Archive for January, 2013

NAMM 2013

Posted in modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by pyraphonic

NAMM 2013 is here and despite an uncharacteristically rainy day here in Los Angeles, I headed down to the convention center.


Of course since this is my blog, this will not be a comprehensive summary of the NAMM convention, but rather just a view through my narrow lens of interest. In other words, I first hightailed it downstairs to Hall E where the dregs of the convention hock their wares. I hung out at the Analogue Haven booth most of the day but did make a couple disoriented loops through the whole convention. Come along, here’s what I saw…

The most surprising offering this year is the revival of the Buchla Music Easel or Electric Music Box as it is alternately known. I have lusted over this piece of ’70s gear for many years.


At $3995 it’s cheaper than a small Buchla 200e system (such as the Skylab which is about $15K). I’m not sure I can resist this. I sense an ebay purge coming up in my near future to fund a purchase of one of these.


Meanwhile, the Eurorack modular synthesizer world continues to explode. In an earlier post featuring my briefcase modular I mentioned my friend Stephen who helped me build my custom ribbon controller. He has been prototyping modules and has a couple modules on display at NAMM which will be available at Analogue Haven. His company is Noise Engineering and his first module, the Ataraxic Translatron is amazing. It is an oscillator that uses the same technology that made the Atari 2600 sounds (but is not slaved to the video clock!).


I’ll post more about this module soon. Here is Stephen showing as much enthusiasm as his programming allows.


Tiptop Audio had a bunch of new modules on display as well:

Digital Hits which uses CopperLan technology to communicate with the computer


Trigger Riot which looks like a trigger cousin of the Z8000 sequencer


and Circadian Rhythm which looks bonkers and awesome


Make Noise also had their new wares on display:

The RxMx (pronounced “Rix Mix”) is a strangely animated mixer design with a lot of stereo options. Tony is working with Grant Richter on this.


The MMG, which is like one channel of the QMMG but with more options.


And development continues on the waveguide oscillator known as “??????” or the “Mystery Module”


Also on display were flat black Rene sequencers and pressure points. Tony says this is how he originally wanted them to look but there was a mistake in the manufacture of the original runs, which were glossy. I think the flat black looks better.



4MS was showing some new stuff as well:



Here’s Dan from 4MS dialing in some alien signals


Pittsburgh Modular had their new housings on display:




Snazzy FX had some new goodies – I’m digging the newer faceplates:


And over at the Moog booth…Bernie Worrell!!


And the Anniversary Moog Voyager. I thought it was an odd choice to have my friend Stephen’s face printed on the gold faceplate, but hey, what do I know?


Analog water is warmer


Stylophone 2013! This is not your grandad’s stylo…this is pretty cool, actually. It comes with a stylus but you can use your fingers as well.


The union jack model:


And to wrap up, some odds & ends:

That insane bowed string keyboard that’s been making the rounds on the interwebs


I was digging this silverburst Hofner bass copy


A passionate conversation about shift registers (not kidding)


Hanging out with Tony of Make Noise and Tomio of Tiptop Audio


Rasta Tele, mon


Evil Knievel’s clarinet


And I can’t even tell you how many ukuleles I saw today. More than I thought existed in the universe. And only at NAMM would one witness this spectacle


Thank you Gur from Tiptop Audio for the pass! See you all next year!


ps – Special thanks to the woman dressed like Pocahontas who saved me from standing in the 2 hour long line outside and advised me to take my printout to the the Hilton basement to get my badge. They could have made that a little clearer with some sort of signage.

Clark S. Nova – Light Cycle Joyride

Posted in Clark S. Nova, modular synthesizers, music, synthesizers on January 12, 2013 by pyraphonic

What better way to start off the new year than with a new track?

The details for the curious:

Light Cycle Joyride is an instrumental track using most of my arsenal of musical devices.

The seed for this track was one of my earliest explorations using my modular synthesizer. The spine of the track was recorded in stereo directly out of my modular into a Zoom H2 and was performed live (though the note sequences were pre-established, the starting, stopping, key-note and quantization scale changing and manipulation of these sequences as well as filter tweaks were done on the fly). There was one 16 step sequence and one 8 step sequence. The note-repetition parts were done by manually hanging on the first pressure point (the Doepfer A-151 changes the pressure point row note every 16 steps resulting in a note change. These parts can be heard in the beginning, middle and at the end of the sequenced part of the track).

This is the modular sequence before all the overdubs were added:

Sound sources in order of appearance are: Kyma software (with Capybara hardware), Eurorack modular Synthesizer*, Slingerland jazz drum kit, Moog Etherwave Theremin, ARP Axxe synthesizer, Roland G-707 guitar synthesizer with GR-700 brain (effects; Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi, ZVex Fuzz Factory, MXR Phase 100, Line 6 delay), Norma hollow body electric bass, Glockenspiel, Star Synare 3 drum synthesizer, Roland RS-202 String Synthesizer, Yamaha VSS-30 sampler, Roland JD-990 synthesizer, Akai S-900 sampler, iPhone 4S w/Moog Animoog synthesizer app, Nintendo DS lite w/Glitch DS software, Rhodes Stage 73 electric piano (effects; Multivox MX-201 tape delay).

*Modules used: Tiptop Audio (Z-DSP,) Make Noise (Brains, Pressure Points, Maths), Intellijel (Mutagen), Flame (Tame Machine), Malekko (Anti Oscillator, Borg 1), Doepfer (A-151), Flight of Harmony (Choices).

Recording devices: Zoom H2, Apple MacBook Pro w/ProTools.