Messy business


From todays session… its funny the things you forget eg WHY AM I GETTING NO SIGNAL ON THE NAGRA!?! (oh right, i switched to monitoring off tape & had stopped rolling to check levels – doh!) – I’m recording at 15ips and am going to transfer the Nagra recordings to ProTools at 192kHz at 15ips, 7.5ips, 3.75ips and also try scrubbing/varispeed sounds past the heads….

One thing I noticed about using tape & digital today: I think recording on Nagra/tape might be akin to shooting film vs digital – I was much more careful what I rolled tape on, whereas digital I kept rolling on everything….

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Need more arms

Following on from my Soviet Tek post, I was tipped off to a local auction today, at a place which usually has deceased estates & general junk but item #4 in todays auction was a set of TAMA drum pads!! Is that a coincidence or what!?! So I raced over, registered to vote & bought the set for $100! And best of all, along with the 4 drum pads there was also a kick drum pad! Thanks heaps Tom, for the tip :)

need more arms!

So now I have too many drum pads, if thats actually possible – 12 in total, maybe I’ll tune them chromatically & practice my scales! I’ll need to invest in a few more brackets, so I can get the layout & angles of the pads more playable, but for now am making do borrowing stands from my acoustic drum kit, which is disassembled presently anyway, as I need my quiet/recording room for HISSandaROAR sessions.

Speaking of HISSandaROAR, my recording session this afternoon is both digital & analog: Recording to the Sound Devices 744 with MKH8040 ORTF, MKH8050 and MD421 and to my Nagra 4.2 with an MKH8040. Getting the Nagra ready I had forgotten what a mission it is to load up with batteries!

battery power

Thats 12 D size batteries! Next time you’re at the supermarket have a grimace at what those cost, especially when you buy two sets of them!

battery power

What I am recording is going to be a bit loud (hence the MD421) but I was also a bit worried about impact vibrations travelling up mic stands into the MKH80X0 mics, so I’ve tried a DIY approach to float the mic stands, using those pool floater things – Aquastix Foam Tubes Pool Noodle is the technical term… will soon see how well they function, I know Primacoustic make ‘proper’ ones although not sure how well they would stand up to outside use: TriPad Microphone Stand Isolator


mic stand floaters

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Soviet Tek

A couple of months ago I became a little bit obsessed with drum synths – it started off after I randomly bought a TAMA Techstar TS602 drum synth and 2 drum pads off TradeMe, I posted this snapshot at the time:


I bought it on a whim but really love jamming with it, and I was also really surprised at the range of very useable sounds I could get from it – useable & interesting, boooom, sctk etc etc. But two drums does not a kit make, so I kept an eye on TradeMe for any other such elements and a while back another TS206 came up for sale, and separately a set of 3 hex shaped drum pads. Now I was starting to get somewhere! But seeing how the analog drum synth units were not really sought after (the first one didn’t sell at all & I bought it after it was relisted a couple of times) I started to wonder if there were any other analog drum synth units that might be equally as rewarding AND under appreciated… Plus I was really interested in another drum synth brain for more variety, so after spending a few hours on youtube I found what I was looking for! If the Tama TS206 units are interesting & a bit idiosyncratic, my discovery was totally anachronistic – I had never heard anything like it! Next stop eBay!!

So I found one in ‘as new’ condition bought it & waited… and waited… and waited. It was shipping from Ukraine and I started to wonder if it had been lost amongst the turmoil that country is going through, but just as I was starting to give up hope, my patience was rewarded:


Fantastic! Old school shipping, in a sack, with a lead seal no less!!






I haven’t fired it up yet but lucky for me it is 240V, all I need to do is swap the plug to the local variety & look out!


So what was it that made me take a punt on such an obscure device? Well, while everyone else seems to be pursuing new boxes from either Roland or Elektron, I watched this video & I was sold on it surpassing either of those options when focused primarily on the idiosyncratic quirk factor!

Now I know people who own Elektron boxes etc will say ‘oh of course my ABCDEF box could do all that’ but heres the thing: ‘could’ vs ‘would’ – lets face it, in this day & age, anything ‘could’ do anything. Any number of plugins ‘could’ do a version of what the Formata does, but there is a world of difference between the possibility of something & the reality. Listen to that video, it sounds completely bonkers at times! And its bonkers I can plug my drum pads into & ah… go even more bonkers!


See heres the setup – still in pieces, but pending some free time & finding a drum rack to mount it all on, look out!


So I have four channels of the Tama Techstar TS206 drum synths, seven channels of the Formanta drum synths, the HumDrum, a Boss Dr PAD DRPIII, an Amdeck PCK-100, 5 drum pads (+ 2 more on the way), some drum sticks & the motivation to combine it all into one fiendishly mutant franken kit!!

I didn’t make the connection at the time, but Formanta are the same Soviet analog synth company who made the Polivoks synth, which I own the r1982 VCF filter module cloned by Harvestman (he has also created eurorack versions of the Polivoks VCOs and the Modulation generators)


But researching a bit more about Formanta, I would love to have bought the pads that they make, but also check out the guitar/keytar for playing drums!


More info on Russian Synths at RussKeys site

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Detritus 307


> 38 Wonderful Moments In Closed Caption History #funny


> a great ad for effects processing?


> oh to have a few well placed contact mics on these machines!


> love these sushi plates


> inside the Paris home of Pierre Henry (thanks Miguel!)


Walking City from Universal Everything on Vimeo.

winner of Golden Nica at Prix Ars Electronica 2014 by Universal Everything

see other winners here


> great overview of Foley via a PDF article by Benjamin Wright (thanks Peter!)


interesting sculpture (or youtube/facebook/soundcloud like generator?)


> love this beat shelf


> Ted Talk: DIY Orchestra of the Future? (thanks Carolyn)


> The long slow vanish of Britains illustrious recording clubs (thanks Grant!)


> some beautiful work via the Sonic Arts Award 2014

winner of the Sound Art category: David Hochgatterer, TIME TO X

TIME TO X is a 96 channel sound installation that transforms the fourth dimension (time) into a geometrical dimension (x). The listener can physically move in time and has the possibility to experience audio in a new way.


winner of the Digital Art category: Tim Murray-Browne – The Cave Of Sounds

The Cave of Sounds is an interactive sound installation exploring the power of music to bind individuals together and the visceral urge to use technology to broadcast our identity. Inspired by the prehistoric origins of music as unifying force, the work is formed of eight original musical instruments. Created during a ten month residency at London’s Music Hackspace, each instrument has been designed and created by a member of that community as an embodiment of their own artistic practice. But although each instrument is personal to its creator’s artistic practice, every few weeks we have met up to explore and understand each other’s ideas, and our place within the ensemble as a whole, in a process analogous to a ten month jam session. The final ensemble encapsulates the balance between individual and group expression that we practise when we create music together.

In the hands of its audience, the work is crafted to provoke participants to connect and resonate with each other through musical expression. Visitors are free to experiment with the instruments, and experience first-hand music as a means of actively connecting with those around them to construct a shared creative space. Arranged in a circle with the instruments facing inwards, music here is not created for an audience. Like the process behind the work’s inception, music is an activity we do together rather than something we consume from others. Software linking the instruments gently adjusts their sounds to converge musically as well as detecting musical connections between participants and visualising them onto a central projection.


Mention/highly regarded Sound Art category: Kathy Hinde – Piano Migrations

The inside of an old upright piano, is recycled into a kinetic sound sculpture. Videos of birds are projected directly onto the piano to provide an ever-changing musical score. The movement of the birds trigger small machines to twitch and flutter on the piano strings. In this work, nature controls machines to create delicate music.


see other finalists/mentions here


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A week or two ago, someone somewhere commented on a post I was reading, quoting Eno using plasticine as a metaphor for an element of his approach to music production. I appreciate this is pretty vague, but bear with me… Some time later I remembered the quote & went digging in google to see if I could find the source of the quote. I didn’t succeed but I did find this interesting quote via google books:


The quote is from this book: Strange Sounds: Music, Technology and Culture and relates to a discussion at CDM on why we love hardware for music production

I totally agree with some of the comments by the Stereolab guy in that book quote, but I think it also has something to do with another form of ‘control’. In software everything is controllable & remembered, and while this is often sighted as a blessing I rarely read mention of it also being a curse. The most obvious example is with regards to the use of delays: one of the many reasons I love Space Echos is that there is no automatic tempo sync – they must be dialled in by hand & by ear. And a vital part of that process of dialling in delay & feedback settings is that it is a process of discovery & happy accidents.

For me that process is creatively the direct opposite of starting in a perfect state & attempting to dial in “out of time-d’ness” from a perfectly tempo matched delay. Now of course no one insists that you must always use tempo sync, but with a lot of software it seems such things are default. And as mentioned in this deeply fascinating thread on MW by one of the leading & earliest developers for Eventide, despite people having access to a machine of infinite possibilities (e.g. H3000) only a small percentage of people ever used anything other than the default programs. While that also says a lot about how great the presets were/are it is also a different reflection on the role presets (and default settings) play in the creative process, and the more default settings there are the more insidious that role becomes.


Also from that MW thread, I LOVE some of the incredible gems of wisdom he mentions in passing:

“Easy to get lost in the endless parade of ‘I can so I will’. Instead of ‘it needs it so I will do it’. Lets not polish every ‘scholars rock’ into a shiny round pebble.

& re ilok:

“To pay for the privilege of having a company treat me as if I were already a thief does not sit well with me”

amen, brother!

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