 or 40 minutes which I then dutifully post to soundcloud with minimal editing work.

The second mode of working is inside a DAW (usually Live or Reason).  In that, I similarly work with my synths and software, creating assets that I then structure into a song.   This is done much more like traditinal composition, and the songs tend to be shorter with more defined verse/chorus types of structures.   I tend to write these here and there over long stretches of time with the hope of eventually collecting them into an album.  I spend a *lot* of time futzing with the structure and the mix.

For some reason, despite the fact my audience seems to be very happy with what I produce with the first, I feel compelled to torture myself through the second. I don’t know why…perhaps I think composition has to be a more *deliberate* act. Or maybe I’m just convinced something you work at like that is inherently worth more.

I am going to be all in honest here…I don’t like what I compose when I work the second way. I used to, but the tracks never come out sounding *right*. Somehow, even with all of their imperfections, the improvised tracks come out sounding more, well, me. They sound more NoiseTheorm.

So I am going to try going with method one for a while and see what happens. I’m also going to break down a few of the tracks for the new album that I’m not 100% pleased with into parts I can play with in the MPC and modular. Perhaps those tracks can be saved?

It’s weird…I never thought of myself as a ‘live’ musician. Maybe I was wrong about that? Maybe I just had to find my version of ‘live’.

Something to think about.

 

Epiphany / Choice Paralysis

I spend a lot of time focusing on what I’m missing in my studio and in my tracks.  I think that’s part of being an artist, actually.  As you’re working on a piece, it’s your job to figure out what should be there and what shouldn’t.

I also have a serious issue with choice paralysis, getting hung up on simple binary choices that come up with production of music.  Maybe one of the reasons I’m hung up on finding a collaborator is so I can offload some of that choice and responsibility to someone else?  If that’s not revealing of a self esteem issue, I don’t know what is..

Maybe, at some point though, this prevents me from calling anything finished?  Maybe I’m the only one who hears the missing pieces?   Maybe I’m caught up on the weaknesses and not hearing the strengths?

Perhaps I just need to put more out there and hope for the best.

These are all things I need to think about a lot more.  Or maybe I need to stop thinking and start doing.

What does it take to be in a band?

  1. A skill you bring to the group which the group does not already posses
  2. An opinion or ‘vision’ you want to see realized
  3. The patience to realize that vision collectively
  4. A van helps, particularly if you’re a drummer

Someone asked me this question, and that’s all I can come up with.  Add more in the comments.

 

I am a Cactus

img_4922
I’m sure there is a rational explaination for what happend to this cactus.  It probably has something to do with nuclear testing.

Because I am getting to the age where spending the entire winter in the midwest is akin to an annual prison sentence, I am in the lovely Phoenix, Arizona area this week.  After a few days, I am slightly amazed that people would bother to live with midwest winters when weather like this exists elsewhere.   Of course, I’ve never been here in summer, so there is that.   Also scorpions, tarantulas and rattle snakes….

..But moving on.

On the four hour flight here, I had nothing to do and, obviously, no music equipment with me.   It finally gave me the time to focus on using the iPad Pro I purchased to make music.  I’ve mainly been using it as a media consumption and note taking device, but that was definitely not it’s intended use.  Months ago, I’d had an epiphany with the workflow on my old iPad, but found myself stifled by its realtively weak processing power (It was pretty old).  My hope was that the new one with the pen could fix that.

I am glad to report that it has definitely done that!  I basically just do what I want on this one and don’t worry about it, having yet to push it into a crash yet.  I’ve mainly been working with Beatmaker 3 and Korg Gadget.

One thing that makes creating music on the iPad Pro so much more enjoyable than the old one has to be the pen (and I know Steve Jobs corpse twitches every time someone says that).  It allows me to make much more precise entries than my fat fingers alowed, and to draw very nice control curves.  Whilte it aggrevates my dysgraphia a little bit (google that for yourself), in an integrated environment like Gadget or Beatmaker, it just lets you fly around doing what needs to be done.   While I feel a little constrained working without a keyboard, I’m getting along better than I thought I would with just the pen.

It’s kind of nice having a servicable sketch-pad studio I can carry to the pool and play with on vacation.

Speaking of the pool, the hot tub is calling.

Modules for 2019

This post is more for me, just to keep track of modules I’m interested in for the next year.   One thing you may notice, is that I tend to go after modules that have been around a while already.  I don’t like to get caught up in the hype machine that seems to swirl around each product release, and prefer to wait till I’ve seen some videos of its operation in the wild before I purchase.

New Stuff

These modules are recent releases or ones that have not been released yet, but I am keeping tabs on.

Mutable Instruments
– Marbles
– Stages
– Frames

Hex Inverter
– Mindphaser Osciallator

Re-acquired

Stuff I had and I am sorry I let go.

Pittsburgh Modular
– Timetable

Malekko Heavy Industry
– Borg 1
– Borg 2

Upgrades

Pieces I have the prior version of.

Industrial Music Electronics
– Piston Honda MK III
– Hertz Donut MK III

Intellijel
– Rubicon V2

Mutable Instruments
– Tides V2

This is not a finished post.  It will be updated continually throught the year as new modules come out or I get stuff off the list.

Concept for a Eurorack sequencer

For all I know, this already exists.  This is also the first time I’ve written it down, so it may not even be possible and I haven’t realized why yet.  I just want to write it down before I forget it.

8 or 16 steps/stages.  For each stage:

1 slider/knob, one input jack, two output jacks. , one  switch, two toggles button.  With nothing plugged into the input jack, the slider/knob sets the output value
With a CV source plugged into the input, the knob/slider will attenuate the value of that CV at the output.  The switch has three positions – UNI, BI and S/H.  in UNI, the CV will go from 0~5v.  in bi, it goes -5 to +5 and will invert the CV coming in if it’s, say, and LFO when it goes negative.  When it’s in SH/mode…more on that later.
The next section is your standard sequencer controls – clock input, reset in/out, etc.  As the sequencer steps through, it will pass the output from the above sections to the output one at a time.  the SH of each input is triggered by the clock coming from the sequencer section, so it will sample/trigger in order.

oh, and the final output jack on each step

This seems like a cool / useful thing.

oh..the toggles.   The first toggle turns the step/stage on or off.  If the stage is off, the prior stage will continue to be present at the output until the next ‘on’ stage.   The second toggle works in S/H mode to determin if the trigger should cause a new sample to be taken or not (could be fun…sounds fun to me).

I have no idea how to build it, so I am doing so in reaktor 😀

Opinions?