Flight-Friendly Hardware Synth Rig Part 2 - Backing Into Your Synth Rig from the Pelican 1510 Case

Photo Aug 23, 1 44 27 PM

This is a follow-up to post "Flight-Friendly Hardware Synth Rig Part 1 - Switching to Hardware Rig for my Solo Set". 

Over the last 5 years or so I've had the opportunity to fly to festivals. It's always a challenge of course to get your gear from here to there.

One strategy I'd recommend is to back into your show rig from what will fit into the luggage you are going to travel with. Something to consider here is that you want to bring enough essential gear as carry-on so that you could perform your set even if your checked luggage doesn't make it with you to the venue. So a backpack and a case that will fit in the overhead bin are the way to go.

Pelican 1510 Carry On Case - $160

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 06 PM

It's important to get a tough case for the overhead bin in case you are asked to gate check the bag or end up on a regional jet where approved sizes won't fit. This has happened to me multiple times over the years. In this scenario they'll put the bag right into the cargo hold so you at least know your gear will make it to the destination with you.

My friend and amazing artist Dino J.A. Deanne (http://jadeane.com/blog) who's done many tours turned me on to the Pelican 1510 Carry On Case. Here is Dino's post on cases.

  • Retractable extension handle
  • Strong polyurethane wheels with stainless steel bearings
  • Easy open Double Throw latches
  • Open cell core with solid wall design - strong, light weight
  • O-ring seal
  • Automatic Pressure Equalization Valve
  • Comfortable rubber over-molded top and side handles
  • Stainless steel hardware and padlock protectors
  • Pick N Pluck™ with convoluted lid foam
  • Personalized nameplate service available
  • Lifetime Guarantee of Excellence
  • INTERIOR (L x W x D) 19.75" x 11" x 7.6" (50.1 x 27.9 x 19.3 cm) 
  • EXTERIOR (L x W x D) 22" x 13.81" x 9" (55.9 x 35.1 x 22.9 cm) 

This case is just amazing. I ordered the version with the Pick N Pluck foam so I could customize the case for my desktop rig. The biggest challenge is deciding how you'll lay out your gear to fit. Here is my case from the inside out.

Photo Aug 23, 1 43 40 PM

Pick N Pluck comes in two sheets that lay on top of each other. Place your gear on the sheets and use chalk or toothpicks to mark  where you'll need to punch out the foam to fit your gear. Then just pull the little rectangles off. 

The picture above shows the bottom layer punched out to fit the Octatrack, Blofeld Desktop, and Mackie Mixer. Hang on to all those scraps as they com in handy. For example, I used Elmers Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive to glue Pick N Place scraps to create one more layer of padding on the bottom of the case for the Octatrack. I also sprayed adhesive on q-tips and used it to glue the thin run of foam along the top and for other miscellaneous padding.

In this next photo, you can see I've placed the Octatrack and Blfoeld Desktop into the case. Note that there are slots cut out for the blofeld knobs. It looks a little precarious at this point but adding the next layer tightens things up. Also note that I have Elektron's Protective Lid PL-2 on top of the Octatrack. The lid is expensive at $59, but I consider it a  MUST BUY for Elektron users who take their instruments out of the studio. I'm also a fan of the Elektron ECC-2 soft-sided carry case (which includes the lid) if you just want a way to carry your Elektron unit around by itself locally.

 Photo Aug 23, 1 43 15 PM

In this next photo, you'll see I dropped in the next layer of Pick N Pluck foam and this time I glued some extra scraps to put tension on the top of the blofeld where there are no knobs or LEDs which also ensures that there is not pressure on the knobs. I also inserted the Mackie 402VLZ3.

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 48 PM

I then carved down into the foam so I could add an Akai Professional MPK Mini Mk2 to the rig.

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 36 PM

I used some scraps to put a layer over the drum pads so the lid wouldn't crush the joystick. 

Photo Aug 23, 1 41 30 PM

When you button the case up, nothing moves at all! 

If you really mess things up and need to start over, or you want a different configuration of padding for a different rig, you can buy replacement foam on Amazon.



There of course an incredible number of choices for backpacks. Ultimately, you just need something you dig that will fit all your gear and still fit under the seat in front of you. I used to use a North Face Surge and last year switched to a consumer backpack - the Osprey Ozone 46. While there are many fine choices in DJ backpacks, I prefer the consumer backpacks so I can use them for things other than toting musical gear. In other words, they are lighter when you are doing other things but it's up to you to add padding to fit most musical journeys.

Carry the essentials to pull off a show in this bag - plus items to keep you going during the travel day.

  1. My laptop and power supply (which I use for visuals)
  2. Essential audio and power cables for the rig
  3. Any recorders you need to document the show like a GoPro, Zoom H2N.
  4. Flashlight
  5. Spare batteries for gear
  6. Spare audio adapters
  7. Any perscription meds, pain relievers, allergy pills, Bandaids...
  8. Phone charger
  9. Square or payment reader
  10. A few copies of your CDs
  11. Business cards
  12. myPower ALL Plus MP3450i Battery to charge my phone and run the Octatrack if need be
  13. Snacks in case the flight gets delayed (happens all the time of course)
  14. Nalgene OTF Water Bottle with locking lid. You can open and close it with one hand. Even if you  kick it over on stage you won't soak your cables or rig. Fill it up on the other side of security for the odd chance that you get stuck on a tarmac somewhere.

Checked Bag

If it's a quick in-and-out show, you might be able to fit your change of clothes and toothbrush in the backpack. If not you'll need to check a bag. I also use the checked bag for:

  1. Backup cables for the rig
  2. I sometimes bring stands in this bag like the Roland SS-PC1 Laptop Table
  3. If I can spare the weight, a Furman AC-215A power conditioner
  4. A stereo Hum Eliminator
  5. Merchandise
  6. Sometimes LED lights like a Simppar 56
  7. Clothes


MarkMosherMusic.com << Artist Site and Podcast

Electro-Music Festival New York is September 11-13 - Listen to Live Stream

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Electro-Music Festival New York is next week. I can't make it this year but it looks like another great lineup.

I first went to this festival in 2010 and have been 4 times total. This festival was a life changer for me as I went just as I was starting out as a solo electronic music artist (after 13 years of gigging in a rock band). I met so many amazing people and saw so many inspiring performances!  If you want to know what it's like read my show report from 2010.

For more information visit http://electro-music.com/event/

They are Live streaming the event. Listen here http://electro-music.com/radio/Note there is a chat room link top right on this page.

Mark Mosher

Flight-Friendly Hardware Synth Rig Part 1 - Switching to Hardware Rig for my Solo Set

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.

Photo Aug 24, 8 21 17 AM

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

Photo Aug 23, 1 44 27 PM

Part 1 - Mark Mosher Cinematic Electronic Live - Boulder Synthesizer Meetup August 11, 2015


This video is part 1 of a live cinematic electronica set I performed at the Boulder Synthesizer Meetup on August 11th 2015 at the Walnut room in Denver. In this video I'm performing both the music and the visuals. 


Part 1 - Mark Mosher Cinematic Electronic Live - Boulder Synthesizer Meetup August 11, 2015 from Mark Mosher on Vimeo.

Part 1 - Mark Mosher Cinematic Electronic Live - Boulder Syntheszier Meetup August 11, 2015 from Mark Mosher on Vimeo.

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.

Aug 11, 2015 Boulder Synthesizer Meetup: Custom Mobile Controllers with Langdon Crawford + Performing on Octatrack and Blofeld


I'm back from the (no)poem heartland tour which was great fun. I'll post more on the tour soon. 

Custom Mobile Controllers with Langdon Crawford

Meanwhile for you Denver/Boulder locals - I've cooked up another cool event for 317 strong member strong The Boulder Synthesizer Meetup. Come by tomorrow to see Langdon Crawford's talk. RSVP here http://www.meetup.com/The-Boulder-Synthesizer-Meetup/events/224425297

"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.

Note, you can pick up the 12 song album Fear Cannot Save Us for $7 over on Bandcamp. For behind-the-scenes on this album, check out my interview on Art + Music + Technology Podcast #23.


Intro to Working with Graphical Scores in Experimental Music


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 MaroonedThis 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 and Boulder Synthesizer Meetup member and presenter Darren Kramer).


 Below is a screen shot of score zoomed out. The score is  included in the digital booklet for Marooned when you download the album from Bandcamp.



For the upcoming (no)poem tour 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.


If you read my previous post  "(no)poem creative limitations: Modular/Looper/Max/Beatstep Meets Octatrack/Blofeld/Lemuryou'll know that we made the decision not to use laptops on this tour. One reason is we need to be able to both see the score, plus see each other's body language and performance. You can't see the score if you are staring at the computer screen man. 


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.

Intro to Creating and Loading Custom Wavetables into Waldorf Blofeld Synthesizer



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.


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. 


A popular and free app for drawing each wave within a wavetable is Kotró László Lehel's Waldorf Blofeld Wavetable Creator. He also makes the free and popular Waldorf Blofeld editor. These apps run on windows but members on the Blofeld Facebook forum indicate the apps run fine under Wine (https://www.winehq.org). 

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

  1. Select "F_TYPE" 5 which is Blofeld.
  2. Select the file
  3. Enter a name and press "RET" (return key)
  4. Enter Blofled Device ID (0 is the default)
  5. Enter the user slot you want to load the wavetable into betweeen 80-118.
  6. Press "RET"


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. 


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.


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.


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 :^)