Sunday, March 31, 2019

Plenty Of Time

I don't think that it matters that I've just lost an hour, I've gained a track.
The best thing to do with it now it to leave it alone for a week and go back to it with fresh ears. All of the main elements are there, the blocks that hold the track together, but it's far from finished.
Next weekend I'll do a rough arrangement and export a copy. That'll be a backing track to listen to so that if I get any ideas I can subtract or add other elements.
With all the pieces in place I'll leave it alone again and work on other tracks. At some point I'll mix it all properly and drop it into a folder. When that folder has a few tracks in I'll master them all and release an EP.
I find it fairly easy to write tracks. The track above was started my me experimenting with a synth. I found a great bass sound and played until a riff emerged. The rest of the track has been built around the bassline. Sometimes it's a chord sequence. I suppose it's 50/50 when starting a new track. Bass or chords, the starting point is one or the other.
So far I'm enjoying using Bitwig Studio a lot. As far as Linux DAW's go it has to be the best and a suitable replacement for FL Studio.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Back In Business

It's been a hectic week.
I've been off work since Tuesday because my car needed an MOT and I didn't know how much work needed doing. I decided that not going back to work until next week was a good idea because I had plenty of other things I wanted to do.
The first job was getting Bitwig Studio up and running. That worked fine until I tried to boot my new PC on Wednesday and nothing happened. It took me most of Wednesday night / Thursday morning to get the PC to work. What I think happened was that one of the dependencies I added to try and get some plugins working didn't want to play with the NVidia drivers and that argument borked the system.
It's all good now and I've been experimenting and writing tracks. Rather than rely on using plugins, as good as they are, I've been watching loads of YouTube videos to learn how the built in synths work. I've learned enough to design some decent sounds of my own and I'm saving presets along the way.
I've also downloaded a Soundfont creator so that I can build my own multi-sampled synths. I have plenty of synths around so that shouldn't be a problem.
Another thing I'm doing is carrying around a small field recording kit. Nothing special but enough to record sounds without it being too obvious that that is what I'm doing.
I just wish I had more free time so that I could visit places with interesting soundscapes but who knows what I can create from the mundane sounds that are part of my world.
I think I'm about to find out.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Heart Of The Machine

As has been mentioned on this blog many times before, when Windows went so did FL Studio.
I'd been looking for a replacement DAW for some time and quite a while ago found Bitwig Studio. Not having a decent enough computer to run it on stopped me diving into the world of Bitwig earlier. Things are different now.
Tonight I bought BWS and so far I've worked out quite a bit without reading the manual. One third of it is very similar to Ableton Live which I had used a long time ago. This is no surprise as this is where the developers came from before starting this project. The only thing I can't get to work so far is native Linux VST's but I imagine I'll work that out at some stage.
BWS is now the heart of my new studio. It'll eventually run the QY sequencers and the Korg synth. I can then pipe everything into the Zoom R8 multitrack and take the files into Audacity for mastering. That's a lot of sound options.
It'll take a while to get stuck into BWS especially with an update imminent. In the meantime I'll keep experimenting and creating like I've always done.
AmpUT is back in business.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Long Live The Flaneur

Picture the scene.
Saturday afternoon. I'm out and about and have some time to kill. I usually find a coffee shop and do some writing. I like to support local businesses and with a recommendation I head to a small business. I order my coffee and a cake, the woman behind the counter takes my money, rings it in, gives me my change and says "I'll have to give you your coffee in a takeaway cup because we close in 10 minutes." It's 3:50pm.
This isn't the first time this has happened to me. Not at this place but at 2 other small and local to me businesses. If I'd been told they were nearly closing before they'd taken my money I would have gone somewhere else. If I'm out for coffee I don't want to have to rush through my purchase. If they're closing soon just let me know or put your opening times on the door.
It would seem that small businesses have a lot to learn about how to communicate with their customers. The corporates seem to have this covered and I'm leaning towards them at the moment which is a shame. Yesterday my sit in coffee option was Greggs. The coffee isn't bad at all and I can get something lite to eat for me and my girlfriend for the same price that I paid for what I had today.
It would seem that in this smartphone age I'm expected to have full details about where I'm going via the net before I get there. So long serendipity.
The flaneur in me is discouraged from places with poor communication skills. That's not what I want when interacting with the community.

Saturday, March 23, 2019


It's been a long time since I played with Lego.
Probably about 39 years I reckon. I didn't have a lot of Lego. A few road base plates, some mini figures, vehicles and enough bricks to built a very small town.
For a whole summer holiday I made up my own adventures in Lego. I had just moved house and didn't have any new friends so I stayed in and played. I taught myself how to draw Superman too by copying from an annual I'd been given.
Not long after that summer I moved again but my Lego didn't move with me and since then I've thought about building worlds to escape into.

Eventually I got a computer and played with 3D. Bryce 3D was my weapon of choice for a long time but that disappeared with Windows many moons ago now.
With the arrival of my new PC I've once again found avenues to wander down. With a decent graphics card and a world of free software I've opted for Blender and LeoCAD.
Blender is about as good as it gets for 3D and really needs no introduction. On the other hand LeoCAD is new to me. I'm so glad I found it. As many free bricks of all shapes and sizes and all the mini figures one could ever want.
They're both free. What more could I want.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Full Speed Ahead

This is my first post from my new PC.
It's a bit of a powerhouse. That's all you need to know, I won't go into the specifications.
It's taken me all night to sort everything out. I've had cables in then out and back in again. I've re-arranged stuff so many times that I probably won't recognize this room tomorrow.
Some things didn't work as expected but most things did so overall I'm pleased with the outcome.
The one thing I can't find is my outboard sound card. I'll have to look for that tomorrow. I've seen it recently but where I've put it is anybody's guess. It's not a small thing and I need it for MIDI stuff. I've no doubt I'll find it.
It's just a case of when!

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Something Old

Well here's a blast from the past.
I went into the loft today and dragged out my old Yamaha PSR-240. It's probably about 5 years since I last turned it on. I needed a bit of a wipe down and the rubber feet had perished so cleaning took well over an hour. Nevertheless it powered up and still plays nicely.
One good thing about limited keyboards is that with only a few sounds you'll ever use one spends more time actually composing because there are few distractions. After skimming through a PDF manual I noticed that in the MIDI section it recommended hooking up to a QY70. I don't have one but I do have a QY100 so guess what I did? The answer is nothing. I can't remember where I've put my MIDI cables. At 4am it's way too early/late to start rooting around and making a noise so I'll do that tomorrow.
The great thing about the PSR-240 is that it's already set up to talk to the QY series. The MIDI channels don't need any configuration. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night.

In other news, I'm writing this post on my Pi-Top laptop. The touch pad is quite big but not ideally suited to dragging windows around the screen so I bought it a wireless mouse. The Logitech mouse was cheap and cheerful and works right out of the box with Linux which is why I use them pretty much exclusively.

I bought a QY10 last week which MyHermes managed to lose so no new QY to play with. That's a real shame because I wanted a portable, carry anywhere sequencer. Oh well another time, I have bigger things to concentrate on, talking of which...

I'm hoping that in about 2 weeks time to bring you some exciting news on this blog about my music studio. I'm saying nothing at the moment. I'll wait until everything is in place.