Monday, September 09, 2019

Layers Of Complexity

I've learned a valuable lesson.
Years ago when I started writing my own tunes I had few sound sources and I wondered where people got their sounds from. In the 80's there weren't any samplers to speak of until the Fairlight. What I thought was that electronic bands had access to a multitude of synths and that they messed around with them until they found the right sound. I have spent hours sound designing only to settle on something that was only 'near enough'.
Last week I bought the Yamaha MU100 simply because it could layer 4 sounds at once, I thought that might be interesting. It's a brilliant sound module for a whole load of other reasons, too many to list here. My Korg Liverpool similarly has the ability to layer sounds but thus far I had only dabbled in that side of it. Back to the MU100. The presets for the layered sounds are nothing short of amazing. The videos I had watched online don't do them any justice. I also started double layering tracks with the RM1x and it instantly became obvious that the years I had spent thinking that amazing sounds came from a single source were totally misinformed.
I think just about every one of the tracks I have ever released had every sound as a single source sound, regardless of how many oscillators were involved. The secret all along was to get simple sounds from various sources and layer them.
I really do feel stupid. My search for those elusive sounds is over. I know how to make them now.
It's a shame it took so long.

Monday, August 26, 2019


I've been hard at work on this track for a while now but it's finally finished.
There isn't a lot I can say here apart from the track is called "Hey!"
As usual it's available to stream and download for free from the Internet Archive and is covered by a Creative Commons licence.

Sunday, August 18, 2019


Today has been a good day.
The Bear and I went for a small adventure to Astley Book Farm. I liked it there. There were obviously plenty of books, I bought a few on maths, and the cafe is very good also. We enjoyed fish finger sandwiches and coffee and cakes, but not all at once. I recommend that if you get a chance to go you really shouldn't miss the opportunity.
I also managed to get everything working in the hardware studio. Finally!
The QY10 talked to LMMS, LMMS recorded the MIDI signals and the RM1x played the MIDI notes back with fab new voices. The only problem at the moment is that I output a type 0 MIDI file instead of a type 1 but that's my fault and I'll rectify that next time.
I have a tune and an idea on the go at the moment so I'll get on with those next weekend which fortunately is a Bank Holiday so I'll have a few spare hours for mixing and mastering.
Hopefully I'll have something to play you next weekend.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Expanding Studio

I'm going to stop saying that I'm not going to add anything else to my studio.
Every time I say that it's complete I find something else to add. This time it was a reconditioned Lenovo laptop. I installed Ubuntu Studio on it so that it has a real-time kernel. That means much less latency when I'm running multiple pieces of software.
I'm adding it to the hardware studio because although all my old kit is wonderful the MIDI implementation isn't. Fortunately the MIDI routing in LMMS is wonderful and I can't keep adding software to my everyday laptop because it's filling up with stuff that should reside elsewhere. Hence the new laptop which is basically a glorified MIDI controller and patch-bay.
Because it does so much else it'll also be a staging post for new tracks on their way to the software studio. The workflow will allow me to get ideas off the QY10 and into a MIDI file, something it can't do as a stand-alone unit. Other tracks will stay on the hardware side and be recorded into the R8.
I'll hopefully have everything installed by this time tomorrow so I'll post a picture then. In the meantime I have to sleep before a rare day out.
There may well be a post on that also.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Downtime Uptime

It's been a strange week.
Early on Tuesday morning two of my wisdom teeth decided that they'd have another go at pushing through. This is probably one of the most painful things I've experienced and requires hardcore painkillers. Luckily I had some codeine from a previous prescription and that with some paracetamol knocked out the pain. It also knocked me out for decent periods also.
By Thursday morning I was just on the paracetamol so I decided to do some reading. I read the QR10 manual about 5 times so that it was implanted in my brain and on Thursday evening I ran through the "How To's" and I can now fully operate this very useful bit of kit. On Friday evening I hooked it up to my laptop and ran it through LMMS to re-voice my trial file and to save it as MIDI. Everything went without a hitch.
The MIDI file imports into Bitwig studio and I can expand my ideas in there. Tonight was all about arranging a track I've been working on for a few weeks (pictured above). It's 90% done which is about done as it can be at this stage. There's always room for improvement before mastering.
So that's it. Normal start to the week, sudden drop and then a flourish to finish. Tomorrow it's back to normal which is bad because I'm on a roll but good because I need the head space before I start mixing. I might leave it until the Bank Holiday because I'll need some afternoon hours.
Some things just can't be done with just headphones.