Modular Synth Blog 2010 Archive
Nick Blackburn

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Reorg continues
19th January 2011
19th Jan

The reorganisation continues and a new camera improves the picture quality.

The µstep is on order and the Timetable will soon go on sale. Then I'll be saving up for a Gravity Well.

I'm working on this week's piece


wishlist: Pittsburgh Timetable - intellijel designs µstep - Circuit Abbey Gravity Well - ADDAC .WAV Player - Pittsburgh VILFO
Then: Makenoise QMMG and Maths - 4ms Noise Swash - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2011: Synthwerks Lamp 2
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000 - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54 - Dewanatron Triple Slice - Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
Reorg begun and noise made
11th January 2011
before after

In accordance with the New Year Plan, I have taken most of the modules out and only put some back. The before is on the left and the after on the right. The new lights are in and jolly useful too. The Z8000 and Cyclotron are awaiting reinstallation and the LFOs and utility modules need relocation.

I stated that I would aim for one piece per week and so, only four days late, here is the first test piece on the current layout. The four channels into the MX-4S are:


GravityWell GWS
...to all our readers
6th January 2011

Some more tempting modules, the Circuit Abbey Gravity Well and the WMD Gamma Wave Source.

There's a new year just around the corner
29th December 2010

I think I might greet the new year with a few intentions, if not resolutions:


Year end wishlist: Pittsburgh Timetable - Pittsburgh VILFO - Makenoise QMMG and Maths - 4ms Noise Swash
Then: Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000 - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54 - Dewanatron Triple Slice - Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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Catchup
24th December 2010
Bad Santa

Since the last update, my main plaything has been the Kilpatrick Pattern Generator. Here's a track of three takes, each running the AFG and (inverted) the R54.

Two new (to me) blogs of note, Tone's and Pierre's.

I am expecting a Synthwerks Lamp 2 for christmas. The next purchase is likely to be a Pittsburgh Timetable and I am also looking at the Expert Sleepers modules.

Have a good christmas - eat until it hurts, then drink until it stops hurting - or is it the other way around.


New modules
26th October 2010
various

There are some great-looking new modules just arrived or in the pipeline:

At this rate I'll have to leap out of retirement and back into a job to finance the new kit I 'need'.

As first priority, I'd go for either the sampler or the timetable.


Monthly archive wishlist: Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator - Pittsburgh VILFO - Makenoise QMMG and Maths - 4ms Noise Swash
Then: Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000 - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54 - Dewanatron Triple Slice
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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SpaceEcho
Pedal
23rd October 2010
138d

An impulse next purchase might well be a 138d pedal insert and a Boss Space Echo pedal. A large, fun external device which takes up zero rack space. The likely project will be a melange of Great Welsh Hymns starting with Or God OwerElp in Airjis Passt.

MODE MACHINES x0xb0x Socksbox TB-303

Following this month's Sound on Sound review of the 303 clone MODE MACHINES x0xb0x, one of these might soon be required.

Funding is a bit of an issue: although I'm working the post again this christmas, which generates a wad, I might have to buy a kiln to service my stained glass projects.

And it might be time for an external mixer. I have a Behringer UB802 hooked up to the old PC. Said SOS edition reviews the new Soundcraft Notepad 124FX and also mentions the Allen & Heath ZED range.

Notes on modular innovations to follow.


Dewanatron Triple Slice
Dewanatron
3rd September 2010

The Triple Slice has arrived and is a thing of subtle beauty, both visually and aurally. I'll post the manual in due course, that's pretty too. Probably the Kilpatrick next.

I'll post some noises too.


Monthly Archive Wishlist: Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator - Pittsburgh VILFO - Makenoise QMMG and Maths - 4ms Noise Swash
Then: Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000 - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54 - Dewanatron Triple Slice
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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Vamp
22nd August 2010
Pittsburgh VILFO The Cupboard

The Dewanatron Triple Slice (pictured here) is on the way from the US. The other module while has caught my eye is the Pittsburgh VILFO which has arived recently at Postmodular. I warm to the concept of Voltage Influence rather than voltage control. The question is, should I get one before or after saving up for the Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator (pictured here).

I had planned to pick up a few from EMIS while passing this week, but Andy is on holiday.

The current layout in The Cupboard is shown on the right.


August archive wishlist: Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator - Pittsburgh VILFO - Makenoise QMMG and Maths - 4ms Noise Swash
Then: Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000 - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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Barenboim
Barenboim
5th August 2010

We happened upon a Daniel Barenboim piano masterclass on BBC4 this evening. Towards the end, in response to an audience question, he replied that you can put an ash tray on a piano and it will make a sound: if you put an ash tray on a violin it will not.

That's remarkable, true and remarkably true. Unfortunately, the program was not on the BBC play it again system and so I cannot grab the clip.


Dewanatron
24th July 2010
Dewanatron Triple Slice

It's still 23rd, really but I have a third picture to post and so I'll post-date this entry. While browsing the big city music offerings I came across the Dewanatron Triple Slice. Dewanatron look to be a remarkably idiosyncratic outfit. Big City describe the modules thusly:

The first run of hand-wired Dewanatron Triple Slice eurorack modules are starting to trickle in, a few at a time. We are taking pre-orders on them.
The Dewanatron Triple Slice VCO harmonic metamorphosis module generates a highly stable 1v/octave sine based waveform that ranges from .5hz thru 16khz.
The initial sine wave passes thru 3 successive slice stages. The end result is a continuously undulating waveform, which yields an ever-changing spectrum of emerging and receding harmonics.
Harmonics are generated by "slicing" a waveform, in which an absolute value function with a variable zero point reverses the polarity and thus reflects the portion of the waveform below it. As this reflecting line passes thru the waveform along the voltage (vertical) axis, various harmonics are generated. The three slice stages are controlled by 3 independent LFOs.
The first slice stage is controlled by either an internal oscillator or the external oscillator input. The frequencies of the LFOs driving the second and thrid slice stages are derived from this initial LFO signal, and their frequencies relative to each other are adjusted with the "skew" control. The "mix" output sums these three outputs with the original sine wave (these three outputs are also available separately). The resulting final signal contains multiple sets of cascading harmonics.

The appearance of modules is certainly picking up - Metasonix for the yellow, of course, the Dewanatron is the first green one I recall and the 4ms modules come in an attractive (or do I mean unusual) range of colours. I think FSS give the option of acrylics. Synthwerks in white, MFB in black, there is potential for building a Mondrian rack.


July archive wishlist: MOTU Volta [page] - FSS sequencer when available - Makenoise QMMG and Maths - 4ms Noise Swash
Then: Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000 - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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modules in
23rd July 2010
Korg Monotron R54 box

Modules arrived and installed, though I'll have to reorganise the layout again to accomodate them sensibly. The Cyclotron will take some learning, but the AFG and the (subtly glowing but splendidly coarse) R54 are immediately a delight. I have recorded a track for the Harvey piece driving both VCOs from the Malekko noisering, output straight into the Cwejman MX-4S. The label on the Metasonix box reminds the user that Your music still sucks, Eric Barbour being helpful as usual..

This month's Sound on Sound reviews the pretty little Korg Monotron. Perhaps the perfect holiday companion.


vamp
21st July 2010

Still waiting for the parcel to arrive.

Anyone who has received an email from me will know that my signature is my current recommendation in sound. More often than not, these come from BBC Radio 3, usually Late Junction. For the last four months it has been the Michelangelo Rossi piece mentioned here. Today I changed it to Jonathan Nangles Our headlights blew softly into the black, illuminating very little. Here it is on YouTube, and some information on the composer. The piece, for bass clarinet and electronics, provides some marvellous noises.


sponsored
more on modules
20th July 2010

The Dual Cyclotron is back on the delivery list after David at Postmodular came up with a s/h unit. Not cheap, but nevertheless irresistable after I watched this (not a production model) and this again. If there is a Mk2, I guess I'll just have to get one of those too.

I had to dip into the sponsorship fund to pay for it, so this one will be courtesy of CAB and OU.


Modules
15th July 2010
Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator

After months on order with Postmodular, the Livewire AFG and Metasonix R54 are at last in stock, paid for and due for delivery next week. Goodoh.

However, the Dual Cyclotron seems to have gone out of production and so a second hand unit will be sought. While looking for one, I found the Kilpatrick Audio K4815 Pattern Generator on sale at big city music, which might be worth a look.

And while waiting for the Postmodular order to turn up I had very nearly decided to blow the healthy sponsorship fund on a Noise Swash and may still do so.

Yes, and I'll be passing EMIS in a few weeks and will pick up any of these three which may be in stock: 132-4 Quad VCA; 138c pol mixer; 148 sample & hold.

Super.


headlight Stackcable
Headlights
7th July 2010

Two things of note while celebrating the arrival of spectacles and eyesight. It looks rather daft (or, more precisely, I look rather daft wearing it), but a great aid in seeing what I'm doing is a headlight from Energizer. Even more useful are Stackcables from Tiptop: effectively dynamic multiples, they make patching significantly easier. I buy a few with every order from Postmodular .


Nurdle
29th June 2010
PMC6

The module layout is in a state of flux at the moment, but, as the juggling continues, I have recorded a nurdle and so have both a picture and a noise to post. Random voltages from the SoU and the noisering interfering with one-another, rhythm from two interacting VCLFOs and the channels processed one through the Doepfer 126 Frequency Shifter and the other through the WMD. One difficulty encountered in the module reshuffle is relocating the PlanB Heisenberg which is reluctant to fit into another row - all other modules fit (and the PlanB fits elsewhere) but not where I want it to - the PCBs foul on the lower rail. I'll have to come up with work-around.

Berna

While wedded to hardware, I do enjoy Computer Music magazine and there were two terrific articles in the last couple of issues. Firstly a review of a beautiful piece of noise software, Giorgio Sancristoforo's Berna, a mac-only evocation of a vintage sound studio such as the Radiophonic workshop. The sound sources are 9 sine-wave oscillators, beat and square oscillators and a noise generator; the procesors a tone burst generator, variable and selective band pass and octave filters, ring modulator, amplitude selector, dynamic mmodulator, amplitude modulator, frequency shifter, tape echo and plate reverb. There's no voltage control, of course. An oscilloscope depicts the sine-wave output. At the heart of the system is a bank of 4 'tape' recorders a patchbay and a mixer. The interface is, visually at least, a thing of beauty and I'll pass an opinion on its functionality in due course. There's a demo here. The manual, which includes explanations of the equipment choices, is an education in itself.

Then, in the most recent issue, rachMiel, almost invariably the best thing in the mag, concludes a 2-part piece on serialism with a recommended listening list on the subject (reproduced with permission):

Buy a copy of the August issue to read the rationale.


Archive wishlist, June 2010: MOTU Volta [page] - FSS sequencer when available - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54
Then: Makenoise QMMG and Maths - Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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Next purchases
26th June 2010

There's enough in the sponsorship fund to buy the 113 Subharmonic Generator, but I'm holding off because my overall budget is running low. My priorities are the Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron and Metasonix R54, so I will buy those first. I also want to build a portable setup to complement the PMC6 Cupboard, for use on our interminable trips to Nottingham, but also for leisure travel.

Eyes have been tested, glasses here soon, should be significant progress next week.


Restart
9th June 2010

That's it, I've had enough thumb-twiddling, I have a day home alone so I have borrowed a pair of my wife's reading glasses and I'm back in the PMC6 cupboard. Can't focus on much, but it will have to do.

I'll start with a complete reorganisation of modules - the grouping of sound units is not as easy to work with as I had envisaged (and tends to channel all patches in the same directions), so I'll try (the seeming standard of) grouping classes of modules together by type and function. I have six rows so the first try will approximate to:

intellijel designs ustep

An early aim is to get the Z8000 running. The first conclusion should be a double dream machine to work into the Harvey piece.

Incidentally, not many new modules while the blog has been in the doldrums, though intellijel designs have arrived on the scene, starting with the µstep trigger sequencer which looks fun to be with (were my budget unlimited, but, contrarywise, it is running out).


Vamp
3rd June 2010

Away from home this week and reading Alan Bennett's Writing Home, a collection of diaries and writings for 1980-1990. He adapted Wind in the Willows for the stage and an early concept for the project was to incorporate elements of Kenneth Grahame's life but this was abandoned as incompatible with the story. Bennett quotes the following from Grahame, written about literature, of course, but also applicable to noise projects.

'that a theme, a thesis, is in most cases little more than a sort of clothes line on which one pegs a string of ideas, quotations, allusions and so on, one's mental undergarments of all shapes and sizes, some possibly fairly new but most rather old and patched; and they dance and sway in he breeze and flap and flutter, or hang limp and lifeless; and some are ordinary enough, and some are of a private and intimate shape, and rather give the owner away, and show up his or her peculiarities. And owing to the invisible clothes line they seem to have some connexion and continuity.'


Catchup
28th May 2010

The eyes are stabilising and I'll be ready for an eye test in a few weeks. I have recorded the bass part of Harvey and will get to work on the others.

In the meantime, I have at last caught up with the Dave Vosh DVDs. One excellent and the other, I'm afraid, revealed unexpected gaps in my critical faculties.


May archive wishlist: MOTU Volta [page] - FSS sequencer when available - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - Metasonix R54
Then: Makenoise QMMG and Maths - Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard - 198 ribbon controller - ED108-ChaQuO - Plan B Model 15 VCO - Tiptop Z8000
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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Catchup
7th May 2010

A recent combination of eye operations and absences from home means that I cannot fiddle with the Cupboard. Close sight will be affected for another month, preventing patching, but I have a lovely bass noise running from the ribbon controller and that is keeping me entertained. The Harvey piece will be done soon.

I wrote a commentary on the first Dave Vosh DVD several weeks ago and have now posted it but the second has been knocking around in my bag for so long that I have damaged it irreparably and will have to ask for another.

No point in an April wishlist archive. I have the Z8000 waiting for installation.


vamp
20th April 2010
Metasonix R54

I'm not spending much time at home at the moment, but manage to have fun and noise when I am there. I have just received a second-hand Plan B VCO which has an admirable sawtooth and the Tiptop Z8000 sequencer is in the post. I still haven't had the time to get the recording working yet, but when I do, I intend to return to my plan for a piece based structurally on Harvey's Body Mandala and use the Z8000 to create a dual Dream Machine.

And I'll look at Dave Vosh's latest DVDs today.

And Metasonix have released a VCO/VCF. That's a must-have.


vamp
2nd April 2010

I'm having a good time playing with the PMC6 and contents when time allows, particularly the new ribbon controller, but I need a couple of clear days to spend getting the kit to talk to the interface and the Mac, and that time just isn't available at the moment.


ED108 ChaQuO
catchup
28th March 2010

No posts as we have been away in Nottingham for a week. No proper synthesis during that time, but I did play the inexpensive, fun and sometimes musical Mixtikl in the background.

I have ordered a 198 Ribbon controller and bought a secondhand ED108-ChaQuO (from Dave Vosh). And I have a couple of DVDs from Dave awaiting comment.


monthly archive wishlist: 198 ribbon controller - MOTU Volta [page] - sequencers (Tiptop Z8000 Doepfer soon, plus an FSS when available) - - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron
Then: Makenoise QMMG and Maths - Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: Toppobrillo triple wave folder - 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering - 196 PLL - 172 Max/Min - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman MX-4S - bubblesound uLFO - Pressure Points - PMC6 Cupboard
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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ever closer
19th-20th March 2010
Synthwerks PC5VL

I have rewired the loom to TSR plugs in anticipation of Volta. The lights are proving troublesome and I found a forthcoming eurorack lighting unit which I was going to include in this post but have lost it again. No matter, it will turn up eventally.

The Pressure Points and uLFO have arrived and will be installed this weekend.

The lights were from Synthwerks. They seem to be developing an attractive range of unusual modules, including an iPhone preamp - I had thought of building a simple plate to hold a couple of previous-generation shuffles I can download source files onto, but nothing that sophisticated. Anyway, my cheap LEDs have fulfilled their destiny of being nasty and I now need a plan C. The chaps at Synthweks seem to be anticipating my needs and far more elegantly than I can concieve them: I'll see if Postmodular can get me a couple of lights.


PMC6
12th March 2010
PMC6

The Cupboard is done and making noise. The MOTU interface has arrived and that's next.

When I started building it (I collected it on 19th October, 5 months ago, less a week), it had double the capacity of the modules I then owned. The build has taken so long that space is already running out, but so is the budget, so equilibrium might be achieved.

It's time to recalibrate the wishlist. The modules currently on order and under consideration are:

I would still like to get the Trautonium set but will probably need a new cupboard first.


MOTU Ultralite
nearly there
10th March 2010

Power and lighting sorted. I have installed most of the modules and will finish tomorrow.

The Cwejman mixer arrived today - they do make beautiful modules and I might pursue a VCO and random in due course, but I'll take a Livewire AFG and Cyclotron first.

A new interface, the MOTU Ultralite is due tomorrow and the Cupboard will be about done. In the end, the power supplies took up all the space in the lower compartment, so I'm going for a smaller footprint unit on the top.


Michelangelo
interlude
9th March 2010

An interlude while I check the wiring on the PMC6 and trace the power fault. Heard in the small hours this morning on Radio 3's Through the Night, Michelangelo Rossi's remarkable - Toccata Settina. It is difficult to believe that the closing section was written in the 17th Century: it sounds as though Rossi invented the sound of the Frequency Shifter 300 years before Bode developed the technology. Radio 3 makes insomnia a positive experience.

I have had the chance to play with the noisering which is immense fun.


vamp
5th March 2010

A glance at the archive reminds me that I picked up my first modules from EMIS on 11th April last year. It would pleasant to complete the PMC6 including the recording interface for the anniversary.

The Cwejman MX-4S is on the way, which will make life during setup a lot easier.


vamp
1st March 2010

I have thought of a technical designation for The Cupboard, given that it is half way between a PMS4 and a PMD8 and given that it is a Cupboard, I'll call it a PMC6.

I failed to win an ebay auction for an elby superpsycho LFO.


oh good
26th February 2010

At last the power supplies have arrived. And the Heisenberg too. Now on with The Cupboard.


monthly wishlist archive: MOTU Volta [page] - 196 PLL - bubblesound uLFO - sequencers (Tiptop Z8000 Doepfer soon, plus an FSS when available) - Cwejman MX-4S -132-4 quad VCA - 148 Dual S&H
Then: Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp - FrequenSteiner - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - Malekko noisering
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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still cornering
23rd February 2010

By gum you need some patience in this game. The DIY#1 power kits are now expected on Friday. Another week wasted. To be frank, the service from Doepfer and EMIS on the kits has been poor.

And in a burst of enthusiasm, optimism and extravagance I have ordered a Cwejman MX-4S.


NoiseSwash
vamp
21st February 2010

The excitement is mounting. And I'm becoming a little more inclined towards the Noise Swash. Not cheap, but this demo is fun.

good times just around the corner
18th February 2010

The noisering has arrived, joining a growing pile of untried modules. The DIY power kits are due in Bristol tomorrow (Friday) and should get here early next week.

Plan B Heisenberg Generator
Heisenberg
14th February 2010

Well, I think I have managed to acquire a Plan B Heisenberg through a post on Muff. If successful, that will bring the random score to 4: Doepfer SoU, Wogglebug, noisering and Heisenberg. That leaves the Cwejman and whatever else comes along. I'm not sure about the 4ms Noise Swash mentioned in the previous post, my initial impression from the examples (and as suggested by the name) is that it is more inclined to noise than notes.

4ms Rotating Clock Divider
4ms modules
12th February 2010

A whole new range of kit has arrived at SchneidersBuero from 4ms. The initial lineup comprises the Noise Swash, a random note generator, the Atoner, a distortion-plus device and the Rotating Clock Divider . That last is probably one of the more expensive 4HP modules, but, to me, looks the most interesting. Not on the wishlist yet, I'll look out for comments.

Cwejman MX4S
next...
11th February 2010

My next inclination and affectation is a Cwejman. I have already declared an interest in the VCO-2RM as a possibile selection for complex VCOs and the RG6 as part of my collection of note generators. The latest to attract my attention is the MX-4S stereo mixer. When I have my four sound blocks up and running, it would be a delight to be able apply VC mixing direct in the Cupboard in addition to taking the tracks into the Mac. There is an enthusiastic SoS review here.

I also have a couple of blogs to mention. In the notes on sequencers, I included a link to an article in navs modular lab. The blog is full of good modular things and it also draws attention to the SchneidersBuero blog Stromkult.

Sequencers
10th February 2010

My comment on sequencers has got me thinking. I already have the ASols SQ8 (sponsored by LiDL ) and had intended to follow this up with Doepfer's 155+154 and the tiny FSS SEQ1 when it becomes available. Three sequencers, simple, complex and middling seems like a good starting point. As mentioned, I would have bought a 155 in January but EMIS had none in stock.

Tiptop Z8000

Those were the only three Eurorack sequencers I could find when I started, but things have moved on since.

First, an offering from Tiptop. The Z8000 Matrix Sequencer Programmer offers a powerful modulation source in a compact package. The 16 knobs ... are accessed by ten sequencers each with their own clock, direction and reset inputs. the ten sequencers are: four 4-step CV sequencers on the horizontal, four 4-steps on the vertical, one 16-step on the horizontal, one 16-step on the vertical. This seems eminently suited to my variety of random stuff. There's a piece on the Tiptop and other developments here.

Next, from MakeNoise, I found the Pressure Points irresistably intriguing in itself, but an additional factor in ordering one was the comment that [a]n expansion port on the backside will allow for sequential control via the forthcoming Points Expander, bringing all of the typical functionalities of the analog sequencer to this system. Admittedly several promised expansion modules from other eurorack manufacturers have failed to materialise. There are also many references on the web to the MakeNoise René sequencer but details seem vague.

some great videos, and other thing(s)
8-9th February 2010
Livewire FrequenSteiner

I found three terrific YouTubes today from boobtube, aka Doug, PLL Arabesque, Violin Sounds and Min/Max Melody

And news from SchneidersBuero that the noisering is in stock and will ship soon.

The FrequenSteiner and wave multiplier arrived today (9th). Great service. All I need now is the power kits and some time and I can use them (together with all the other modules currently in boxes). Stop whining, Blackburn. Actually, I'll move the new filter into the Cupboard as soon as I get back from Notts and use it for the Broken Waltz patch which is waiting for enhancement, recording and visuals. The noisering is on the way from Germany.

I'm planning on getting a PLL and min-max delivered with the DIY kits if available. I would have bought a 155 sequencer on my last visit to Bristol had it been in stock, but there seem to be some interesting things in the pipeline on sequencers at the moment, so that might go on hold for a while.

two, no several things
6-7th February 2010
let there be light

Two rare items up for sale, a Zeroscillator came and went on the Doepfer chat group before I noticed. And a Euro-format Blacet Miniwave is currently on eBay, but judging from the screw-holes, the build quality might be questionable.

No news on the DIY power kits yet, but tomorrow I hope to install the lights in The Cupboard.

And more: picked up a second-hand Livewire FrequenSteiner and Doepfer 137 wave multiplier today. My first piece of Livewire kit, I'm hoping for a lot more.

And the lights are in. The Sponsorship Fund should resume tomorrow with modest CAB expenses for January - still aiming for the Trautonium set (104, 113, 198) .

various
31st January 2010
David Toop, Haunted Weather: Music, Silence, and Memory

I called into EMIS on the way down to Sunny Wales this weekend and picked up the 109, 140, 170 and a 124 Wasp. I would have bought a 155 sequencer, but none in stock. No sign of the DIY kits as Doepfer is at NAMM, but Andy is expecting prediction of delivery dates next week. By gum I'll be glad to finish off the Cupboard and have a chance to fire up all the modules. Further NAMM excitement over the new Doepfer DIY synth boards. I gave some thought last night to a travelling setup using a couple of the DIYs plus one row of modules and what those modules might be, starting with a sequencer and an SoU. And the article notes 'Doepfer is also considering an expansion board with noise generator, S&H, ring modulator, mixer and some other often used synthesizer units'.

My first solution for lighting The Cupboard, tiny 12v LED lights from HKong didn't work because they were unexpectedly blue. I have a second solution which I am pretty confident about, using inexpensive LED lights from B&Q. More news when I have attempted installation.

I have a new book recommendation, David Toop's Haunted Weather: Music, Silence, and Memory. One chap's exploration of C21 experimental music. Some might consider it pretentious and he does like dropping names, but anyone involved in making experimental noises must have some degree of pretention about them. I have only just started it, but it reads very well.

I had tickets for a Nicolas Collins [two links there] show tonight, but after driving back from Wales, failed to summon the energy to drive back across London. So it goes.


Monthly archive wishlist: MOTU Volta [page] - 132-4 quad VCA - 148 Dual S&H - Malekko noisering
Then: 196 PLL - sequencers (Doepfer soon, plus an FSS when available) - Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010: 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 124 Wasp
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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MakeNoise Pressure Points
two things
25th January 2010

I have pre-ordered a Makenoise Pressure Points from a shop I have recently encountered which deserves encouragement, Post Modular. I thought this module irresistable and I am also inclined towards their QMMG and Maths. And there is the Réné sequencer on the way.

League of Automatic Music Composers

Post Modular also stock interesting MOTM modules I will return to in due course.


And the second thing is, Dave Vosh copied me in on an email containing a link to a group I have not heard of before, the League of Automatic Music Composers. This links to a download of a retrospective LAMC album (not free).

The first Longplayer leaflet, 1999
fiddling on the mac
21st January 2010

Uncharted territory here, away in Nottingham, trying to edit on the mac.

Seems to be working. The video will have to wait until I get back to the manual. Others also seem to have problems preventing autostart. if it becomes too annoying, I'll get rid of it.

ASLSP organ at Halberstadt

The main reason for this post stems from a visit to Greenwich Observatory. The purpose for going was the sound of the collection of clocks which I intended to record, having heard them on the radio. Regrettably, there is insufficient noise to record, the sound on the radio program (to be inserted when I get back home - here it is) is from their own AV presentation. So it goes. What they do have, however, is Jem Finer’s splendid Longplayer, a 1000 year long piece developed using SuperCollider. This reminds me of a performance I should have mentioned long before, which I had thought of as ambitious, but is only scheduled to last 639 years, Cage's ASLSP in Halberstadt. I keep trying to organise myself a visit, preferably to attend a note change but haven't managed it yet. The next few [were to be inserted here - they used to be listed on the site, I'm awaiting clarification].

video experiments
17th January 2010

Today I will attempt to embed a video. The subject is a film made yesterday of a train ride into London. Video processing is courtesy of the Creative Vado's inbuilt (simplistic but fun, sometimes quaint, often daft) styles and the music is the recent Nancarrow piece. Code is from Oliver and Morrison's excellent Sams HTML and CSS in 24 hours, the source of all the coding expertise on this site.

I had been equivocal about allowing software to hack my visuals, but it occurred to me this morning that as I am applying random processes to my noises, it is quite consistent, indeed desirable, to treat the video similarly.

Now to the code. I expect it will take some time to get it right.

I thought for a long time that it wasn't working at all, but it is working in Explorer (which I don't often use) but not in Firefox (which I do). I didn't expect it to run (for now) in Opera or on a Mac (and it doesn't). Still, it's rather pleasing, especially once I had worked out that you can run full-screen with a right-click option.
ok, the fix for Opera (which I haven't checked) works for Firefox. Mac fix next, hopefully in the next few days. I am trying to stop it autostarting, as that could become annoying.

It looks as though there is no reliable cross-platform way to stop it playing each time the page loads and so I have moved it here.

DV
12th January 2010

The firewire converter and the soldering iron are both in the post, so progress is just around the corner after the next hill. In the meantime, I'm home alone for a few days, so time to review Dave Vosh's latest output.

132-4 quad VCA
new Doepfer modules
10th January 2010

The new Doepfer kit for NAMM is causing some excitement and debate on the chat group .I have already expressed an interest in the 143-4 quad VCO and the 132-4 quad VCA could do instead of the intended 132-3 dual VCA.

Malekko noisering

I have ordered the Malekko noisering from SchneidersBuero, though it is not in stock at the moment.

I have ground to another halt - this time on the MOTU/Mac communication plan as the MOTU is old firewire and the Mac is new firewire. Now waiting for a conversion device to arrive.

Now here's a question, what would you need to patch two interacting Dream Machines? Well, another sequencer to begin with.

My favourite Australian blog has brought to my attention the fact that the Tone Generation series has been continuing. Details here.

Michael Nyman, Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond
stuff
8th January 2010

Silly me, I don't need another 160, just a more complex patch, which is coming along.

Wiring to the interface will be delayed while I am waiting for a decent soldering iron to arrive in the post. In the meantime, I'll play with the patch and try to get the MOTU talking to the Mac.

I am getting immense enjoyment from Nyman's Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond . Full of good ideas, and I haven't even reached the chapter on electronic music yet. Last night's highlight was La Monte Young's Vision (1959), the key concept being thirteen sounds in eleven minutes. Can do.

and now complex noises
5th January 2010

The initial Broken Waltz patch is pleasing, with the SoU providing the note for the '1' and the ASR the '2' and '3'. Trigger is from the VC-LFO, routing 1-23 via the 160/161 and the 'broken' is supplied by varying amounts of LFO to the VC-LFO. I would like to put a double-speed twiddle coming and going over the top but to do that properly will need another 160. In the meantime, I will create one, vaguely synchronised, but only at first, with another VC-LFO. I cannot record any of this until I complete my I/O wiring which, with luck and without distractions, should be this week.

intellectual marinade
onwards
2nd January 2010

The first two rows of the Cupboard are gradually filling and more complex noises gradually emerging. I cannot yet connect to it for the first recording which will be Broken Waltz.

This year's album of noises, which will gradually appear on last.fm , is provisionally titled unpacking the inside and the cover is shown right. The title is a quote from An Englishman in New York a film about the magnificent Quentin Crisp, recently on BBC4. The image is less complex than it appears and, though it might be called ectoplasmic marinade is literally a serendipitous snap of an unstirred marinade of olive oil, soy sauce and chilli sauce.




and a happy new year to all our readers
1st January 2010

I'll start this year too by mentioning an email I received recently from a chap with remarkable design talents and modular enthusiasm, Richard Horsman. Here are links to his Doepfer-based artwork and his synth hardware and software projects.

A reminder of the immediate intentions.

I have received a CD and a DVD from Dave Vosh. Comments in due course.


Opening Wishlist 2010: MOTU Volta [page] - 170 dual slew - 109 Signal - 140 ADSR - 132.3 Dual VCA - 148 Dual S&H - Malekko noisering
Then: 196 PLL - 124 Wasp - sequencers (Doepfer soon, plus an FSS when available) - Malekko Borg, or perhaps the Assmaster - Trautonium set (104, 113, 198)
Wanted but not prioritised: 135 VC mixer & 144 morph - 188 Bucket - Livewire AFG and Dual Cyclotron - 116 VC Wave - 199 spring reverb - 163 VC divider - 138c polmix - 137.1 Wave Multiplier - 143-4 Quad VCO - 135-2 Quad Panner - MFB VD-01
Wanted but unlikely to be acquired: Cwejman VCO-2RM - Blacet Miniwave - Wretch - Plan B Heisenberg - Cwejman RG6
Acquired 2010:
Previously Acquired: 143-9 - WMD Geiger Counter - the Great Cupboard - Malekko anti-oscillator- MFB VCO2 - 150 VC switch - 145 LFO - analogue shift register - Bananalogue VCS - a Mac
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