Monday, December 09, 2019

A Little Knowledge

I've been tidying up a few loose ends tonight.
It only took me about 2 hours but I finally managed to get my Zyn-Fusion plugin to be sequenced by LMMS. I suppose it is straight forward but only once you've exhausted all the other options. I went through all the other options first. The result is that I can now automate creating multisamples for Bitwig.
Zyn-Fusion is pretty much the only plugin synth you'll ever need which is why I spent so much time getting it to work the way I wanted.
Before I started messing about in the studio I revisited a shell script (pictured above) that I rediscovered a week ago. At only 4 lines it makes encryption in the terminal editor Nano a piece of cake. Now that I've found it again I'll probably add to it and get it its own page on Github so that everyone else can use it. I have a little bit of reading to do first but I know what I'm looking for so that shouldn't take long.
It is after all the season for giving.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Finishing Touches

If there's one thing I've struggled with in my songwriting it's been drum fills and endings.
Specifically at the end of a drum phrase the pattern just seems to repeat until the end and restart or run into a different pattern. This is down to the fact that playing something believable on a single keyboard key is extremely difficult and no amount of tweaking the MIDI file afterwards seems to make the situation any better. I decided a while ago that I'd like to get my hands on a Yamaha DD-75 but at around £200 it was an expense that could wait. I kept a search saved online for 'Yamaha DD' to see what would come up. Sure enough a decent DD-65, one model down from what I'd been looking at, came up at a very reasonable £34 starting price.
I eventually won it for £36 plus £8 postage which is fine by me. Despite not having more sounds or the latest samples it's perfect for my needs. I just need it as a realtime MIDI trigger. The sounds will come from samples stored on other units or from Bitwig.
It needs a little tidy up which it'll get and it will then sit as a very useful addition the the hardware side of the studio.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Never Give Up

It's often worth going beyond popular wisdom and searching for the truth.
Today was a fine example of that philosophy.
To make making styles for my QY300 easier I decided that the best tool for the job was the Linux DAW software LMMS. The MIDI routing is second to none and with a decent sequencer attached it's pretty much perfect. The problem was that wherever I looked on the internet the answer was that LMMS would not run on a Raspberry Pi. The RPi just didn't have the resources. All I needed it for was MIDI and because Seq24 runs without a problem I didn't think that running LMMS as a MIDI controller would be a problem either. The internet kept on saying no, but I wasn't about to give up that easily.
After a couple more hours of searching and reading I found a possible solution. Someone had installed a version of Lubuntu onto their RPi and simply downloaded LMMS from the repository. I know that Lubuntu is a really lightweight system and I was going to be installing it on a RPi 2 which is kind of pushing the boundaries but I thought it was worth a go.
Two hours later and a new install of Lubuntu was indeed running my QY300 through LMMS without a problem.
As the title of this post says, never give up.
That would be just too easy.

Sunday, November 17, 2019


The picture above is nothing much to look at.
It's just another instance of Bitwig Studio. Tonight I decided to build a track from scratch so I started in D minor in Sundog Song Studio. I made two blocks of 4 bars and then exported the MIDI file to FL Studio to re-voice. It was more a jam session with FL Studio, I wanted to get an idea of the sounds I'd be using. I didn't settle on anything in particular so I didn't export any multi-samples. I did get a feel for the track though.
Next I imported the MIDI file into Bitwig and got to a stage where the 2 groups of 4 bars were in their own space and I added some basic drums. I then decided I wanted the first 4 bars of chords to be 8 bars. By the time I'd done that I'd not only moved the second chord up a semi-tone too much but I'd forgot to resize the loop to 8 bars. The resulting 4 bars sounded really good, mistakes and all so it's been kept.
My next mistake was adjusting the bass wrongly after I'd duplicated it several times. The result was my original bassline alternating with an offset version. Again it sounded good so it's staying too.
It's only the start of the track but my mistakes have given me ideas as to what I need to do to make the track more interesting.
At this stage all I can predict is that it probably won't end up in D minor for long.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Worth Your Time

I have a lot of time to listen to the entertainment system in my truck.
This week it was mostly spent listening to the audiobook version of Edward Snowden's new book 'Permanent Record'.
It's a good book. It's about him and what made him the kind of person that would expose a country's secrets. There are no big reveals about hacking or insider views of his time in exile. In fact it's as bland a story of what happened to Edward Snowden before, during and after the events that brought him to the world's attention.
The fact is that because the story is so interesting the telling of it doesn't need added bells and whistles. Before you read or listen to the book you know the ending but it's the joining of the dots that is fascinating.
There is information in there that you need reminding about concerning privacy and your digital identity. In case you think anything has improved in the last 6 years ask yourself why a company like Facebook who these days are talking about your privacy have just introduced 'Portal'. This book is very good at reminding you that all such things gather some kind of information about you.
With the prospect of few voices like Edward Snowden's talking publicly about the state of surveillance in the future it's worth keeping up with what he has to say now.
There's a good possibility most people will simply forget and slip into bad habits. And then all is lost.

(Photo credit: Laura Poitras / Praxis Films)