When I started this channel, I did a series of Ambient Music videos featuring Korg’s Kaossilator 2 as the main instrument (aided by its brother, the mini-KP2, for effects and recording in dome cases). But my use of the KO2 does not end in making endless looping music. For me the KO2 is a proper musical instrument: an uncluttered synth engine that focus on giving me good sounds instead to letting me spend time adjusting every possible parameter, and a user interface that sets the key, scale and tempo, but then allows me to roam freely on that scenery, instead of either passing from one key to the other, or restrain myself to already tested and tried melodic formulas that I know will work at any given key.
Of course, composing a complete track only with the KO2 requires something more other than the KO2 itself. And a DAW really comes in handy. As usual, my DAW is Ardour (http://ardour.org) running on my laptop (a 5 year old Toshiba running Arch Linux) and with six tracks (one of each is just a gate arpeggio on a Kick to be used as a side-chain when compressing the pads), I was able to come to this track in about 60 minutes. The video portraits the first 30 minutes of work (the actual composing and recording of the audio clips), speeded up to fit this 5-minute track. Sorry for the poor capturing of the screen, but I forgot to hit record on my video-capture.
On September 2015 I started the Ambient Kaos series. The objective was to produce 12 tracks of ambient music using only the Korg Kaossilator and mini- Kaos Pad 2. The series ended last August, and serves has a register of my own evolution during my first year producing videos on YouTube. The first few tracks were recorded directly using the mini-KP2. Later, I started to record stuff using my pc and save the trouble with transferring files from a micro SD to the PC. This also means that the audio for the first few episodes is the raw recording of the mini-KP2. Although the recordings are not bad, some EQ and overall mastering definitively increased the quality of the latter episodes.
What is more, the first episode is about 7 minutes long, but the track takes almost 20 minutes. And since this is the time of the year to look back and see were to improve, I took the chance to publish the full version of the first Ambient Kaos, now with full mastering treatment (well, YouTube will certainly add some more compression and normalization on top of my work, nonetheless). I hope you enjoy it while you rest during these Holidays.
This is just another of my experiments, trying to combine Linux and hardware synthesisers. There are a number of interesting details about this video I wanted to share with you here.
Fist, lets talk about the parts involved. There was one main session, with the Volca Keys being recorded (after going through the FX600 and the Nux Time Core for Chorus and Delay) to my main laptop using the Focusrite 2i2, and the Kaossilator2 (KO2) playing an arpeggio using the “Acid Bass” preset, and being recorded to my eeepc using my Behringer UCA-202. Audacity was used in both laptops to record the sound. Then, there was a second recording session with the KO2 pushing the “Deep House” pattern, and also a third recording of me warming up my fingers with the Streichfett being controlled by the MicroKeys25. These latter sessions were all recorded using the Focusrite, although the quality of the UCA-202 is good enough for these backing tracks. Everything was mixed using Ardour.
Now, for the control part. The Nanopad2 is controlling SEQ24, which contains nothing more than a few short MIDI clips. Some of them contain notes, other contain CC data to be sent to the Volca Keys. The Volca Keys is in Poly Ring mode, which gives the “glitchy character” when multiple notes are triggered at the same time. It was nice to finally understand that SEQ24 has a queueing facility, which activates a clip only at its end.
I’m currently planing a short course about SEQ24… ;)
This improvisation starts with a Dubstep pattern (Dubstep 2) at 80 bpm, and the One Delay on the Mini KP2, to give the illusion of a faster tempo. This is the first, and longest, of 5 takes I did for this track. The other ones, although interesting, are not worth publishing. But they can still be usable as source material for loops in future venues. The general ambiance of this music reflects the rainy weekend I had. Thanks for watching and listening. The Tape Delay kicks in for the last segment of the track, granting it some chaotic character.
This video was recorded Live, audio was recorded directly using a focousrite scarlet 2i2 into Audacity. Post recording treatment was only trimming the silent bits at the begining, fade out at the end, compression and normalization to -1.5dB peak. The final video was produced using Kdenlive.
Setup for the Kaossilator2:
Scale: Minor Blues
Tempo : 80.0 bpm
Range: 1 Octave
Setup for the mini-KaosPad2:
FX: One Delay (Tape Delay after 10:51)
Tempo 80 bpm
FX Depth: 65%
I can not believe its been 6 months since I first started making videos… I can not believe its been 6 months since I tool the challenge of delivering 12 pieces of ambient (or ambient-related) music using such simple and limited devices… This video marks the middle of the journey. Who knows which soundscapes lie beyond?
I never liked the original Kaossilator: it is a large chunky piece of hardware that gives you a monophonic digital synthesizer. Indeed, being both monophonic and digital is its major sin, in my opinion. I am shocked that it is still available in some places at €50+. (!!!)
On the other hand, Korg’s Kaossilator2 is a small bundle of fun, and has been one of my noise-making companion whenever I wish to jam a little bit in the evening with having to setup my gear, or as a travel companion: just put it in the backpack, together with my headphones and some batteries. Continue reading “Kaossilator2 Tricks Part I – Pad Soundscapes”