Monday, December 15, 2008

Trans Platform Express

I've been working on a song called Xen Rails lately. It started on my trusty old Powerbook, with Logic Express, until it got so big I couldn't get it to mix down any more. I was close to satisfied with the way it sounded at play back time, but when bouncing down to a stereo mix, a glitch developed where I couldn't get all the tracks to bounce together for some reason. Anwyway, after fooling around with it all evening, I finally sent it to my Vista notebook and imported the drums as an MP3 file, and the rest as MIDI to Sonar PE.

Then, I started assigning VST and DXI instruments to the MIDI tracks. On the Mac, I was happy with an Absynth voice on one track, using an organic Cello kind of sound. On Vista, I chose a Stringer string machine voice that really cuts through the mix. I like it better, but now I have to edit that track to get rid of some artifacts (accidentals) that I made while recording it.

There were a few tracks that I couldn't figure out which voice I'd used, even though I have the same synth on both platforms. I couldn't get the same sound, so that leaves me something to work on later. I guess I need to start labeling my tracks with the actual voice name since Logic sort of haphazardly picks that info up from the synths. I guess some of the synths have a more compatible interface with Logic, and that may explain why I couldn't get a mix down.

So far I'm happy working with it on Vista, but I'm further away from feeling finished with it now. The tracks are all in sync, but now I can hear things that I want to change that weren't quite as noticeable on tha Mac. I have a preliminary level mix going on Vista, whereas on the Mac everything was pretty much at the same level going in, only keyboard velocity making the difference in loudness.

I uploaded an excerpt from my mac version to MySpace a few days ago. The whole piece is about 4 minutes long. I'm thinking now about trying to tighten it up a little bit. As it is, it wanders around a bit and doesn't have a very good ending. I think I can fix that now.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Persistence of Vision

I find myself tooled up without any clear direction at this point. In the past, I've been more spontaneous with my musical projects, reluctant to edit myself, basically churning out songs like spent bubble gum. Distance and pride make me want to slow down and proceed with greater care and with more revision than I have previously maintained.

My sound pallete is greater now, and that gives rise to more thought about choices to make, but will it cripple me? When I had two keyboards and a 4-track deck I used to be prolific as hell, but maybe that's the life of a single 20-year-old vs. that of a 45 year old man of greater means and lesser inspiration.

I'm not sure that inspiriation is lacking so much as self-control has evolved. It is the kind of self control that is akin to modesty, or humility that I have, and to some extent it is to be despised. Because without some experimental muscle, my brand of music is nothing. The music I live to create is mine, so there is some sense of pride, and a willingness to edit within some degree of quality. Yet, there can be no experiment without throwing caution to the wind, and blowing the dust off the keys that haven't been touched before, or as often as some others.

Being a manic type though, I know there will come an impulse to create, and that will dictate more than my written words can mettle.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New Workstation

I was reading an interview with Trent Reznor, seemed weird that it was from 1994, in Keyboard magazine. I guess NIN was a bit more musical back then, but his opinions struck me as highly suitable for Keyboard magazine, and also quite a bit leaning towards my own tastes.

He said that he didn't like to mike guitar cabinets, preferring to go directly into an amp simulator. I could see that. Of course his production technique at the time was very sampler intensive. I personally prefer simulated instruments, but would not split hairs as to when the sound becomes a digital recording. He admitted using a minimoog for most if not all of his bass lines, and though I use a virtual minimoog, I can see why.

The Keyboard Magazine mentality came to mind reading Reznor's passion for technology. I can remember in the 80's they thought Thomas Dolby was using the guitar in its proper place by only using them for textures and accompaniment. That is to my liking also. Keyboard used to rave about how "thick" Gary Numan's synth lineup sounded, and that's a no brainer as well.

Ten years later, I read where the guy from The Prodigy used Propellerhead Reason as a sampler on a G4 Powerbook, which was a few years back, but may show a trend from hardware samplers to software based ones. I have thought about trying that, but I may be stuck in the 80's or some kind of facsimile.

I still use a G4 Powerbook with Logic Express to do preliminary mixes, and sometimes entire songs. I like the mac because it is already geared up for making music, whereas with Windows you have to do a great deal of poking around in the settings, loading drivers, and other time consuming maintenance. Even so, I use a PC for recording, partly because I already have it set up, and partly because some of my VSTi synths only come in a PC version.

I try whenever possible to purchase soft synths that work on both mac and PC. The GForce Software line does this as does Native Instruments. Some of my dual platform synths are Minimonsta, Oddity, ImpOSCar, Absynth, and Reaktor. I've written quite a bit here about my tastes in software synths and together with Sonic Project's OP-X, those are my primary tools. Sonar came with some others that I use every once in a while, but I think Trent Reznor actually endorses Oddity and ImpOSCar.

It has been said that Gary Numan's early sound was characterized by the Polymoog's "vox humana" voice through two MXR phase shifters, but that would be discounting the minimoog quite a bit. The Pentagon DXi has a phased pad that sounds remarkably authentic, and OP-X does a straight vox humana that sounds lightweight in comparison.

For me, percussion is a weak spot, though with so many loops available and all manner of drum machine simulators, I still want for a better sounding drum kit than I tend to come up with. I should probably build some samples together for my own kit, as that would seem to be in order.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Uncharted Waters

I've started working with some of the widgets in Reaktor by Native Instruments. Absynth, by the same company has a kind of organic quality that reminds me of Reaktor, but there's more to it than that. The weird gizmo beat box things are fun to play with, and inspiring to work with. My next few songs may sound very unlike my previous 30 or so, especially in the beats and percussion tracks. I'm still digging the OP-X and by the way, I have toyed more with Stringer since my last post and I can say that it is one of the best deals in VSTi technology if you like string machines. I'm sure it isn't as nice as GForce Software's "String Machine" but at a fraction of the cost, there is much to be liked. The Logan strings and Arp Omni settings are just great to me. I have to figure out something now to use it in. I worked up one piece but its really just a demo to me. All those sounds remind me of Pink Floyd and all the anthem rock bands that I went to see in the 70's. You can strike quite a mood with a string machine, especially if not overdone. Leave it to me to warn against over doing the strings.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sonic Projects Stringer

Just a short note about another VSTi synth that I intend to review later, the Sonic Projects Stringer. It emulates 3 different string machines, Arp Omni, Logan, Weslon Symphony, and also does a Solina. I don't know much about these machines, so I'll have to get back with you to write about them in any kind of informed way. At this point, Stringer seems like a poor man's GForce String Machine. However, the sounds are very impressive to me, and once again I was sold by the Pink Floyd demos they did on the Sonic Projects web site. This is a very inexpensive device, and I feel like I should have no trouble finding songs to use it in.

Sonic Projects OP-X

I had been looking for an Oberheim VSTi for some time, given up, and then stumbled across Sonic Projects' wonderful OP-X rendering of the OB-X synthesizer. I was knocked out by their online sounds demos. Being a sucker for anything that sounds like Pink Floyd, I was impressed by the "Wish You Were Here" sounds it could do. The Van Halen "Jump" and Rush "Tom Sawyer" were just too much for me to resist. The OP-X was inexpensive compared to some of its close relatives from other companies, so I decided to give the demo a try.

The "Pro" version gives fine tuning ability for all the individual synth parameters, and when I say "individual synth" I mean every note you play on the OP-X has a separate signal path through an individual 2-oscillator synthesizer. It has 6 of these, and that is where the incredibly rich, "ballsy" sound comes from. I think the regular OP-X model is enough to get most folks going who are just trying to find a good classic analog sounding VSTi to play with, but the "Pro" model is really a fantasy come true. This is a VSTi with meat on the bones.

I have Minimonsta and ImpOSCar to compare it to. I think they compliment each other nicely. Each one has something the others don't. Throw in Oddity and you've got a sound arsenal as good as any 70's or 80's band out there.

OP-X comes with hundreds of preset banks, and one of my favorites is of course the "famous" bank. It has all the aforementioned sounds plus "99 Luft Balloons," and some Jarre stuff, Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, you name it. OP-X makes an excellent Jupiter emulator and even has that characteristic Roland filter sound available. There are a lot of Roland patches that make me very happy here. It does some decent MiniMoog patches too, but not to surpass Minimonsta in my opinion. I still like Minimonsta for that Moog sound, but OP-X is extremely versatile, especially in Unison mode where it is monophonic but phat as phuck.

My only complaint about OP-X is that sometimes, if you slip and accidentally bump an adjacent key, the sound stops and you have a very noticeable silence. This only happens in unison mode, and may be something that I am doing wrong (besides bad playing.) Other than that, it is very solid, amazingly not too CPU heavy, and just sounds like a dream. The side-by-side comparisons on the website between OP-X and a real OB-X are really amazing.

Here's yet another VSTi for the arsenal, complementing well with other analog simulators for a niche that was once reserved only for that of musical royalty.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Little Bits is available now at The distribution process happens in waves as each retailer picks up the new release. Amazon has very good prices and offers MP3 music without copy protection. Something I didn't know at first is that amazon is set up to load songs into your iTunes player, if that is your preferred method.

I'm very proud of this release as it is very homogeneous in being all new and all synthetic. This material was born of simulators and CPU intensive synthesizers. I really get off by this kind of material. It seems like each release I have with tunecore, the more I want to dig in and build something new. My first two releases this year featured lots of older material, some simply remastered, others reworked completely, but basically older stuff that I had never released to a commercial market. This latest one is all new with the exception of the epilogue, Velvet Elvis, 9 songs that exist entirely in the digital domain, composed and edited entirely on a notebook computer.

This is probably my last album for 2008, though I just get more and more wound up to try something new with the tools that I've been using. I have been in talks with David Gilmore, of A Presence Called Fred, to do a guitar based album, but that would probably span into next year at my best estimate. David and I go back to at least two bands we've been in together, and he is an undiscovered master of the guitar as far as I am concerned. We did a cover of Black Sabbath's Iron Man That was pretty faithful except for the reggae drum patterns, and some of David's original pieces have been innovative and fresh to me. So there is hope for us on that front. Of course, I shall be writing synthesizer pieces for as long as I am able, so next year, hopefully we will have some more new material to share with you. It seems the spark of musical ideas has ignited here in Cedartown, and will not burn out for a while.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Little Bits Released

The new album is called Little Bits and may be the best so far. These are some synthetic songs, no doubt. Alpha is a song with a synthesized vocal part and all the instruments were simulated by the computer. A few of the tracks on this album have loop based drums, or have real vocals, but this album was produced almost entirely in the digital domain. I'm very proud of it. Some of the tracks are available for a short time on There is a link on this blog's side bar. Within the next 8 weeks or so, it will be available as MP3 on iTunes,, Rhapsody, Napster, eMusic, and other online stores. I hope my fans enjoy this one. I've been listening to it in the car, and in my iPod for the past few days, and I love it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

What Have You Been Up To?

I am often accused of sounding like a chatterbot, usually when someone doesn't understand my remarks, but perhaps more often than that. I would say that I am 99% robotized. That is to say, my inner soul gyroscope of humanity is less than 1%. It doesn't take much. A little goes a long way. But if I sound like a robot, maybe I am.

The inevitable question of "what have you been up to today" is usually hard to answer. Unless I've been keeping score, I might not even know this one. How do I summarize nothing? Should I just say "nothing" or "not much?" One tires of that quickly. If I spend my morning thinking about a problem, or writing something down that I made up, then a solid response would have to summarize those thoughts and sometimes I'm just not willing to go there. I mean no disrespect, but if I'm going to be accused of being a robot for saying it, then maybe it isn't worth saying.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Bit At A Time

I'm still working on my next album, Little Bits. I've got seven candidate songs finished, though a couple of them probably won't make the final cut. I've been coasting for the most part doing songs that are easy to put out, but are not the kind of cutting edge stuff that I was doing in the mid 80's. That's not all bad, but I'd hate to think that my best work was done on a 4-track cassette deck. I have some great tools right now, but inspiration has been hard to come by.

Let's face it. Inference Patterns was mostly a reworking of songs that I wrote 20 years ago. But I learned how to use these new tools while making that album, so I'm happy to have landed here today with all this knowledge. I need to spend more time on this current material and resist the urge to just knock out MP3's without giving them a good working over first and good mastering later.

I have settled on a two station approach that is working nicely so far. I use my mac to start the song and do computerized vocals if needed. Then I copy a mix down to a windows vista computer where I can add all kinds of virtual synths, or record real synths and vocals in the studio. I have produced a couple of songs for the new album like this and it has worked out very well so far.

I've uploaded a couple of the new songs to the Beta 3 Lounge radio station. Listener response has been very good and I'm encouraged now to try some things I haven't done in a while. My sound is getting better and has a more thick heavy synth style than I was capable of for a long time. I used to get this sort of sound using lots of analog synths along with chorus and phase shifter pedals. I can now do everything inside the computer without any of that old equipment, and the sound is a little more flexible though consistently where I want it to be.

That's what I'm doing, one bit at a time.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


or the lack thereof . . .

I once had a doctor tell me that in times of war, men sometimes go without sleep for 3 days. I found little solace in that as I am an insomniac. Last night I stayed up while editing a report that I'd been procrastinating for some time. Sometimes there is a certain inertia or potential that must build up before the dam breaks and all the pent up energy is released.

I do that with music, but I'm either completely off or completely on. There is no scenario where I sit and write a little bit one day, and then add some more later, incrementally finishing a song. Most lyrics come in a matter of minutes to me (maybe that explains something) whereas I don't always get music with them. I tend to get musical ideas and then get some inspiration for the lyrics, though sometimes I flip through my notebooks looking for some unused words to wrap around a melody.

As a synthesizer player, I spend a fair amount of time doodling on a keyboard and fiddling with the sounds. I think that is what really attracts me to the synthesizer, is that aspect of actually crafting the sound pallet for a song. Sometimes I use presets, or some combination, but even with presets, there is a process of sorting through them, listening for the right sound for a particular part of a song. I'm sure guitarists go through something like that, but guitar is so dense in harmonics that you can always tell it's a guitar (well, most of the time.) Sure, there are guitarists like Adrian Belew or Robert Frip, and I'm not sure if I'm even spelling their names right.

I think my cat just farted. I hope that's what it is. Gotta go!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Strange Charm

I added some Gary Numan covers to the Beta 3 Lounge lineup today, from largely unknown bands, Harmonic Comotion and 5. There was an album of Numan covers a few years back called Random. It was okay. These other bands warranted my attention for being just bizarre enough to make me feel something when I listen to these well worn songs from days past.

A Presence Called Fred covered Metal live, and though a little rough around the edges, I thought it was worth a listen by the sheer nerve these guys had, playing in an auditorium of around 1,000 seats, to an audience of rock fans.

I keep getting emails from bands that don't fit the mood I'm going for with Beta 3 Lounge. Heavy Metal shock rock doesn't cut it for me, though I get an mp3 in the mail every couple of days from that kind of band. Actually, I received only one or two cold call type emails that seemed interesting enough to play. Unfortunately for them, I only play music from my library.

My listeners expect something better, whether I convey that to them or not is unclear, but I expect it myself, and that is enough to let me know what fits the play list and what doesn't. If it isn't good enough for me to listen to, it isn't good enough for Beta 3.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's been a couple of months since Inference Patterns was released, and now that The Visitor has gotten some exposure, I've been able to relax a bit and listen to them after some absence.

I probably should have spent more time mastering Inference Patterns, though the overall feeling I get from it is pretty much what I was shooting for. Considering the investment in time and treasure, these two albums have been a great success.

I'm still in production, though at a slower pace than the last two efforts. My next item will be called Little Bits. Bits of it are playing on my radio station now, so that I can guage how an audience reacts to them.

Check out my recordings at Amazon:

Happy birthday to Clay Broome. He is a musician and friend of mine from around my neck of the woods. I forget if he is older or younger than me, but we are around the same age.

I have a birthday coming up in a couple of months. I'm starting to not want to count them, so I hope I've not done Clay any harm by mentioning his annual thing.

Good music just doesn't really age. It might conjure up some memory of a time past, but I don't get tired of some music. Some classical music, some rock, some post-punk electronic whatever. I just don't get tired of some things. Beta 3 Lounge is an internet radio station that plays space age rock, and some electronic stuff. It seems to be gathering momentum, with people marking it in their station presets. I try to pick music that ages well, and it is an eclectic selection of music, much like a college radio station. Check it out if you need some mood music or if you like streaming audio. It's one of those things that just gets better with age.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Different Spheres

Up on the mezzanine level, Charlie and Emmy wait for me, but I'm still down here in the studio, working on things. The institute changed ISP's last week, and that has been keeping me down here on a fatter pipe than we currently have upstairs.

Do we dare borrow ideas from others? Sure, we do it all the time. But in my opinion it was in extreme bad taste that Ray Kurzweil patented Dr. Richard S. Wallaces AIML (ALICE) software in 2003. The patent claims to bring some improvements, but they are nothing that hackers haven't done on their own to the free software for years.

My opinion of Kurzweil is pretty low right now. What a truly bankrupt individual it takes to try and profit on a good man's ideas, let alone try to profit from something that was free and remains free, and is in the pubilc interest to remain free. Shame on you Ray!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Studio Setup

Somehow I wound up with two Digital Audio Workstations setup. I had been careful only to purchase virtual synths that I could use on both mac and PC. At one point I thought I'd do everything on the mac from now on, but in the Studio, there are a few bigger hardware items that just don't fit the mobile scheme that I had.

Several things fell into place in the studio. I downgraded my computer from Vista to XP Professional. I'm really glad I did that. Now several things that didn't quite work in Vista are working properly in XP, like rewire in cakewalk. I could never get cakewalk to open Reason running on Vista, but now that is a possible way to develop songs first in Reason, and then just open them up in a Sonar sequence. Remote Desktop Connection works now using the mac as a client now that I'm using XP again. That helps me in several other ways, in my programming work.

I bought a Korg microKontrol MIDI controller, thinking of it as a portable mini-keys kind of conrol surface. The damn thing weighs a ton, made of thick brushed aluminum. I love it, and have been using it upstairs in the den while I watch TV, noodling around with ideas using the mac notebook as a virtual synth.

The core of my virtual synths are now Minimonsta, the minimoog on steroids, impOScar, Oddity (arp odyssey emulator), Pro-53 Prophet Five emulator, and Absynth 4. These all work on both PC and Mac, so that if I create a new voice or write something that uses them, I can transport that from one DAW to the other.

In the Studio, I've got the Moog Prodigy, Roland Juno 60, Yamaha DX-21, Casio CZ-1000, Korg Polysix, and a full scale M-Audio keystation 49e. I find that the mini-keys on the microKontrol are fine for dreaming up songs, but the full scale keyboard makes for better craftsmanship in playing them to ultimately record. Not always, but in general, my hands have learned their way around a full size keyboard without me thinking about it. I tried using virtual keys where you type on the "typewriter" computer keyboard, but that is really dodgy. It takes forever to practice even the simplest melodies to try and play them that way.

On the mac notebook station I've got Logic Express 7, which matches everything on there, so I have no intention of updating until I retire this notebook and get something newer. That may be a while, I don't know. I like to use my stuff forever until they literally fall to pieces. My Polysix is nearly in that state after the battery spilled acid on the circuit board and wiped out the patch storage. The Juno 6 doesn't have a battery thankfully. (of course it has no memory either)

The PC in the studio has Cakewalk Sonar and an M-Audio Fast Track USB ASIO audio interface. It is an entry level interface, but is plenty sufficient for my needs at the moment. I've got all the same virtual synths on there as the mac, plus a few others. Mainly though, it is a faster machine with a bigger hard drive so is more suitable for the heavy lifting.

I had some problems getting the ASIO drivers to work, but finally sorted that out. The Mac is so much easier to deal with in that respect. Some day I may go to an all mac studio, but for now, I need to work with the gear I've got, and am quite satisfied with it all for my current needs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Logic Express 7 and older macs

I'm still using my G4 Powerbook that has traveled with me all over the world, gone to school with me, been used almost constantly since 2003. Last year I bought a new Vista notebook with faster dual core processor and well, ... just never could make myself like it. I guess once you try Mac you never go back, or something like that.

But what to do with all my virtual synths and my ever present musical thoughts? I'm glad now that when I bought Minimonsta, Absynth, and other goodies, I made sure that I could download versions for both PC and Mac. I think the last straw was trying to get ASIO drivers for the PC with Vista. I'd fire up Sonar and try to record something but couldn't hear it. Vista really dogs out a computer, even with a fast processor and tons of RAM, it was like working in quicksand.

So my Powerbook is like 5 years old, titanium 1 Ghz, 1GB Ram. I love it. The paradox with Apple is that as soon as you buy a computer from them, a month later they're selling something twice as fast for the same price. On the other hand though, they stay backwards compatible for a long time. I'm going to keep Tiger and Logic Express 7 on here, because it seems that if you upgrade to anything UB, things become more resource intensive. I happen to be content with the features I have, so all is copacetic.

Using virtual au synths with Logic is great, and the main reason it works on an older computer is the "freeze" function. There's actually a little blue ice crystal looking button. You click it and the track is processed into an audio track, using your synth and its settings and its MIDI sequence to fix the track as audio, thus freeing up your CPU load. Then, it lies dormant until you want to unfreeze it. You have to unfreeze it if you want to change notes or other MIDI information, or change the voice of your synth. Other than that, after it is frozen, you just treat it like an audio track.

In an experiment, I found that I could sustain Minimonsta, impOSCar, 2 Oddity parts, and an Absynth line before the G4 started to max out. My typical recording style usually has a vocal track, maybe an audio track from my real life Moog Prodigy, or Juno 6, and then 4 or 5 virtual synth lines. It varies with each song, but that is a typical lineup for what I am likely to come up with.

Another nice thing about Logic Express (besides its price) was the ability to drag drum loops onto the arrangment view, so it works something like Garageband in that the loops adjust to tempo and the song's key.

If you use Reason, Logic Express can host it along with your song. I'm not sure how that would work out with the G4 processor doing all that at once. I'd probably work out something basic in Reason, export that to an audio track, and then embellish it in LE.

LE has some pretty nice virtual synths that come with it, a sampler, and can also use GarageBand instruments. It may not have all the features of Logic Pro, but was a great value for what it cost. On an old mac like my titanium PowerBook, it is just what I want for my needs.

Lastly, you can get even faster powerbooks on eBay for around $250-$400 on a regular basis right now. If you are looking for a way to get started with a mac, get one of these macs and look for LE 7 or 8. If you buy GForce, NI, Korg, and other soft synths, you may have access to Universal Binary software as well as programs for the PC, so you wont be locked in if you decide later to upgrade to an Intel mac, or a PC. The old macs may have screen issues, dead batteries, and may be dinged up a bit with a few scratches, so be prepared to get a machine that has been very loved by heavy use. But if you can get one that has a GB or more of RAM, you're getting a whole computer for basically the cost of upgrading the memory on one.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Soundclick Value, Oddity Bugs is a great place to purchase mp3 files if you like paypal and can find something you like there. It is an artist's community, so there is a wide variety of styles and quality. Most of the time, you can listen to something before you buy it, and many times the author generously gives away pieces, though that also varies.

The drawback, and probably an impediment to selling your songs on soundclick is that you can only sell to members. The process is that you create an account and put some money into the account and then you go about actually purchasing things.

Okay, Gforce Oddity, I have found some bugs in the VST synth. If you use more than one instance of oddity on a song on Sonar, some of the characteristics of the voices you choose get changed. I worked with one song recently for quite a while with no problems, and then suddenly the envelope changed on my 2nd instance of oddity. I tried rebooting. I tried deleting the synth and re-installing it, changing the voice and changing it back. After it went south, I couldn't get it to come back. The serendipity was that I was much more satisfied with the impOSCar voice that I used instead.

Monday, April 14, 2008

MySpace for Flux Oersted

A long time ago, during the Black Monolith phase of my music doings, I had a myspace page and for some reason, decided it was too much hassle at the time, and deleted it. There are still some of those Black Monolith songs being hosted on other sites like and iLike. Most of those songs came over from cassette tapes in the great magnetic flux of 1994. Back then, I had a wooden box full of tapes that I kept all the cassette masters of me repertoires in. I had contingency plans if the house caught on fire, to rescue that box. Now my music is digital and dispersed all over the place. I do however keep DVD-R backups in a safety deposit box at my bank.

But I digress. MySpace pages seem to be a requirement for bands these days. Of course, I'm not a band, but rather a project, still, it seemed like making another go at it would be worth while. Whereas before it seemed like the only people on MySpace were teenagers and sexual predators, nowadays it is more like business on the net.

My new page is at It seems like most of the traffic is from other bands. I remember Dave Thomas from Pere Ubu singing "everybody's in a band" and sometimes it seems like everybody has some kind of band going on.

But this brings me to one of the key ingredients of the web music business: "How to be found." There are millions of listeners, and millions of bands, maybe more music than potential viewers. So how do you connect to them without any sort of traditional ad campaign or promotion?

One way that suggests for doing this in iTunes is to create iMix playlists that contain a few of your songs and a bunch of really popular ones. Then, when somebody finds the play list containing their favorite artist, your music is riding piggy back with it and is potentially heard and tried out. That sounds nutty if you're used to the old days when people listened to the radio, but fewer and fewer people leave home without an ipod or some such device these days for playing "their" tunes. So musicians are left to try and insert themselves into the music search loop somehow.

This brings me back to MySpace. I don't know how anybody actually finds your band page unless they are a musician who systematically goes through all the other band pages doing friend requests. Once "friended" the musician places a thank you message in the target band's page and that serves as an advertisement and a link back to their own band page. Now if all the visitors to your music are other musicians then you'd better have some really good music if you hope to sell them anything of your own. All the other electronic musicians can pretty much duplicate most of what they are going to hear as they make their rounds through all the other band pages, posting advertisement comments.

Every bit counts though. The more search efforts you can seed, the better. There's always a chance that somebody will like what they hear enough to pay for it. Somebody has to pay for it the first time before it can wind up on a bittorrent search.

Another question arises. Would you rather be heard or would you rather hold out and be purchased? On I have my entire current catalog of music available for sale, by the single, in albums, but also for free to be streamed. I endorse the play before you pay philosophy. Most big name artists don't feel this way. They have lo-fi 30 second sound bytes available. Some even put partial songs on their MySpace page. To me, the "try some, buy some" plan is more equitable when you're like me, unknown, and with nothing to lose. But there again, all the participants on are other bands. Of course, that may just be my perception. There may be more listeners than it seems like and I'm just not getting them.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Inference Patterns is available at a web store near you

Flux Oersted - Inference Patterns
The distribution channels have just about all started carrying Inference Patterns. iTunes was online early with a "partial album" for some reason, although they are carrying all 10 tracks that I have listed for the album. Of course, the songs are all available separately. is the lowest price I've seen so far, where you can get the all 10 songs for about 6 dollars. Rhapsody and Napster also carry it. And I think there are a couple of others but I forget what they were.

I've made a couple of press releases patterned on the information at There is a special edition audio CD version online at containing a few bonus tracks for those wanting an actual CD to hold onto.

Friday, April 04, 2008

I returned to the studio today after a week-long stay at my mom's house while recovering from hip replacement surgery. I had a good rest at my mom's house, but couldn't wait to get back to the studio.

I'm in the middle of my "alien influence" album. Most of it will be instrumentals, and started out as more melodic, but since I've been out of the hospital, I keep going industrial on everything. I hear machines talking to machines and telling people what to do. I want to put some meat into this, as the first few songs are more like temporal transposed songs from the middle ages played by VST synths. I've got to put some impOSCar and Oddity lines in there. This isn't one for the pocket orchestra.

A friend of mine, Neil Fellowes, told me about a nice little VST synth called Pokegy. I had to hunt one down because the original website is vaporized. Anyway, it is a nice emulation of a Moog Prodigy, which I've ranted about here lately, and though I have a real hardware version of one, I prefer not to have to power it up and plug it in if I don't have to. The Pokegy sounds pretty true to the real thing and even has a few mods like an FM modulator. It has polyphony, so there's something you can't do with the real deal.

I used it in a short atmospheric piece to start with, and am pleased with it so far. I fooled myself into thinking that it wouldn't work with Sonar, but it turned out that I had inadvertently turned off the option that creates the audio playback track for new instruments and didn't realize it. Geeze, these pain killers are crippling my brain!

Back to pokegy, it sounds more like a Moog Prodigy than Minimonsta for my tastes. It has that dual oscillator feel to it. There are times when that is what I want, and it cuts through the mix when needed. I'm finding that Minimonsta is good for the very rich textured synth-type sounds that can't quite be accomplished with impOSCar. ImpOSCar is pretty amazing, and has some very lush sounding textures of it's own, but even though they are both VST synths, Minimonsta just has that very analog feel to it, while impOSCar sounds like a Casio CZ-1000 with analog filters. I don't mean to sell the impOSCar short, but the way it generates sounds is different from anything I've ever used before.

I love them all.

Friday, March 21, 2008

I went through a creative period recently, in my manic way, and came out of it with about 6 or 8 songs that I felt were worth keeping. In the process, I tried some new instruments and rekindled my interest in some of my old ones.

I went through this strong desire to visit my roots in moog synths. My Prodigy got some play and I wound up purchasing the Minimonsta VST synth after trying several demos. It gets really hard for me to pick one or the other. Arturia's Mini has a very authentic sound and I may wind up getting it at some point. What eventually sold me on the GForce Mini was the fact that I could buy it online, they don't have a dongle or other tedious copy protection, and in terms of the voices that I could get from it, I thought that although it was a pretty good emulation of the MiniMoog, I could use it for all kinds of other things - it being versatile rather than just a copy of something old. Lots of VST synths are just a dull copy of something you'd rather hold in your hand. To me, the Korg legacy stuff is like that. I have a Poly Six and the idea of recreating just that is boring to me.

I'm not really enthused by most of the Native Instruments product line. If I was more of a traditional rock guy, I'd be into the B4 organ, but I have never been that kind of organist type. Massive and Absynth are interesting for textures I believe, but I'd almost rather build my own textures from first principles than to buy a synth that I would only use for the first 10 seconds of a song now and again. Kore sounds interesting, but I'm not sure what the advantage is. Maybe it is like a patch librarian, which could be helpful, but not if it can only organize NI product's sounds. I don't know enough about Battery to know whether I would rather have that than Guru. I've got lots of drum loops on my powerbook from GarageBand and Logic 7, and have used a few of those. I have been using a freeware drum kit called Grizly that seems to be as useful as those other two, just from what I've read.

So I supported GForce and haven't regretted it. I wound up getting ImpOSCar and Oddity too, which I didn't originally intend to do but now I am in this sound auditioning mode where I go through all the preset banks and try to remember which bank has the stuff that I like. Eventually these will make their way into my songs, but it may take a while for that creative spark to come around again. In the meantime, the sounds I'm hearing lend themselves to the kind of mood I've been in, where I don't want sampled "real" instruments - I want sonic silly puddy that I can squash around and make shapes with.

ImpOSCar has really grown on me since getting it. I can hear a lot of the rich sounds from it as being useful for all kinds of things. It is really more versatile than MiniMonsta or Oddity, but all three of them make a nice little triad of virtual instruments for me to tinker with as I convalesce from hip surgery and try to think creatively during the healing process.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

MiniMonsta thoughts

Before I got MiniMonsta, the Moog on steroids softsynth, I scoured the web reading comparisons between it and Arturia's MiniMoog V. Some of the most lengthy conversations were on the forums at There were pages after pages of people with some kind of opinion about them. People with hardware minimoogs would say one or the other was a dead-on impersonation, while others said this one was too harsh, or that one was too dull. Some people were won over by some of the esoteric features added onto the emulation, whether it be Arturia's modulation matrix, or GForce's "melohmman morphing" feature.

I was just looking for something that would approximate a Moog synthesizer without costing the small fortune that I'd have to pay to get a real one, or one of the new models in the Voyager line. I like that Moog synth sound, and my Prodigy, though one of my favorite keyboards, has some limitations as to what I like to do with it. I think there are only about 3 basic sounds that I can set it for that I particularly like, and have used in several songs.

It seemed to me, from my reading that a lot of people liked the MiniMonsta. I tried both demos, side by side, and really couldn't tell that much difference between them on similar patches. The Arturia presets are very classic kind of things, whereas MiniMonsta has some really far out stuff that is made using some of their built-in modulation routes and automation along the lines of using an LFO to modulate the stereo pan, or the emphasis and cutoff frequency.

I still feel like I can make my own programs easier with MiniMonsta, and have already downloaded sound banks that other people have made on theirs, so I still feel good about that.

Some of the more complex polyphonic voices start to break up on my old powerbook that I plunk around with. However, this is easily remedied by cutting back on the number of notes polyphony, which I wish was a global setting, but it has to be done for each patch.

I've got a more powerful windows vista notebook that I do most of my recording with, but this brings me to something a little unexpected that didn't come up in any of the comparisons that I read. Gforce is a little rough around the edges in some of their programming. Arturia was probably a little more refined piece of software if I had known. One thing that Gforce does is that if I set the main mini input device, I can save it to a file, but the next time I load the program, it has forgotten and I either have to load the configuration I saved, or set it again. This is slightly annoying on the PC, but doesn't seem to happen on the mac. When I set it, I get an error message that says it can't set it. But if I do it again it works.

It really is hard to choose between both emulations though, they both sound fantastic to me, though I don't have a real MiniMoog to compare them to. Ironically, some of my favorite sounds on the MiniMonsta are from a set of Prodigy voices that somebody put together. Those 3 basic sounds are all there, in full 2-oscillator glory, which I find rather heartening since it means I don't have to power up the Prodigy and goof around with the knobs whenever I want to record those kinds of sounds. (The prodigy doesn't have a voice memory bank.)

I am still happy with my choice though. Someday, maybe I'll get Arturia, just for overkill. There are so many softsynth analog clones these days though, you could go insane trying to pick only one or two. If you use Cakewalk's latest version of Sonar, I think it comes with Pentagon and Z3ta+ which are two very nice instruments that might be all one would need to get that retro analog sound going on. Reason users can choose from samples of the Moog Prodigy, or the Korg Monopoly, Juno 60, lots of others. It also comes with some very admirable synth simulators, though I don't know much about them. I've read comparisons and opinions about so many of these things it has made me lose interest in these forums to some degree just from all the lengthy exchanges about features that a person is either going to like or not like based on their own tastes.

I take a line from Gforce's MiniMonsta documentation, where they are urging people to support the developers and not share the software. They say they respect people who make good music with only a limited number of tools more than they respect people who make mediocre music using every tool imaginable. I can see where they are coming from, as a software developer myself, and that was a motivation for me to actually go ahead an purchase a copy of MiniMonsta. I like to reward people who put an honestly good effort into making something as nice as they can, and then support the people who decide eventually to use it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

MiniMoog VST

I've been shopping for a softsynth version of the MiniMoog, for aesthetic reasons, and because I think it is more preferable for me to have a software version of this classic synth than to ever think of purchasing a real one.

Aesthetically, the Mini has been used on so much of my favorite music from Kraftwerk, to Gary Numan, to Nine Inch Nails, you name it. I am still very much oriented towards the kinds of sounds it creates.

From a practical standpoint, it is easier for me to record these things with MIDI and Cakewalk Sonar, using multiple instances of the device at times. The original beast can cost anywhere from $1,500-upwards of $3,000. I was pricing software versions that cost around $200.

I looked at Arturia MiniMoog V, which is a very true copy of the original synth, endorsed by Robert Moog, bearing his name. And it was hard not to just fall in love with that version. The one I wound up getting is by GForce, called the MiniMonsta. There were several factors that influenced me.

A major part of my decision was based on whether I could design my own sounds with it. Arturia's interface is a bit smaller, and some of the features didn't seem to work right. I could never quite get oscillator 3 to modulate things as I thought it should. The MiniMonsta has a larger display and in stand alone mode, I was able to make new voices, save them to disk, and use their morph feature, more about that later.

Both synths have extra features. Arturia has a modulation matrix, a dedicated LFO, so you don't have to give up the third oscilator, and they put in a chorus and delay effect. GForce went an order of magnitude beyond that however. Not only do they have a dedicated LFO, they have one for nearly every single aspect of the synth! Not only that, there is an ADSR envelope that may be used for all of these features. They made nearly every control so that it could be latched onto and changed via MIDI. There is a delay. They have this really bizarre feature that I am starting to love where you make variations of your patches and then have the ability to morph between them, either selected by a pre-assigned octave of the keyboard, or automatically, or by pressing a button. From a performance standpoint, you could use the stand alone version on a notebook computer in a live performance, and have all these options at your control.

The GForce MiniMonsta delivers on sound, comes with about 6,000 preset voices, many created by Rick Wakeman, but goes way beyond what the original instrument was capable of. Granted, Arturia has a polyphonic mode, but MiniMonsta has unison mode and a polyphony that is not watered down. Playing a chord on it is like playing a fleet of MiniMoogs. It is really fantastic.

Another nice thing in my case is that when you buy it, you get the PC and the Mac Universal Binary versions. So I can put it on my Powerbook and design sounds with it, and then use my sequencer on the PC to play them back. It is quite liberating to have an instrument of this quality that I can use in so many different environments and aspects, stand alone, VST, or on the mac as an Audio Unit in Logic. I don't use Logic as much as Sonar, but when and if I do, it is there for me.

I still will continue to play my Moog Prodigy. It has a certain niche of sounds that the MiniMoog doesn't have. The MiniMonsta doesn't have an oscilator sync, which is something that really shines on the Prodigy. Also, many people gloss over the fact that the Prodigy has ADS-R envelopes, whereas the Mini only has ADS envelopes. [update: I stand corrected. The MiniMoog does have a "release" feature for the envelopes, it is the switch over at the performance controls called "decay."] This is a subtle difference, but it makes a difference in sound design and in the way you might play the instrument. There are lots of bass voices on the Mini that only use two oscillators, and many of the ones that use three are not so usable because the sound becomes too complex to just be a bass line. So now I have what I feel is the best of both at my disposal. I will still be recording with the real world Prodigy, but will also have my appetite for the MiniMoog satiated by this GForce product.

In a way, it is better to have a synth endorsed by a pro musician than one endorsed by Robert Moog. Rick Wakeman has actually used the thing, and though Moog may have helped in the design of Arturia's product, I don't think it is as playable, or as versatile as MiniMonsta seems to be. I will write more later after I've done some recording with this thing, and I'm really looking forward to that.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Visitor
(a Quin Martin Production . . . )

I've started work on my next album today. It will be called "The Visitor" for reasons that may or may not be obvious. It is in part an homage to The Man Who Fell To Earth, staring David Bowie, from 1974, I believe.

My last album was mostly re-workings of earlier renditions, but helped me get familiar with some new equipment. Even though I'm already off to a quick start with this one, I will be taking my time to work on this. I do have a few skeletons of MIDI sequences that I intend to bring into this century. I think the sound on this one will be more atmospheric, though I can hardly resist my pop influences.

All of Gary Numan's work for the past decade at least, has some kind of atmospheric intro section, so that nothing starts into a groove right away. My inclination is to combine atmosphere with a groove. Maybe I can keep it from being just noise!

I just registered all the songs from the last album with ASCAP, so if any of them get played somewhere on earth, I am due a royalty. Here, earth is defined in a rather limited scope. Maybe I should have called the last album Limited Scope. That would have been appropriate. It is interesting to me that anybody who can make some MP3's on their notebook computer, as I have, can make them available to sell on iTunes, napster, amazon, etc. with very little effort involved. It cost me fourty bucks to have somebody set all that up for me. All I had to do was upload the tunes to them and use paypal to secure their services.

For me it is not a question of how many I can sell. Rather, it is a matter of having them for sale. There is a status that is reached where some potential is leveraged against the economic market of musical ideas. Without some strong promotion or otherwise notable event, nobody will know my stuff is for sale. Errant iTunes power searches may yield a song that someone will play the snippet sample given. Perhaps I will buy some of my own recordings, just for fun. But I will have entered a playing field that is now almost level, among players who are like gods to me, who I've worshiped and admired for decades, or whom I see on television and go "I like that." I am my first critic and I like what I make. For me, it compares well with the songs I've purchased and if nobody else finds it, or gets it, or thinks it's cool, that's okay. For me, I think we have it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inference Patterns Released

My latest album is now available to try out at SoundClick.Com. If you like synthesizer music, especially if you like Gary Numan's music from around 1982, this might be a winner for you. I'm quite satisfied with it. You can try it before you buy it. Available by the single, or as an MP3 album for $7.99. Order the CD for $12.99 from Cafe Press.

There's some new material and some of the songs are from my classics that have been re-worked with newer and more varied equipment. There are also a couple of remastered oldies like Velvet Elvis, and Reflector. Those were two songs that I didn't feel could be made any better except to be tweaked a little bit in Adobe Audition's mastering rack.

There is one very old recording of a live version of Myths About Paper, performed by my first band, A Presence Called Fred at the 1985 Poe Boy jam. I think that's my favorite live recording of my work, performed in a 1000 seat auditorium with good acoustics.

Also included is the 50th remake of Plastic Hand, the "apple mix", with all vocals sung by my Mac PowerBook. On the new stuff, my vocals are noticeably less effected, and made better by my M-Audio microphone interface. I use a Shure SM-53, and though I've had arguments with people who say, "that is an instrument mic," I just look at its frequency response curve, and like to hold it in my hand, so there it is.

Song List:

Myths About Paper 3.0
Prodigy 7
Laser Jack Ruby
Beryllium Zinc
Song on the Radio
Class IV
What are Pure Thoughts Not
Plastic Hand
Velvet Elvis
No Regrets
Myths About Paper Live

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Korg Poly Six vs. Roland Juno 6

Korg and Roland both came out with 6 oscillator polyphonic synthesizers around the same time. They were the first fully programmable polyphonic synths that ordinary people could afford. Twenty-some-odd years later, you can get them for next to nothing campared to a Moog, which has acquired an even greater prestige since Bob Moog passed away in 2005.

Those new MiniMoogs, the Voyager series, are some pricey mono synths. $2,100.00 - $3,400.00 in that range is pretty steep, though they are hand made and limited in quantity. I wouldn't mind having one, though it would be hard for me to justify when soft-synth MiniMoogs are available for about $200.00.

Speaking of $200.00, that's about what it costs to get a Roland Juno 6 on e-bay. I found one that was in great shape, for about that price, and it came with an anvil case that is big enough to house most of my long synths.

I got my Korg Poly Six for $100.00 at a pawn shop. It was beat to death though, and a couple of months after I had it, I discovered that the battery which backs up the memory had leaked acid on the circuit board. Things went downhill further when I used the wrong solvent to clean the key contacts and melted the plastic membrane that holds them in place. Oh well. I did get a few recordings out of it before it died, and I've still got it in case I want to destroy a keyboard on stage some day, a-la Nine Inch Nails.

I've read that the Poly Six is not too far distant in sound from the Korg MonoPoly, though the later has more flexibility in programming I believe, despite only 4 oscillators. The Poly Six has a very warm sound, whereas, everything you play on the Juno 6 has that characteristic sound of its filters. In this day and age, the polyphonic kind of voices that you might find in either a Juno 60 (the Juno 6 with a preset memory) or the Poly Six, either one, sound a little bland and weak. The Juno 6, having no memory, must have the controls set for each new sound, though that makes it a good performance keyboard if you like to mess with the knobs while you're playing it.

Okay, so the Poly Six has preset memories. It has a killer unison mode, where it becomes a very stacked mono synth. While mine was still alive, that's mostly how I used it, to get this really heavy airplane engine sounding bass voice. Interestingly, the Juno 6 can approach that heaviness in full polyphony. It has a sub-oscillator in addition to the pulse width modulation, much like the Poly Six.

To me the Juno has a place where you want it to be obvious that you're playing a synth, and be able to play chords and such. The Korg has more of a niche where you just want some pretty sounds, maybe a string ensemble, or synth woodwind sounds.

It is weird to me though that a Juno 6 still goes for around $200.00 and I'm seeing Moog Prodigy mono synths going from near $1000.00. I guess it is the name brand and that distinctive 24db Moog filter that is driving it. None of these synths are still being produced, though in a since the MiniMoog is in new production. Used MiniMoogs are going for upwards of $1500.00 and you're liable to get an early one with unstable oscillators that you have to tune constantly.

I'd say the Juno 6 is the must-have of the two old polys. The Korgs may be harder to find, and have that battery problem in every one, so if you get one, open it up immediately and dig that battery out to replace. One of the reasons I chose the Juno 6 over the Juno 60 was that I knew the '60 would have the battery peril, and they cost about $100.00 more. They sound virtually identical though, and I like tweaking the knobs and sliders while I play it.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Secrets of the Moog Prodigy

I traded a toy casio keyboard for my Prodigy around 1987. It had one cracked key, but was fully functional and in good shape other than that. The guy who had it, thought it was probably worth about $50.00. God bless him!

I love my prodigy. It took me several years though to learn to like it next to my Realistic Concertmate MG-1, which is a somewhat similar Moog synthesizer, with a few different features. I had played the MG-1 so much that I knew it like the back of my hand. Both MG-1 and Prodigy are 2-oscillator monophonic synths, both have a 24db filter, the same number of keys, etc. I had learned to coax just about all the MG-1 could deliver, but it was laid out a little differently from the Prodigy so some of the controls on the Prodigy didn't mean the same to me at first.

At first I used the CV and Trigger output from the MG-1 to control the Prodigy (this was pre-MIDI for me) and though tuning could be a little tricky, I was able to get some really fat layered synth sounds from them. I was still enamored by the MG-1 though.

A few years later, after I'd been using MIDI sequencers and synths, I'd gotten away from the analog stuff for a while, but noticed that the Prodigy was increasing in value. I just saw one on e-bay today in fact going for $975.00! So I took out the keyboard from the MG-1 and replaced the broken one in the Prodigy. Now it is in very good condition. The output jack is a little loose, and it had been pretty dusty at one time, so I've cleaned it up quite a bit.

Now, about those secrets. I picked up a few tips about the Prodigy while reading things about it on the Internet.

Some people modify their Prodigy so that oscillator 2 will go down to 32'. A very simple trick if you don't mind not syncing the oscillators is to flip the sync switch off, tune the oscillators together, and then bring the pitch bend wheel all the way down. This gives you osc. 1 at 64' and osc. 2 at 32'! I like to switch osc.1 up to 32' and then you get this really phat as hell voice using both sawtooth especially. It rivals the textures of the MiniMoog.

The second trick involves the mod wheel. The LFO is selectable as a triangle wave or a square wave with a switch. If you move the switch, ever so carefully between them so that it is set to neither, then the mod wheel gives you manual control over the filter or the oscillators, depending on which of these you have selected. It's great for expression with the filter control while playing. If you set the cutoff low enough, and put in a little emphasis - almost self-modulating, then when your rock the mod wheel, you've got this huge range of expression at your fingertips. If you select to modulate the oscillators it gives you this really wild pitch bend, way more than one octave.

Moog Music makes this thing called the Mooger Fooger CP-251 that provides alternate LFO settings, sample and hold, PWM modulation, and some other stuff. I really don't feel like I need that. For one, I haven't found much use for the sample and hold stuff. The MG-1 can do that. It is good for making a "computer sound." Some of the demos I've heard of the CP-251 weren't that musical, and I can do strange effects on my computer.

In closing, the Prodigy is often derided as a basic synth, but is really a nice piece of work. It doesn't have a 3rd oscillator like the MiniMoog, but I think it really is the poor man's MiniMoog. If you want a Moog, and want to spend less that $1500.00, the Prodigy is a great alternative. If you're on a budget and can find one, the MG-1 is a great little keyboard. Prodigy's oscillators have triangle wave shape, but you can live without that. MG-1 has sample and hold if you can think of something to do with it. It also has a continuous and auto-trigger mode, though in a MIDI-fied world, those are not as useful as a MIDI/CV kit would be.

I play the Prodigy live and in the studio. I use it to write bass and lead lines, and base songs around the sounds I get from it. I also plunk around on a Roland Juno 6, from the same era, and used to play my Korg Poly Six until it died from a battery leaking acid on the circuits. The Korg though to me was only useful in unison mode, so was kind of a one trick pony. I'd much rather have the Prodigy than that keyboard. The Juno 6 is a nice polyphonic compliment for a guy who couldn't afford a Jupiter 8.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Do you ever have that dream that you're back in high school but you're only wearing your underwear? I've been having that kind of anxiety a lot lately. It comes from having a one track mind, and not being good at multi-tasking. Yes, I admit that I don't like to multi-task. I'm not even sure if you're supposed to hyphenate it.

I let my food touch, but when it comes to events and tasks, I like to focus on one at a time. I get nervy when there is more than one thing to anticipate in a day.

Maybe it is the anticipating that gets me in this state. If I have to anticipate everything, does that make me lack spontaneity? I may be a robot. I think I've got a single processor brain in a dual or quad processor world. I may be blowing this all out of proportion.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

M-Audio Fast Track USB

M-Audio is becoming one of my favorite musical equipment companies. I've been using Cakewalk Sonar 7 Producer Edition and Fast Track USB audio interface. When I bought the interface, I thought it was just some kind of digitizer that would allow me to connect a microphone or plug in a guitar or a keyboard. It turns out that it is like an external sound card, and has very good latency with ASIO drivers. I've been very happy with the purchase. There are better, higher priced solutions for this sort of thing, with more inputs, but this unit was really just right for my notebook/studio projects. The mic input is an XLR connection, and has worked well with my choice of microphones. Basically, for the price of a digital vocal mic, you get an interface that also handles my keyboards well.

I've recorded some Moog Prodigy lines and a few vocal tracks with it so far. The low latency means that I can play soft-synths without any problems. I've been using Moog Modular and Mini Moog soft-synths with great satisfaction.

My latest recordings are online at SoundClick

Monday, January 21, 2008


Why is it that a 4 year old mac powerbook has almost negligible audio latency when playing "virtual" instruments, while my core duo notebook has about a half second latency? I suppose it is the stock sound drivers and hardware in my HP budget notebook.

I know, I should have invested in a newer mac than buy a budget notebook, but I thought I would only be using the HP for work related grunt work. Little did I know that the trackpad would be better than my powerbook, and when I really get down to aesthetics, there are some nice features in a windows computer, like a delete key, separate page up and page down keys, little stuff like that.

So I am torn between the neat-o factor of the powerbook and the grunt work machine that I find myself spending more and more time with. Apple has some nice features, and Vista is kind of a lumbering giant of an operating system. Somebody said, "wouldn't it be nice if you could roll them both together into something really nice." That might be the way to go if it were possible.

I do musical things with my computers, and the mac has carved itself out a nice little niche in my doings. The HP has processor power, and though I may record things on the PC, I will probably actually "play" them on my mac, using it's sweet sounding software synths and low latency drivers.

I guess I'm lucky to have both worlds to visit, though I can't seem to decide which box is my home computer. Maybe in a few years I'll invest in another mac, or not.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Is wikipedia worth the effort? Frequently, wikipedia articles rise to the top of google searches, but how much weight should one put on these articles that are often biased, fabricated, prejudiced, or fictitious?

I used to think it was a good general reference for factual material, but case in point: Jenning J-22. The article on wikipedia is biased, uses blogs as references, and is just plain crap. I tried to add some references to their miasma, but got labeled as a vandal and had my account closed.

I have since discovered other articles that bear little relevance to reality that make me want to avoid wikipedia in the future. It seemed like a great notion, that people could actually be trusted to edit factual information, but I guess it is just a bulletin board full of advertisements and disinformation. Dig a little deeper in your web searches and find the references that wikipedia claims to use.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I've done some updating to the site recently.

I have what should be a more random selection of the bots now when you click on the "Take the Turing Test" link. Some of the bots are running at, and I'll probably keep those there. One of the new additions allows the hub to fall back on the bots if the server at takes a dump. That happens from time to time, and now there's a way to recover partially from that.

I moved all the polls from IMS server to TH, and hopefully got them lined up with the right bots. I also added a "how robotized are you?" - poll for the fun of it.

For members who subscribe or are invited to the hub, I've added a mailing list. It will probably be mostly news about the hub.

I'm adding some content here and there, trying to make the site fun and useful.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

This is my mantra for the new year (2008) :

Tune out, Turn off, and Drop down.

I like to ask people how robotized they are. The average hip, cool person will say, "I'm not robotized at all." Some people will say, "I'm about 50% robotized." I like to say that I am 99.9999% robotized. It's the other 0.0001% that provides the inner soul gyroscope of humanity.

Okay, I stole most of this from Dr. Timothy Leary. He's dead. No, no, no, he's on the outside looking inside.

Okay, I stole that from The Moody Blues.

I stand on the shoulders of giants. Give me a lever, and watch me move the world.