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

Archives: March 2012

March 24, 2012

Roland - The Synthesizer Pt. 4...

by Chris Randall

Sorry this took so long, but real life intervened. Anyhow, here it is: the last of Roland's four-book primer on synthesis, The Synthesizer. This one is mostly concerned with how to synthesize different string and drum/percussion sounds; there is a brief (and slightly amusing) section on sound design, namely thunder, wind, and raindrops, that sort of thing. The most useful section is probably the drums. Most of the patch diagrams also have block diagrams, which should translate directly to any modern modular with a reasonable complement of modules.

Here 'tis. (15mb Zipped PDF.) If you haven't yet got the other 3 yet, here's all four in one folder. (51mb Zip file.) Scroll down to see the other three blog entries about this book and its contents.

Anyhow, this was quite time-consuming and expensive. If you find these useful in any way, a tip would be appreciated.

March 21, 2012

Busy, Like A Bee...

by Chris Randall

Oh, taxes. Joy of joys!

Oh, the flu. My favorite thing!

Oh, MusikMesse! Can we get a minimum of one new plug-in format per major trade show, please?

Oh, 64-bit updates! Saved the hardest for last, apparently!

Oh, making a vinyl record. My credit card statement looks like it was beat with a motorcycle lock.

This has been a fun seven days. Very eventful. Guess I got a new iPad in there somewhere. It's just like the last one only morso. Also, I built, and then summarily hated, a Hackintosh. If I never see another computer again, in any form factor or platform, it'll be too soon. Adam is going on vacation next week. I'm wondering if I'll fit in his luggage.

March 15, 2012

Patching With Paradiso...

by Chris Randall

Heavy synth-nerdery alert.

If you've been in the synth game for a while, you no doubt know about Joe Paradiso of MIT and his monster DIY modular. The video above is some basic background. I question whether it is the largest DIY modular in the world, but it is definitely large. (twss)

In any event, it recently got moved to the MIT Museum, and is constantly running, with a patch that is updated every couple weeks. You can stream the audio live, but that's not the nifty part. They just added a feature called Patchwork, which is a module that can be controlled via the Intertubes, and alters certain aspects of the patch in real time. The main page for the synth is here, and the Patchwork control page can be found here. Note that the four buttons are not toggles; you have to hold them down to hear them. And any change takes a few seconds to show up in the audio stream. The synth also has its own Twitter feed, where Mr. Paradiso lets you know when he changes the patch.

This is the first I've ever seen something like this. Are there other interactive instruments that actually exist on this temporal plane (i.e. hardware) that are floating around the 'Tubes? How could this be extrapolated in to something that was musically a bit less... nerderific? (For want of a better word.)

March 14, 2012

The Plague...

by Chris Randall

I imagine you're getting sick of hearing about me being sick, but I'll absolutely guarantee that you're not as sick of hearing about it as I am of being it. I am paying penance for nearly a lifetime of being in perfect health, apparently. This fresh hell is some sort of violently invasive cold. Or something. Please make it stop.

And the first fucking hippie that recommends Pho is getting banned for life. I'd sooner drink a bottle of Windex.

In charitable news, I have a track on this comp, a collection of e-music that benefits the victims of the tornado in West Liberty, Kentucky that happened on March 2nd. It's only $4, and is a nice collection of e-music. Go buy it, and spread the word.

In other charitable news, I've ordered the jackets for unsuspected sounds from Stumptown Printers. So we're off to the races now, no turning back on the hardware version of the album. Which brings me to an interesting question...

I had intended (for fiscal reasons that I hope would be so patently obvious they don't need to be explained) to not put the album up on Bandcamp until I had the whole finished run in my possession, and only sell the vinyl+download until the vinyl had run out. However, there's a couple points that merit consideration:

1. I actually have the mastered digital files now; there's no real reason we can't start the ordering process.

2. A lot of (I assume "most") people don't actually want the record.

So, I could put up the vinyl + download for pre-order now. I could also put up a download only for sale now. The pre-orders would come with the caveat that you wouldn't receive the vinyl for nearly two months. There would be a slight risk involved, mainly for me, as while I have everything costed out, and 2/3rd of it already paid for, I'm making the assumption that there are no fuck-ups that are my fault, that won't require a massive cash outlay on my part to fix.

The problem I have with this course of action is that the digital sales will necessarily subsidize the vinyl until everything has washed out. The original plan negated this.

So, thoughts? Should I put up a poll?

March 9, 2012


by Chris Randall

The compilation has been mastered; I'm just waiting for the upload of the digital version from SAE. Some updates on that front: the name of the album is now "unsuspected sounds." This is from an Edgard Var?se quote I've always liked. The entirety is thus:

I dream of instruments obedient to my thought and which with their contribution of a whole new world of unsuspected sounds, will lend themselves to the exigencies of my inner rhythm.

He said this in an interview you can find in the book Classic Essays On Twentieth-Century Music. The majority of the content is fairly precious from our lofty position in the year 2012; you need to constantly remind yourself of technological context, else these guys come off as incredibly pretentious.

In any event, the cover art is done, as well. I created the front piece using a Processing sketch written by Stefan Goodchild (who also, you may remember, did the portraits for the Pioneers Of Electronic Music t-shirt series we did a couple years ago.) This sketch created a circular motif from the audio waveform of the entire album and pooped out a vector that I could lay right in to Illustrator un-altered. I'm just waiting for final approval of the audio from the mastering, and sequence notes from the mastering engineer, and I'll order the jackets and labels and start the pressing process.

I have unilaterally decided to give the proceeds from the album sale, assuming there are any (I am killing one of my credit cards to pull this whole thing off), to the Breast Assured Foundation. Because, after all, this is an Analog Industries compilation, and I can't speak for other on-line communities, but around here, we're with boobs.

In other news, just finishing up the Tattoo 64-bit update; barring unforeseen circumstances, that should be up Monday. After that, just Ronin, Fuzz+ 2.2, and PulseModulator. Then we can get back to the business of making plug-ins. If we still remember how, that is. Our next product is almost certainly going to be a percussion instrument; I'm doing the design now while Adam polishes off these last couple updates.

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