October 12, 2012

Relinquishing Control

Sometimes I'm hesitant to write about things like this. There is a part of me that wants to keep my methods to myself. But the fact of the matter is, I won't be around forever and I don't want all my thoughts to die with me. Have you ever read The Giver? (You should!) also, it wouldn't be the Quakerly thing to do.

Someone recently asked me if there was any way to sequence a Roland RS-09 or Juno-6. Well, the answer is no; neither of these machines are able to be controlled externally (the Juno-6 has an input for it's arpeggiator clock, but this is another matter all together).  So, what is the point in keeping them around? 

Well, there are a few advantages. The most obvious advantage I see is that you will sound more unique because of it, esp. if you're making specifically electronic music. Everything is so sequenced and precise these days, I suppose people enjoy that --and I do appreciate a nice sequence but I also don't mind parts played by hand around or over it. And with the recording technology we have available these days one is able to do unlimited takes with no repercussions, except perhaps diminished friendships due to too much time working on music.  

Most of these machines are lacking control voltage inputs because they are polyphonic and control voltage is naturally monophonic. This is why the Roland 184 keyboard controller must have four CV outputs to produce four voice polyphony.  I suppose if Roland had added multiple CV and Gate inputs on their polyphonic keyboards they would have been a good deal more costly to produce. And besides that, if you're going to add all of those CV and Gate inputs, why not outputs as well? You see, they would have quickly become something that they are not --which is good old fashion keyboards meant to be played by hand. 

So why doesn't the monophonic SH-2000 have CV and Gate inputs? I don't know, but if you want to  hear "Funny Cat" it's your only option.


  1. The Juno 6 arpeggiator is an absolute thing of beauty. I never understood why people cared about arpeggiators and I looked down on them - mostly because my experience with them had been limited to awful "guitar strum" and "funky harp" auto-accompaniment type settings on bad ROMplers - until I got my Juno 6 and suddenly the lightbulb just went off. Especially when driving it from an external trigger to get the desired rhythm and then hand-playing in different notes in realtime, I find it to be this perfect "best of both worlds" approach that brings together the time-binding of sequencing with the ability to intuitively feel out different chord voicings and note combinations. It's like sequencing without the sequence being locked in, plus live playing without my awful timing! Sometimes it leads me on a space journey, even if it doesn't turn into anything structured or useful for a real song: http://soundcloud.com/bathhouse/ex-poison-pen

    For others, it's been the perfect minimalist composition tool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeiH9Mm0E5Y&feature=related (classic! nothing but Juno 6 driven from 909 rim trigger out).

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  3. Yes, that Juno-6 arpeggiator is a magical thing. I haven't played with mine in years, but it was one of my first synthesizers and that arpeggiator certainly helped to hook me. I get that thing back out. I should write a post about it!