Vintage RDK project

November 2nd, 2005

I’ve been working a set of combinator patches for RDK for a few weeks here that make use of the new NN-XT hierarchical structure used in the new RDK 2 (Reason Drum Kits v2.0) library from Propellerhead Software. RDK is great for adding the live drum feel to a production, but I wanted something different. I wanted a set of drums that I could manipulate to make drum loops that sound old school-like early 70s recordings.

Starting with the base RDK All microphone set ups, i’ve come up with a set of patches that use different combinations of drums and effect routings that are dynamically controlled with subtle pitch and envelope modulations to create timbral variety depending on the type of sequence being created. These patches are little more elaborate than simply processing the stereo mix through a Scream 4 and a filter.

I’ll be releasing an early version soon in a ReFill, but there might be a final version with a customized skin that aptly fits the concept of “Vintage RDK”

I’ve also posted a set of combis just for fun based on the BitSutra Malström patch i created for the FSB3.0. If you haven’t found them already on the combinator patch download page, you can give them a try here:

8-Fold_Bit_Sutra_Combis.zip

del.icio.us & digg.com replace Links Page

November 1st, 2005

I’ve received a couple of emails asking about the old links pages. They were a little too much to maintain, and many sites had the horrible tendency to go bad after a year or two. Instead of having the old structure (as well as another effort to avoid using tables on the site), I’ve opted to go with bookmark and link communities as well as the wordpress blogroll feature. All of these can be found in the XFN List Navigation bar.

My blogroll (with the exception of a few) links to friends sites and usually includes people i know from the offline world. My ~digg page is a collection of general links and articles that I find interesting, while the ~del.icio.us page is filled with links to the sites listed on my old links page, complete with tag categories to identify relevant information about the link.

If you really want to find something on the old butchered page, you can follow this link:
Peff.com v3 Links Page

Visit from Cipher

October 31st, 2005
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It’s like reunion month or something. I’ve been receiving emails and phone calls from old friends and it’s been nice to hear how people have been doing and what they’ve been up to-come to think of it, this entire year has been filled with these reunions. Yesterday, I met up with Ritchie Argue, known in the ReBirth World as Cipher - one of the old CC crew and maker of the Regulator mod hack. Knowing full well how much i hate unexpected guests, he (with my cousin, Tamiko, in tow) decided to make an unannounced visit.

Having never visited the house here, i gave him the full tour of the quaint little town of San Juan Bautista. We took a stroll down the main street, and over to the Mission. Then the three of us to a drive up to Fremont Peak State Park, where you can see the entire central coast region around Monterey Bay up to Santa Cruz.

Accumulating more iStuff

October 30th, 2005
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I picked up a new power supply for my powerbook last week, since my older one seemed to be malfunctioning. My first thought was that the outlet was bad, but after testing it on two different outlets, I assumed it had died. So I purchased a replacement, and plugged it in (to the same socket) and it too did not function. I tried another outlet, and both the original and new supplies functioned properly. So I went to back to the apple store and they were happy to provide me with a refund, but i took the proceeds and picked up an iPod Nano. I got a white one… i know people say the black nano is cooler, but i like the classic apple design and color. Besides, the cables and earbuds are color coordinated for the whitepods. The size is one thing, but the bright color display is fantastic. I gave it the acid test yesterday when I went to the gym, and it’s nice that you don’t have to worry about munching a hard drive head while running. My only complaint is that it’s lacking a decent carrying case with a belt clip.

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I also picked up an iSight for video conferencing. A few iSight equipped friends have been encouraging me to get one for several months, especially now that i have broadband. So I looked at it and figured, “eh… what the heck” I was thinking about trying to start up some kind of public conferencing of Reason users, and see what kind of resolution you could get, but it’s pretty miserable.

iSight connections are a bit odd, some people on AIM cannot connect to the video, and I had audio problems with the iSight connected to the G5 tower. I moved it to my old panther-powered G4 TiBook, and it worked better with the exception of the echo loop created from the proximity to the speakers. Using earphones fixed this.

It’s been a fun distraction talking to friends and family, but the camera lens is pretty slow and an f2.8 aperture is insufficient in low light situations. My first conference to my cousins was a fun little experiment. The little siblings crowded around the computer as i sent a live bootleg of Harry Potter to their machine. We caught up on the latest family gossip and they even read a bit of a Hardy Boys’ Mystery to me.

PTR-3 Composites

October 26th, 2005
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So. The good news is that we’ve finished going over the composites for the book. The bad news is that we had absolutely no time to do a thorough pass-through. I’ll apologize in advance for missed errors and such, but overall I think things look pretty good with Power Tools for Reason 3.0. Apparently the book is being indexed this week and will go to press early next week. It should be here by 2007, but with the way things have gone with this project, I wouldn’t be surprised if some catastrophe prevented it’s release.

It’s been a little frustrating, but what can you do? I think it’s time that I learn Quark or InDesign should I plan to do another title. In the idle months that have passed since we finished the manuscript, I could have probably learned to handle layout.

Again, my apologies to those who have placed their orders in advance, expecting to receive a copy in September.

Reason Drum Kits V2.0

October 25th, 2005

The Props have released Reason Drum Kits version 2.0, a refill sample library for Reason 3.0. For those who are not aware of what RDK is or does, it’s basically a massive sampled drum kit library with many velocity layers for dramatic and lively rhythm sequencing. These are not loops, they are straight samples. But they are more than just samples, they are what the props are calling “hypersampled” drums. When you mic up a drum kit, you use several close-up mics, overhead mics, and room mics which are mixed into a complete drum sound. In most cases with sample libraries, all of these signals are mixed and delivered as stereo sample files. With RDK, each of these signals are directed to separate audio output jacks on the NN-XT, and you can mix them to fit with a production.

For those who have RDK 1.0, you are going to love the combinator patches in RDK 2.0. Instead of having combinations of drums fixed into single patches, each set is loaded into separate NN-XT samplers. If you want to change the kick drum, all you do is load a specific kick drum patch while the snares, hats, cymbals, etc. remain the same.

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Bundled with the refill are some very nice preset combinator patches created by serious RDK abusers called “Producer Kits” where eq, reverb, and compression settings are preset and ready to go. Having everything organized into combinators now makes RDK a breeze to use, and dozens of MIDI sequence files are included to quickly create drum grooves along with the custom kit.

The Propellerhead Website has a cool little Video infomercial that demonstrates these features, as well as example audio files. The video even features a new way to use your old copy of Power Tools for Reason 2.5: as a mouse pad! Clever idea, indeed :-)

Tortoise & Daniel Lanois

October 23rd, 2005
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Thursday and Friday, my friends from Tortoise were in San Francisco for a couple of days and I had a chance to hang out with them and catch the shows at the Independent. This tour was a little different since the headline act was the legendary Daniel Lanois! Ironically most people don’t know Mr. Lanois, but if you look at his list of credits, you would be more than familiar with his work as a producer with Peter Gabriel and U2. I discovered his solo work after hearing Gabriel’s US, and his album, “For the Beauty of Wynona” is still one of my all time favorite albums.

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The Independent is an intimate venue that has been gaining popularity and featuring some pretty cool shows, but this was the first chance I’ve had to see a performance there. I was pleasantly surprised to see Gustavo Lanzas (old friend from Robotspeak) and his collaborator, Chris, opening the show as the act, “Audiotronic w/JK47″. The sound system at the independent was really nice and some of the bass tones from the Audiotronic performance would resonate right though your body!

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Tortoise was on as the second act and featured quite a few favorite tracks. I phoned Johnny in the afternoon, before the show, and he said he his back was injured and had to see a doctor. Needless to say, i wasn’t sure how the show would be if Herndon was in pain. Apparently the doctor did an amazing job, and Johnny’s drumming was brilliant as usual.

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Lanois came on and started performing a solo guitar piece on his Gibson Les Paul, and my jaw dropped when I heard the beautiful tone coming out of this instrument. This is aside from the prophetic virtuosity of Lanois’s skill as a player-That tone was amazing. He switched over to a pedal steel guitar for another solo, and he performed a lovely and emotional solo piece. Tortoise came on and joined Lanois, and it was quite a surreal experience since the two seem worlds apart, yet the collaboration seemed to fit together quite well.

I have to comment that the engineering was a little strange since you could barely hear some of the backing instruments during the Lanois show. It seemed like the engineer basically hit the mute button on Jeff’s guitar and the vibes. Shea, who does a live video presentation driven off the audio signals, confirmed that the close mics on the snares were muted. It definitely had the feel of being a different show from Tortoise.

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Friday night, my cousins, Tamiko and Jasmine, joined up with us along with my friend Joe to have dinner then go to the show. We met up at this cool little bar/Ethiopian Restaurant called Club Waziema, a block down from the venue on Divisadero. It was cool to hang out with everyone, and catch up with what’s been going on. The food was pretty good as well, and we shared a variety of meat and vegetable dishes sans utensils.

Having sussed out the venue on the previous night, i brought along my camera and secured a nice position on the balcony to shoot some photos of Friday’s performance. Unfortunately, i didn’t realize how unstable the balcony is, and most of the shots were slightly blurry. I posted a few of the shots that weren’t too bad on flickr. I have to say, i enjoyed Tortoise’s performance better on Friday night better than Thursday, but Lanois was better on Thursday night, but the Friday crowd was definitely more into the show.

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Afterwards, Johnny invited all of us backstage to hang out while they broke down the gear and load out. Lanois, in true rock legend form, went out of his way and introduced himself to my young cousins. Later i joked about it with Tamiko (who’s a massive U2 fan), “You touched the hand that touched Bono!” I had the chance to speak with him briefly, to thank him for the fantastic shows, and he said he was quite happy with the reception in San Francisco (sold out on both nights), and is thinking about more shows here in the future. For the Tortoise fans out there: McEntire mentioned some plans for a new Tortoise album for early next year, and possibly a box set later this year. Now all we need is for Case to come back for a reunion-ish tour.