Monday, May 27, 2019
The Synth Inside
The Korg Liverpool is primarily sold as an arranger keyboard chock full of Beatles songs to play along to. It does that job very well.
But as I've explained on this blog before it's a repackaged MicroArranger and apart from missing a handful of styles it is the same machine. The missing styles can be loaded via an SD card so you're missing nothing.
The tutorials and other videos on YouTube go into some detail about arranging styles, recording songs and other keyboard features but I haven't seen any about the synth capabilities of this keyboard.
I've been promising myself a night to see what it can do and tonight was that night. What was I waiting for?
This thing is a beast! To start with it has 4 oscillators and more waveforms than I've seen on any synth. It's full of options for LFO's, tuning and envelopes. If you know your way around a synth you have as many options as you'll ever need. It's just vast!
I think I now have all the synths I'll ever need (apart from an RM1x). I'll be sampling the sounds on the Liverpool until the day I die. I think the 'arranger' packaging of this synth doesn't do the unit justice but I am glad that that was how it was sold.
I'm paying nearly as much for 20 year old sound modules.
Sunday, May 26, 2019
I rarely change my sleep routine.
I work at night and sleep during the day and changing that pattern is quite a lot of stress on ones body especially if the change over is only for a short period. For the first part of this bank holiday weekend I wanted to change the routine if only to enjoy some time actually doing something rather than catching up with everything else during the latter half of the day.
After finishing work on Friday morning I stayed awake and the Bear and I jumped into the car and headed to Cambridge. It's a good location for us. Not too far away and enough going on to amuse us for a few hours. I'd booked a room earlier in the week so we had a base to head out from. We were in the pub / hotel for about 12:30pm which was fine for an afternoon of exploration.
There were 2 places that I wanted to visit. Firstly was King's College which was where Alan Turing studied and then became a fellow. I took my obligatory tourist photo at the entrance to King's. I still have 3 more Alan Turing sites to visit to complete my pilgrimage. The second location was the Raspberry Pi shop in the Grand Arcade. I bought a few bits including a RPi embossed Moleskine notebook. It's satisfying to me to think that the Raspberry Pi store and Mr Turing and Cambridge are all inextricably linked.
After staying awake for a total of 31 hours I slept soundly.
This morning we stopped in St Neots on the way back home to raid the charity shops and get the morning fill of coffee. We were in and out in a couple of hours. I'd like to return one day to see what I missed.
Another stop in Market Harborough and then home for a local wonder and a spell of flaneuring on the Strip.
I'm back into my night routine but this time I only have to stay awake for 24 hours. There's still some weekend left and I intend to cram in as much as I can before my return to work on Monday evening.
I am grateful to the effects of caffeine.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
Yamaha & Roland
I know, I know! I have too many sequencers already.
The Yamaha QY100 is no stranger to this blog, but the Roland PMA-5 is probably going to feature just as much from now on. So why another sequencer / sound module?
The answer is quite simple. I've had Yamaha and Korg covered so far but Roland has been missing from the setup. Not any more. The little PMA-5 has the TR-808 and TR-909 drum sounds as well as some lovely samples from the TB-303 and the SH-101. Who wouldn't want some of that? Before anyone reminds me that I can download numerous soundfonts with those samples included for free I'd like to remind you that one half of my studio is purely MIDI based. I don't know of any hardware soundfont players and I still need the sounds from the units mentioned above.
The QY100 is still probably the easiest to program along with the QY300 but while the QY300 has less distractions the QY100's distractions can be very useful at times. They both have there merits.
In the picture above I've re-voiced the QY100 with the PMA-5. It makes all the difference to have some really nice sounding 808 drums driving things along. The Roland will be used purely as a sound module.
There are a couple of other units I want before I'm done but they're a bit more expensive and so I'll have to be lucky to find a bargain. They're out there.
It's just a waiting game.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
The Music Jotter
I've been doing a lot of reading in the past 24 hours.
The printed manual that I got yesterday has been thumbed through and I have a work flow that incorporates the Korg Liverpool as a sound module in setups for my Yamaha QY sequencers and Bitwig Studio.
It's certainly not as straight forward as I'd have liked it to be but it's easy enough. I just have to think ahead. I won't bore you with the details.
Having worked it all out I'm free to write tracks from a variety of sources. The QY10 above is set up for "pick up and play" and is totally portable. I just need to carry it around a little more often. I also have my phone for jotting down musical ideas and that's pretty much always with me so my cheap Sony headphones also need to be in my rucksack on a permanent basis.
One thing that inspires musical ideas is to listen to other peoples music. In all honesty I don't do enough of that. I've used the stereo in my truck for catching up on podcasts which is a good thing but I need to break that up with a few albums.
It may sound strange but I need to draw more. I zone out with a pencil and paper, it calms my thoughts enough to let me concentrate on one thing at a time.
My head is probably full of ideas. I just need to filter out the noise.
Saturday, May 11, 2019
The Manual's Manual
I have a new manual for my Korg Liverpool.
These days when you buy a complicated bit of tech there is often a 'Getting Started' guide and not much else in the way of documentation. Somewhere in the guide there will be a printed link to download a full owner's manual so that you may explore further the advanced options when you hit a brick wall. This is great for the environment. Who needs 100 plus pages of something you're unlikely to study in depth. On the odd occasion you actually do need that much information, prolonged perusing isn't that great on electronic devices, at least not in my experience. Post-It notes just don't cut it on a screen.
There's an upside and downside to PDF documents. On the upside you can print only the pages you need and this can be done at home. The downside is that should you actually need the whole document it's probably going to be costly.
The latter was my predicament. I needed the complete Korg Liverpool Owner's Manual and at 246 pages long my printer was going to be burned out by the end of the process.
So it was that I ended up calling a professional printer. I've used John E Wright in the past and they're very good. When I asked about next day printing they said it wouldn't be a problem. I specified what I needed and sent the instructions with the file. As you can see from the picture above, it's all done. You'll also notice that it's bound. I was informed in the original call that if the manual was bound it would be VAT free, something I didn't know. All in all it cost me a little over £20 and is worth every penny.
Now that I have the manual I've realised that while in depth at 246 pages it does need some simplification so I'm writing a concise version while I'm reading through it. I'll be able to cross reference with the original while providing myself with a memory jolt for the plethora of procedures that I'll be performing. I'm hoping that by the time I'm done with this little exercise I'll be at the expert level I want to be at.
I'm also planning on passing on my knowledge to help other Korg Liverpool owners. At the moment there doesn't seem to be much information on the advanced synthesiser functions of the keyboard.
I want to change that.
Monday, May 06, 2019
The Long Haul
Some tracks take a lot of writing.
The above is one of them.
My approach this time was to sit down with my keyboard and play it until I had enough parts to build a track. Once done I moved the chord progressions into Bitwig and got the sound right for an electric piano and a pad.
Since then I've added some drum sounds which I'm happy with and started adding variation to the drum parts.
The bass has been and gone as have other sections like an arpeggiator and melody, all of which will return in other guises.
The thing with this track is that it needs to morph and build and it's dictating what parts and sounds will come in at points along the path. It won't let me just add stuff and bring it in when I need it. It's going to take a long time.
Will it all be worth it in the end? I don't know. This track is steering me not vice versa.
I just hope it knows where it's going.
Saturday, May 04, 2019
It's been 7 years since I uploaded a track to Archive.org.
It's also been the same amount of time that I have been without a studio. I'm glad to say that I'm back producing music once again under my artist name of AmpUT (amp you tee).
I don't think that my music style has changed that much in the years I've been away. I wrote quite a lot of music on an iPad about 4 or 5 years back. It seemed that a lot was happening on that platform and the quality of synths and tablet DAWs was and is very good. The problem is that it doesn't quite feel the same as a fully fledged music workspace where adding instruments, virtual or otherwise is as simple as hitting a button or plugging something in.
I made a multisample a couple of weeks ago and it took me me about an hour to faithfully recreate the sound from a hardware synth. I can also record bass and guitars just as quickly and multisample those if I need to. Maybe I'm becoming a bit old fashioned but it's the way I like to work and it's quick for me. I've been working that way for 30 years.
The track above is my latest work. It's called 'Circus' because I'm pulling words from John Le Carre novels at the moment and that one seemed to fit.
As always it's free to download from archive.org if you like it that much.
I hope you do.
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