One Trick Pony

A friend of mine once lamented that the Korg Wavestation was just a one trick pony synthesizer that, once you had exhausted that trick (and he argued it had been played out by 1997), that it was boring and useless and no one needed it. I disagreed with him. Having owned one, I thought it’s trick was making the user hate it via its absolutely awful user interface.  I posited that it had a lot of potential that just couldn’t be easily tapped with that editing interface, and that the reason no one had driven it much further than the classic presets was because its UI discouraged experimentation.  We came to a stalemate and changed the topic.  I could only be proven if someone decided to put a modern interface onto Korg-style wavetable synthesis and, at the time, that seemed very unlikely to happen.

That discussion took place on about 12 years ago, and for the last few years, Korg has had wave sequencing (similar but not exactly like) that which was in the Wavestation.  I think I can safely say that I was right and he was wrong.  It’s a dream programming wave sequences in the Kronos, with it’s large touch screen and responsive UI.  Is it perfect?  No.  It also lacks a few things the WaveStation had (you need to go into combination mode in order to do 4 way vector synthesis, btw).  To balance that, though, it has *tons* of stuff the original didn’t (dual resonant filters, and enough modulation sources and destinations to make use of it).  It’s also a full on sampler which means you can load your own custom wave forms to be wave sequenced.  That opens it *way* up.

I think if I could point out any gripes about it, they’d be the aforementioned 2 element limit without going into Combi mode,  I’m disappointed that wave sequences cannot be used with MOD7 or the other synthesizer models that let you use an internal sample.  Mod7 with wave sequencing would have taken the Kronos into legendary territory.  Korg seems bent on issuing a new and incrementally more powerful Kronos every year, so maybe we will see this in a future iteration (if so, I will definitely trade up).

So, Yay to wave sequencing in the Kronos.  It’s not a one trick pony of either kind.

 

 

Not a bad evening

Aside from an absolutely DISASTEROUS hockey game I watched, I spent some time in the studio. I started playing with something yesterday that is evolving in my mind as a long form ambient broadcast. Tentatively titled 'Lethologica', it's got a nice modular noodle with some beats and samples under it. I'd like to do some more sound design for it and load up the Octatrack before I record it. The hard part, as always, will be finding the time to do so. Maybe I need to take a Work From Home day Thursday…

 

 

Ye Olde Crap Pile

In my studio, I have a stack of keyboards and modules I affectionately call ‘The Crap Pile’.  These are instruments that I usually acquired on a bargain because someone needed space, needed money, or just wanted to move on to something else.  A few of them are deeply sentimental instruments that I don’t use much, but can’t bear to part with (Korg Prophecy, I’m looking you).

Currently, this rig consists of a Yamaha QY700 sequencer (drunk e-bay purchase), Ensoniq ESQ-1 (bargain with a dead battery), Ensoniq EPS16 Plus (bargain curiosity), EMU E6400 (pure sentimentality) and Kurzweil K2600Rs (because sometimes I need to Kurzweil).  There are also a few peaces that made their way there from the actively used pile such as my Korg EMX1, Korg Prophecy, Novation UltraNova and my Akai MPC1000.

Looking at that, it’s a pretty damn powerful, if largely antiquated rig.  A copy of reason could easily handle *everything* that rig can do and then some (Reason, after all, has a mixer and FX).

Still..I can’t part with it, and I regularly think about setting it up as it’s own Island of Misfit toys.  I’ve got enough space in here to keep it all setup.  All I’d really need is a MIDI through switch and a mixer and it would be a nice place to go when I want to play in a more limited sand box.

Limitations spawn creativity, they say.  I’ve always been more of one for exploration among excess.   A change of place wouldn’t hurt.   Maybe some real good will spawn out of it.

 

 

Getting my head in the game

Part of the reason, I think, that I haven’t been doing as much music writing is simply because my brain has been elsewhere.   I’ve also not been blogging so much, which really did help with getting me to finish my first album (Dust). 

To get myself back into thinking about music, therefore, I am going to begin blogging again.  I am not, however, going to be doing very long blog posts that go into great details about the process or philosophy of anything.  Mostly, I’m just going to keep a record of what I am thinking about as far as music goes and taking notes on some of my happy studio discoveries.  I’d like to try publishing at least a short piece ever day with soundclips appearing at least once a week (if it’s a music blog, it should have sounds!). 

I’d also like to find a good blog authoring tool.  I honestly just don’t like the online editor for WordPress.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.