Cercophracta - Real World Remixed

August 10th, 2006

If you haven’t heard about Real World Remixed then you have to go check it out. Real World Records is giving people the opportunity to remix tracks from their artists, including Peter Gabriel’s classic, Shock the Monkey.

The Sample packs include individual tracks broken down into stems, so you can hear each element of the song - unmixed - and ready for remix. Once finished, you upload your remix back onto the site for others to enjoy. There is an interesting clause in the use of the samples, and distribution of a remix is only allowed through the Real World Remix site. There are some really cool ones on the site including many from fellow Reason users.

I spent a couple of free days working with the samples from Shock the Monkey. Besides Reason, I used Melodyne to tweak the pitch and groove of the vocals, and Logic Pro as a rewire host to arrange the vocal sections. Once edited, the vocals were loaded back into a NN-XT sampler and triggered in Reason. It’s ok, but I just didn’t have enough time to tweak it out more. You can have a listen here:

Cercophracta - Remix of Peter Gabriel’s Shock the Monkey

Christopher Bock

August 8th, 2006
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Last week, the music industry lost a great friend, Christopher Bock. This news came as a shock, and has been looming over me since I heard. Just weeks earlier, Christopher had treated the Nathorst-Böös family and me to a lovely dinner at his restaurant near Half Moon Bay. It was one of those rare moments where you’re in the company of friends without the pressure of looming schedules. At the end of the evening, I think we all parted ways looking forward to doing it again.

Last night in San Francisco, Digidesign, organized a Memorial Service to honor his memory in a manner that suited Christopher: They had a celebration of his life. It was an evening of music, photos, film, and friends sharing their personal experiences. With Christopher’s family present, the evening was very moving especially as his friends and colleagues shared some humorous memories of a person that we will all miss.

There is an online tribute at the following URL:
http://christopherbock.blogspot.com/

SF Reason Laptop JAM

August 4th, 2006
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Last Saturday, The SF Bay Area Reason User Group finally had the chance to meet up for a full blown jam session with eight laptops running Reason + one Line6 Variax Guitar. Participating were Darin, Ed, Hayden, Mark, Mason, Mike, Nick, and me; along with a few guests. We’re lucky to have some enthusiastic people involved, because we managed to get this event organized quickly. It’s always nice to get together and talk about music and technology, but it’s definitely more fun to jam out!

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We were fortunate enough to be allowed to use a massive warehouse space in SF, where Mark’s wife works. There was no lease for the space, but we couldn’t make it an all out event and invite the public. In the future we will find a more public venue if more people are interested in coming… maybe something with a bar ;-)

The afternoon passed in a blur and a few of us walked away thinking that things didn’t turn out as cool as we had expected. When we did the test run with only 4 laptops, things ran pretty smoothly. When we added another four, things seemed to get a little out of control. Ed (EditEd4TV) brought in some gear to record and videotape the session, and I just had the opportunity to listen through the session, and there were some surprisingly cool moments.

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Mixing and Tempo control were handled with hardware. We had audio feeds from each person running into a Mackie, and MIDI Clock sent out from a Boss DR-202 and distributed via a MOTU MTP II. During the session, we could adjust the tempo and change up the styles from slow prog rock stuff up to some fast trance bits. We even had a few of Ed’s favorite Reason cover tracks mixed in. There were occasional problems with levels and sync, but for the most part we could just play without thinking about the technology.

The entire recording spanned about 2.5 hours, but i’ve reduced it to a few highlights in this 13 minute MP3. Bear in mind that this is mostly live - Real Time - most of the sequences were created on the fly including some drum arrangements:

LaptopJAM_0706.mp3

We will definitely make this a regular event and perhaps start mixing it up with live instruments, vocalists, and other types of software.

Reason Workshops: August 19 & 20 in SF

July 18th, 2006

I’ve been busy preparing for a couple of upcoming Reason workshops, to be held at Recombinant Media Labs in San Francisco. This are going to cover the same basic topics as the last time, however, the first class for beginners is going to be a little faster paced since most people who attended were already somewhat familiar with music production. GW and I are planning to streamline the advanced course in order to cover more ground in the time allotted, but otherwise, both days will basically be the same.

For the last workshop, a lot of people brought in MIDI controllers along with their laptops, and we will try to better accommodate the space requirements.

Registration is now open on the Recombinant Labs Website

Reason Laptop Jam

July 17th, 2006
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Ever since we got together for dinner several months ago, a group of us in the bay area have been discussing the idea of meeting and making some music. This electronic Jam Session concept has been taking shape, and finally things are planned for Saturday, July 29 from 3:00pm to 6 or 7pm. So if you’re free, please come make some music with us! We’re going to attempt to record the session and post up a stream. Ed has even managed to get a friend to shoot some video.

Participation is limited to 8 players simultaneously. So we will probably do a couple of rounds if more than 8 join. Because of liability issues, I can’t make the location public. Anyone interested in attending can sign up by posting to Ed on the Propellerhead User Forum

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Last week Ed, Mark, Darin, and I got together to give it a test run. We met up in the city at Darin’s place, and took over his living room for an evening. The core issue has been synchronizing multiple systems, and the plan was to set up a clock source being distributed through a hardware MIDI splitter - old stuff which I have sitting in my basement. I tested this at home, but this evening would be the real test to see if things would work.

Everyone seemed to have a few pieces to bring along as MIDI clock source. I brought an old Yamaha hardware sequencer, Mark brought in an old Boss Drum Machine, and Ed had an old Korg Drum machine. It turned into a bit of an antique technology show.

Surprisingly, everything worked out pretty smoothly. Short of a few driver problems that Mark had, and the fact that I didn’t bring a long a keyboard stand, we got things going and zoned out for a few hours while making music … with others … in real-time! It was a lot of fun.

Peak 5

July 8th, 2006
Can’t live with it… Can’t live without it

I resisted upgrading my operating system to 10.4.6 for months, mainly because everything was running smoothly under 10.4.5. Once again, I tempted fate and performed the OS update. Naturally, things started running a little odd. Peak 4 was stalling and crashing, which forced my hand to upgrade to Peak 5. I know there are probably some who are shaking their heads thinking “Why the hell do you use peak?”. It’s just part of my workflow, and I’ve become quite fast using regions and batch processing, so it’s virtually indispensable. Fortunately, Peak 5.2 seems stable under 10.4.6, so things are somewhat back to normal. My main gripe is that Peak 5.2 has this terrible lag between the moment you hit play, and the moment you hear something. I probably need to RTFM and tweak some buffer settings.

RB-303 Improvements

To get a feel for the new version of Peak, I picked up the RB-303 samples and started setting loop points. Looping and shortening the new sample set took a few days, but now the archive is drastically smaller than the current preliminary release. The sample directory is now a meager 4 megs rather than the unedited 74 megs, and for most applications, the sound is indistinguishable with short acid riffs.

The smaller samples have made it possible to add more flexibility to the NN-XT and Combinator patches, and I’ve devised a new velocity switching system that better simulates the accent feature of ReBirth and the TB-303. I’ll be posting the next preliminary release up soon, but there will eventually be some modifications to the skins.

Kato-City Visitors

June 25th, 2006
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Every other year, a group of 18 visitors from Kato City in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan (兵庫県 加東市 日本 ) come to the area on a goodwill mission and to experience life in San Benito County [Hollister Frelance Article]. My father was very active with the Hollister Sister City Association, and so I feel somewhat obligated to carry on the tradition. As an officer of the local JACL chapter, One of my responsibilities is organizing a send off dinner for the visiting guests, the host families, as well as representatives of the community. The JACL Hall is located a few block away from the Historic Mission grounds in San Juan Bautista.

The normal menu is a generic style BBQ - usually Tri-Tip Beef, Chili, Salad, Garlic Bread, and grilled vegetables. Going into the event, I was planning for about 75 people, and ended up with close to 90 showing up. Fortunately, the members brought in a lot of food including sushi and other japanese specialties, fruit salads, fried chicken, and even chap-jae! There was a more than enough food.

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One of the highlights of the evening was the entertainment provided by local taiko drummers of the Shinsho Mugen Daiko Group. Thanks to the help of my friend, Christine Bowes, the drummers came over from another gig they had earlier in the day. Inside the long space of the hall, the sound of the taiko drums was massive and rattled the neighbors. (This is a future sampling project at some point down the road. I want to hypersample some taiko loops!) It was pretty loud, and prompted the Sheriff came to see what was going on. The Kato-City Delegates also provided some entertainment by singing a song, and performing a celebration dance as well as an obon dance.

Despite the fact that we were short handed, I managed to enlist some volunteers who really helped make the evening special. The next morning, I went to see the delegates off, and again, they expressed their appreciation for our efforts. This type is a fairly large undertaking, and being in charge of organizing _everything_ was pretty stressful; but in the end it was all worth it.