Music Notes

Spent some time today with the RMIV, a software drum machine that I've used off and on. An interesting feature--it's both a sampler and an analog-modeling live synthesis device; this distinguishes it from Native Instruments' Battery, which is all sampler.
Initially I was unimpressed with the live part 'cause the samples sounded better than the "real time" kits. But after about a year playing with hardware drum machines, I'm revising that judgment--when you tweak away from the presets you get some full-bodied, intriguingly distorted sounds. Turning knobs with a mouse isn't a tenth as much fun as twiddling real dials, and there's no way I'm going to use "MIDI learn" to assign a control surface to all these values, but I'm going to be patient and learn this thing. Using the hardware boxes gave me some good ideas for sequencing virtually, as well.
The computer I mainly use for music caught a Bill Bug and I spent about half the day wiping the drive. I actually like doing that--everything I value is backed up and it allowed me to get rid of some mistakes that were clogging up the machine (some of which couldn't be uninstalled otherwise)--as in, anything with a dongle. God I hate those things.
The Sony VAIO has a system recovery that boots from a space on the drive (or separate drive), as opposed to discs. It all worked. However Sony tech support ominously warns you that if you attempt to boot from the computer a second time, an irremediable error "may" occur so I followed their recommendation and burned a set of "recovery discs" from the same drive.
I'm really enjoying using the computer without all the crap on it. It's just one percussion synthesizer, a softsynth, Photoshop, and about 59 security updates from Windows.

Update: Oy, well it wasn't a virus, unless it's one that survives the complete overwriting of the C drive and reinstallation of the operating system and software. The computer just dies in the middle of something and restarts--I've had it happen with mp3 playback, while watching a movie, or creating audio in Cubase. Never while websurfing or using other programs--it only happens when playing/generating sound or video. This is a year old VAIO. Since practically nothing is on the computer now, the culprits are anitivirus (unlikely because I have an identical suite running on another, trouble free computer), something happening when the machine tries to go into sleep mode (I've just turned that off) or possibly some weird feedback with the soundcard (I've never had a spot of trouble in a year of using this card). One of the great things about going commentless is I don't have to listen to Mac owners extolling the virtues of their product in this type of situation--that's never been helpful in the past. Any suggestions from a sympathetic PC owner would be appreciated, via email or by leaving a comment on one of the other blogs. --tm

Update 2: Thanks to the reader who emailed helping me troubleshoot. He thinks it might be the cpu overheating or a short in the firewire card. But the computer is brand new, and wasn't cheap! Woe is me. I will try another outboard firewire soundcard I have, using both the 6 pin and 4 pin firewire ports (on opposite sides of this computer). It's starting to feel like the years when I drove an old car--is it the alternator, the voltage regulator, or the battery? I'm so glad I bought new gear so I wouldn't have to spend my hours doing this.

Update 3: The culprit appears to be a Maxtor external hard drive. I keep it turned off now except when doing backups.

Red Dirt of Mars and Alabama

David Clarkson, New York (on view until July 28 at Cynthia Broan, NYC):






William Christenberry, Washington, DC (pics from Google Images):





Christenberry imagines the past from the perspective of an urbanite recreating rural buildings reminiscent of his Alabama childhood. Clarkson envisions a future pastoral on Mars with his models based on the architecture of projected Red Planet missions. Both are simulacra based on longing--for a happy past or hopeful future--as much as exacting documentation.

Scratch Ambulance CD - More

Scratch Ambulance, the CD I collaborated on with earcon (aka John Parker), is now up on CD Baby [dead link -- try this]. The page includes ordering info and a couple of minutes from each track in streaming form. Turn up the volume -- we opted for more dynamics over the usual ear-assault of current CDs.

Scratch Ambulance CD

scratch ambulance CD front cover

Spent some time today on the CD Baby website getting my disc with earcon ready for physical and virtual distribution. The CD will retail for $10.99 and tracks will be purchasable on iTunes (suck it up) and other venues.
Categorywise we're describing it as "electronic/electro" (genre/subgenre 1) ; "avant garde/computer music" (genre/subgenre 2); and "lo-fi" as a third level.
The tag line is "earcon's electro-style remixes of Tom Moody's Macintosh SE tunes from the '80s"; additional description is the text on the front cover (above):

The raw material for this CD is a series of recordings made by Tom Moody on a Macintosh SE computer, using its poignantly limited 4-voice, monaural sound chip. The bulk of the songs were produced in 1988 but efforts continued sporadically until the machine died. On this disc earcon remixes the tracks using the imperfections of the digital source material as the starting point; the CD is a hybrid of ancient digital signal processing and current music composing tools.

More info about distribution to follow.


Ghost in the Machine (1993). Really bad. From IMDb: "Karl, a technician in a computer shop, is also the 'Address Book Killer,' who obtains the names of his victims from stolen address books. Terry and her son Josh come into the store to price software, and a salesman uses Terry's address book to demonstrate a hand-held scanner. Karl obtains the file, and while driving to Terry's house that night in a heavy rainstorm, his car runs off the road and lands upside down in a cemetery. While Karl is undergoing a CAT scan at the hospital, a surge of lightning courses through the building, and Karl's soul is transformed into electrical energy. Karl uses the electrical grid and computer networks to continue his killing spree." More IMDb: "The whole idea of the killer going into electricity in general is obviously the most unrealistic thing in the entire film, but it is stretched to cover almost the entire movie from beginning to end, which is what shows most clearly the fact that the movie is based on the emergence of the world wide web. It's kind of a what-if thriller about what would happen if a psychotic killer was accidentally released into the electricity based communications system that is the internet and was then able to defy all laws of logic and physics and who knows what else, and if he had somehow developed this overwhelming passion to kill a certain woman and her family and friends for committing the crime of leaving her address book at the computer shop. "