Berlin School Experiment 11

It’s been a while since my Last Berlin School Experiment. The recording of Ambient Explorations 11 gave me some new ideas I want to explore deeper. This is one of those.

This Experiment was done in one take in which three tracks were recorded: the Monotribe, the Volca Sample being sequenced by the SQ-1, and a stereo track for the Streichfett. There were some awkward silences in the the last two tracks, so I copied them and delayed in time (by about one minute). Two volca tracks were then panned left and right and a Calf Pulsator was used as an auto-pan for enhancing the stereo field. As for the secondary Streichfett track, It is only heard on some points, with a strong delay… almost as a distant memory.

The Streichfett and the Monotribe (which has a MIDI mod) are controlled from my PCR-500 in split mode, and a sustain pedal is used on the Streichfett. The Korg SQ-1 is sequencing the Volca Keys and the synchronization between the SQ-1 and the LFO on the Monotribe was dialed in by ear (thus them going in and out of sync while the music progresses).

As always, the audio was recorded and mixed on Ardour, and the final video was assembled using kdenlive, on an Arch Linux box.


Behringer TP300 Utra Tremolo/Pan

Some time ago I got a deal on a pack of 10 behringer pedals on sale. Most of the pack was made by chorus pedals, such as the UC200, but there were also some other effects, such as this TP300 Ultra Tremolo/Pan, which I demo in the video bellow.

As you probably already know, Tremolo is an amplitude effect, in which the volume of the instrument varies in time in a periodic fashion. This can be easily achieved on most synths by modulation the output amplifier with a LFO. But the Volca Keys doesn’t have this routing available, or you may have already used all your LFO resources on other modulation. This is where a Tremolo Effect (either in hardware or software) can be useful when playing a synth. Similarly, the auto PAN feature of this pedal can also be done by routing an LFO to the PAN of the amplifier… provided your synth as a stereo output, and that routing is available.

The TP300 is a very simple pedal, with four modes of operation: two tremolo modes (one with a triangle LFO and another with a Square LFO), and Continue reading Behringer TP300 Utra Tremolo/Pan

Behringer VP-1 & MicroKorg

I like the Behringer VP-1 so much, I have two of them!. They are from different batches, thus the different painting on the front panel, but the sound the same (and great) to me. Sometimes I use them in a stereo configuration, with one channel handling the Left channel and the other one dealing with the Right one. The out-of-phase and de-synchronization between the two pedals adds new sonic texture to the sounds, and makes the MicroKorg sound amazing.

One word of caution, though. These pedals do not handle the hot Line signal as well as the newer pedals from Behringer (indeed they are not rated for keyboard use), so they sometimes distort the sound a little bit. However, this adds an analogue warmth to the sound, as long as you keep this distortion in check.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Missing files from STK on LMMS

Some time ago I decided to give LMMS another go. I do enjoy the Fruity Loops style of LMMS. It is very intuitive to create patterns and develop them into songs. It also features a nice assortment of instruments from tb-303 and Nintendo Game Boy Emulators, to a plugin version of the mighty ZynAddSubFX. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to properly run LMMS since I switched from Gentoo to Arch, back in 2014.

The main problem is that some instruments such as Mallets and Vibed (a string emulator) gave me an error:

“Missing Files” – Your Stk-installation seems to be incomplete. Please make sure the full Stk-package is installed!

As I usually do, I started a google search on the error message and noticed this post from the Arch Linux Forum. Unfortunately, this is an old post from 2013. Apparently this problem is a recurring one, and came back to live in 2015 when another user replied on that topic saying that he still has that problem. This latter request collided with a rather strict anti-necrobump policy from the admins, and the issue apparently remained unsolved in the forum. In this video, I show you how to solve this minor problem, and have LMMS running to its full potential.

So here’s the solution in two steps:

  1. Go to the STK source code repository on GitHub and download the contents of the rawwaves folder into somewhere save on you home directory (for example, ~/music/stk_rawwaves).
  2. Launch LMMS. Go to Edit->Settings->Paths and place the full path to the folder you just saved the raw waves into the “STK RAWWAVE DIRECTORY”. In may case, since my user name is “fillipe”, I put /home/filipe/music/stk_rawwaves.

And that’s it. I thought I should need to restart LMMS, but as you can see in the video, I was happly surprised to see that LMMS instantly starts working fine with the Mallets and other STK-dependent instruments.


Stylophone Gen X-1: First Impressions

Yesterday, a small box entered my home. It is the Stylophone Gen X-1. Apparently, this is an upgraded version of the original stylophone David Bowie plays in the Space Oddity video clip. As many of you know, I have a soft spot in my heart for small noisy machines, and this one promises to be much more than that, so for 60 euros, I went forward and brought the thing.

The first thing you notice when taking the stylophone out of the box is that it it light, but not so light that it feels like a toy. The box is solid and doesn’t appear to bend easily. The knobs on the front panel are very similar to the ones you find on the Volcas and the Monotrons: they to wobble a  little bit, but are perfectly usable. On the left side you also have the ON/OFF switch and three toggle buttons labeled “X”, “-1” and “-2”. Continue reading Stylophone Gen X-1: First Impressions

VCV Rack Virtual Modular Synth for Linux

This week all the attention has gone to the new VCV Rack. This is a virtual Modular synthesizer, which is free and open source, and (best of all) runs on Linux. I really had to check this one out!

This video was made without much musical intention, and I tried to use only the modules that come bundled with the program,  before installing any additional modules (more on that later). There was not much of a big musical intention behind this video other than to see how this synth sounds, how stable it is and how easy it is to create something from scratch. Continue reading VCV Rack Virtual Modular Synth for Linux