Sonic Charge, the makers of the well loved µTonic (MicroTonic) have released their new creation Synplant. I would describe Synplant as a Generative music plug-in. The results from Synplant don’t sound like random bleeps though. I was checking out some of the audio demos on the Sonic Charge site and at first I thought they were human created songs. Peter Kirn at Create Digital Music has been testing the plug-in and is also working on a video walkthrough. Here’s his post: click here
Synplant is a software synthesizer with a genetic approach to sound creation. Instead of creating patches the conventional way by turning dials and knobs, Synplant lets you explore a world of organic sounds by planting seeds that grow into synth patches. The purpose of this product is to move focus away from the sometimes intricate and difficult process of sound synthesis and instead let you develop sounds by simply using your ears. – soniccharge.com
Synplant is $89. 3 week fully working demo: click here
In keeping with a new tradition on Wire to the Ear called “Sunday Sounds” where I post a music playlist each week here’s the next installment: Electronic Body Music. This is my personal favorite music genre. EBM is creative, powerful and mostly electronic music. You can find some sophisticated song arrangements and vocals in a lot of EBM. The genre almost disappeared in the early 90s but it’s back with new blood. Even the old guys are back on the show circuit.
Imagine getting a call from your local television station. Imagine they tell you a hip hop artist is coming in and they need you to work the board. Now feast your eyes above on what could have been that job. As much as I laughed my ass off watching this I can only imagine the audio producer (and television crew’s) reaction as this happened live. “Hey honey how was work today?” “Oh man…”.
One of my childhood friends works at Apple. Every now and then he emails me and the header reads “this is cool”. For him to get happy about an application usually mean I am about to agree with him. I’ve used a few Nintendo DS games that utilize the microphone as a breath controller. Here Smule software re-creates an ancient instrument the Ocarina.
Ocarina is sensitive to your breath, touch and movements… Ocarina is a social application. Tap on the globe icon and you will see and hear other Ocarina players throughout the world. The globe view will highlight the source of the music. – http://ocarina.smule.com
Are we going to start seeing hippies, granolas and hackey sack freaks buying iPhones now and playing the Smule Ocarina in parks?
I’m playing live tonight at Tresor. It’s one of the more well known clubs in Berlin. On stage tonight I will be keeping a secret from the audience. Don’t tell anyone ok? The secret is I will have a cheat sheet with on it lyrics in front of me. In fact, I will play a song tonight where as I sit here right now typing this I can’t even remember the opening line! My lyric cheat sheet won’t be on a Textedit or Word document. It’s built right into Ableton Live. Remember when you first opened Live there are those Lessons that pop up on the right part of the interface? If you forgot about them and want to see them again just open Live and under the View menu choose Lessons. See them now? Let’s hack these Lessons and get our own text in there. Here’s how to do it:
Create and save a Project (song) in which you would like to have some of your own text in the Lesson area. Next, find the Project folder that was created when you saved your song. Inside that folder create a new folder with the exact same name as your Project followed by the word “Lessons”. Inside this folder create a plain text document and name it LessonsEN.txt
I use TextWrangler (free!) but you can use the plain old Mac TextEdit too. Type your lyrics or whatever reminders and notes you need. You can create separate pages by using the following syntax:
$Page Name of Song
If you add a: / before text it makes the text italic and bold. I like to make most of my text like this because it’s easier to read. Save the LessonsEN.txt and open Ableton and your Project to see your lyrics. Click on the screenshots in this post to view them larger.
I’m going to tell you a little story. About five years ago I was living in New York City and it was mid-winter. I had to perform three live shows in Europe in one weekend… Thursday, Friday, Saturday. The Wednesday night before my flight I decided to add a ton of new material into my set and only ended up with a few hours sleep. Each show was in a different country and by the time I got on my flight back to NY I was totally destroyed. I had a layover in Frankfurt and because of a massive snowstorm hitting the east coast of the USA the trans-Atlantic portion of my flight home ended up being delayed about 15 hours. Remember at this point I was already awake a seriously long time. In Frankfurt I got pretty sick and the entire flight to NY I was tossing, turning and blowing my nose.
Finally I land in at JKF (airport in NY). It’s still snowing there and it takes us about two hours to taxi to the gate. I can barely walk and finally grab my luggage. At that time I was using an Akai MPC and Roland JP-8000 so I needed a rolling cart. I drove myself to the airport so I had my car parked there. Normally you exit the main terminal and take a shuttle bus to the long term parking lot. When I reached the outside door I slipped and fell and hit my head on a metal door. Now I was seriously sick, tired and bleeding! I was really starting to come unraveled at this point. There were a few hundred people waiting for the shuttle bus which seemed very odd. It wasn’t long before we were notified that because of the snow no shuttle buses were running. The snow was so deep I couldn’t push my rolling cart to my car. I had to carry two bags, the MPC and JP-8000 a seriously long distance in the snow. It was now also around 10:00PM. My car was so far away that when I finally found it I was all alone and the car was completely buried with a thick layer of ice on it. I had no gloves and really began to get concerned. If I had some sleep in me this situation would have been ok but I was in serious pain at this point.
So there I was bare handed digging my car out. Out of the darkness I see a flashlight coming my way. A black man on foot approached my car. He had a small shovel and without saying a word starts digging me out. When I started to help he begged me to stop because I had no gloves. It took him almost an hour but he dug my entire car out. I had a my fee from three shows in my pocket and reached in and offered him $200. He wouldn’t take the money. I pleaded with him to please take it but he refused over and over. I offered him more money and less money too. He just smiled at me and said have a safe drive home and walked away into the darkness.
Today I dedicate the following song to our new President. It’s been a long time commin! The change has come.
A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke:
I was born by the river
In a little tent
And just like the river
I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh, yes it is
It’s been too hard living
But I’m afraid to die
I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky
It’s been a long, long time coming
But I know a change gonna come
Oh yes it will
Then I go to my brother
I say brother help me please
But he winds up knocking me
Back down on my knees
There’s been times that I thought
I wouldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come
Oh, yes it will
I keep an up to date Database and Spreadsheet containing the details of all the hardware and software in my recording studio. I refer to these lists when I need tech support, if I need a serial number to upgrade software, when I get insurance, if there is a robbery, if I am moving and when I sell something. Since I am a Mac user my favorite apps for the task are Filemaker Pro and Numbers. However, there are many other options and my equipment lists are of quite simple.
I’ve been using Filemaker since version 3 sometime in the mid-nighties. It’s a rock solid program and it has never lost any of my data. As you type a key it makes a file save. For safety you can set up a script so Filemaker requires a password upon launch. You can keep databases on your .mac disc so you have your info “in the cloud”. I have the following fields in my Serial Number Database:
• Date Purchased
• Serial Number
• Price Paid – The actual price I paid.
• Method of Payment – Did I use Paypal? If so which account? Or did I use cash?
• Replacement Cost – If it were lost or stolen the amount it would cost to replace it.
• Purchased From
• Receipt – Filemaker allows fields that hold PDFs or .Doc files.
• Container – You can put a photo of the item here.
I switched from Microsoft Excel to Apple Numbers to avoid MS bloat. Numbers is also capable of some pretty charts and graphs. The spreadsheet for my studio gear (which I usually use for my insurance company) is very simple. It’s only 4 columns of data with fields for: Item, Serial Number, Price and Replacement Cost. The Replacement Cost field has a total sum calculation at it’s bottom.
Don’t forget to include your software in these lists. You are expected to have hardware keys and sometimes installer CDs covered by your insurance. For example, Steinberg will no longer replace your hardware key if you loose it. Don’t forget to add items like chairs or sound treatment. If a fire hits your studio you want your insurance to cover your Herman Miller Aeron or RealTraps. Lastly, check your list monthly and update it with any new purchases, delete sold or obsolete items and adjust some replacement costs.
For those Wire to the Ear readers who own Filemaker you can download a clone (empty) version of the Serial Number database I created and use it as you like: click here to download
Look at this gorgeous studio video of Stockholm, Sweden’s “The Subliminal Kid” (aka Peder Mannerfelt) in action. He has some class gear including the amazing Macbeth M5N, Roland System 100 sequencer, Roland RE-301, Boss DC1 and a Roland TR-909.
Shot with Panasonic HVX200, Sgpro 35 adapter and Zuiko 55mm firstname.lastname@example.org – Ruben Broman
I think Sundays will be a good time to share music playlists with you. Today is a collection of sad songs I adore. I really didn’t like this kind of music until I was in my early 30s when I really started to understand how hard life can be. I’m a happy person but if your eyes are open and you’ve lived/loved at all there’s no escaping the truth in these songs.
I remember in the 80s hearing Bruce Springsteen on the radio with songs like “Born in the USA” and thinking to myself, “Wow this is so cheesy I could never like this artist”. Fast forward two decades and I stumble onto the song “My Fathers House” and Mr. Springsteen makes me cry. Funny how that works. In fact, if you told me I would have to pay $5000 or I could never ever hear these songs again I certainly would pay.
It may surprise some people who know my own music that this is the stuff I listen to the most. The truth is I have recorded hundreds of my own songs like these albeit more synth heavy. Slowly they will start making there way onto my albums.
If this is all too sap for you don’t worry I plan on sharing more upbeat stuff too. Next week I’ll put together an Electronic Body Music playlist.
I’m in the midst of a few live shows. Recently I performed in Stuttgart at a really cool underground club confusingly called Prag. I must have played there 10 times and sadly they are closing down next March. Porsche bought the land the little club sits on. I learned a few things at Prag. First, I clearly prefer playing to small crowds. Second, drinking an entire tray of Jäger shots is actually a lot of fun.
This coming week on Thursday I play in Berlin at Tresor and then Saturday night in a East German city called Halle with DJ Westbam. If you are at any of the shows say hello!