Music

First, the primary instruments...


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Synthey


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This is my first synthesizer... an Arturia MicroBrute. I got her on a whim from Amazon on May 18th, 2018. As a kid, I never played an instrument and thought an analog synth would be a great idea: I could play with headphones so no one would be bothered by my noise, it's got enough dials and sliders to be more interesting that a regular instrument that makes a single sound, and it's got an incredible amount of geek appeal. Expectations were met... no regrets. This is a really great little synth.

SilverStar


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My second synth is a Korg Minilogue. I purchased her while in a laundromat on July 25th, 2018 after having my eye on it for weeks. After a lot of research, this has a lot of features that I really wanted to play with: 2 oscillators, 4 voices of polyphony, 8 modes for those voices, tape delay effects, bigger keys, and an arpeggiator. My initial reactions were mixed, mainly because of my own inexperience. It was actually after receiving a Korg Volca FM for my birthday that I really got a feel for the sequencer... and YouTube taught me a few tricks (hint: there is portamento, it's just hidden) to really get the most out of it. This is another really great synth.

Mowgli


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What promises to be my final synthesizer is a Moog Sub37. She's a real beauty. It's a really cool combination of the Korg's arpeggiator with the Microbrute's sequencer and oscillators. A single oscillator on its own has some of the most soulful sound I've ever heard, and together, they can be mean and beefy. The filter is obviously in a class of its own. The form-factor is great and the construction is really other-wordly. I say without hyperbole that this is the synthesizer end-game for me.

Christmas Shlock

Everyone knows Christmas music. May as well spread some cheer. It gives me practice reading sheet music, anyway.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

5 December, 2018: Whipped this one up in a severe time crunch. Call it a test run?

9 December, 2018: Two synth version with Mowgli playing the background, fatter sounds and synthey for the lead.

Deck the Halls

23 November, 2018: Quick and dirty rendition of Deck The Halls on Mowgli. Listen to that legato!

Album Project

I'm making slow progress toward creating a synthwave demo album. There'll be a basic sci-fi storyline that a bunch of tracks loosely follow. There aren't that many worth considering, for this project, and what's below may never make it.

The Plains of Andra-Zahaar

30 November, 2018: Maybe I'm not cut out for music, but I do enjoy making it. There are a few rough spots.

I love the idea of using an analog synth as a drum machine, so this track features exactly that. Then, I wrote a pretty simple melody and programmed it into the sequencer. There was more I wanted to add, but I don't want to mess this up too much more than it already is.

This was made entirely with Synthey, by the way.

The Time Between

23 November, 2018: I've recorded more stuff, but none of it seems to be good enough. Even this has a few rough spots, but I found a cool tune, put it into the sequencer and decided to simply record it with some variations. I added a sequenced beat beneath it (intentionally subtle) to pound a little bass.

You'll notice around the three-quarters mark, there are actually a lot of notes in this sequence that just run together-- only one envelope is active (for the most part), and there's enough glide and release to make things run together. I kinda like the technique, though there are parts where it's clear that that's what's happening.

Experiment Zero

21 October, 2018: From the brand new Moog-- I spent an hour and recorded the three separate tracks for this. It was ultimately a lot of fun and I'd like to do more like this.

The percussion track and the padding were both done with the arpeggiator, and the lead was just done by hand. I didn't mean for the padding track to sound like the Stranger Things theme, but I'm kinda glad it does.

Early Meddlings

Anything below this point is treading waters... All the tracks listed below were synced and mixed using either Audacity or Reaper, though all the fades and cool effects come directly from the synths (unless mentioned otherwise).

Sequencer Test

9 September, 2018: More from the Korg. I've fallen in love with the sequencer on this and its ability to construct sounds incrementally. Using it in conjuction with the arpeggiator and tape delay makes for some really pretty sounds. I'm using VC0 2 on a lower octave triangle as a sub, and the results are pretty good. This probably belongs above the "early meddlings" line...

Darkwave Test

9 September, 2018: I've had the Korg for about a month yet, and I bought some snazzy new equipment... I also realized I'm way overdue for some recording. After listening to some improv darkwave stuff, I figured I might give it a try. The results are a little disappointing, but having a three-octave keyboard certainly helps produce wider sounds. LFO should have been modulated... listening back on cheaper headphones, that wave-shape oscillation is a bit jarring and annoying.

Happy Birthday

17 June, 2018:

Angie's birthday is in less than a month. Figured I'd try this out. Took about ten minutes (plus distractions) to learn.

Theme from Super Mario Brothers

14 June, 2018: Somebody just had to tell me that an analog synth sounds like the sound chip from an NES. They just had to. So, after hours of practice, I finally made a passable attempt at ths. No hyperbole.... about four hours of practice and retakes for 24 seconds of music. There may be more practice and another attempt here in the future. It's a fun tune to play.

Star of the County Down

3 June, 2018: So, I grew up listening to a lot of Irish music. I wanted to practice some sheet music but forgot my earbuds, so I had to use the synth as a MIDI controller for this one. There are two tracks: an "ambient strings" track for the background, and a basic piano track for the melody. I'm not unhappy with it.

Number Four

1 June, 2018: I've had this theme in my head before. In fact, I think any time I've tried composing music before purchasing a synthesizer, this has come up... so it's good to get these 14 seconds over with right now... Warbly background is courtesy of the sequencer running at a -1 octave with some cool filter work for the quiet part. The lead isn't anything special, though it is a sound I like.

I've moved over to Reaper primarily as my DAW. It seems easy enough to use and may get me into MIDI.

Star Wars - First Attempt

25 May, 2018: Darth Vader's theme has a lot of flats... so, I only fought my way through two bars. I think I was playing with the filters correctly to get a badass cross-fade between the two tunes... Also, it's fun cranking all the knobs up (the "metalizer" and "brute factor" especially) to get the badass bass. LFO was also used on the two fades.

My tempo still sucks. If I practiced a few more hours, things would've turned out better. We're still early in this musical adventure, though. I'm sure I'll visit this one again.

Also still working on input levels. I'm clearly recording more loudly than my mic input likes.

Something Light

25 May, 2018: I found ramping the messing with square and triangle waves with some filtering and upping the attack a little can make a kind of light, windy melodica kind of sound, and messing with decay and sawtooth waves, some pretty cool accents can be made. I wrote two little melodies here and stuck it all together. I'm not happy with how it turned out, but it's a dose more complicated than the previous... Rather regrettably, no sequencer was used here, and my tempo jumps around.

Hello, World

23 May, 2018: The first "piece" I composed was 6 seconds long and, due to my lack of faith in myself, I used the sequencer exclusively for both tracks. It's a cross between video-gamey and jingly...