Saturday, July 20, 2019

Files Not Cables

My week off work is almost at an end.
It didn't really go as planned. It took much longer than I anticipated to swing around onto a dayshift sleeping pattern. That meant I spent much more time indoors than going out. I used my time to try and get to know my Korg Liverpool better. After weekends of messing around with MIDI cables and the QY's I had learned a lot but the Korg being an all in one solution taught me a valuable lesson. That is that because it has an onboard MIDI player I can simply load a MIDI file created on any of the other kit and re-voice it.
This is a much better proposition than trying to connect everything with cables and here's why. Each bit of kit I have that can create a MIDI file has its own personality. The RM1x is great for dance tracks, the QY's are useful for anything as is the Korg, but they all have a different feel. What inspires me one day might not work the next. I can even export MIDI files from music apps on my phone.
Once I have a file I can load it anywhere that has the sound I want and record out the audio from there. I've never really been a fan of recording complete audio tracks, preferring to have MIDI data drive samples, but after watching a tutorial online for Bitwig Studio I was reminded that there is a ton of manipulation options available, the audio file is just the start. I need to change my thinking slightly but I'm up for that. I have so much decent equipment that quality won't suffer in the audio transfer process.
I just need to remember to pack a pair of headphones because I'll always have access to some kind of music production software.
Let's see what I can do with those few spare minutes that float around my day.

Saturday, July 13, 2019


I am on holiday for a week.
It's that time of year when my girlfriend decides that she's off abroad to hang out with friends. I was invited but I have a load of things that I want to do. Despite not going to work I will be working hard on personal stuff. I have a list of things to catch up on, I also have free time to wind down.

Tonight I have been working on MIDI hardware again. I know how it all works and what works with what and what doesn't work. That's one thing crossed off the list.
My software studio (DAW) has a major update so I'll be installing that at some point and getting to know the new features. That could take a while.
I have more LaTeX to learn so I want to speed that up and get ahead there.
I have also planned a 'Flaneur's Day Out'. I haven't had one of those in years so I'm looking forward to a day of mooching around and enjoying some wine and good food. As usual I'll be taking my Moleskine notebook to document the day but I might give Instagram Stories a go. I think I could make that work.
There are also a couple of airport taxi runs to do and other bits and bobs to fill my time.
I also hope to make this blog a bit busier over the week documenting the days so that when I'm back at work I can look back and know that I actually got stuff done. Holidays go too fast and before you know it you end up wondering what exactly you got up to.
By the way, the little mug in the picture above, and it is tiny, holds a decent shot of Scotch. I've allowed myself a second mug just because I am on holiday.
Well, it wouldn't be a proper holiday otherwise.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

It Isn't A Small Music Centre

Or is it?
In the 1970s there was a piece of furniture that sat under the window in the front room of my family's home. It was about five feet long, made of veneered wood and its purpose was to provide entertainment. It was both a radio and a record player and was known as the 'Music Centre'.
In the 1980s Music Centres became upright, like an encased rack of audio separates with wooden sides and a glass door. Eventually when the glass door and wooden sides disappeared and the whole fake stack was made of plastic they were renamed 'MIDI Systems'. I have no idea why. They were all audio and no MIDI.
I have no idea why I'm telling you this apart from the fact that I've been try to get my music hardware to talk to each other this weekend and every time I read the acronym MIDI it reminds me of the 80s. I should let it go but I'm still annoyed at the Hi-Fi makers for misappropriating the term.

The reason I'm connecting my audio hardware together is because I finally got hold of a Yamaha RM1x. The sounds on the unit are 1990s dance orientated and I love them. They're all useful. The Korg Liverpool on the other hand has just about every other sound I'm likely to use so that's it. The hardware studio is complete.
My MIDI problem is that all the units I use apart from my Yamaha keyboard have an onboard sequencer and that means they all want to be the boss and not take orders from any other unit. Plenty of MIDI out options but not so many MIDI in options. Communication is achievable but is far more convoluted than it needs to be. In the end I won and declared the Yamaha QY100 the boss. I will eventually declare the Korg boss but for now I'm keeping it simple.
As for the setup? Is it a music centre? Well yes, but its scope certainly isn't small even if its form factor is.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Error Correction

In the picture above is a Yamaha RM1x.
I took the picture in 2011 of the RM1x that I owned. It was a major step up from the Yamaha QY100 that I had been using. The sounds are much better for a start and the on board arpeggiator is just the beginning of the audio adventure that awaits. By about 2015 both of the Yamaha units were gone. I was exclusively writing tracks in FL Studio and I didn't really look at my hardware so the units were sold. Big error.
That error has now been rectified. There is an RM1x on its way to me. It's the last bit of kit I wanted to rebuild my hardware studio. I've had a QY100 for a little while now and that's been waiting for a connection to an RM1x. Don't get me wrong, the QY100 has a very useful XG sound set but it's fairly limited.
I've also now got a Zoom guitar multi-fx unit which will be used with the Boss vocoder for vocal processing. I have a week's holiday coming up in a fortnight and I'll set everything up then and list my hardware studio kit list here. I might add a video of everything working together if I can produce a decent tune to demo it all. I'm not too keen on making videos. It's a lot of hassle and that's from an ex VJ.
Maybe things have changed.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Listen. Learn. Do.

My first shift of the week is done.
I was driving back in the truck listening to Noam Chomsky.
Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. Spending hours in front of my computers in my free time while the world sleeps. I write for myself and others. I learn new skills in order to present my work to the world. I write and post anonymously. But there are times when I wonder why I bother at all. I question what difference if any, anything I write will make to anyone. At times what I do seems pointless.
When I get to this stage I listen to podcasts. Usually one Noam Chomsky podcast will get me back on track. It'll blow away the doubt and I'm ready to commit words to the page again. There will usually be a point in the podcast when someone asks Noam how the status quo can be changed. His reply is usually "You change it yourself." If that isn't inspiration to do or say or write something I don't know what is.
Will I change the world in any way? Probably not. But I might change the world for one person who in turn passes on the information learned and after a while a few people with certain knowledge might change the world. I may never know if I'll ever make a difference to anyone, that's fine, but I'm not going to deny anyone a little knowledge that I can pass on that might help them.
From small acorns mighty oaks grow.

Image courtesy of Ministerio de Cultura de la NaciĆ³n Argentina
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (]