May 31, 2014

Finally, a Practical, MUSICAL Application for Sample & Hold!

I'm definitely admitting a lot of ignorance here; but I've just never, in all my years of playing and programing synthesizers, found a useful purpose for a Sample & Hold circuit. People always say "No, they're super useful!" and then proceed to sample a noise source and produce your classic computing / calculating sound. Who needs it!

Well, here it is! Someone using Sample & Hold to produce a lovely melodic passage. Can't wait to try it out for myself. Thanks Doug!

May 24, 2014

This Noise is Too Noisy!

We've only played a hand full of concerts in the past few months, one in South America and one in The Philippines last week, so I've only had a few opportunities to road test my new set up (including the Moog Subphatty -- perhaps I'll start calling it The Sub25, that sounds much nicer!). Anyway, I've been noticing that the noise on this thing sounds really crazy. Like, ahh!! make it stop!!! So, today I decided to crack open the manual again and just like my issues with the oscilators (see Tone Color 2) if you turn the noise knob past 6 (not very far at all!) bad things start to happen. This is what the manual says:

"Settings higher than 6 push the level beyond unity, imparting gentle filter distortion."
"gentle filter distortion" is putting it gently! It sounded like the world was ending! I was looking for wispy, gentle streams of air. But there's more...

"The Sub Phatty’s noise generator produces a signal called pink noise. Pink noise has equal amplitude in every octave, making it sound deeper than white noise—more like the sound of a waterfall. Most synthesists consider pink noise more useful than white noise."

Unfortunately I am not one of those synthesists.  White noise is the standard I'm used to and it just seems so much cleaner and sits better in a mix. Oh well, the moral of the story is to just read your manuals from start to finish. I've used so many different synthesizers in my life I was overly confident in how things are "supposed" to work. But these are new times, things are different now. Everything distorts.

May 8, 2014

The Point

Arrow and Oblio

The Point (1971) was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I used to borrow a VHS tape of it from the library all the time. It's about a boy, Oblio, who has a round head but lives in a world where people only have pointy heads. Oblio is ostracized because of the shape of his head, even his parents don't know what to do about it when wearing a pointy hat isn't enough. It's narrated by Dustin Hoffman (a latter version was narrated by Ringo Star).

Turns out the whole movie was based on a concept album by Harry Nilsson, who's songs are played throughout. I never knew that! But I suppose that's why the whole thing seems like a Yellow Submarine for children. I like the idea of Yellow Submarine but the whole thing just seems like a bunch on nonsense. The Point strikes the perfect balance, in my opinion, because it has a real story arc. See for yourself...

If you'd like to read a serious blog post about The Point, check this out:

May 1, 2014

Joy Electric Mix

Not all my favorite songs, but there's some good stuff in there!