Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Warehouse Full of Instruments

For a while now music therapists have been providing me with a steady series of interesting instruments to find samples for and play. In fact, I have an entire set on SoundCloud dedicated to music based on these instruments.

For example "Swamp Echoes" uses a frog croaker sample. I got the idea on a video about instruments from Vietnam from Kat Fulton. Natalie Mullis has inspired be by here demo videos of various percussive instruments to experiment with these instruments (in sample form) and more.

I know that Music Therapists often never venture past Garage Band" but I would like to suggest that a world of sampled instruments exist that don't take up any real space just hard drive space.

So this is the first in a series. First, I would like to explain some of the history of sampling, what it is, suggest some samplers to try and then some MIDI controllers they might use with clients.

I know that Music Therapy tends to be a bit of a closed circle but I just ask that any music therapists that read this stay open to new ideas.

More to come

Friday, October 26, 2012

Criss Cross

I just wanted to quickly mention a little secret that perhaps some have never thought about. If you own both Absynth and Alchemy and Kontakt (some 3rd party instruments) you have entire libraries of useful sounds you can use.

On a Mac you can find all these nicely organized under Library/Applications Support/Company Name/Samples

On a PC you should go to the directory for the plug in and I presume look under samples.

Secret - Nothing prevents you from using the samples from one plug in in another.

I know many people just tweak presets but if you are adventurous enough to build from scratch or change samples in a preset your sample library is a big as all the collective samples from your plug ins.

Happy Hunting!


If you own IRIS you can also import all these into IRIS.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Matrix

Who can forget the shock of Neo who followed the white rabbit, took the pill and discovered that the world he thought was really was nothing more than a computer program and he was no more than a battery.

In some ways I think as an electronic artist I can get trapped into another kind of matrix. The one that tells me that all music has to come from a computer. Well, I have been living in two worlds for some time now. A few examples:

The Korg Wavedrum - no MIDI but very flexible. Ok, technically there us a computer running to control it but it's in the background. The sound is processed not MIDI triggered.

Moog Voyager.

Well, it's got MIDI and a computer but you don't need the MIDI to make music with it and the computer only controls analogue circuits.

Moog Guitar

Only MIDI if you want it. I suppose it may have chips but no real controlling computer here. This is why I bought one.


Yes, that amazing invention of yore, the microphone. No computers and there is a whole world of sounds to record.

Just a few suggestion here on how one might leave the matrix.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I have been creating music now for a long time and I am no neophyte with a synthesizer. From my first album, Morton Subotnick's "Side Winder" on the Buchla Music box I have been seeking a kind of holy grail of synthesis. That is, to be able to create any sound.

Now, decades after that 1st album and many many hours using just about every method of synthesis I now yawn when anyone talks about waveforms. The truth is that what I find really interesting about sound is the wrapping paper.

Confused? Ok, consider a violin. What makes a fine violin sound so good? People pay more money than they would pay for a house for a Stradivarius. So, is it the fretboard, the strings, the bow that create the magic? No, it's the wrapping, the body of the violin.

In the same way why are certain Cathedrals, recording studios and concert halls coveted? Tangerine Dream used to play in Churches why? Simple, the wrapping, the acoustics.

Even consider the language of synthesizers. We speak of envelopes. The wrapping for notes. Every note that a musician plays breathes. Like our lungs are filled with air notes will the space around them and breathe. Even our words are breathe. Music is rhythm.

But with the advent of the computer we have reduced that breath, that wrapping of a note to a 1 and a zero, a pulse, a trigger. Notes on drum machines and sequencers become boxes. Sound is in your face and yes, without breathe and soul. We give our musical gifts but we forget the wrapping paper.

So, I guess that is why I am interested in acoustic wrapping paper. Be it the body of a violin or the acoustics of a great cathedral as I look not for waveforms digitized in 1s and 0s but breathe.