Saturday, March 26, 2011

One Year

Wow... time flies.
Today exactly one year ago I started to write this blog, mainly because i could not find a lot of Doepfer user-info on the web. I was looking for a way to share my adventures in analog sound with others, and i looks like i found the right spot.
Sadly i don't have any budget for a give-away (like the wonderful Din Sync blog did) to thank you for visiting/ commenting/ interacting but i do appreciate all your input in this first (and certainly not last) year.

A few statistics:
- A total number of 1000 unique visitors have visited this site so far
- Those visitors came from 77 different countries
- Coincidentally today the site passed the 6000 pageviews too.
- Last months the site has an average of 1000 pageviews per month (but that includes my own too)
- About 30% of the unique viewers are from the USA, The Brits and the Dutch share a second place with around 10% of the total unique viewers each.

Very different are the numbers of my PatchPierre Mobile Nokia application users. Sadly this app doesn't generate an extreme lot of traffic to the actual site, but it did generate around 5% extra visits.

4592 people have downloaded and installed the application so far.
Most of the downloads happened in the counties where Nokia Symbian is a big platform, so most of them happened in India (1067 downloads - 23%), Saudi-Arabia (274 downloads - 6%),Turkey (5.3%),Brazil (4.7%) and Italy (4.3%).
Interesting to see that counties like the USA, Great-Britain and the Netherlands even had less installs than countries like Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, Russian Federation, Libya, Vietnam and Mexico, to name a few 'odd' ones.*

A lot of them probably used it only once to try it out, but there is a steady group that keeps using the app., around 75 people each month.

So, if you read this blog on your Nokia app, feel free to click through to the real site if you don't want to miss any of the links.
Let me know if you would like to have a Nokia app for your own Blogspot blog... I have two apps in the OVI appstore already, and it is definitely worth it.

There will be a couple of changes to the blog in the next few months. Due to my work i will have less time for the blog again this spring/ summer. I will not post every three days, like i did last 4 months, but i will try to post more than weekly. There are still plenty of modules to write about, and i believe i can't really write about the ones i haven't tried out by myself, but there's still enough stuff to come.
Let me know if you have special requests of topics that you would like to see discussed on the blog. Your input is always welcome, and i hope you will enjoy reading the blog in the next (few) year(s).

My Wordle of one year in Tweets, via
* PatchPierre Mobile stats provided by @wonderhelm

Friday, March 25, 2011

Quotes VII : Herbie Hancock

" Creativity shouldn't be following ratio, it should be the other way around. "

Herbie Hancock - musician, composer, bandleader

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Controlling the A-100 via MIDI

In the beginning it was not difficult to pick a Doepfer MIDI-CV interface for your A-100 system.
The A-190 MIDI-CV/SYNC Interface was the only one available and there were not many other options.  (the A-191 MIDI-to-CV Interface / Shepard Generator was way more complex, i will discuss it in a future blogpost).
The A-190 is a powerful module that not only provides a few CV and Gate outputs, but also Portamento, Scale-settings, Pitch-bend, Glide, Clock and Reset signals, has a built-in (software) LFO and very flexible programmability.
Without a proper display it is quite awkward to program, but you'll quickly learn how to read the combinations of burning and flashing LEDs.
I do miss some further (software) development for this module. The arpeggio function, mentioned on the front-plate isn't even implemented (!)

A cheaper option that you can buy nowadays is the  A-190-2 Midi CV/Gate interface, which is based on the Doepfer MCV4Only some minor changes were made for a better adaption to the A-100 system, e.g. five 3.5 mm sockets and zero-symmetrical CV for pitch bend, to be able to adjust the pitch bend range e.g. in combination with the precision CV adder A-185-2 and the glide function.
The module has no MIDI Thru and MIDI clock and reset functions though.

The new A-190-3 USB/MIDI-to-CV/Gate Interface that is in production stage has almost the same possibilities, but will be a modular version of Doepfer's upcoming Dark Link Module. This one will support USB and the release date for it is set for early 2011.
Another advantage of these two cheaper modules is that they don't need the additional +5V adapter. 

If you are looking for a polyphonic MIDI-CV contoller you will probably have to wait a while. Doepfer is busy working on the A-190-5, but it will be completely redesigned this year. A final version will  probably contain an LC display (similar to the A-187-1), some control buttons, a USB interface and higher resolution DACs with higher voltage range (probably 12 bit and 0...+10V). It will be a four voice polyphonic Midi to CV/Gate interface with 12 CV and 4 Gate outputs and different modes (e.g. unisono, four-fold monophonic, different four voice polyphonic modes.)

Tip: The monophonic MIDI-CV converters can write and read to the A-100 Busboard, more info on this HERE

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Booktip VII - Keyfax Omnibus Edition by Julian Colbeck

The Keyfax Omnibus Edition, written in 1996 by Julian Colbeck, is a pretty interesting 192-page book about synths and synthesizer history. It is the sixth volume of a series by the author, his first one appeared in 1985 although he already writes about synthesizers since 1976.

The book is divided into 2 main parts, The Hot 100 and the Product Directory.
The first and largest part of the book delves into the 100 most important synthesizers in history, alphabetically ordered by manufacturers name. Together with the company profiles this book gives a nice overview on the global history of synthesizers. I like the style that it is written in, very informative...

The second part, The Product Directory exists out of an extensive list of almost every synthesizer on the planet. The directory also provides production data like production year, release-prices, the instrument's value in 1996, and often a short extra description. Very useful if you are looking into buying a second-hand ( pre-1996 ) synthesizer.

The book reads like a synthesizer history book. It is a nice resource for anyone interested in older synths and synth history. PatchPierre rates it at 8 out of 10 stars

More PatchPierre Booktips

Published by Mixbooks,
later editions published by Hal Leonard Corporation
ISBN: 0-1918371-08-2

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Filters II : A-121 VCF2 Multimode Filter

The first Doepfer filter that i ever bought was the A-121 Multimode Filter. It is a 12 dB/Octave filter, and has multiple simultaneous outputs available; a Low-Pass, Band-Pass, High-Pass and Notch (or Band Reject).
It also has 4 CV inputs, 2 for adjusting the cutoff frequency and 2 for resonance.

This is still one of my favorite filter modules, the multiple outputs are very useful, and i  like all the CV inputs. It just gives you so much more control over the filter, and that's what i like most in a module; maximum control.

Although it is 'only' a 12 dB filter it sounds very nice, from very smooth and warm up to quite rough, especially with the resonance turned up ( ...up to self-oscillation ).
Most of the times i patch an A-174-2 Wheels CV into FCV1, and a simple envelope CV to the (adjustable) FCV2. Works fine in most situations.
With some analog or digital noise added to QCV2 to give it a touch of unpredictable resonance you will quickly get a convincing fat bassline.

Together with an A-138 B (exp) Mixer you can easily make some pretty impressive stacked bass-sounds, all with just a single filter-module.

Find A-121 sound examples at Andreas Krebs Blog : HERE

As the special circuit CEM3320 used in this module is no longer available the module is discontinued. I believe there are still a few available, but they don't make new ones anymore. Doepfer advices modules like the A-106-6 ( with eight simultaneous outputs! ) or A-107 Multi-Type Morphing Filter as a replacement.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

SiteTip IV : MIT OpenCourseware Music and Technology: Contemporary History and Aesthetics

A great resource for beginners and all other synthesizer-enthusiasts is the OpenCourseWare site from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

This course, as given by professor Christopher Ariza in the fall of 1997 is highly informative and perhaps a must-read to all of you new to analog sound or music in general.

'This course is an investigation into the history and aesthetics of music and technology as deployed in experimental and popular musics from the 19th century to the present. Through original research, creative hands-on projects, readings, and lectures, the following topics will be explored. The history of radio, audio recording, and the recording studio, as well as the development of musique concrète and early electronic instruments. The creation and extension of musical interfaces by composers such as Harry Partch, John Cage, Conlon Nancarrow, and others. The exploration of electromagnetic technologies in pickups, and the development of dub, hip-hop, and turntablism. The history and application of the analog synthesizer, from the Moog modular to the Roland TR-808. The history of computer music, including music synthesis and representation languages. Contemporary practices in circuit bending, live electronics, and electro-acoustic music, as well as issues in copyright and intellectual property, will also be examined'

Surfing through these pages you will find a lot of interesting information on (analog) sound, music history and much more, accompanied by many links to other interesting reads and audio-examples.

Video: Lecture 13 | MIT 21M.380 Music and Technology (Contemporary History and Aesthetics)

Preview Lecture 13 / Modular synthesizers
See the complete course HERE

Check the massive PDF (37 Mb / right-click and save as) for the complete set of notes and all other information on this course and enjoy!

Licence info:
Ariza, Christopher. 21M.380 Music and Technology (Contemporary History and Aesthetics), Fall 2009. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 16 Oct, 2011). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Thursday, March 10, 2011

CD-Tip IV : Clara Rockmore - The Art of the Theremin (1977)

Okay... Either you love the sound of the Theremin, or you don't. If you count yourself to the last category, feel free to skip this post and return to this blog in 3 or 4 days.

Yesterday was what would have been theremin virtuosa and electronic music pioneer, Clara Rockmore's 100th Birthday.
Clara Rockmore ( born as Clara Reisenberg ) studied violin in Leningrad, Russia, but she had to stop her career because of bone-problems due to malnutrition in her youth.
After she moved to the USA she started to work with Léon Theremin, who had recently invented the Theremin, and very quickly she mastered the instrument and became a virtuoso Theremin player.

In all the years performing with USA's finest orchestras and touring she developed a distinguished technique for playing the instrument and she proved that the Theremin really was a serious instrument, and not just an instrument to make 'eerie' sound effects for scary movies.
Although she also did these sound effects on commission, her true love was for the real classical compositions.

This 12-track CD has special arrangements of great classic composers like Saint-Saens, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Ravel, Stravinsky and a few others.
Rockmore plays the Theremin beautifully, accompanied by her sister Nadia Reisenberg on piano. Pure and simple. If you are into classical music you will probably appreciate these wonderful recordings.
I have to admit that the tracks do sound a bit sad or moody, but that might just be the power of Clara's playing-style. With this recording and performances she definitely proved that you can really touch someone's soul with this instrument, and that is a great accomplishment with such a difficult to play instrument.

Video: Clara Rockmore - The Swan from Saint Saëns

CD catalog nr: Delos DE1014

A few more recordings that were made during these sessions later appeared on the 'Lost Theremin Album' (1989), together with other old recordings.
Also worth watching: Theremin, an Electronic Odyssey, a 1997 documentary about Léon Theremin, his instrument and life, including various interviews and performances by Clara Rockmore.
Trialer: HERE

Monday, March 07, 2011

New PatchPierre Mobile App Advertising Templates

Nokia / OVI-publishing recently provided me with new advertising-templates for my PatchPierre Mobile Nokia-app. Very kind of them, this looks much better as the old banners IMO.

If you have a Nokia mobile phone, you can still find the app HERE.
The ultimate way to watch PatchPierre's content on your Nokia device. The app enables easy browsing through the posts, feedback and twitter-feed and also links to the original articles and my NetPierreTV YouTube Channel

Works on all Symbian and selected S40 devices.

PS. if you are an Android, IOS, WM7 or Blackberry developer and you have a little bit of spare time... feel free to contact me. It would be nice to have this app available on multiple platforms. 

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Users' Favorite Modules

A recent Poll at the Doepfer Yahoo Usergroup, in the beginning of this year gave a nice insight of what modules are the users' favorites. The (informal) poll resulted in a lot of nice top-5 lists, with a great diversity in modules.
I took some time to count the votes that i could find and made this overall -list. /*the differences between the top-three most-mentioned modules were minimal;

The A-149 Quantized/Stored Random Voltages module(s) were definitely the most popular ones.
These modules, based on Buchla's 'Sound of Uncertaincy' Model nrs. 265/266, process random or stored random voltages to contol your other modules. Very interesting modules, that are high on my personal wishlist as well.

Three modules ended in second place;
The A-101-2 Low Pass Gate, The A-155 Analog Trigger Sequencer / A-154 Sequencer controller combination and the A-156 Dual Quantizer
Third place was for the A-160 Clock DividerA-161 Clock Sequencer -combination, the A-151 Sequential Switch, the A-137 Wave Multiplier and the A-198 Ribbon Controller ( R2M included)

I was not really surprised by the list, a lot of them are high in my personal favorites list too. Not sure about the Vactrol LPG module though... i prefer other filters, like the A-121 Multimode Filter and the A-127 Triple Resonance Filter, simply because of their multiple outputs and extended control possibilities... and the A-124 WASP Filter because of its unique sound.

The Ribbon Controller (A-198) is also high on my list, and i also love other 'alternative' controllers like the A-198 Theremin Controller and the A-174 Joystick and A-174-2 Wheels modules.
These last two controller modules were so under-rated in the poll IMO,but sooo useful in live-situations.
My personal number one module is, without a doubt, the A-156 Dual Quantizer Module, but you have probably noticed that already by my earlier posts about this module and it's recent modification.

Feel free to leave your personal list with favorite modules in the feedback section...

Are you curious about what else is going in the Doepfer Yahoo Usergroup?
Click to join Doepfer_a100

Click to join Doepfer_a100
Signing up is easy... and free!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Quotes VI : Brian Eno

" As soon as I hear a sound, it always suggests a mood to me."

Brian Eno / Producer, musician, songwriter, artist