Muso Snob Ramblings and Instrument Porn


#81

Talking of buying complicated stuff, I bought one of these - a Wounded paw v4 effects blender… It allows you to mix the clean instrument sound with 3 parallel, or series, loops, complete with phase shift and high pass filters. It’ll give me a great excuse for cocking up when it comes to gigs!


#82

Continuing my synth-quest I’ve been trying some software synthesisers this week. As the name suggests these synthesisers are software which run on a computer and are played using a MIDI keyboard connected to the computer. You can even use a normal Qwerty keyboard and get some surprisingly good results.

Best so far is SuperSonico 5.1 which is available as a stand alone - meaning you don’t need any additional software to make it work. Just download it and run (doesn‘t even need to be installed). It’s also free, as donation-ware.

The presets offer a good selection of classic sounds. Vintage and church organ, massive mothership prog and eighties/nineties techno are all here. A few of the of presets have a modern minimalist sigur ros-esque sound which I really like.

I recommend this particular synth to all - even absolute beginners because you can get some great synth sounds happening even with just the two fingers! Although more is better of course. :musical_keyboard:


#83

More synth stuff.

This week I’ve been trying out the popular software synthesiser Synth1 by Japanese whizz Ichiro Toda. My first question was how do I play this bunch of knobs because there is no keyboard?

Well, it’s played with a MIDI keyboard, it’s just there isn’t a graphical representation of a keyboard in the software.

My second question was where can I get some presets - and the internet provided.

Synth1 is primarily a creative tool for making synth sounds. Fortunately other people have locked themselves in blackened bedrooms for years to make the sounds and given them away to lazy buggers like me. So I bagged myself some Daft Punk sounding presets and had a go.

For practising I’ve been working my way through the Hoffman Academy lessons. An excellent tutor.


#84

This week I’ve been chasing the synth sounds heard on Gary Numan’s first albums. Numan used Moog synthesisers to get these iconic sounds, especially the Minimoog Model D.

I’ve not had the chance to play a real Minimoog but from what I’ve read by those who have the soft synth emulations of the moog are pretty good. The better ones being convincingly realistic.

It’s also maybe worth mentioning my total spend to date is still only £70, the cost of my MIDI keyboard (Alesis Q49). All the software I’ve used has been free and it’s been excellent. Paid versions offer more complexity and fancy-pants graphics, which I don’t need right now.

So, this week’s synth: the MinimogueVA.

Crucial to the big, beefy sounds of the Minimoog was the use of three oscillators in its design. The MinimogueVA copies all of that original analogue architecture.

I’m still practising Are ‘Friends’ Electric? and I’m getting there. It definitely helps to be using the correct synth sound.


#85

Oh! Just that ability to chat at top level.


#86

Talking of top level, relatively speaking, our funk-metal band has its debut gig booked supporting these chaps…


#87

Basis of a good band there, they need a new singer/front man and to stop ripping off Black Sabbath.


#88

I don’t care, so long as
a) they bring a crowd
b) they’re not better than us!


#89

Every metal band has borrowed from Sabbath! Even if just the flatted fifth which was an Iommi trademark.

I like ‘em. Interesting move to go from jazz-funk to funk-metal Leonard. What brought that on?


#90

Not bad at all. They care about timing and intonation, which gets them beyond average.

But it’s been done before, so trust they will not outplay you. :slight_smile:


#91

I wouldn’t dream of diminishing the fifth. But I would augment the 4th, as have many more since before the days of The Devil’s Interval :grin:
Anyway, haven’t done any jazz funk since the 90s - and our 9 piece band then was more improvisational with funk backing supplied by me and the drummer… And our current band aren’t really metal - we’re occasionally heavy but possibly more in a heavy rock sort of way as we actually have some (rinses mouth out and spits) tunes. Though I try and keep teh bass as funky as possible, with much use of envelope filter, valve distortion and trusty whammy pedal.
The other band (going since around 1983, on and off) varies from gentle ambient grooves to screaming noise. Though usually still with funky bass… This is one of our stompers, only demo-quality I’m afraid as we’re a lazy bunch of buggers:


#92

No way lazy, to get to that level. Sounding good.


#93

Is that the singer from 90s band New Fast Automatic Daffodils? Sounds a lot like him …?

I still listen to New Fads on occasion.


#94

Aye! Tis Andy himself. We had a get-together last weekend and wrote another stomper (also in E, fo a change!) with wistful lyrics about childhood Airfix heroics and the longing for the glory of battle, without any sort of understanding about what that actually entails…
It’s called “Lick My Love Pump”.

Actually it’s called “Angels 1-5”


#95

After a couple of weeks making weird and wonderful noises with Synth1 and MinimogueVA I decided to get back to basics and find the best free virtual piano I could.

Virtual pianos come as two types; those which digitally model a piano and those which use samples of a real piano.

With a sampled virtual piano when you play middle C on a MIDI keyboard what you hear is a high quality recording of middle C being played on a Steinway grand, if that was the piano which was sampled, for example.

Some searching led me to Addictive Keys by XLN Audio. The paid version is £70 - but there’s also a free demo version which can be used for as long as you want. The catch is it’s limited to four octaves or 49 keys. Four octaves is plenty!

Addictive Keys samples a Steinway Model D Concert Grand piano. The recording of the piano was done using tube and ribbon microphones at studios belonging to the Swedish broadcasting company.

What’s it sound like? Bloody gorgeous! Even with my beginner fumbling.

And plays like a real piano with all the dynamics of quiet to loud. Wonderful.

Having an instrument to play which sounds great just inspires to play more and play better. So, if you haven’t got the room for a concert grand between the television and the pot plants, and fancy having a crack at playing piano, try this one.

You do need to supply an email address during the download (and have a MIDI keyboard).


#96

I’ve got Addictive keys, as well as EZ keys with the funky hammond and clavinet…
Here’s my re-working of Pictures at an Exhibition using the Addictive grand sample…


#97

Electric organs and electric pianos are on my list too. Definitely a Rhodes piano.

I just went on YouTube to look for an Ode to Joy lesson to practice later and found this. The little shit. :tired_face:


#98

Just spent the afternoon doing this. For which I apologise deeply…


#99

… and so you should. :slight_smile:


#100

This week I’ve been trialling different types of hearing protection to see what the differences are. We only get one set of ears and hearing damage, specifically to the auditory nerve, is permanent. So it makes sense to protect your hearing.

For the purposes of testing I was using a 50W valve head into a 2x12 cab in a large-ish room with levels pushed well passed crunchy or PDL (pretty damn loud).

First up foam ear plugs. These are what I have been using; they’re cheap and provide high levels of protection at 35dB of attenuation. The downside is they do not attenuate across all frequencies evenly, meaning mid and high frequencies can sound muffled. However with a bright-sounding amp/cab, foam plugs work really well.

Next, Fender musician ear plugs which claim to attenuate sound evenly.

They do, but I also found them uncomfortable to wear compared to foamies. These plugs would be a good choice for watching a loud gig because they came closest to lowering the volume without changing the tonal balance.

Finally, ear defenders. These are my new favourite despite the construction site aesthetic! Comfortable to wear and they don’t sound as muffled as foam plugs. I bought my pair from RS, with quoted 27dB reduction.