Berlin School Experiment #10

It is frustrating that we have to program the JV1080 from a small dot-matrix display. The synthesis engine on this one is so great, it is easy to get lost while programming in it, but I guess that the JV1080 is a synth of its time, and at the time presets and preset-packs were all the rage, so manufacturers wouldn’t bother with the sound editing capabilities. Fortunately those days are gone (are they?).

In this piece I use a custom patch on the JV-1018, loosely related to the Flying Waltz preset, but with an extensive use of the ring modulators. This pad sound serves as a base for the whole track, as it plays a descending chord sequence. The microbrute plays the sequencer and receives the same MIDI notes as the JV-1080. Thus, the sequence is transposed for the last incoming note at all time. My PSC500 controller is also sending MIDI clock to the Volca Beats, which plays a part latter on in the piece… in line with my previous experiment of incorporating percussion in Berlin School-inspired Music.

This track was recorded in one take, with the Volca and the MicroBrute being recorded onto two mono-tracks using the Focusrite 2i2 and the JV-1080 being recorded onto a stereo track using the Behringer UCA-202. Ardour was used for all the recording and mixing, which involved using the alsa_in program to incorporate the Behringer’s inputs into the list of available inputs… I tried to avoid using compressors in this track, and replaced most of them by saturators. This technique should keep the transients, despite introducing some distortion. As usual, Calf plugins were expensively used to mix and master this piece, and the final video was assembled in KdenLive, running on a linux box.

Arturia Microbrute Through Guitar Pedals

Not exactly a “Berlin School Experiment”, more of an improvised experimentation using the MicroBrute and five guitar pedals. There has been quite a few videos on this theme, so I decided to add my own personal twist to the experiment.

The music starts at about 01:00. For this video I decided to include the end of the preparatory stage where I program the sequence on the MB. This is an arpeggiation on the chords of a Portuguese (more precisely Azorian) folk song “Charamba”, but on a 5/4 time signature.

I also took advantage of the double (almost triple) output of the microbrute (Main mono and headphones) to make a more complex FX chain. The Main audio (Path A) goes directly into the Behringer EM600  and then goes though a passive mixer to serve as an attenuator. At the same time the headphones output (Path B) is split into two channels: one of them goes into the FM600 and they are re-joined using a passive mixer to give me a sort of Wet/Dry balance on the FM600. PathB then continues to the FX600  for some chorus. The two Paths (A and B) are joined at the inputs of the Nux Time Core  for some Ping-Pong delay and then carried the the RV600 for some Space Reverb.

The session was recorded live using audacity and the OpenCamera app. Calf Plugins (EQ, Compressor and Multiband Compressor) were used for mastering. The final video was assembled using KdenLive.


After reviewing the Behringer VP-1 Vintage Phaser, I pluged the MicroKorg into it. The white noise going through it creates that great Jean-Michel Jarre Oxygene sound you heard in the beginning and end of the review/demo video. The phaser plays great with some of the factory presets, specially those on the SE/Hit section.

Not only does it sound great, it inspired me to record some riffs, I then started improvising on top of them and then it came the time when I decided to actually put some music sheet in front of me and write the melody and chord sequence. This took me about a week, just to make the chords work with the riff, then place a D Dorian melody on top of it (with a small modulation to D minor).

Finally it came to recording, Continue reading “Destination”

Analogue Meets Digital 3: The MicroKorg and the MicroBrute

This is the first of two videos dedicated to exploring the world of sound that exists when you hook up a MicroKorg with a MicroBrute. In this episode of Analogue Meets Digital the MicroBrute is used as a Sound module controlled and processed by the MicroKorg.

This is an extremely easy way to link the two machines: a MIDI cable goes from the MIDI OUT port of the MicroKorg into the MIDI IN of the MicroBrute (if you use a MiniBrute instead of the Micro, make sure you don’t accidentally connect both MIDI OUT ports).  At the same time, use a TS 1/4″ cable to connect the Line Output of the MicroBrute to the Audio 1 Line In port of the MicroKorg. This is essentially the same setup I did with the Volcas, although working the MicroBrute is much more satisfying experience, in my opinion. One thing to have in mind: the MicroBrute is muck louder than the Volcas, so you have to be extra-careful not to clip the input on the MicroKorg. Despite this, the MicroBrute is a monophonic Analogue synth, much like the Volca Bass (and most voice modes of the Volca Keys), and the operation of the MicroBrute in this setup is similar to that shown in previous episodes.


Voltage – Reprise

So, here’s a new video to end the “Monotribe Control Voltage” mini-series and also to welcome the weekend.

Last week, I recorded “Voltage” as a demo of the capabilities of the Monotribe-MicroBrute duo when control voltage is used. During a rehearsal to check the lighting, sound levels, framing on the cams, etc I accidentally pressed play on the Monotribe. Apparently, the ribbon controller on the Monotribe has priority over the note on the CV input, but the Notes on the sequencer don’t. On the other hand, the gate on the sequencer has priority over the gate on the CV, which means you can use the Monotribe to play a rhythmic pattern (including the drums) while droning on the MicroBrute. This is essentially what I do in this video. I hope you like it! :)