Chris Randall: Musician, Writer, User Interface Designer, Inventor, Photographer, Complainer. Not necessarily in that order.

Archives: February 2006

February 21, 2006

Laptop Battle 2006

by Chris Randall

I'm pleased to announce that Audio Damage, Inc. will be sponsoring the 2006 season of Laptop Battle, so if you're competing at one of the regional events this year, or at the finals, and you don't suck, we'll be giving you prizes and such. That will, of course, be grand.

February 21, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal...

by Chris Randall

So, I'm looking at this INetSynth from that was announced yesterday, and I think I might be missing something. It looks like they're not just selling a soft synth, but an actual lifestyle choice, a la Apple. Aside from the ubiquitous "i" tagged moniker, which immediately sets off "hub of my digital lifestyle" warning bells, this thing has a built-in online sound browser/sharer, so you can scoop through the Repository and score sequences and patches from like-minded individuals. Sort of like the MySpace of synths.

I can't bring myself to download the demo, just on principle, so one of you needs to go and get this thing and report back. It seems to be a bog-standard take on the "32 OSC types, 16 filters, 85 LFOs" polysynth that seems so prevalent these days, but I have to admit I'm a bit curious. Or at least, I will be until I get the inevitable letter from the maker that reads something along the lines of "thanks for the mention, now would you mind correcting your post so that it reflects less poorly on us?"

Oh, did I mention it's 278.75 Euro?

February 20, 2006

Ahhh, spring. When a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of vertices...

by Chris Randall

Sorry I wasn't up to snuff on my post count these last few days, but I went on a Total Immersion learning spree to teach myself OpenGL programming, because the interfaces to our plug-ins aren't groundbreaking enough. (Ho, ho, ho.) Also, the Olympics are on, and that takes at least four hours of attention from me every evening, time that would obviously be far better spent surfing the internet looking for things to make fun of.

So, expect a return to our normal posting schedule within the next 24 hours.

February 18, 2006

Chaos And Music...

by Chris Randall

I've been thinking a lot about chaos lately, as it relates to music creation. Watching the Olympics nightly, I've noticed one thing in particular about the speed events, such as downhill, combined, luge, skeleton: the guy that wins is the one that is willing to go right to the edge, and maybe stick a toe over. In the men's downhill in particular, the fastest times were turned in not by the guys that skied a perfect line, but by the ones that exhibited more of a (barely) controlled fall down the side of the mountain.

This, of course, results in a lot of wrecks, but being careful and controlled aren't necessarily desireable traits in someone that wants to go faster than everyone else. The same is true of music. Making safe music, or music that adheres to strict rules, is akin to making boring music. The most exiting music ever made is by musicians that stuck a toe over the edge. The Beatles may sound banal today, but that's only due to the fact that their best records were oldies before most of us were born. Strawberry Fields is simply out of hand, and much more "alternative" and experimental than anything Coldplay has ever done. (Then again, most anything is, so maybe that's a bad example.)

Anyways, to get back to the subject, I make no secret of the fact that I often use aleatoric generators to come up with melodies and rhythms. My favorite programs are M and UpBeat, both written by David Zicarelli before he founded Cycling '74. I've released several songs that are almost entirely generated by those two programs. What I like about them, and aleatoric generators in general, is the fact that I can set the initial conditions, but the timing and order of notes is left up to the ghost in the machine, and while it takes patience to get something that people will find listenable, once I do, the result is never something I would have thought of on my own.

I've been pondering how to take pieces of these programs I like and put them in the (somewhat stricter) framework of the VST/AU environment. My thinking is that the more control one has over the source material and initial conditions, the more likely something interesting is going to come out. So imagine this: a synth/sequencer combination (think 303) except it has Buchla's Arbitrary Function Generator (pictured above) instead of the typical Roland step-time fiasco, and a somewhat more sophisticated synth section. What would this need? What would it not need? 2 VCOs, for sure, and a multi-mode filter, all of which could be controlled by the sequencer. A randomizing section for the various bits. I like Buchla's circular design above rather than the more linear x0x style. Something to think about, anyways.

February 17, 2006

Hard-Core Gear Porn Friday!!!

by Chris Randall

Since everyone and his kid brother decided to jump on the Gear Porn Express this week, I thought I'd head on back to more familiar territory, and avoid synths for this edition. This triplet of Mellotrons is a result of the side-hobby of the owner of Wunder Audio, makers of the excellent and well-thought-of PEQ1 replacement cartridge for Neve 1073-sized racks and consoles.

It just gets sicker from there. He owns and has fully restored Eric Clapton's original Helios console. That sight alone is enough to make a grown man cry.

And, yeah, his rack is looking pretty nice, too. That schtonkin' big pair of Fairchild compressors probably does a nice job of warming his room up.

Much larger pictures and some talk are available in this thread on Gearslutz.


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