In my last post "Part 1 - Mark Mosher Cinematic Electronic Live - Boulder Synthesizer Meetup August 11, 2015" I shared a video of a solo set I played at the Boulder Synthesizer Meetup earlier this month. For years now when I've played my solo sets I've used an Ableton controllerism rig on the audio side. Hot off the heels of the (no)poem tour where I had great luck using all hardware in a collaborate and improvisational context, the meetup gig was a test of using all hardware on the audio side and only using the computer for interactive visuals. The instant-on and quick setup of the all hardware rig was really great and allowed me to play a continuous set combining composed piece from my albums plus do improv.
At the meetup gig, I used a Blofeld keyboard.
I wanted to be able replicate that same gig for away gigs where I fly so I added an Akai MPK Mini MK2 to be paired with the Blofeld Desktop.
Here is a sketch of my solo rig now.
By having a home and away rig with the same technology I can develop more muscle memory for the rig and focus on a small set of instruments.
Note that if I happen to have the computer along for visuals, I can turn this into a hybrid rig and use the laptop to run Percussa MIDIBridge and run audio cubes as gestural controllers.
I'm currently testing the rig in hybrid mode and will add an iConnect MIDI interface soon so I can completely break the tether to the laptop if needed.
Coming up in Part 2 - Backing Into Your Synth Rig from the Pelican 1510 Case
In part 1 I perform an extended version of "Gonna Rise Up" from the album Fear Cannot Save Us" markmosher.bandcamp.com/album/fear-cannot-save-us. For this piece, I was doing live arrangement on the Octatrack plus playing lead synth on the Waldorf Blofeld. The lead patch is an original patch from INIT using OSC2 & 3 for sync with mod wheel. The original lead patch on the album version was done with Zebra 2. To retain some of its character, I used Extreme Sample Convert to multi-sample the Zebra patch then import into the Blofeld for the source for Oscillator 1.
Rig Notes: This set was performed only on Octatrack dynamic performance sampler with original field recordings and sonic elements from albums plus a Waldorf Blofled keyboard with original presets.
Recording Notes: Live audio was recorded on a Zoom H2n fed by my sub-mix to house via Mackie 402VLZ3. Main footage is from a GoPro with secondary foot from my friend Chris Frain.
Visuals Notes: The ONLY video source is from live camera input being run through layers of custom Resolume presets controlled by an Arturia Beatstep live.
"Combining repurposed/recycled technology and low cost materials with digital synthesis, langsound (Langdon Crawford) has developed an expressive performance system for electronic music. Short musical excerpts will be used to demonstrate the controller/system. Slides and discussion will illuminate how and why it might be productive for others to think of using old mobile devices for music making."
Langdon C. Crawford is an artist and educator originally from the green mountains of Vermont. He has been developing performance/composition systems with electronics since 1999. Starting with guitars, effects and sequencers, he moved into computer music, eventually incorporating graphics and sensor controlled interaction. He has a masters of music technology from NYU. He currently teaches at FRCC and works as a freelancer based in Golden, CO. When not teaching or traveling for work, you can find Langdon in and around the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. More info and works can be seen at: www.langsound.com
I'll Be Performing at Meetup
I've also super psyched to perform some new arrangements of material from my most recent cinematic electronica alien invasion album "Fear Cannot Save Us" performed on Octatrack and Blofeld.
I've worked up a really cool extended version of "Gonna Rise Up"! Here is the album version. I'll also be doing some improvs on Octatrack and Blofeld.
I had never used graphical scores for experimental music till this year. Darwin Gross, turned me on to new ways of thinking about them. I used them in a release earlier this year, and we will be using in them in tours with (no)poem.
I'm really digging the concept and results so I thought I'd share my use cases and first impressions of using graphical scores in experimental music.
I worked with graphical scores for the release and performance of Marooned. This score was literal and had one interpretation - and like a traditional score - existed to help me remember what to do when.
This was especially critical when performing this piece live as I used no automation at all. All hand performed :^) I made the score using Mindmeister and used its presentation featured to advance the score simply by touching the screen. In the photo below, you can see my iPad to the left on a Gig Easy Mount (the only mount I would trust my iPad to BTW made by my friend andBoulder Synthesizer Meetupmember and presenter Darren Kramer).
For the upcoming(no)poemtour this weekend, we're utilizing graphical scores created by Darwin - but this time we are using the scores in a more abstract way than I did with Marooned.
Here is the idea.
Our work is completely improvised, but are supported by the use of postcard-sized graphical scores. This gives us the ability to create structured improvisations while remaining open to react to our surroundings and to each others' work. We do not use laptop computers or keyboards during our performance, forcing us to use alternative controlling devices to produce the work.
The graphic at the top of this post is an example of this score. Our tour posters use a second score as background. BTW - if you click the posters to see invites for these show
Here is one way we'll be using these scores.
Names and shapes are used to determine structure and timbre.
BENEFIT - KEEPING YOU FROM FALLING BACK ON "GO TO" PATCHES AND CHOPS
I've found there are a lot of benefits to using graphics scores. For me, one of the biggest is it changes what I do when changing gears during collaborative sessions and performances.
You know, there are always those moments where you feel it's time to move on in a piece, or something your collaborators are doing means you need to change what you are playing. Sometimes in those gaps, you can feel a sense of slight panic as your reaching into your bag of tricks to tee up your next line of play - or tweak a patch.
This can lead to you falling back on some "go to" patches or chops rather than doing something fresh that fits the vibe. The score overlays a mental structure and acts as an abstract guide that will influence you to go where you might have never gone before - and with less stress. The bottom line is better creative results.
There are many possibilities and many more benefits to this concept than I've mentioned. Feel free to leave a comment with notes on how you are using scores. You might want to give this wiki article a look if you want to start digging into this more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_notation.
EVEN MORE UNIQUE SONIC POSSIBILITIES THROUGH USER WAVETABLES
In preparing for the (no)poem Experimental Ambient mini-tour to Lincoln and Des Moines this weekend with Darwin Grosse, I wanted "up my game" on the Waldorf Blofeld side. This meant not only using original presets from INIT, but also custom wavetables as sources from some of my custom presets. You can upload your own wavetables in both the keyboard and the desktop edition WITHOUT having to use License SL on desktop edition.
38 USER WAVETABLES FOR OSC1 & OSC2
The blofeld has 38 slots for user wavetables. You select them as oscillator shape sources for Oscillators 1 & 2 by dialing in shapes 80-118. Note, the blofeld has 64 waves per wavetable.
This app has some other great features like morphing between waves. For example, you could draw the first and last wave in the table, then let the app morph all the waves in between. It has basic basic import of .wav for resynthesis as well.
The app lets you then save in a format that you can upload to your blofeld. More on this later in the post.
I just started using a pretty great freeware general purpose editor app called Audioterm by Mathias Gurk. It has a super groovy retro interface and green waveform display reminiscent of the Fairlight. It's not Blofeld specific, but does a great job of resynthesizing audio from various formats and has the option to save into the format Blofeld is looking for. Audioterm is on Facebook here, and you can download the app from a dropbox. Here is a KVR Thread on the app.
It's a little tricky getting around inside the retro interface, but once you learn it, it's a snap. This video will help, although note you can skip the step at the 1:00 mark as the app now supports saving natively to Blofeld format.
Tip: To save in Blofeld format
Select "F_TYPE" 5 which is Blofeld.
Select the file
Enter a name and press "RET" (return key)
Enter Blofled Device ID (0 is the default)
Enter the user slot you want to load the wavetable into betweeen 80-118.
I'm just scratching the surface, but man this app is packed with cool features.
There are other apps out there but these should get you going.
LOADING CUSTOM WAVETABLES INTO THE BLOFELD
Waldorf implemented a SYSEX format for loadingn wavetables. You'll note that in both the apps I mentioned above you have to specify the slot when you save the file in .SYX format. In other words, the slot number is embedded into the file. You can transmit the file to the Blofeld with your MIDI Sysex app. On Windows I use MIDI OX.
SWEEPING THROUGH THE TABLE
A last tip for those who haven't experimented with wavetable synthesis on Blfoeld. Like with factory wavetables, user wavetables can be used as sources for OSC 1 & 2. Parameter "Pulswidth" to set the starting point or manually sweep the table. 0 = first wave in the wavetable. 64 = middle, 127=last wave. You can automate this by specifying PWM source then adjust the amount of modulation with PWM amount. You can also set this up in the modulation matrix. An example would be to use an LFO or perhaps the Modulation Wheel to sweep through the table.
MORE ON THE INTERWEBS...
Fequent FB contributor Øystein Olsen reminded me of Wolfgang Hieb's awesome site http://synth.stromeko.net/Downloads.html which also has some .zip files containing wavetables that you can load into the user slots. If you know of others, please leave a comment :^)
In my last post, I mentioned the formation of a collaboration with Darwin Grosse called (no)poem. When we where putting this project together a few months back we started by defining a set of creative limitations which would inform the art for our first mini-tour through Lincoln and to Des Moines.
Waldorf Blofeld Desktop with custom presets from init, custom wavetables, and custom samples as oscillator sources via License SL
Instrumentality for Blofeld are via a custom Lemur patch on iPad (USB Midi with Camera Kit) and Octatrack (MIDI)
DIFFERENT WORKLOW = DIFFERENT CREATIVE RESULTS
Different rigs and different workflows yield different results of course. A hardware focus means our eyes are free to focus on graphical scores (more on this in a future post) and paying attention to each other's body language. No keyboards means we have to use knobs, buttons sliders, cables, visual feedback from hardware, and in my case, physics and multi-touch through the Lemur interfaces. Again, this changes the creative result - especially when playing tonal passages without being restricted by a 12-tone keyboard interface.
TRANSCENDING TECH TO SERVE THE ART
If you've been following along here on Modulate This! you know I've gone deep with both the Octatack and the Blofeld for many years now so this upcoming tour is the culmination of a lot of work to create expressive workflows around these instruments.
Stay tuned for more detailed posts on how I'm using Octatrack (see dedicated category), Blofeld (see dedicated category), and Lemur. I'll also do some posts on working with grphical scores and free-running clocks.
Lastly, tune into to Darwin's new blog All Things Modular to learn more about his rig and artistic process.
Things have been a little quite over here at Modulate This! HQ because I've been super busy working with my my good friend Darwin Grosse to form a new duo called (no)poem. Stay tuned for some upcoming behind-the-scenes posts where I'll share some insights into how we put the duo together as well as some notes on the tech and artistic elements of the our upcoming tour. For now here is a little background on the project.