Ambient Explorations 6

Up until now I’ve been using mostly minor scales on this series, but this is becoming boring, specially with all the nice, warmer summer time getting closer. So I decided to move on to the Major Scale. This was a four-track recording, two of them made with the Streichfett being controlled from the SQ-1. There was little intervention from my part (apart from programming the melodies in the SQ-1) so I didn’t record any video from those two sessions. The other two tracks (which were recorded¬† to make the video part) were done using the MicroKorg.

A few things happened when making this track. For once, I decided to use the Solo section of the Streichfett, which I’ve been neglecting since ever. I also when forward to program something that reminds me of Tomita’s work (although I cannot point exactly when he used it): a noise-resonant filter patch for the microKorg. I also recorded all four track “dry”, so all the audio FX (delays, reverbs) were done in the DAW using Calf Plugins (EQ and vintage delay) and also the very interesting TAP Reverberator (also a free and open source plugin). I noticed the compressor at the end of the sound chain was destroying the attack transients of the Tomita patch, so I replaced it for the Calf Saturator. I think the end result is much more full-bodied than the Compressed version, but I’ll leave that to your better judgement.

Oh… I also changed my audio references for mixing and mastering… I hope the sound is now more balanced.

As usual, the audio for this video was recorded and mixed using Ardour, and the final video was assembled using KdenLive, on an Arch Linux machine.

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.

Berlin School Experiment #8

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 ( 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. :).

Making a song using just the Kaossilator 2

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 ( 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.

I hope you enjoy it as much as i did making it.

Ambient Explorations 4

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”

RV600 A New Perspective

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”