Sunday Sounds: When I Hear Music

Today’s Sunday sounds will just focus on one song: When I Hear Music by Debbie Debb. This song gets my vote for “Best Freestyle Song Ever”. Freestyle was an 80s genre of music mostly based out of New York and Miami.

“Freestyle reached its peak in 1987 before it fell in popularity and was slowly replaced by burgeoning house music in 1988. Silent Morning, composed by Noel (poster boy for Freestyle), hugely boosted Freestyle’s popularity and brought it to the forefront of the international scene in 1987, expanding its potential. But, before Freestyle could make a permanent impact, by the late 80s and early 90s, house music, a reincarnation of 1970’s disco, challenged the original, upbeat 1980’s Freestyle.” –

Besides the fact that I just think this song is hot I hear some nice equipment: Roland TR-808, Simmons Toms, Minimoog Bass, Analog White Noise Thunder Noises, and a great Vocoder. Can you pick out anything else? I know everything could have been done with sampling but I’m going to guess most of the stuff used was the real deal to tape.

So get your girlfriend to spray a “Mall Claw” on the front of her hair and head to Dancin in Palisades Park for teen night. Next, repeat after me: ewwwua ewwwua!

Buy this song: Amazon

My family loves the Smule Ocarina.

Alex plays the Ocarina from wiretotheear on Vimeo.

For the past few days I have been in a suburb of New York City called Rockland County. It sits about twenty minutes north of the city and is a nice typical suburban area. Trees, malls, cars and dogs are all normal sites you will see here. My mother’s house has been like Grand Central station because of Thanksgiving. My brother, his wife, her sister and baby and many aunts and uncles have been coming and going. Of course whenever I spent time with my mother that means within 24 hours I also have to meet up with my father and his wife too. I’m happy to see everyone and the only real damage done is to my stomach.

My brother recently got an iPhone 3G. I’ve used them a few times before but because this iPhone was my little brother’s I was able to snatch it from him and really spend time with it. As I was wowing myself with the device I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm and went into “this is so cool you have to see this” mode with all the relatives. Without a doubt flicking through photos was the early winner for the most “ooohh that’s amazing” gasps.

Then I remembered my profession and placed a few bucks in my brothers hand and bought some music apps. The moment I blew into the Smule Ocarina app my mother’s Boston Terrier’s ears stood straight up and he did that cute tilt the head thing. At the same time the baby (Noah) freaked out smiling, screeching, and reaching for the iPhone. As I kept playing I looked up and noticed everyone over 50 was just staring at me in disbelief. None of them could understand how I was blowing into the phone and playing it like a flute. It’s been two days since we installed Ocarina and it’s happy sounds have not stopped since. I wake up to someone playing it downstairs and fall asleep to my brother complaining about all the slobber on the phone. I have to say he’s been a great sport about the entire ordeal. The best part of the entire weekend has been when he discovered you could make the Ocarina produce sounds by rubbing it on his boob.

The iPhone is done so well that you quickly begin using it as a tool. You focus on the content and forget your using some new futuristic piece of consumer electronics. I’m heading to the mall and getting mine today.

For more info about the Ocarina app visit:

Music from a Little Stapler.

How many times have you though about making a complete musical piece out of one sound or with one instrument? I know it’s crossed my mind a hundred times over the years. One of my favorite blogs RetroThing has a video and audio clip from sound designer Diego Stocco (famous for recording a burning piano). The video shows a little stapler and the few sounds it can make. The audio is a complete composition Diego created using just those stapler sounds. Check it out: click here

photo credit: InsideGift

Are you shopping on Black Friday?

Well I am back in the good ole USA. After a day of Thanksgiving over eating and loud relatives Black Friday is here. Still quite jet lagged so I woke up around 4:30 AM and watched lunatics on the news rushing into stores. For those in the rest of the world Black Friday is a day where American retailers cut prices on everything. They also have “door busters” which are usually high priced items up to 80% off their original price. Each individual store will only have a few hundred of these door buster items so it causes people to line up before the store opens early in the morning. This year HDTVs seem to be the rage item. Just a year ago a 42″ 1080p HDTV would have been over $1200 and today I saw a few for $799.

So are Pro-Audio shops in on the game? You bet! As soon as I logged onto IM my friend Dan who works at the Guitar Center on 14th Street started chatting me up. He was telling me he preparing his feet and mind for the long day. This is the deal GC has going:

“Today its 15% off 1 item…and the rest of the weekend it’s 10% off.” – Dan

Are you any of you heading out to grab some deals? Are you going to be getting gifts for yourselves or something to put under the tree? Are there any killer Pro-Audio deals you know of?

photo credit: tshein

Shortcut: Randomize the Matrix Sequencer

Today I present to you a highly fun Reason beginner tip: Instead of placing notes into Reason’s fun Matrix Sequencer use the Randomize function. But don’t give yourself carpel tunnel syndrome by pushing the mouse pointer to the Edit menu and selected Randomize Pattern. Simply hold down the Command (Apple) key and hit R. Now… do it over and over until you get something you like.

A few words I heard today.

“The police told us we couldn’t park there so we had to return the truck and rent a Sprinter.” I will be billed. “This (synth) case is over size by 2cm so please proceed to ticketing”. I was billed. “Oh my god I’m sorry let me get you a napkin quick”. Orange juice is sticky. “If you lean on me again I’m going to punch you in the face.” I heard myself say that several times. Sadly I only said it to myself.

That’s about all the typing I can handle today. Moving sucks.

What did you hear today?

photo credit: mischiru

Sunday Sounds: Songs about Robots.

I’m in the process of moving from Berlin to New York and all the packing is making me feel like a robot. What I thought would take two days has become four and the work is all repetitive. If I only had my own robot to do this stuff for me. At least some of these songs are keeping my feet tapping.

“And she has a gay relationship with our television set.” – Say Hi to Your Mom

For those interested the move will change me from renter to landlord and yes I will be building an all new studio! Stay tuned…

I created this playlist at Grooveshark. My profile there is: thingstocome

In the studio with Bon Harris from Nitzer Ebb.

The always busy James Bernard from Propellerhead Software went to LA to interview Bon Harris one of the founding members of Nitzer Ebb. It doesn’t surprise me to hear he’s using Reason to create the music for the upcoming all new NE album. Reason seems to be a center piece in a lot of EBM bands today. It was a happy surprise to hear the bassline Mr. Harris let us have a sneak peak of because it had an old school Nitzer Ebb feel to it. If Douglas McCarthy can get angry enough to put proper vocals on this remains to be seen. I for one really hope the magic returns.

Keep up with NE here: and

Buchla 200e, 250e, 266e makes me happy.

Buchla uncertainty from Joe Pascarell on Vimeo.

I like random sequencers of any type. I’m always adding little variations in my music using Ableton’s Random plug-in. In Buchla form a random sequencer in action is video worthy. With bright blue digital numbers, red and green buttons and yellow cables who wouldn’t stop for a few minutes and watch this.

“I did this when i first got the 200e. The stages of the 250e are being selected by the random voltages from the 266e. The tip of the sonic iceberg that is the 200e and the lovely uncertainty that Don so thoughtfully provided us! The old SFTMC 100 is helping out.” – Joe Pascarell

For more about Buchla head to:

I wish iTunes had tags.

There’s only one thing I want more than having my music collection “in the cloud” and that’s for Apple to allow us to Tag songs in iTunes. Why are we stuck choosing just one Genre? If I have a DJ Set I want to tag it “DJ Set” “techno” “gym” “Dave Clarke“. As of now all I can do is pick Genre -> Electronic Music.

This post is actually a question to all of you guys… am I missing something? Is there a way you are labeling your iTunes stuff that would help me? I do realize that if I have all the meta data filled out that I can find what I am looking for but my library is so large I forget things are there entirely. So if I don’t know I’m looking for Dave Clarke but I want a nice mix to play at the gym with Tags at least it would pop up.

Any ideas?