The Long Night

These nights around the Winter Solstice are the longest, many times the coldest, but not necessarily sad nor depressing. I like the dark and quiet environment of these long winter nights to create some music and soundscapes. This track is the result of one of those nightly jams.

The gear I used is my November/December 2020 setup: The SQ-1 serves as the master clock. Yes, the SQ-1 doesn’t show me the tempo I’m playing at, but that is a good thing in this case, as it allows me to set the tempo based on feeling, instead of looking to a number display. From the SQ-1, the analogue sync signal goes (via a split) to the Monotribe and the Behringer Crave. The MIDI output is connected to the MicroFreak, which is listening on channel 2. I’m also sending CV A and B to the Crave’s filter CV (via the VC mixer) and the filter Ressonance. Finally, the KMI QuNexus is used to play the lead sound on the Crave. As a final touch, the Monotron delay is listening on the Crave’s headphone output, for that cosy lo-fi delay vibe.

It is very interesting to play the pad on the MicroFreak while sending MIDI notes on channel 2: there is an interesting interference between the chord notes and the external sequencer that makes for an interesting and moving background. I really want to go back to this technique in 2021.

This was also one of the first videos I edited using FlowBlade instead of Kdenlive. I hope you enjoy the result as much as I enjoyed making it.

This track is also available on my BandCamp (as an EP with both Long and short versions) or on my SoundCloud.

How to have swing on the Volca FM

When I brought the Volca FM, I complained about it not having a swing function (either by a dedicated knob or a combination such as FUNC+TEMPO). If you happen to own a Volca Sample or a Volca Kick, however, there is a neat trick you can use, albeit at the expense of loosing the capability to sync these newer volcas to your old ones.

Well, recently I’ve been preparing a comeback to the Korg Volca Sample Tutorial Series, and learned that the Volca Sample can switch between two sync modes: the traditional volca sync (one pulse every two steps, or 2PPQ) and a newer one pulse per step of the sequencer (4PPQ). This latter mode is capable of carrying swing to other synced units.

Now, to have swing over sync, you do need both machines to be in 4PPQ mode, and this is done by accessing the Global Menu and setting option 8 to ON. Unfortunately, this option is only available on the newer volcas (FM, Sample and Kick), which means that by using it, you’ll loose the ability to sync the newer volcas properly to the older ones.

Hopefully, Korg will someday get around to do a firmware upgrade, so that we can have swing over sync on all volcas.

Ambient Explorations 5: Counterpointilism

Last month I did a lingering counterpoint piece in my Ambient Explorations 4 . Now, some of you may argue that counterpoint is nor really a technique for Ambient Music. I could counter-argue that a 500 year old framework is perhaps flexible and capable enough of adapting to novel aesthetics. Plus, I believe the rigidity used to discern between genres and (specially) sub-genre of electronic music serve more to the ego of some composers/producers, than to the greater aim of creating meaningful and/or enjoyable music.

But I digress, in this month’s Ambient explorations, I decided to combine the lingering counterpoint technique I used last April and the Eno-inspired minimalist pointillism I did at the beginning of this series. I only used my trusty Roland JV-1010 for both the piano (the Psicorhodes preset) and a custom pad I made using the JP8 Saws and the Ring Modulator. I only recorded two tracks for this piece (one for each sound), but when I was assembling the video I noticed I had a third video take (perhaps from a rehearsal). I used the three videos nevertheless to keep the rather pleasing aesthetics of multiple overlapping video takes.

As usual, this track was recorded using Ardour, mixed & mastered using Calf Plugins. The video was assembled using KdenLive running on an Arch Linux laptop.

Ambient Kaos 1: Full, Re-mastered Version

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.

New Tutorial Series Released Today!

Just a quick update. I just uploaded the first episode of a 7 (or 8) episode tutorial series devoted to the Korg SQ-1. I’ve been having a few requests to do such a thing, and I finally managed to get the time and courage to do it. The tutorials will be added to this playlist on my YouTube Channel. I hope you enjoy this new series, find it inspiring and start applying the tips and tricks in it to make new music.

Please feel free to put you questions in the comments for the video. I’ll try to reply to them either via reply, or on a future episode, or even on a Q&A episode at the end of the series.

Glitch House Experiment

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… ;)