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Sound Experiment for 2021-09-20

Here’s a fun sonic experiment. The RD-6 has outputs for each sound (well, some are shared) so I ran a splitter from the bass drum output and the clean signal goes to one input on the Dude Mixer and the other goes to the Monotron Delay and then out from there into the Dude Mixer. The third input into the Dude is the standard output from the RD-6 which is all the rest of the drums. (Minus the bass drum because when you output a specific sound it subtracts it from the main output.)

So that’s one channel for plain bass drum, one channel for bass drum through the delay (and the Monotron itself) and one channel for all the other drums/sounds.

Then it’s just a matter of twisting those knobs and coming up with crazy sounds! And that we did… at least we think so. Check it out!

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Synth Jams – Early September 2021

I’ve been dropping all these videos of synth jams over on YouTube but haven’t put any of them here, so I figured I would fix that.

This one is just Pocket Operators. They are tiny, limited devices that can still do a heck of a lot. They’re awesome and fun. I’m using a sync splitter so I can run them all into a mixer separately and adjust the levels. You can chain them all together, but it can be difficult to get the sound levels of each one set properly.

This one is a “Sonic Exploration” (or “Sound Exploration”, I mean, I don’t even know.) I can see doing more of these “knob twiddling” videos where it’s sort of organic and goes… well, wherever it goes. The Crave is a semi-modular analog synth, so it’s perfect for that sort of thing. The Arturia BeatStep is a fun sequencer and pad device that does MIDI and CV. (And I might have some more hardware perfect for Sonic (or Sound) Explorations coming up soon.

This one pairs the Pocket Operators with the Behringer RD-6 Drum Machine. I’m using the PO-12 Rhythm which is a “drum machine” it it’s own right as well, but it’s playing bass tones. There’s also a PO-14 Sub which is a bass sequencer, so… double bass I guess? The PO-24 Office rounds it out as… lead? Yeah, sounds good.

If you want more of this crazy sound subscribe over on the YouTube because I plan to keep going.

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JoyToKey with USB Buttons

As you might know (or might not) I build custom USB (and MIDI) controllers. You can find them on Etsy.

Anyway, a (potential) customer got in touch with me and asked if we could make a button work with JoyToKey which is a Windows application that can map joystick input to key commands. It’s been a while since I programmed a joystick but it was fairly simple, and I had it all working in no time.

So add that to the list for future development if you ever need a button to emulate a joystick so it can send key commands. (Hey, we do what people ask!)

Here’s what JoyToKey looks like. The line highlighted in yellow is what happens when the button is pressed.When released it goes back to not being highlighted. Cheers!

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Triple Trouble (à la Beastie Boys)

In case you didn’t know this, I’m a huge fan of The Beastie Boys and while listening to the song Triple Trouble from their album To the 5 Boroughs I heard this line:

I got kicks on the one, seven and eleven, snares on the five and thirteen

So I programmed it into the Behringer RD-6 Analog Drum Machine and… it sounded pretty good! Of course the RD-6 is based on the Roland TR-606 which isn’t quite the machine that the Roland TR-808 was. I mean, the 808 is famous for many reasons. (By the way, the “TR” stands for “Transistor Rhythm”.)

Hey, I’ve been in bands and heard a lot of music, and yeah, it’s pretty recognizable rhythm. After I posted the video a friend of mine said “Now do it on the Pocket Operator” so I did that, but I incorporated three Pocket Operators, which seemed appropriate. Here it is.

Want more drum patterns? Check out 808.pixll.de

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That DAWless Thing

Recently I posted about my history of music making and my love of the Pocket Operators. Now if you don’t know what a DAW is, DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation, and basically it’s a computer with music making software. GarageBand, Ableton, Logic, even Audacity. There are tons of pieces of software to turn your computer (or tablet or mobile device) into a music making machine… and I don’t really want to use any of them right now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love computers, and I love creating things. I mean, I often spend 8 to 10 hours a day using a computer, staring at the screen, moving a mouse and typing on a keyboard. And for my own sanity, I want some time away from that. I want to be able to get away from my desk and be creative and have fun and not have to be disrupted by alerts and notifications and the lure of my browser and email. Doing DAWless means you can walk away from the computer, disconnect, and still be creative.

One of the reviews I read for the Pocket Operators was from a dad who said it was the perfect gift for his son, “No boot up, no login, no screen time, no advertisements… just him pushing buttons, turning knobs, and making beats.” There’s something kind of beautiful about that.

Another friend of mine who used to play in a few bands said that with a you child at home it became difficult to meet up with other to jam and make songs, but he could do it all at home on his own with synths and other gear. (Jamming at home alone with headphones is also pretty pandemic friendly!)

Honestly I think my goals with this all are to have fun, explore sound, and maybe even make music that I actually like listening to. So far I’m doing well with those goals, so I’m pleased with where things are going. Oh, if you want to check anything out, here’s a YouTube playlist!

Here’s a few interesting articles about the DAWless thing well beyond what I’ve discussed here: