Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This Is How MikiStrange Rolls

Here it is. My new audio/MIDI studio setup.
It's all there. Digital audio from the iPad. An analogue mixer with built in effects, the QY100 with everything built in and to top it all a Matrix Mixer that I purchased from my friend ConcreteDog. It's built to produce all kinds of wonderful feedback and it does that very well indeed. I've only had a little play but I seem to have cabled it up in a way that works.
The reason for the new setup is because I'm giving AmpUT the year off as far as music making goes. As explained below I need to cut away from the clean and well produced work and make some noise. I need to get it out of my system and like my painting just go for it. Sod the rules and the practice and tuition just lose myself in some self expression.
The end result will hopefully be a collection of tracks produced in collaboration with both ConcreteDog and PalmSounds.
Both of these guys understand sound and its construction so their input will be as much excitement as education for me.
Here's to uncharted territory and great navigators.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Yes I know. That isn't the most exciting picture in the world.
It isn't even taken very well. There really wasn't much thought went into the composition. In this case it's the details that count. Some are even hidden.
Lets start with the mixer. It's new. I've needed a mixer with more inputs for ages so I bought the Behringer Xenyx X1222USB. I went with Behringer because up until now I've been using one of their Eurorack UB802 mixer's and its been absolutely solid and I got it second hand. It made sense to stick with a brand that I know and trust. The UB802 and the Tascam 424 mkIII that the Xenyx replaces will now both be sold, it's a shame but it's time to move on.
The reason for this new mixer apart from more inputs was it's also a USB mixer. So I get audio out at line level from the USB output. All good so far.
The reason I needed the USB out was to get a signal into my iPad 4 using the USB to Lightning adaptor. You'll be pleased to know it works just fine, no drivers needed. I can now plunder loops and sounds from anything I can plug into the Xenyx including my faithful QY100. I've tried it and its brilliant.
Of course I could have done all this on my PC but the process of recording to sample is so much quicker on the iPad. Add to that virtual MIDI triggering etc and not forgetting everything that Audiobus has to offer I can start making the made-up, mangled and mutated sounds that in the past would have seemed like a chore.
There is one piece of the jigsaw missing at the moment which is down to a delay in the post and I'll show you that in place once it gets here.
Exciting times indeed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Moving Forward

It's been a few years that I've owned my Yamaha QY100.
In all honesty unless anyone ever creates a perfect copy of any of the QY series as an app or software nothing will ever touch it as a complete music making sequencer.
It's therefore very encouraging that Yamaha have released an iPad app that comes very close. The Yamaha Mobile Music Sequencer (above) is at least an emulation of the QY workflow. There aren't quite as many musical styles although you can top up with in app purchases and hopefully there will be more in the future. But for now what there is will keep a lot of people happy. There's also the option of creating and saving your own styles so the possibilities really are endless if you put in a little effort. The remix function does a lot to add variation to existing and created styles too.
Creating a song is simplicity itself and follows the QY workflow exactly. Individual instrument parts make Sections and Sections work together to make songs. It's really easy to get a basic feel for a track and then to adjust and tweak until the track starts to take shape. A little or a lot of effort will both create decent results.
I can imagine that there will be detractors who will point out that it's a bit of a closed system with tired old patterns. I think your opinion depends on whether you like what is basically a very basic arranger workstation. The QY series was always the front runner for keyboards like Yamaha's Tyros range. They're often seen as a lazy musician's instrument. The simple fact is that their power lies in creating your own styles and patterns and its the same with this new Yamaha app.
If this is what's achievable now then just think what you'll be doing on your tablet in five or ten years time. I can imagine that it'll be just as incredible as what's happening with mobile music now. I'm glad Yamaha are making moves in the right direction and I'm sure others like Korg will be eager to compete in the mobile market with similar apps.
It can only be good for musicians of all abilities.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Revolution Starts Here

There are two sides to me.
The first side plays it safe, is calculated and assesses risk.
The second would like to put two fists through the table at your civilised dinner party before walking off and getting chips and beans in a tray from down the road whilst slugging mouthfuls of fine wine stolen from your teak sideboard.
This second reckless side doesn't get out much especially where music is concerned. I'm careful not to use presets, I make original compositions and tidy everything up before posting to the Archive. Every now and then I want to steal beats, mangle them and generally make a mess of nice music. I don't really publish any of this stuff and I like to delete it as the final act of vandalism.
I think it's time to keep those violent canvases and give other people a chance to analyse them. I'm reconstructing my studio so that I can get on with this years music project. For a while AmpUT will have to sleep. MikiStrange is on stage. Who knows? Will this be the support act it's always been or will it become the bill topper?
It's time for you to decide.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The Last Day

I'm just sending myself a postcard to remind myself about the last two weeks.
I like looking back through my blog and this year, now that I have a decent app, I plan to add to it more regularly than last year.
As the postcard says it's back to work tomorrow which means plenty of time to think while I drive the truck around. I then plan to use every bit of spare time in the evenings and weekends to work on my own projects.
Happy New Year everyone. Let's hope it's productive for all of us.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

What Do I Know

This is my last full day in Berlin.
I'm glad I took some time to visit this city. It's certainly not my favourite place in the world. What I do love it for is its history. This place holds a lot of secrets about the past and has many to give up in the future. Not until long after I'm dead and gone will anyone know the full extent of what has happened here and at that point the full extent will still be riddled with holes like a Swiss cheese.
Berlin has made me think about people more. About how we perceive and treat each other. In my old age I've become more cynical about how those in power abuse their position. I've come to learn that anyone at any level with any kind of control over anyone can and probably will, at some stage, abuse that power.
And for what? Are we genetically trying to become the alpha male or female. Is it built into our DNA that we should be on the highest branch looking down. I don't know the answer to that question.
What I do know is that when you are a victim of those in authority you generally have no easy way to reply or seek justice.
There are so many victims in this world that it would be impossible to count them all. The majority will never even be recognised as victims because the perpetrators of the injustices will have covered their tracks too well.
It seems to me that to be successful and to gain and attain power then one is going to have to break a few bones while climbing over those that will be less successful in their journey to the top of the ladder.
If that's the case then I'm happy being an abject failure.