Sunday, December 30, 2018

Somewhere In The MIDI

There are 3 modes to MIDI.
1. It works.
2. It doesn't work.
3. You have to patch it to make it work.

I've just spent an enjoyable hour and a half in mode 3. Sometimes mode 3 is a nightmare. No matter what you do it's always in mode 2 or trying to resolve itself to mode 2. When you finally get to mode 1 it's best to get your ideas recorded in the fastest possible time before you change a voicing and find yourself back in mode 2.
I say enjoyable because I went from mode 2 to 3 and then to 1 and messed with voicings and managed to stay in 1. All good.

I've spent the last few months rebuilding my late lamented studio. A few years ago I sold a lot of hardware because I was writing music in FL Studio but it's now been about 3 years since I owned a Windows PC and so I've been without both hardware and software.
I had a couple of choices. Firstly I could spend a significant amount of money on a new Windows PC and get FL Studio up and running or I could replace the hardware with updated kit for about the same price.
While I'm competent with both set-ups I went with the latter. I just thought it'd be more fun. I was right. Tonight I programmed my Yamaha MIDI sequencer and re-voiced the tracks with a Korg keyboard. It sounded great and while messing around I opened a few more sequencing doors. I've added some new ideas to my workflow.

In case you're interested the kit list is:

Yamaha QY300 - MIDI Sequencer and secondary sound bank.
Korg Liverpool (MicroArranger) - Sequencer and main sound bank.
Zoom R8 - 8 track recorder, sampler, drum sequencer and guitar fx.
Squire Precision Bass
Zoom B1on - Bass multi FX and looper.
Blue Moon electric 6 string guitar.
Ashbury baritone ukulele.

What I'm hoping to produce is some kind of techno bass jazz but we'll see about that.
Making music has never been a precise art.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Alternative Radio

UK radio stations on the whole are terrible.
Most FM stations are a complete waste of time. Radio 4 is an exception but only sometimes. AM is sparsely populated and so hit or miss as to be worth very little of my time. LW doesn't fare any better, RTE 252 is decent but reception is limited.

This is of course my opinion. Many people love listening to the same tunes on a roll interspersed with adverts. People like to phone into shows and give their opinion of the events of the day however irrelevant. They also like interacting via social media if only to listen back to what they've just typed. That's a little harsh but not wide of the mark.
What I'm looking for is educational material, in depth analysis and good investigative journalism. The BBC has this covered for the most part on Radio 4 but it seems to be dumbing itself down in recent years.
Radio 6 Music is OK most of the time when I have a digital radio nearby which tends to be only at home.

It's a sign of the times that we all want and to some extent expect personalised content. When I'm in the truck at night I listen to podcasts, occasionally Radio 4 or nothing. What I miss is the radio as a tool of exploration, of discovery, of surprise, shock or delight. At home I have so many radios that when one type runs out of options I switch to another and carry on the search. Even that's getting more difficult with digital noise deafening the bands.

What I needed in the truck for when the podcasts ran out, which they frequently do, was a scanner. I've spent these last 2 nights programming in frequencies to my new Uniden UBC125XLT. Scanners are great radios. Like fishing you prepare your rod, line and bait and then wait. Sometimes there's nothing to catch, other times you can be overwhelmed. The surprise element is always possible. The anticipation is probably the best part and if all else fails there's always aviation to keep you occupied. That's what the books behind the scanner are. One is a totally nerdy guide to Air Traffic Control for radio enthusiasts. The other is an official study guide for radio operation when learning to fly.
They're both probably a bit overkill but I do intend to understand what pilots are going on about when that's all there is to listen to.