Obsessiosine

July 29th, 2008

This is another test of soundcloud’s embedded player. Sorry, non-members cannot access the site during beta testing.

I’ve been messing around with a Reason 4 Track that I started about a year ago and have uploaded a newer version that has some extra analog goodness mixed in. There’s a bit of transistor and tube noise, but it adds some nice flavor. This version is different than the versions I’ve posted around on other sites like my virb page.

This is basically an experiment of tones generated in Thor with all of the musical sounds derived from sines and FM synthesis. I’ve got the RNS file posted on the Propellerhead site, so feel free to check out some of the crazyness.



TR-808 Snare Samples

July 22nd, 2008

I previously had this posted through the soundcloud player, but I started to get a few too many hits for a sample set which seemed to interfere with musical pieces ranked on the system. I’ll leave the file posted on my server for people to grab and tweak.

Download the 808 Snare Samples AIFF file

Ulysses Accomplished

July 21st, 2008

Yes, it’s been a long time since my last post. Sorry about that. Life has a way of taking priority over posting random thoughts on the internets. The past few months have been really busy for me both musically and otherwise. Before the Producers Conferences came up I was tied down with Reason Electric Bass programming. That was a particularly challenging project but the core material of the sampled basses and amplifiers was really quality. It was a lot of fun to develop those sounds and the effects combinators.

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The one project that has been lingering on my to-do list(s) has been the completion of Goh Nakamura’s Ulysses album. It’s been over a year since we started on it and i’m happy to say that the gold master is completed and shipped off to manufacturing! This has been a long long journey, and i’m quite proud to have been part of this very unique project.

Back in early May, I had a week of tape projects including the transfers of the 1956 World Series Reels to digital - many thanks to Tardon at Mr Toads, who did an amazing job restoring the splices that dissolved on the reels. I have the files on this and will be moving ahead once i get my new workstation issues sorted out.

The big project was the final mixdown of Goh’s album at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco. Months after we did the first mixes, Scott Solter was back in town and we booked out half a week with him, and managed to finish the 11 remaining mixes. I can’t say that it was too grueling, because we were mixing from tape through the Neve desk, and the ear fatigue was not as intense as it is working on a DAW. Huge props to Scott, who created some amazing mixes from the raw tracks. I learned a lot from watching him work in a somewhat unorthodox style of mixing and effects chaining. Needless to say, that Scott’s technique has inspired a few combinator patches that i’ve been working on during my spare time.

The mixes went down on 1/2″ tape, so I got to play the tape transport ‘dude’ during the sessions, but I left the splicing and alignment to Scott who is quite simply a master of the medium. We walked out with digital references, so we could listen back to the album and start making decisions for the next phase of the project. There were a couple of issues with the mixes though. On one track, there was a section of 20 seconds that had this intermittent noise on the right channel that sounded like a scratchy pot or bad patch cord being jiggled. On another track, one of the crucial vocal harmonies seemed too low in the mix. Being that Scott returned home to North Carolina, going back into the studio was not an option to correct these problems.

Throughout June we were preoccupied with preparing the album for manufacturing as well as mastering as well as getting the artwork and design finished. I contacted Mike Wells in San Francisco to master the album. Mike’s suite is housed in the Hyde Street Studios facility, and keeping in the analog tradition of this album, he uses an analog signal chain of dynamics and equalization before digitizing the material. Of course, we still had the issues of the problematic mixes to deal with, so I had to consult Mike about making specific edits to the mixes after the mastering. For the scratchy section, simply cutting out the instrumental section worked like a charm. It was pretty fortunate that the problem occurred at the beginning of a very long repetitive outro section, and removing 20 seconds make very little impact to the song. For the missing backing vocal issue, I had prepared a mixed/eq’d/reverb’d replacement vocal track in Logic, and Mike was able to lay that back on top of the mastered file.

Also during June, Goh had a couple of live shows in SF. The first was at Amnesia in the mission which happened on one of those rare, extremely warm evenings in the city. The tiny place was packed and Goh, played with Tim Bulkley, Adam Shulman, and Justin Miller on the cramped stage. The other gig was at Bimbo’s 365 club where the guys along with Sadie Contini opened for Yael Naim and David Donatien. Their names may not sound familiar, but their song, New Soul, is featured on the apple MacBook Air TV ad, which any reader of this site has probably heard.

Gary Chou and Brian Kobashikawa have been working pretty hard on the preparation of the album packaging and media campaign for the launch. Gary has been going to all of the gigs and capturing digital video that has been posting on the masthead of Goh’s Website as well as youtube. It’s been decided to to a full blown production on the final product including a 20 page booklet as well as a Eight panel foldout CD case. Brian’s design and illustration talents have captured the feel of the project, and he has created a beautiful album package.

So again, my apologies for a lack of updates here. I’ve also been preoccupied with the hassle of migrating my workstation from my old Quad G5 to my new 8-Core Xeon. I have yet to upgrade my adobe creative suite to the native version, so the hassle of switching between machines has made it far more tedious to develop content and edit photos. The expense of the hardware upgrade and costs of production have pressed me to budget things, so I probably wont be upgrading the software anytime soon. Everything works fine on the old machine, so I’m switching between machines when i need to do any serious graphic work.

Ulysses should be back from the manufacturer in mid-august and hopefully online at iTunes by the fall. The record release party is already scheduled for August 20, 2008 at Cafe du Nord in San Francisco. If there are no problems with manufacturing we should have copies at the show! Also, if you live in New York, you can catch Goh playing this week at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg on Wednesday, and Pianos in Soho(?) on Thursday.

Producers Conference in Chicago - May 24

May 20th, 2008

I’m getting ready to head out to Chicago for this Saturday’s Producers Conference. The line up is pretty similar to the San Francisco Conference which went really well, and so this is shaping up to be a very cool event hosted at the Chicago Recording Company.

I’m not sure what the deal is with tickets. The San Francisco conference sold out and they some issues with people showing up at the door who had to stand-by to see if they could get in. It’s recommended that you reserve a spot in advance. The Propellerhead Software Server is currently down for maintenance, but you can find more info about tickets on the Groove Tickets Website.

Once the survur is up again, you can check out more about the event on The Producers Conference website

Producers Conference in San Francisco - May 3

April 24th, 2008

If you’re not too hungover from the Cinco de Mayo Weekend festivities and want to learn a bit more about Reason 4.0, then come down to the SF Producers Conference on May 3rd. The event will be at the Pyramind Facilities and we will be getting started around 11:30am. I think you have to reserve a spot. I’ll be there doing a presentation on Thor Programming and other tweaky stuff.

Parking and Gas aren’t cheap, so you could take CalTrain into SF and walk about 6 long blocks, or BART and walk about 4 long blocks from the powell street station. Maybe if you’re already partying at the End Up, you could just walk over to Folsom :)

More information is available on The Producers Conference website

Thor Step Sequencer Systems

April 2nd, 2008
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Line6 has asked me to put together a refill for their “Expand Your Reason Rack” promotional offer which features free Reason 4 Refills. Originally a collection of Thor patches was planned, but I decided to focus on a theme, specifically, Thor’s Step Sequencer. The result is a motley collection of sounds and effects patches. Some of the patches are based on previous releases, however, most are completely new sounds. For more information on downloading the patch library, please visit the Line6 Expand Your Reason Rack Page - Link Removed 3/2009

Peff 033 - Thor Step Sequencer Systems Refill

The Thor Polysonic Synthesizer features a step sequencer that offers more features and versatility than Reason’s Matrix Pattern Sequencer. The patches in this refill demonstrate a variety of applications that range from the traditional note/gate pattern source, filter and amplifier gating systems, to complex modulation routings for special effects. Included in the Refill are 16 complete Thor synthesizer patchs, four Combinator Instruments that implement the Thor step sequencer, and two Combinator effects patches that rely on the Thor sequences. 50 pre-programmed step sequences are also included - these are configured in a Combinator to drive a sound from a secondary Thor synthesizer. Also, a granular synthesis Combinator is included with grain lookup driven by a Thor step sequencer.

Thor Sequence Patch List & Descriptions

Basic Thor Step Sequence.thor – A repeating tempo synchronous pattern that generates a monophonic synth riff.

Analog Mono Bass.thor – A repeating 1 measure sequence that triggers a monophonic analog square wave bass.

Ebba Pad.thor - A polyphonic ethereal pad sound with rhythmic overtones modulated by a repeating sequencer pattern.

Filtered Snare Roll.thor – A one-shot step sequence that generates a snare drum roll.

FM Glitch Pattern.thor - This polyphonic instrument uses a 32-step pendulum pattern to modulate chorus parameters to generate audio artifacts.

Gated Table Harmonics.thor – A gated organ type of sound that relies on a repeating step sequence to trigger envelopes in a rhythmic pattern.

Metronome.thor – A four-measure repeating step sequence that generates metronome clicks.

One Finger Choral Pad.thor – One Shot step sequence that triggers a series of notes to emit a chord.

Palme Tabel.thor – A polyphonic digital pad sound based on wavetable oscillators being modulated by a repeating step sequence.

Reason4.thor - A one shot sequence that modulates formant filters to make Thor say “Reason”. Based on the “I Am Thor” patch, the step sequence was modified to change the formant filter modulations.

Revenge Filters.thor – A true stereo polyphonic synth stab sound that is gated and modulated by a repeating step sequence pattern. The filter modulation patterns for the left and right channels are different to create a moving stereo sound.

Sine World.thor – a 13 step pendulum sequence generates a series of triplet events that modulate three sine wave oscillators to create a pattern driven FM bell tone.

Sine World [Deep].thor – similar to the previous patch in tone, however the step sequence rate is randomized generating unpredictable more organic results.

Thor Kick Snare & Hats.thor – Various parameters of the step sequencer are used to trigger levels and filters to create a rhythmic drum loop.

Thor Kick Snare & Hats Formant.thor – This sequence is similar to the previous patch and features the addition of a formant filter modulated by the step sequencer.

Verity Pad.thor – This is a polyphonic pad sound that uses the step sequencer to modulate filter and wavetable parameters to generate subtle rhythmic elements.

Thor Pattern Combinator

Included in the P033 Refill are 50 Thor Step-Sequence patches. These have no sound properties programmed and are only patterns. Naturally, you can program your own patches based on the step sequences, however these are designed to work in conjunction with another Thor synthesizer wrapped in a combinator. The step-sequencer is connected via cv cables to the second instance of Thor which has a synth patch loaded. The combinator filters out MIDI events and directs them only to the pattern sequencer which in turn sends note and gate cv impulses to the sound module.

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With this configuration, you can quickly scan through different combinations of step-sequences and sounds. The pattern patches are saved in a unique directory, so by simply clicking on the patch browse arrows, you can scroll through different patterns. Only one synth patch assigned to the second Thor, so you must manually select patches. Mono lead types of sounds will work best since this configuration is monophonic in nature.

The patterns are named with a dual number system. The first two digit number indicates the number of steps while the second number is a patch number. For example, TPS 08-006 has eight steps, while TPS 16-001 is a 16 step pattern. These patches are assigned with MIDI trigger and transposition enabled, so when a key is received, the sequencer will trigger and the sequence will be transposed relative to the incoming note value.

Sequence Performance Combi

This Combinator patch contains four Thor sequenced patches: A synth riff, a bass line, a drum loop, and a chord generator/pad. The four synths are driven by a RPG-8 arpeggiator which is set to 1 bar steps. When a note is received, the RPG-8 triggers the step sequencers to start and all four devices will play a musical loop until the Hold Sequence button is disabled and a note off message is received.

Why run this through an arpeggiator? The answer is that this is designed to be a real-time performance/arrangement patch. Holding down several different keys will initiate an arpeggiator sequence that changes each measure. In turn this transposes the sequencer patterns every measure. The RPG-8 is set to “Manual” mode so the transpositions will follow the order of the notes received.

For example, play the following series of notes into the patch: C, D, G, F The subsequent result will be a four measure pattern that follows the pattern of C, D, G, and finally F. With this setup, you can quickly generate a chord progression phrase that loops until a new progression is received. You can switch to another device and play over the repeating loop or tweak parameters of the individual patches to create a performance.

Sequence Performance Combi Controls

Rotary 1 - 4 These control the individual levels of the sound modules.

Free Mode switches the arpeggiator off and note transposition is immediately passed through into each Thor sequence. With this feature off, the transposition only occurs at the beginning of each measure.

Hold Sequence will latch the incoming key sequence until a new sequence is received. Disabling this button will disable the latch and the sequence will stop playing when an incoming note is released.

Granular Sampler System

Keeping in line with the theme of this refill, I’ve taken the granular synthesis patch seen in the Computer Music Magazine article and modified it with a Thor Step Sequencer to drive the sample start position. This is a cool little modification since you can program the scan behavior of the patch. For those of you who have not seen the article, this patch uses the NN-19 as a tone generator. A series of pulses from an LFO trigger the sample to playback at a very high rate to the point where voice stealing shortens the duration of the sample to a small burst. Manipulation of the sample start parameter mimics the effect of scrolling through small segments of the sample - also referred to as grains. The sample start parameter is then modulated by an external cv source. In this particular patch, the source is switchable between the Malstrom Mod A, and the Thor Step Sequencer. There are 6 examples of these patches included in the Refill, and more are on the way.

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The modulation sequences work in the same manner as the Thor Pattern Combinator. Click on the show devices button to open the combi rack and find the second Thor synthesizer named “Thor Pattern Modulator” - abbreviated as “THOR P_LATOR”. Change the pattern by clicking on the patch browse buttons, or selecting a different pattern from the contextual menu. The modulation pattern is programmed on the “Curve 1″ parameter, so if you want to create your own patterns, make sure the edit knob is assigned to this setting.

Granular Sampler System Controls

Sample Start - This rotary is the key to the effect of the Granular Sampler System. Normally it should remain at zero. You can tweak this, but remember that the grain modulations are scaled from the initial value of this knob.

Filter Freq - The audio signal from the patch is routed through a Thor Filter, and this controls the cutoff frequency. Filter Resonance is modulated by the Mod Wheel

Motion Rate - This control alters the modulation rate of both the Thor sequencer and Malstrom Modulator A in both free and tempo sync modes.

Window Rate - This controls the rate of pulses triggering the NN-19. Different harmonics can be generated by adjusting this parameter to higher values.

Mod A/Thor PTN - Switches the motion modulation source between the Malstrom Modulator A and the Thor Step Sequencer.

Low / Band Pass - Switches the filter type between a Low Pass or Band Pass filter.

Motion Sync - Switches the Malstrom and Thor Step Sequencer to tempo sync mode.

Stereo Windows - This changes the spread parameter on the NN-19. As each pulse is received, the output is panned to the opposite channel creating a stereo effect.

Modifying the Granular Sampler System

As a disclaimer, this isn’t a full featured granular synth system that you might find with other products. It is limited to one voice, and it takes a bit of tweaking to get all of the settings right, and the region of sample data is limited to the range of the sample start modulation. With that said, there is the one cool aspect of this patch: you can load your own samples into it.

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The NN-19 Sampler is located at the top of the combinator sub-rack. Simply click on the sample browser and navigate to an audio file to load it into the patch. As previously mentioned, there is a limitation with the sample start control, so long samples and extremely short samples do not work well. Since this is a highly experimental patch to begin with, unexpected results are part of the magic.

Another modification is to change the modulation sources to one-shot mode. This is useful for percussion sounds. With the Thor step sequence, use the forward or reverse modulation patterns and switch the sequencer to 1 shot mode. On the Malstrom Modulator A, enable one-shot mode and change the curve to type 11 for a reverse position modulation or type 12 for a forward sweep.

My next refill library, I will have a whole array of different granular combi setups.

The “Perfect Game” Project

March 29th, 2008
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Don Larsen, retired pro baseball player, is noted in the record books for being the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter in a World Series. As the starting pitcher on the NY Yankees roster, Don pitched his “Perfect Game” against the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 8, 1956. You can read a bit more about Don and his historical game on Wikipedia. Anyhoo, Don is an old family friend and I have some great childhood memories of parties that my father organized with Don.

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Recently, Don and his wife were on one of his sports memorabilia tours, and stopped by to pay us a visit. They told me that they had a surprise for me but wouldn’t say anything specific. I thought it might be some photos they wanted digitized, but to my surprise, they brought a complete set of tapes from the radio broadcast of his world series game! Along with the tapes are a set of about thirty 12″ acetates, and an old 16mm reel of film. Besides the recording of the complete game, there’s a reel of interviews from the locker room after the game. Apparently no one else has a copy of this, and it hasn’t been heard since it originally aired in 1956.

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I’ve been asked to take on the project of transferring these 50-year-old tapes to a digital format for archival purposes and possibly develop a product for release. The details of copyrights and such have yet to be discussed, but it’s a cool project for the historical aspect alone. I haven’t touched the tapes yet. I’m seeking out the advice of experts who can analyze their condition and possibly clean and restore the moldy reels. let’s hope they will playback - fingers crossed!