Recently in Music Category

Ho Li Crap - Country Roads

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Just heard a wonderful mashup of Country Roads (John Denver's big hit) performed by 30 top country artists:

Well crap - RIP Gregg Allman

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From Billboard:

Gregg Allman, Soulful Trailblazer of Southern Rock, Dies at 69
Gregg Allman, the soulful singer-songwriter and rock n' blues pioneer who founded The Allman Brothers Band with his late brother, Duane, and composed such classics as "Midnight Rider," "Melissa" and the epic concert jam "Whipping Post," has died at age 69, Billboard has learned. He was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 1999 and underwent a liver transplant in 2010.

He "passed away peacefully at his home in Savannah, Georgia," according to a statement on Gregg Allman's official website, noting that the family planned to release a statement soon. "Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years. During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times."

Gregg’s longtime manager and close friend Michael Lehman said, “I have lost a dear friend and the world has lost a brilliant pioneer in music. He was a kind and gentle soul with the best laugh I ever heard. His love for his family and bandmates was passionate as was the love he had for his extraordinary fans. Gregg was an incredible partner and an even better friend. We will all miss him.”

His website is unreachable - probably swamped with traffic. Try here in a few days: Gregg Allman

500 years ago, Leonardo da Vinci sketched out the design for a piano-like instrument but instead of plucking (harpsichord) or striking (piano) the strings, they are pressed into contact with rotating wheels covered in rosin and horsehair creating a bowed string sound. Polish musician and instrument builder Sławomir Zubrzycki spent three years and 5,000 hours building one. It sounds gorgeous:

Sławomir has a Youtube channel with this instrument and others. ClassicFM did a nice write-up on this instrument last September.

I love ambient music* and it seems that it is becoming popular again. From the New York Post:

Is this the most chill music festival ever?
Songs that drone on and on aren’t always a bad thing.

Music lovers are increasingly gravitating toward ambient music — the atmospheric and often repetitive niche genre favored by audio nerds — and attending concerts that go on for many hours.

Adventurous New Yorker concertgoers had the choice of two marathon-length concerts last weekend for tuning in and dropping out: a 10-hour ambient music show in Bushwick, and an even more demanding 24-hour drone-music event held in a reclaimed factory in Hudson, NY.

At 24-Hour Drone, about 300 people camped out on a concrete floor to listen to a full day’s worth of music from nearly 30 performers as varied as Sonic Youth co-founder Lee Ranaldo to the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Choir, which sang Tibetan Buddhist chants.

A bit more - from the organizer of the 24-hour drone event:

“There’s some sort of a 21st-century New Age phenomena going on where the world is burning and politics are f–king evil and people need peace,” Melissa Auf der Maur, co-founder of Basilica Hudson, which put on the 24-Hour Drone event, tells The Post.

“The power of sound to bring frequencies inside and out together is hands down our most ancient force of connectivity,” adds Auf der Maur, who formerly played bass in the rock bands Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins.

While it won’t ever be as popular as, say, Beyoncé, there’s growing interest in the genre.

In January, the amount of ambient music streamed on Spotify reached an all-time high — about 60 percent higher than it was two years ago, according to the company.

* I love a lot of other kinds of music as well - current playlist in the truck is mostly Alan Parsons, Moby, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Traffic, Enya, Dervish.

Look Around You - Little Mouse

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Behold the computational power of Harrington 1200 Songwriting Computer system:

Well crap - RIP Alan Holdsworth

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From Team Rock:

Allan Holdsworth Dead At 70
Allan Holdsworth, the groundbreaking British guitarist, has died unexpectedly, aged 70.

The news was broken by his daughter's Louise on her Facebook page earlier this evening. In a short statement she said: "It is with heavy hearts that we notify everyone of the passing of our beloved father. We would appreciate privacy and time while we grieve the loss of our dad, grandad, friend and musical genius. We will update close friends and family when service arrangements have been made and will notify the public of an open memorial service, which all would be welcome. We are undeniably still in shock with his unexpected death and cannot begin to put into words the overwhelming sadness we are experiencing. He is missed tremendously. Louise, Sam, Emily & Rori."

A major musician - there is a dark shadow on the land tonight.

Crap - RIP Ikutaro Kakehashi

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From Synthtopia:

Roland Founder Ikutaro Kakehashi Has Died
Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehashi has died at the age of 87.

There hasn’t been an official announcement from Roland on this yet, but there have been several reports of Kakehashi’s death from musicians that have worked with him.

Tommy Snyder, who has worked with Roland on R&D of its electronic drum and percussion products, shared this message via Facebook:

Ikutaro Kakehashi, founder of Roland, father of the TR-909,TR-808, Godfather of MIDI, and someone who I have collaborated with for 38 years, and also considered him as my 2nd father, passed away at the age of 87.

He was a super funny, wonderful and gifted human being, and his contributions to the musical instrument world , and music, touched millions of people worldwide.

RIP dear Taro..

Ikutaro Kakehashi was an engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Roland Corporation.

Under his leadership, Roland introduced many of the most iconic gear in electronic music, including:

    • The System 700 modular synthesizer;
    • The TB-303 bassline synthesizer;
    • The TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines; and
    • The Jupiter-8 & D-50 synthesizers.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, because Kakehashi led the company successfully for over four decades.

An amazing engineer and designer. He was innovating right up to the end.

Building a sound studio

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Excellent two-part article on building a personal sound studio. I am involved in a very similar project although much smaller in scope than Ed's - still, Ed posts lots of links to theory, materials for acoustic treatment and some great references.

Building a Dedicated Music Project Studio Control Room and Isolation Booth, Part One

Building a Dedicated Music Project Studio Control Room and Isolation Booth, Part Two of Two

The new Festival Wynd pedal

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I am a member of a facebook group for music modifying pedals - fuzz boxes, phasers, wah-wah, etc... Design and Construction. Someone posted about this one - looks great except for that little switch on the far right:

Actually a real product from these people: DEIODE Home-Fried Effects

Well crap - RIP Chuck Berry

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From Billboard:

Chuck Berry, a Founding Father of Rock 'n' Roll, Dies at 90
Chuck Berry, the singer, songwriter and guitar great who practically defined rock music with his impeccably twangy hits “Maybellene,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Memphis,” “My Ding-a-Ling” and “Sweet Little Sixteen,” has died. He was 90.

The singer/songwriter, whose classic “Johnny B. Goode” was chosen by Carl Sagan to be included on the golden record of Earth Sounds and Music launched with Voyager in 1977, died Saturday afternoon, St. Charles County Police Department confirmed. The cause of death was not revealed.

During his 60-plus years in show business, Berry in 1986 became one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He entered The Blues Foundation’s Blues Hall of Fame in ’85 and that year also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

A bit more:

Muddy Waters, Berry’s idol and musical influence, gave him some constructive backstage advice: contact Leonard Chess. Chicago-based Chess Records, primarily a blues label run by Polish brothers Leonard and Phil Chess, had a series of transplanted blues artists on its roster, including Howlin’ Wolf, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker.

The Chess brothers signed Berry in 1955 and produced and released his first single, “Maybellene,” an adaption of the Bob Wills song “Ida Red.” It sold more than a million copies, reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B charts and hit No. 5 on the Pop charts, allowing Berry to build crossover appeal beyond the R&B audience.

“Maybellene” blended hillbilly licks and high-spirited blues riffs, ultimately creating the signature sound that pioneered the rock revolution. The lyrics for the song had narrative swagger, reflecting the spirit of teenage angst depicting fast cars, drag races and the story of an unfaithful girl as its main themes.

He explained his appeal to adolescents across different cultural backgrounds: “Everything I wrote about wasn’t about me but [was about] the people listening.” He had a way of identifying what people wanted to express, but weren’t able to, during this segregated time.

The Heavenly Choir just got the blues!

Following up on their Deep Mind and their MiniMoog clone, Behringer is announcing two more synthesizer clones. From Ask Audio:

Behringer Reveals ARP 2600 And OSCar Synth Clones
If Behringer's Deepmind 12 and the upcoming $400 desktop version of the desirable Minimoog Model D synths already got you excited, then you're going to need to sit down before reading on...

Uli Behringer has revealed that there are indeed more synths on the way. He states that they will "be creating both innovative new synths as well as reviving classics." It appears they certainly have the manpower and desire: Behringer currently "have 4 synthesizer development teams simultaneously working on 20 synths". So it seems we're in the midst of a giant shake up in the industry right now. This may well be the great democratisation of hardware synths in process. Especially when you consider a Minimoog clone for $400 as opposed to Moog Music's Minimoog Model D that retails for in excess of $3,700!

So what's next on the list? Uli, on Gearslutz, has confirmed they are interested in the ARP 2600 (this has been one synth much requested from Korg since they re-issued the ARP Odyssey) and the OSCar. Here's what Uli says:

"Aside from the Oscar synth, I can confirm that the 2600 is high on our priority list as it is a truly remarkable synth; I always wanted one for myself:-)

"We are currently trying to acquire an original unit for benchmark purposes. We hope we will be able to show you a first design draft within the next few weeks, while we're studying the circuit diagrams to provide you with an estimated retail price. Once ready we will reach out to you to see if there is enough interest."

Wonderful news - these synthesizers were the first relatively inexpensive performance-oriented machines to hit the market - they defined the sound of an era. The remaining examples of these are so rare that their prices are above most people's budget. To have faithful clones for a couple hundred bucks opens up a whole new market.

Cool news on the synthesizer world

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Behringer is known for cheaply made but very good sounding audio devices - mixers, signal processors, PA systems, etc... Not something you would want to take on the road every day for a tour but perfectly suited for life in a home studio. I have several of their processors and love them. Their website is here: Behringer

Today, from the GearSlutz forum:

This is a first draft of our "D" Synth with a proposed feature set below.

Our goal is to design in a Poly Chain feature that allows combining up to 16 synths through Midi.

Depending on the feedback we will then decide if we move further and build a first prototype.

Our targeted retail price is around US$ 400.

Analog Synthesizer with 3 VCOs, 24 dB Ladder Filter, LFO, 16-Voice Poly Chain and Eurorack Format

1. Analog synthesizer with triple VCO design
2. Reproduction of original “D Type” with matched transistors and JFETs
3. 0.1% Thin Film resistors and Polyphenyline Sulphide capacitors for frequency stability
4. Analog signal path based on authentic VCO, VCF and VCA designs
5. 5 variable oscillator shapes with pulse width variation
6. Classic 24 dB ladder filter with resonance
7. Fully analog triangle/square wave LFO
8. Switchable low/high pass filter mode
9. 16-voice Midi Poly Chain allows combining multiple synthesizers for up to 16-voice polyphony
10. Overdrive circuit
11. Noise generator
12. Complete Eurorack solution – main module can be transferred to a standard Eurorack case
13. 46 controls for real-time access of all important parameters
14. External audio input for processing external sound sources
15. Low and high level outputs
16. Comprehensive MIDI implementation with MIDI channel and Voice Priority selection
17. 3-Year Warranty Program

This is a true clone of the seminal Moog Minimoog synthesizer. This was the classic performance synthesizer for many many years and is still a highly sought-after collectible - these (if you can find one in good shape) routinely sell for around $3K and are worth every penny. Now that the patents have all expired, to be able to buy a clone for $400 is world-changing. That Behringer is using modern components means that the output will stay in tune and will not have the persistent hissing noise that the original Moog synthesizers were prone to.

Very cool!

Shutting it down for the night

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Two tunes though - been on a real Joe Bonamassa kick recently:

And these folks from Mongolia - masters of overtone singing (really hard to do - I have tried!) - Altai:

Tip of the hat to Irons in the Fire for the link to the last one.

UPDATE at the bottom - the dress' designer

From The Hollywood Reporter:

GRAMMY AWARDS: A PRO-TRUMP STATEMENT ON THE RED CARPET
Scandalous dresses on the Grammys red carpet aren’t what they used to be. It wasn't deep cleavage or a thigh-high leg slit that had tongues wagging about singer Joyce Villa on Sunday night. It was her red, white and blue gown emblazoned with “Make America Great Again” in front, and “Trump” across the train.

It’s a controversial statement coming from an artist in an industry that’s largely in opposition to the new president’s social policies, not to mention from a woman who identifies as bi-racial.

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Nice music and great voice - Vagabonds:

Her YouTube channel is here: Joy Villa 
Her website here: Joy Villa

UPDATE - from Gateway Pundit:

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Designer Of Make America Great Again Dress Is A PRO-TRUMP IMMIGRANT
On Sunday night Joy Villa stunned the world when she showed up to the Grammy’s wearing a Make America Great Again dress.

The Gateway Pundit was contacted by Andre Soriano, the man who designed the dress, for an exclusive interview.

Andre Soriano immigrated from the Philippines to the United States when he was only 16 years old to pursue a better life and to pursue his dreams of working in the fashion industry. Andre now owns his own highly successful business named Andre Soriano based out of California.

And not to belabor the point, that would be LEGAL immigrant.

Why God gave us necks

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I am in the process of rewiring my music synthesizer setup and found a great place for cheap Chinese-made audio cables. (Monoprice) I need close to a hundred of them and it would take me 15 minutes to prep and wire each one plus the connectors are about $4 per pair. I can buy these cables pre-made from Monoprice - a USA -based company who deals with Chinese manufacturers - and I pay just under $4 each. I did a small order a few weeks ago and was impressed by the quality. Today, I spent some time unbagging a much larger order.

Why did God give us necks?

As a place to hang patch cords of course.

Any synthesist will know that.

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Well crap - 2017 has its agenda too

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Two losses in the music world:

Poured over my copies of Keyboard when they hit the newsstand. They were the go-to place for reading about new music/performers/equipment/software.

Here is a 31 minute documentary about William - fun music and a true pioneer:

Audio Cables

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I do electronic music and one bane of this hobby is that you never have enough patch cords. You are always trying to link something to something else and having to unplug another module to free up a spare cable.

On an EM email list, Monoprice was mentioned as having good stuff at a reasonable price. I second that - just recieved 50 patch cords of various length today and they seem really well made - gold plated connectors, braided fabric covers and generous heat shrink to secure the plugs. Planning a studio re-wiring job in the next two months and will be buying from them instead of making my own - they are that cheap and that good.

A musical in-joke

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20170112-blame.jpg

2016 strikes again - George Michael

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From The Beeb:

Ex-Wham! singer George Michael dies
The star, who launched his career with Wham! in the 1980s and later continued his success as a solo performer, is said to have "passed away peacefully at home".

Thames Valley Police said South Central Ambulance Service attended a property in Goring in Oxfordshire at 13:42 GMT.

Police say there were no suspicious circumstances.

Michael, who was born Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou in north London, sold more than 100m albums throughout a career spanning almost four decades.

Not very much into his style of music but he was a good singer and performer and will be missed. 53 is way to young. No cause of death listed.

Cute idea - Marshall

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Fun thing for the music room:

Analog synthesizers - Moog

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Great article and ten minute video on a guy who found and restored a large Moog synthesizer from 1967 - from Reverb:

Restoring an Original '67 Moog Modular Synthesizer
For nearly half a century, a piece of synthesizer history sat in storage at Roosevelt University in Chicago along Michigan Avenue. Circuits decaying, connections dirty and corroded, long-ago attempts at repair abandoned.

And then Mike Borish came along.

The real-estate-broker-turned-electronics-technician found out about the forgotten gem from a client who worked at the university.

After confirming with a professor exactly what it was that the client had seen - Unit 1029, one of only several dozen modular synthesizers built in the 1960s by R.A. Moog, synth pioneer Bob Moog’s first company - he knew what he had to do.

Borish had to open it up, get his hands in there, and bring it back to life.

Moog's genius was to make every parameter controllable by a voltage. He standardized on one volt per octave. This is an exponential shift - one octave below Concert A is 220 cycles per second (or Hz after Heinrich Hertz), add a volt and you are at Concert A at 440Hz, add another volt and you are one octave higher at 880Hz - you can see that this is not a linear progression. This was very difficult to do electronically but Moog persisted until he had a circuit that worked well and the rest of the world thanks him for it. It made the instrument musically useful.

Fast forward to today and all of Moog's patents have expired. The same technological advancements that have made computers so amazing have also happened for the rest of electronics so now there are builders who took the original Moog designs and have recreated them with current-day components. You have the same incredible depth and richness of sound but the machines stay in tune when the room temperature changes, the inherent noise is essentially non-existent and they are a lot more reliable. I am very pleased to own a large system from Roger Arrick at synthesizers.com

New music from Iceland

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Cryptochrome - more human

Gorgeous work - more here: Cryptochrome

One of my more favorite modern composers - from FACT Magazine:

Pauline Oliveros, experimental composer and pioneer of “deep listening”, dies aged 84
Pauline Oliveros, the composer whose concept of “deep listening” had a profound impact on the trajectory of 20th century experimental music, has died aged 84.

The news was reported by flutist Claire Chase on Instagram and confirmed by friends of the composer on her Facebook page.

As a founding member of the San Francisco Tape Music Center in the 1960s, Oliveros collaborated with Terry Riley, playing in the first performance of Riley’s ‘In C’, and modular synthesist Morton Subotnick. She later became director of the Center, where she developed a philosophy of listening as a ritual and healing process, an approach she described through her coinage “deep listening”. Her Deep Listening Band specialized in performing recording in resonant or reverberant spaces, and her touchstone album Deep Listening was recorded in 1989 in a disused cistern 14 feet beneath the ground.

Her practice emphasized the difference between hearing and listening, as she told an interviewer in 2003. “In hearing, the ears take in all the sound waves and particles and deliver them to the audio cortex where the listening takes place. We cannot turn off our ears–the ears are always taking in sound information–but we can turn off our listening. I feel that listening is the basis of creativity and culture. How you’re listening, is how you develop a culture and how a community of people listens, is what creates their culture.”

The cistern in question lies about three hours to the Southwest at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, WA: Dan Harpole Cistern

Oliveros played in Seattle frequently when I first moved there - fascinating musician. Her website: Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Institute.

From Rolling Stone:

Mose Allison, Iconic Blues and Jazz Pianist, Dead at 89
Influential blues and jazz pianist Mose Allison, whose songs were covered by an array of rock veterans, died Tuesday at the age of 89 of natural causes. Allison's daughter, Amy, confirmed the musician's death to Rolling Stone.

Though primarily known for his piano playing, Allison also garnered acclaim for his voice, crafting a repertoire that drew on Delta blues, bebop, early American pop and even European classical, per NPR. Consequently, Allison's earliest labels struggled to find the best way to market him, with Prestige pushing him as a pop star and Columbia and Atlantic billing him as a blues artist.

But Allison ultimately defied such categorization, as his songs would go on to be covered by an extensive and diverse collection of artists including the Clash, the Who, Elvis Costello, the Gories, Van Morrison, Robert Palmer, Bonnie Raitt, Roy Rogers, Leon Russell, Hot Tuna, the Yardbirds and the Bangles.

Crap.

From FOX News:

Rocker Leon Russell dies in Nashville at 74
Leon Russell, who performed, sang and produced some of rock 'n' roll's top records, has died. He was 74.

An email from Leon Russell Records to The Associated Press says Russell died Sunday in Nashville. The email cites Russell's wife as the source of the information. Russell had heart bypass surgery in July and was recovering from that at the time of his death. He had been planning on resuming touring in January, the email said.

Besides his music, Russell was known for his striking appearance: wispy white hair halfway down his back and that covered much of his face.

Russell played keyboard for the Los Angeles studio team known as the Wrecking Crew, helping producer Phil Spector develop his game-changing wall of sound approach in the 1960s.

He wrote Joe Cocker's "Delta Lady" and in 1969 put together Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour, which spawned a documentary film and a hit double album.

As a musician, primarily a pianist, he played on The Beach Boys' "California Girls" and landmark "Pet Sounds" album, Jan and Dean's "Surf City," the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," and the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man." He also played guitar and bass.

The house I live in was built by Larry Knechtel - another member of the Wrecking Crew. We are losing some great ones.

Move over Pentatonix

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I love Pentatonix - their A Capella song arrangements are superb. But, they are not the only game in town - meet VoicePlay:

Here is Pentatonix with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah:

From Variety:

Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen Dies at 82
Leonard Cohen, the Canadian poet and novelist who became a singular international presence as a singer-songwriter, has died. He was 82.

A statement on his official Facebook page read, “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away. We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries. A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.”

Only last month, Cohen released his final album, “You Want It Darker,” a deeply introspective work that focused thematically on mortality.

A nice obituary - he will be missed.

Digital music - piano player rolls

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A great 1980's video tour of a company that makes player piano rolls - they are still in business: QRS Music Technologies

I love the Apple ][ still cranking away. Iffen it ain't broke...

A new band and dammit, I missed them

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Just got turned on to Stary Olsa and it turns out that they were playing 50 miles South of here last August 24th. They are from Belarus so I do not know when they will be here next.

Here they are on YouTube: Stary Olsa Their traditional stuff is gorgeous too.

Just the title alone: Icons & Idols: Rock n' Roll 2016 Featuring Property From The Estate of Frank & Gail Zappa

Over 800 items up for bid including household furnishings, his recording studio equipment and instruments as well as memorabilia from other performers - Elvis, Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Prince, the Beatles, etc...

Seeing if there is a small piece of studio equipment for sale cheap just to have something of his in my music room. There are some large speaker cabinets for $150 but shipping from LA would kill me and I have no space for them.

An interesting Raspberry Pi project

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I have been playing around with a couple of $35 Raspberry Pi single-board computers and having a lot of fun. Just ran into the Cosmo project.

There is a music application called CSound - a complete synthesis and signal processing system written in software. It can be made to run on the Raspberry Pi and the Cosmo project is a plug-in card and control box to enable real-time synthesis and signal processing. The examples are not my cup of tea but it looks fascinating regardless.

If you have gone to a movie theater and heard the wonderful crescendo for the THX sound system - that was written in CSound.

I am very much a knob guy - my musical instruments need to have knobs and not some touch-screen with layers and layers of menus I have to navigate. I want to reach out and touch something.

That being said, this is just plain brilliant:

I own some Behringer equipment - their signal processing stuff is really well done. I am going to pass on the Deep Mind though but still, looks like a lot of fun.

Die Antwoord

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I love their music - this is a funny video where a bunch of older citizens view (and comment) on their music videos:

Some get it, some do not.

Well crap - RIP Don Buchla

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When electronic music synthesizers were first being developed, there were two schools of design - the East Coast machines made by Bob Moog and others were controlled by voltages*** and the step of one volt would result in the change of one octave of frequency. This made performances of written music fairly easy and the programability meant that an artist could go on stage night after night and play the same music.

The West Coast designs were intended for spontaneous sound generation as well as some musical performance. They did not enjoy the one volt per octave control that Moog's designs offered but they were a lot cheaper and more oriented to improvisation. Don Buchla at Berkeley, CA was one of these makers ( Serge Tcherepnin in Hollywood, CA was another ).

Don passed away today - from the UK Guardian:

Don Buchla, modular synthesizer pioneer, dies aged 79
Don Buchla, the groundbreaking synthesizer inventor, has died age 79.

He was considered a true iconoclast with an uncompromising vision of what synthesizers could be. His impact on electronic music was vast; Buchla independently invented the first modern synthesizer, at the same time as Robert Moog, in 1963.

Although Moog is often credited with having invented the first modular synthesizer, Moog even admitted during his lifetime that Buchla was the first to have a full concept of how to put all the modules together to add up to an instrument.

“He invented a whole new paradigm for how you interface with electronics – much more human, and a whole new thing,” says Buchla’s close friend Morton Subotnick.

His company is still going strong: Buchla Electronic Music Instruments - some fascinating designs.

I am very much in the East coast camp - I like using a keyboard and prefer linear music instead of an Aleatoric mash of bleeps and bloops.

*** As a side note, designing a circuit to do one volt per octave control is actually a very complex bit of engineering. Consider a "Concert A" at 440 vibrations per second (noted as Hz after physicist Heinrich Hertz). Play an "A" one octave below and that is 220Hz, play one octave above and you have 880Hz. Up another octave and you are at 1,760Hz. The scale is not a linear one, it is exponential and converting a linear value to an exponential one is tricky and the simplest circuit (that everyone uses) is horribly temperature sensitive so you have to compensate for that. Earlier Moog synthesizers that I played in college (40 years ago) would require you to re-tune if the HVAC came on. I was running a tape recorder and layering audio so needed to keep everything in tune.

Dangerous place

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I love music as a hobby - play keyboards and synth but I also record and microphones are always a weak link in the chain. Someone just turned me on to this place:

micparts, aka Microphone-Parts.com, is based in Sonoma County, California, with additional technical staff in Los Angeles. 

The company's mission is to provide high-quality components and kits for DIY audio enthusiasts. We've analysed the best microphones in the world, and found ways to provide circuits and capsules that deliver the same tone and superior performance specifications -- at a fraction of the price of vintage gear.

They are reproducing the sought-after "vintage mics" with what seems to be great success. A Neumann U-87 sells for around $4,000 in decent condition. Their S-87 microphone sells for $569. Not buying anything today - already have a couple of nice mics but something to keep in mind...

Island Songs

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Just beautiful - from Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds:

More here: Island Songs

Ólafur's Facebook page is here. Exquisite work.

Alright - one more:

I think my Dog's a Democrat

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Great song from Bryan Lewis:

Ho Li Crap - quite the guitar

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Description from the luthier and then music (starting at 3:00)

Luthier: Linda Manzer Musician: Henrik Andersen

Music Box and Modulin

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Remember the Musical Marble Machine?

Here is the same person - Wintergatan - has come up with two more - the music box and Modulin - a modular synthesizer played like a violin

Beautiful stuff!

Early electronic music synthesizers

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One major name in early electronic music was Daphne Oram - she co-founded the seminal BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Doctor Who soundtracks and a lot of film scoring) and developed a system of creating sounds and compositions using drawings. She had designed a music synthesizer where the notes were entered on a strip of translucent film which was run through a scanner and sensors would program the synth to produce the sounds. Her vision for the full machine was thwarted by the technology of the time and it was never fully realized during her lifetime.

From The University of London - Goldsmiths:

Student builds Daphne Oram’s unfinished ‘Mini-Oramics’
A Goldsmiths, University of London researcher has built a music synthesiser and sequencer designed – but never realised - by electronic music pioneer Daphne Oram more than 40 years ago.

PhD student Tom Richards has spent the last three years poring over an unfinished project by Daphne Oram (1925 – 2003), one of the central figures in the development of British experimental electronic music.

Oram was the co-founder and first director of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, and is credited with the invention of a new form of ‘drawn sound’ synthesis – Oramics, which was recently the subject of the ‘Oramics to Electronica’ exhibition at the Science Museum.

And the machine in question:

Dr Mick Grierson, director of Goldsmiths’ Daphne Oram Archive, and Tim Boon head of research at the Science Museum, invited Tom Richards to do a practice led PhD on the subject of Oramics. Tom decided to re-imagine and then build Mini-Oramics.

“The rules were simple. I had to imagine I was building the machine in 1973, interpreting Daphne Oram’s plans and using only the technologies that existed at that time.”

Tom is now working with six contemporary composers, giving each of them a few days to play with the Mini-Oramics machine.

One of the composers, London-based sound artist Ain Bailey has recently been working with the MiniOramics synthesiser. “It’s a fantastic instrument. I’m not a formally-trained musician, so it’s been great to work with an instrument where I can create the sounds graphically,” she said.

Very cool! Some more on Daphne Oram

Not really my style of music (more into melodic ambient) but Daphne was a major figure too often overlooked in music today. Nice touch that Tom is inviting other people to use the synthesizer - developing some new fresh voices.

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