Tag Archives: electronic music

Video – Winter

Snow field

One of the reasons I have been off line for the last few days is that I have been working on some music.  I now have something to share with you :)

Quick background – I studied classical music composition in the mid naughts (00s).  To hear the music I was composing, I used a product called GPO. You can hear this on some of the videos on my video page.  Sounds pretty realistic, if not exactly like a live orchestra.

As some of you may have seen, lately I have been playing with old-school analog modular synthesizers.  What?  OK, that sounds odd, but this is the type of synthesizer they used in “the old days”, synths that sounded like synths.  The “modular” part means that I pretty much create a new instrument using patch cords every time I make a sound.

Lately I have had the idea to recreate some of my old music using this even older technology.  It won’t sound as realistic, but perhaps it will add something. Continue reading

The Weekly Smile for the 9th of December, 2019 #weeklysmile

weeklysmile2a

It was an interesting week with some pretty good smiles, but I am going to back up a bit…. in a way.

I know many of you saw it, but I posted a video this week.  It is music I worked on in mid to late November.  I did mention it in a previous smile and said I would say more when it was finished and posted, so here it is: this week the smile is about posting it.

The video is The Coventry Carol. Very quick, so you can understand the video if you watch it, The Coventry Carol was part of a medieval mystery play is a lullaby to the doomed children of Bethlehem as the mothers wait for Herod’s men to murder all boys under 2 years old.  The music became a part of the holiday tradition during the Battle of Britain in WW2. It was played live on the BBC from the bombed out Coventry Cathedral on Christmas  day, 1940. Continue reading

The Coventry Carol – Video

Notre Dame

I have always like The Coventry Carol.  I’m into dark, medieval music, particularly Christmas music, which seems like it should be bright, not dark.  So I decided I wanted to record it.  But I needed a little research first.  I was surprised at what I found, and this led to the video (hint, read this before listening)

The carol was part of a “mystery play” that went back to the 14th century.  The words were written down in the early 16th century and the music in the late 16th century, some believe in a bid to try to get it performed again (it wasn’t).  This song is about the slaughter of the innocents.

Yes, The Coventry Carol is a lullaby sung by the women of Bethlehem to try to calm their frightened babies as they wait for Herod’s men to murder the babies. “Bye bye, lully lullay.” Nice, right? So “the little tiny child” in the song is not the baby Jesus, but some poor, doomed child.

The words and music survived as much by accident as anything, as such things do, and was revived again in the 20th century.During The Battle of Britain in WW2, the Germans bombed Coventry on the 14th of November, 1940.  On Christmas, 1940, the BBC played The Coventry Carol live as it was being sung from the bombed out ruins of the Coventry cathedral.

So the song went from the poor woman resigned to their fate when brought up against powers beyond their understanding to the women shaking their fists at the sky when brought up against these powers.  You may bomb us and kill our children, but we will rise from the ashes. Continue reading

The Weekly Smile for the 11th of November, 2019

weeklysmile2a

Note 2 – Putting it back to Monday – see if it shows up…

I had a lot to smile about this week, but the big thing was a studio redesign.  I have a small personal music studio up in my home office and I just tore it down and set it back up again.  I guess I do this every 4 years or so: This post from 2015 was the last time I did a major reorganization and in the post before, I wrote about last one in 2011.

I didn’t move any of the heaviest stuff this time, but I did disconnect every cable. I rearranged how instruments are sitting. I added a bunch of tools that I haven’t used in years, some of it it literally hasn’t been used in decades.

Before I reorganized I had to pick which instrument I was going to play. I now have quite a few set up. I also rearranged them, so I have a different work flow, which helps keep a creative edge. Reconnecting things I also made sure that the audio path was better.

This picture shows an in progress view. The keyboard on the left will eventually go above the silver one in the foreground. There are a few other changes. Continue reading

Review – Behringer VC340

B VC340

Last week I received a Behringer VC340 that I ordered a few months back.  This is a recreation of a classic synthesizer, the Roland VP-330 Vocoder Plus, which was made in 1979 and 1980.  Although the production of this synthesizer was short, it, along with the rackmount version, the SVC-350, is found all over music of the early 80s, including artists as far apart as Vangelis and Laurie Anderson.

The VC330, like the original VP-330, instead of being a general synthesizer is divided into three main parts: a string synthesizer, a “human voice” synthesizer and a vocoder.

The string synthesizer is just what it sounds like, a synthesized string ensemble sound that uses simple analog technology of the day.  String synths were very popular in the late 70s and the Roland version can be heard on a lot of music by a wide variety of artists.  It offers a simple tone (brightness) control, attack (how quickly the sound starts) and release (how quickly the sound fades after you take your hands from the keys). Continue reading

Higher Ground – Video

Modular Synth - November 2017

Some of you may know that one of my interests is building a playing a modular analog synthesizer.  This is an “Old School” instrument where sounds are created by patching different modules together with patch cords.  Well, more to it than that, but the idea is that it is a very hands on type of instrument.

An issue with this type of synthesizer is that if you like a sound, oh well, you will eventually have to tear it down.  At that point it is gone.  You can make a drawing of the patch, a quick schematic.  A photo, well, that would be so complicated you will get nothing.  Or you can learn the instrument well enough to be able to recreate it later.  That’s my goal. Continue reading

House of The Rising Sun Part 2

Steamship Paddles

If you couldn’t tell from my first post about my video for The House for the Rising Sun, I was not happy with my voice.  OK, part of it was that I made an arrangement that pushed my range from the A below the staff to the A above the staff.  That’s three ‘A’s and two octaves. Also, I’m not a great singer to begin with so…

I decided to do a new version with a synth line instead of vocals.  I used the same background but I changed the mix slightly to bring down the arpeggios and bring up the organ.  I also added a little counter-melody part.

(Click here if you don’t see the video)

The video is still the same, just a change in the music.

OK, question time.  When I posted this, I noticed Sony records put a Copyright claim to the video.  As I said in my last post, this is a traditional song that has been performed for a century and recorded for almost a century.  The melody has its rots in the 17th century.  I spent several hours trying to hunt down the copyright and read a lot of interesting stuff about copyright.  Everything indicated that it is Public Domain. Continue reading

New Video – The House of the Rising Sun

Red New Orleans

After doing the promo video for my upcoming book, the Fireborn, I have been in a musical mood.  Out of nowhere I decided to do this video.  This was a lot of fun, but you will immediately notice that I am much more of an instrumentalist than a singer ;)  Don’t let my voice drive you away…  As far as the music and sound effects and such, well, here, watch it and I’ll talk about it afterwards, OK?  Yeah, I may be wordy ;) Continue reading

Music That Means Something Day 5

Pyschodelic Music

This is Day Five!  I’ll tell what album I chose in a minute.  Look here for my intro.

Don’t know this challenge?  Here is the basic idea (which I’ll semi-ignore):

Post a song a day for five consecutive days. (will do, well album, not song)
Post what the lyrics mean to you.  (Optional) (nope – instrumental)
Post the name of the song and a video. (will do – a song from the album)
Nominate 1 or 2 bloggers each day of the challenge. (Well…, All of you)

(I was “volunteered” to do the challenge by Sue Vincent ;) )

— —

In my teen years I continued my search for electronic music, but I also got drawn deeper into the world of harder rock.  I soon began to listen to what would later be called “Progressive Rock ” – the name existed back then but had a very different meaning.  I liked Genesis, but my favorite was Yes.  And yet, these bands just didn’t go far enough into pure electronics…

At the fringes of Prog-Rock was a blues based band that didn’t push as deep into the classical or into the bombastic.  They didn’t show off their skills just to show off.  Back then I heard this band described as a Heavy Mental band (notice, ‘mental”, not “metal”), but usually not a “progressive rock” band.  But they created one of the best electronic rock albums of all times.

Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here. Continue reading

Music That Means Something Day 3

Pyschodelic Music

This is Day three!  I’ll tell what album I chose in a minute.  Look here for my intro.

Don’t know this challenge?  Here is the basic idea (which I’ll semi-ignore):

Post a song a day for five consecutive days. (will do, well album, not song)
Post what the lyrics mean to you.  (Optional) (nope – instrumental)
Post the name of the song and a video. (will do – a song from the album)
Nominate 1 or 2 bloggers each day of the challenge. (Well…, All of you)

(I was “volunteered” to do the challenge by Sue Vincent ;) )

— —

Yesterday I talked about Wendy Carlos’ Switched on Bach.  After that I was always in search of electronic music.  A lot of it was garbage (not that I cared as a kid), often kitsch or novelty.  Often just bad.  But I listened to what I could find.

One day when I was about 10, I saw a very cool looking album.  It was too expensive, but I had a plan – I bought it as a Christmas present for my brother (the same one who received Tommy).  It soon became a favorite.

This was Isao Tomita’s Snowflakes are Dancing.  Continue reading