This song started with me exploring the MicroKorg’s Arp in order to make some Bass & Strings sound for another project of mine. However, just playing some chords on this patch was inspiring enough to start planning another of mine Berlin School Experiments.
I have the Bass Arp and background strings on the Microkorg serving as a foundation on top of which an improvised melody is played live on the Volca Bass. The short film “Moral Decay” from the Internet archive (https://archive.org/details/MoralDecay) served as inspiration for the decaying melody in the key f G minor. It is also mangled and played over the footage of the live recording of this track. I wanted to give the impression of human anxiety in a world dominated by industrial machines, where the ever changing rhythm of the human heart tries to fit the rigid metronome of the machines (most likely inspired by my latest reading of Zamiatine’s “We”).
As always, I hope you enjoy this track as much as I did making it. :).
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.
Here’s a little story about how this track came into existence. The end of March was a little bit foggy and rainy, and I was looking for something dark to follow on the descend I mad in Ambient Explorations 3. I started browsing for some material on my old scores and found a score for “Good Vibrations” from the California Beach Boys. I do concede this is not the first thing that comes to mind when searching for inspiration for an Ambient piece, but I went for it anyway and took the first few notes (“I, I love the colourful clothes she wears…“) this amounted to D, a whole lot of A’s, D, F, G, C C and D again, which I laid out in whole notes on the top voice. I then did a small two-voice counterpoint on top of that (actually, bellow that).
The 3-voice counterpoint sounded ok on the piano, but it was only about 20 second long and I needed something a lot longer. So I made a MIDI file with the notes, imported it into Ardour and changed the tempo to 20bpm. I also had to triple the score, making the approximately 7 minutes I has. Continue reading “Ambient Explorations 4”
If you happen to follow my YouTube channel more than this blog (and why should you d otherwise, as most of the good stuff comes in video format?), you’ll notice I posted a new video demonstrating the Behringer RV600 in combination with Korg’s Volca Keys. If for some odd reason you came across this post before listening to the video, you’ll find the video here:
I have originally reviewed this pedal here, and made an accompanying video for it. Actually, this was the first video I I did demonstrating a pedal, and it is still the most viewed of the Gear Demos playlist. However, this video was done in poor lightning, with an ageing camera and the sound quality, either by personal lack of experience or by bad programming of the synth, did not really came up to par. After more than a year using this pedal in many of my productions, and noticing an ongoing interest about this little reverb unit, I decided it was time I did right by this pedal, and re-do its demo. I also wanted to add in some of my personal notes about its sound and capabilities. Continue reading “RV600 A New Perspective”
It’s been a while since I updated this site. Today I started a new section, devoted to one of my favourite synths: the Microkorg! In this new section I’ll share some of my patches with you. This is more of a personal complement to the microkorg cookbook website. However, in this site, I can assure you that all the patches were originally developed by myself, and are available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution license. Bellow, you’ll find the video demonstrating how I assembled the first patch to be published here: FM Bells.
During the last few months I’ve been deciding on a main sequencer for my setup. Some of the main contenders included the BeatStep Pro, the Electribe 2, the Squarp Pyramid, and the Octatrack. The latter two are a little bit on the expensive side. Plus, the Octatrack’s workflow is something of a unique thing, with a manual the size of a small novel. On the other hand, the Pyramid’s operation is much more straight forward, but the lack of documentation and demos makes me wonder if it will have any supporters in the future.
So, the two main contenders ended up being the BeatStep Pro and the Electribe 2. The BeatStep Pro is a very neat sequencer that can (in theory) control some pieces of gear, while I jam away freely in another synth. The electribe 2 also features a nice patter sequencer, plus a built-in synth engine that is derived from the mighty King Korg. Unfortunately, both the BSP and the E2 have some important shortcoming when I started to plan how they would fit my setup. The BSP does not have ANY support under Linux. Although the device appears as a class-compliant USB-MIDI device, Arturia’s refusal to publish the SysEx implementation means that backing up projects, or assigning CC values is only possible using their software (which does not run well on a VirtualBox or Wine). This is despite all the program does is send and listen to strings of SysEx messages.
As for the Electribe 2, I would be my first choice if I ever need something for live performances, but for my personal journey in the studio, I need something that can hold patterns with more than 4 bars (I still prefer the classical 8-bar phrase) and also be able to play drones, which is not easily done with an Attack-Decay envelope similar to that of the Volca Sample.
Earlier this month I began looking for other alternatives, including older gear. I already own a Yamaha QY-70, which is interesting for recording MIDI, but a little bit troublesome to create and edit patterns. Then I found this video by Meecek and instantly feel in love with the RM1x. It took a few weeks until I found one available on e-bay, as these things, although not expensive, are a little bit rare to come by. Then I was able to score an almost new-old-stock Yamaha RM1x from a collector in France, and the machine arrived just in time for Christmas.
So, here is my Christmas tale for 2016, now lets wait and hear for what 2017 will bring! :)
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