"Zyn Archer"

streaming audio on Bandcamp

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Another track from my latest Bandcamp release, Layered Timeline Events. The "zyn" refers to ZynAddSubFX, an open source softsynth with a rich array of sounds that is a pain to program due to its nested, easter-egg-like menus and commands. A newer version, Zyn-Fusion, has a more modern interface that's not all that much easier to use. Working in tandem with the zyn bits here are some chords from my Eurorack devices. At one point (0:55) the filter is "played" using 1V/Octave pitch cvs, without any corresponding pitch commands going to the chords that are being filtered. The result is a vocoder-like effect (to my ears).

greyhound shakedown, texas style

As previously noted, have been doing some Kerouac-Lite traveling by bus lately. Many friends and family think it's normal to drive, use Ubers, and fly through the air in a sealed spam can belching hydrocarbons but there's gotta be a better way to live on this planet.
Greyhound keeps better timetables than airlines, I've learned. The only downside I've experienced is something I'd never have guessed, which is that certain less-than-scrupulous Texas sheriffs can rifle through the bus without probable cause. A letter to Greyhound suggesting it schedule stops in some county other than these perpetrators' is below. What a country the US is turning into.
(The name of the city/county is in my letter but omitted here -- more harassment from these perps isn't needed.)

Greyhound Lines, Inc.

RE: Police raids on buses in ________ County, TX

Dear Sir or Madam,

I have ridden Greyhound from [New York area] to [Texas] twice in the last year and found the service satisfactory. The buses are on time and the drivers very professional.
I'm writing to make a suggestion regarding your travel routes. In the future I hope you'll consider not scheduling any bus stops in __________, TX. I will certainly avoid any route that includes this stop. The sheriff's department is conducting what I believe are illegal and unconstitutional raids on buses, causing much hassle and threat to bus riders.
On my last trip... such a raid was conducted by officers in ______ County Sheriff's Dept vehicles, parked and waiting at Greyhound's regular bus stop [in that county]. The officers forced all passengers to leave the bus, randomly searched bags, and removed luggage from the bus's lower compartment. A german shepherd dog sniffed through the evacuated bus and in the lower baggage areas.
The officers questioned several passengers with bags that tested “positive” according to the dog – falsely, as it turned out.
The main officer conducting the raid was rude and sarcastic to bus riders. He made a small boy empty his pack for inspection in front of his horrified father and other passengers. Questions regarding the purpose of the raid were met with flippant replies about searching for “drugs, weapons, and murderers.” The raid did not appear to have any probable cause or constitutional basis. In my opinion, it was a simple “shakedown” of travelers to find contraband or “drug money” that could be seized by the county to enhance its fiscal bottom line. (As noted, none was found in this case.)
I asked the Greyhound driver if these raids had happened before. He said yes, always in [this county] and in no other cities on his routes. He agreed the raids had no purpose except a coercive shakedown.
I hope you will consider sparing your passengers these humiliations in the future, by not scheduling any bus stops at this location.

Sincerely, Tom Moody

minor edits after posting

Update, April 2018: No reply has come to my letter; it probably went immediately into the wastebin. According to this HuffPo story, Greyhound rolls over for border patrol raids; likely the company wouldn't be any less opposed to small town sheriffs raising revenue by asking its customers to empty their luggage.

"Half-Clocked (8 Bit Version)"

streaming audio on Bandcamp

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Track from the LP Layered Timeline Events

This track uses a SID chip emulator from the LMMS workstation. The timbre is bit shrill and whiny so I tried to compensate with melodic variations. In case it's not obvious many of these tracks typically start with a sequence ABCDEFG, which can gets boring after one or two repetitions so it gets varied treatments such as ABCDEFH, ABCDEF, ABBDEFG, ABCDFFG, BACDEFF etc. (The letters don't correspond to actual notes in the scale, just how they are ordered.)

These runs have to be free of discordant notes so experimentation is involved. The level of composition is primitive but I'm surprised by the amount of "electronic" music that doesn't even do this much -- the composers just allow the same 8 notes to play while they fiddle around with timbral changes such as filter sweeps. I was admittedly guilty of this in the first few hundred songs I posted but part of "growth," I suppose, is being dissatisfied with your own output and going back to the proverbial drawing board over and over.

Expert Sleepers ES-40 and expanders

These are the Eurorack modules described in a previous post, which make possible a fascinating hybrid of computer and voltage-based music synthesis at relatively low cost, if you have the patience and fortitude to get them to work.
The concept is that pitch, gate, clock, LFOs, and MIDI data can all be transmitted to a modular synth through a single SP/DIF (digital audio) cable coming from your sound card. Audio is itself a form of voltage and can be sliced and diced into smaller amounts to drive hardware; Expert Sleepers inventor Andrew Ostler has quite cleverly made all these signal distributions. As he points out, audio-based signals are "sample accurate," as opposed to USB or 5-pin MIDI, which are subject to micro-delays and "jitter," thus making it possible to keep several instruments in tighter sync than with normal MIDI outputs from your Digital Audio Workstation.

In practice, the routing of the audio to maximize efficiency in all these channels is perversely complicated, and changes constantly with new revisions to operating systems, DAWs, the equipment, and the "Silent Way" plugin software that makes all this work.

One source of confusion is a design problem: the varied use of the sequence 1-2-3-4-5-etc:

You have expansion headers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (or more), depending on the unit. These headers are sometimes called slots and refer to physical (10 pin) connectors on the back of a module.

There are also output ports on the front of a module, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

Within the DAW, you have stereo channel pairs 1/2, 3/4, 5/6, 7/8, with channels sometimes referred to by a single number.

The soundcard also has analog and digital channels, numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. Stereo pairs 7/8 correspond to the soundcard's ADAT channels 7/8 (which may be identified in Ableton as channels 17-18).

You have Gates 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 on an expansion unit. A "gate" could refer to a synthesizer gate signal or it could refer to the port number on the expander.

You have Inputs 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on the ES-4 Controller software. I think these refer to the above-mentioned stereo channels but within the Input section you have menus for each Input with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.

You have Inputs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 on the ESX-8CV Combiner software and menus giving you a choice for each input of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.

You have Output controls 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on ES-4 Controller software. I forget what these are for, and why there are five if a module has 5-8 output ports and 5-6 expansion slots.

The Silent Way Voice Controller has controls on its interface that correspond to output ports 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 on the old, discontinued ES-4 hardware, and "hidden" output controls numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

And of course you have MIDI channels 1, 2, 3, etc (up to 16)

Small wonder constant confusion occurs on the forum threads regarding which of the above 1s, 2s, 3s, etc people are talking about and what they think they mean. (Couldn't something have been called A, B, C, etc?) Or whether they are speaking of an output, slot, header, or port. Some users are helpful and patient, others adopt a "of course, you don't know this?" tone. Which is insane.