January 29, 2012

VK-1



What is it about those buttons? This is the most American Japanese
keyboard of all.

January 28, 2012

Ordinary People

Well, I'm on the other side of the world. And as promised, i've cooked up a little post, my first movie review on this blog. So, I watched this on my first flight out of New York a few days ago. Ordinary People was Robert Redford's directorial debut and it won three Oscars, but didn't do very well at the box office. I Really loved it. There are a lot of movies that are gratuitously sad and this is certainly one of those but it just wasn't as senseless as most seem. It's very tangible, in that way it reminded me a lot of one of my other favorite films; Runnin' On Empty. Both movies feature Judd Hursch. I should also like to mention the noteworthy performance by Marry Tyler-Moore, but the real stand out performance was Timothy Hutton who took the Oscar that year for best supporting Actor.


January 24, 2012

Salutations


Dear Friends & Readers,

I'll be doing a bit of traveling for the next few weeks. Up until now I've tried to post things about once a day. It will probably be much less frequent for the next few weeks but I will do my best to check in as much as I can. Thanks for reading!

M.S.

January 23, 2012

Roland Electronic Music Instruments



Why do I love Roland products? Well, there is a certain precision I hear in them that I don't hear elsewhere. They're also wonderful to work with and esthetically very pleasing. They all have a sort of majestic quality in their tones. Roland synthesizers have almost an organ quality about them. It's hard to explain. Maybe Roland, more than most companies at the time were more concerned with musicality or the musician's needs (don't even get me started on Buchla!), always advocating polyphony, having delays on LFOs and things like that. But I do think that this quality that worked so well for them at the beginning, was probably their downfall. Because the products they make these days pale in comparison to their former glory. But I don't dwell on this. These modern products have nothing to do with me and i can ignore them easy enough. Nothing gold stays….


January 20, 2012

Meant To Be Together


Of course my two favorite instruments of all time were made for one another. The organ and string machine (RS-09) was the first keyboard I ever owned; a gift from my Mother. I had a hunch all through my teenage years that the SH-09 synthesizer was it's long lost companion. Then about seven or eight years ago I acquired the SH-09, bringing them together at last. This is how they interface:




And this is their marriage certificate:


I'll explain latter where the CSQ-100 sequencer fits into all this.
Third Wheel or beloved family member? You decide!

It's Official



I love Eggnog. Not just at Christmas, all the time.

January 19, 2012

January 17, 2012

More of Kate Bush and the Fairlight

“I took one look at it and said, ‘This is what I’ve been looking for all my life.’ I couldn’t believe the Fairlight. It’s called a synthesizer, but many of its sounds are of natural source. To be able to play with strings, waterfalls, anything you want, it’s wonderful.”




This is a wonderful interview with Kate -- she has such a delightful demeanor, it's like listening to Princess Diana talk about the Fairlight. But she also talks about her religious beliefs, it's all quite interesting. There's also a little nod to C.S. Lewis in there.


I agree with her about how writing with different instruments effects your song writing. I've heard so many people say they write all their music with a piano or acoustic guitar, even when making electronic music. But i've always though that writing music with a synthesizer has such a way about it.

January 16, 2012

Roland SDE - Digital Delays; A Shallow Comparison

There was a time when I was pretty intent on getting one of these. Since acquiring the Roland DC-30 (analog delay and chorus) I've been significantly less interested. Never the less, I'll talk briefly about the differences between the two.

The SDE-100 has a red digital display and slightly more analog-type controls (the same amount of knobs though). The SDE-200's design is a little more modern, but it has that great greenish-blue digital display. That display was the main thing. I thought it would look really great glowing in my studio (bedroom) at night. Now, I'm not so sure. Too modern? Perhaps. How does the sound compare? Don't know, everything sounds same.

January 14, 2012

Electronic Music in the Classroom



Here's a a great, little album I came across by D. D. Denham. Have a listen:

http://dddenham.bandcamp.com/




You'll also want to check out Let's Go Orienteering! by Land Equivalents:


http://jimmusgrave.bandcamp.com/album/lets-go-orienteering



January 13, 2012

1984



1884


Today, while taking down our Christmas tree, I broke one of my favorite little bulbs. It was sad because it fell from my hands, through the tree, and landed on the floor making that sound that precious little glass things make right when they break. It was special because someone special gave it to me. It makes the surviving bulbs that much more special.

I'm sad to see Christmas go, today was the last day (according to some hearsay about scandinavian traditions). This was the best Christmas I've had in years but I'm excited for future Christmases, which hold the promise of even more merriment!

Thanks to everyone who came and participated in my old fashion (no electricity) Christmas party. Hopefully this will become our yearly tradition.

January 12, 2012

Klaus Doldinger



I used to be really into this soundtrack when I was a teenager. Got back into it today. What a song!

There's something so fascinating to me about blending synthesizers and drum machines with a full orchestra. It's disheartening that this soundtrack is often credited to Giorgio Moroder, when the reality is that Moroder only wrote the awful theme song. It was Klaus that composed the actual soundtrack to the film.

I haven't been able to find any information about what equipment was used on this soundtrack, if anyone knows please share.

January 11, 2012

Time Zones




I just realtized today that my blog was set to Pacific Time and I live on the East Coast. The issue has been resolved. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

January 10, 2012

EKO ComputeRhythm Drum Machine 1972

I was just telling my companion the other night that my new hobby (unintentionally -- it just started happening), is taking some of my favorite book's covers and adjusting their colors to my liking.

What does all this have to do with drum machines? Nothing really. I just thought the new colors of this book looked nice with the colors of this drum machine. Sort of a pumpkin blend. Which is exactly what is going to be happening tonight with some ice cream (don't ask!).


The Eko ComputeRhythm was the first programmable drum machine. There were punch cards that stored different drum patterns. Make sure to keep watching until around 2:40 to see this displayed. Quite impressive!

January 8, 2012

Drum Machines in Narnia



I don't know if anyone has noticed this yet, but the color palette of the Roland CR-8000 matches exactly this map of Narnia. And, I mean alarmingly so. To
the extent that I'm sure whoever designed this drum machine must have had this map hanging in their work area. Every single color has an exact representation in the map, including the white and off-white.

Also, Quaker meeting today on 15th street was wonderful. I stayed for a while after to socialize and ended up with a little stack of books. The ones I'm most excited about are Poetry Among Friends and Kindling a Life of Concern.

It's great because I was needing something new to read. I have a habit of reading old things over and over again.

(also, thanks to Justin for taking the photo of the map and drum machine.)

January 6, 2012

January 4, 2012

Vincent

This kid has no idea what he's doing.

http://www.synthmania.com/videos.htm

More Of The Same

A TR-808 with blue buttons? It appears so. I always say "original is best", but this would be nice too.

The step buttons on the Roland TR-808 mapped to Western notational divisions. Even a 13th-century monk would find them somewhat familiar.

January 3, 2012

The Fairlight CMI and Sampling in General

Recently, I've become really interested in sampled sounds. I'll admit I'm rather ignorant on the subject, I just enjoy hearing them now and again. I've been so in my own world of analog synthesis for so long that it is really refreshing for me to go back and listen to those two House of Wires albums, or listening to The Hounds of Love and imagining Kate Bush slamming doors and sampling it to create the percussion. From reading this interview of Kate from Keyboard Magazine in 1985 I think she had about the same sort of elementary, practical understanding of it as I do:

"I think I've always enjoyed synthesizers...I found them very interesting, but I never really enjoyed all the sounds. And what really gets me about the Fairlight is that any sound becomes musical. You can actually control any sound you want by sampling it in, and then being able to play it. I mean obviously, it doesn't always sound great, but the amount of potential exploration you have there with sounds is never-ending, and it's fabulous."

Read the full interview here: http://gaffa.org/reaching/i85_key.html

And for more information and the history of The Fairlight: http://www.ghservices.com/gregh/fairligh/

January 1, 2012

Best Song of 2011: Autumn's Edge by Xeno & Oaklander

I guess this is the sort of thing one is meant to do at this time of year. This is the only song that truly blew me away in 2011. And I'm sure Xeno & Oaklander are making everyone's list this year (rightfully so!).

Roland's Most Wonderful Era


You know, those years between '79 and '81. At that time Roland's design was perfect. The Tr808, Jupiter 8, RS-09. All beautiful. Those buttons, Those knobs. They were doing everything right.

This post was originally supposed to be about later products that were modified to reflect this time. But then I got caught up with the real thing and can't bare to post the pictures of the impostors. But still, if you'd like to see an SH-101 and TR-909 looking a little more like they should, visit the following addresses: