Friday, 31 December 2010

First Generation

I'm doing some musical experiments at home, and set up three Modular systems from the first generation of synthesisers - a British VCS3 from 1969, and two American modulars - the Serge [1973] and the Paia [1975]. There's also a Roland 201 Space Echo up there which was a christmas present and it is lovely...

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Form In Music

This is a brief description of the musical term sonata, from a book called Form in Music by Stewart McPhereson

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Polygon Vinyl

The good thing about christmas is there are a few days after all the family mayhem when you can sit around and watch tv all day long and not feel like your wasting time. Actually watching old 70's sci-fi movies is not wasting time, especially when the music is purely electronic. The Andromeda Strain is a fantastic Robert Wise movie about an alien virus that comes to earth, and some geeky scientists have to camp out in a secret goverment bunker and defeat it. The soundtrack is by Gil Melle who was an experimental jazzer / film and tv composer who dabbled in electronics. He did a couple of early 70s episodes of Columbo [my favorite tv program] and Kolchak [cheesey 70s version of the X Files]

The Andromeda soundtrack is 90% electronic and is completely amazing. There is a wonderful vinyl version that came out in a hexagonal gatefold sleeve that I would love to get my hands on. As far as I can tell the electronic sounds he used came from home-assembled processors and sound generators as opposed to one of the modular systems that were around at the time [1970]

Monday, 27 December 2010

The Electric Tunesmiths 1971

As promised in this post, I have uploaded another mp3 from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's RECORDED PROGRAMMES PERMANENT LIBRARY. The picture below is of Malcolm clarke and the EMS Synthi 100 around the time of the recording

Friday, 24 December 2010

русских красоток

Here are some pics I took of our recent trip to St Pete

UPDATE - I might add some more to this post so use the 'updates' tag to check...

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Applause Please

Today I spent a few hours making a clap sound on modular synths. Actually me and Phil started it on behalf of Wrangler, and I wanted to document it here

Its sort of modeled on the 808 clap which is awesome, my favorite one. There are two elements to the sound, the first is a noise based crackle which I made on the Roland 100M using noise going into a VCA with an envelope and LFO modulating it very fast

The second element is a space for the clappers to be in. You don't need a reverb module, you can do it with filtered noise using an envelope. I used the ARP 2500 because i love its filter and punchy envelopes

By adjusting the filter frequency and cutoff, and the decay of the envelope a wide range of sounds can be achieved

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Sexy Time

Somehow this album has managed to pass me by all my life until today. It's a synthesizer album with sexy moans on top made in 1972. How cool is that!? The cover shows a couple making out on top of a ARP 2500 Modular....

Actually side 2 doesn't have synths on, it's just someone moaning with a record of classical music playing in the background. But side one mostly features a really simple synth and is awesome. I'm not sure if the synth is actually a 2500, but it could well be, it's certainly got a sequencer which in 1972 makes it seem likely

The music is by Fred Miller, but I can't find out much more than that. I found it here

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Spare Video

I have made some little synth videos in preparation for my Twenty Systems presentation in St Petersburg. They covered the patching principles of four early modular systems, a Moog, an Arp 2500, a VCS3 and a Serge. I will post them here later, but for now here is a spare one that didn't fit in because it was too complex a patch

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Yota Space

I will be making a short presentation of my Twenty Systems album at the Yota Space festival in St Petersburg, Russia next Sunday if you happen to be in town. It looks like a very interesting festival and as I have never been that far North East before I am very excited about it

Hat Work

Preparations are well underway for me and Paul's trip to Russia next Saturday. We've bought hats

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Into The Wonderful

Nation 12 was an electronic music collaboration between John Foxx and Tim Simenon from the late 80s. Trond from the marvelous Dusty Shelf blog asked me to ask JF about it as it is a fairly important period of music history in that it spawned some classic computer game music, and we all know how many hours we spent listening to that as kids. Sadly it seems no one really knows who is the copyright holder of that 8-bit music [note: it should be John and Tim as they wrote it], and therefore its unlikely to get the re-release it deserves. Not all computer game music is created equal!

There is of course a re-issue of the studio recordings they made together which you can read about here

Mastering Maths

Yesterday was spent over at Electric Mastering where me and Fluffy (sorry mate, couldn't resist!) sat and watched Guy Davie do his thing. John was snowed in and couldn't make it. Here is Guy at the incredible EMI TG-series mastering console. Arguably one of the best sounding consoles ever made, the solid state TG series was developed by EMI to replace the valve based desks which had been put to such great effect on the Abbey road recordings of the 50's and 60's. The mastering version of the desk is used essentially as a two channel console and has tone controls, compressor / limiters, and a few secret weapons, such as the 'spread' knob, which is some kind of magic circuit that makes everything in the world sound better. Notice to the left of the console a small green notepad. Using something called a 'pen' the settings of the console can be written down and read back later. In other words the desk even has total recall