In June, Sylvia and I traded-in our "Roland System-1m" ($600) for the "Behringer Neutron" ($300). It finally arrived last week.
There's a very good Review of the Neutron over at SonicState. Here's the link:
Because I learned Synthesizers the "old school" way, with "Patch Charts", I wanted to be sure there was one available. The User's Manual does have a handy Patch Chart on page 27 but I fine-tuned it just a bit for our purposes. I have included it below for anyone to Download.
If you've never used a Patch Chart, there are no real "rules" of how to draw-out and explain a Patch. So, for what it's worth, these are a few things I've learned over the years on how to write-out a Patch so you'll understand it years from now:
Music has been a part of the Earth / 3D experience for a VERY long time. It could be said that "Nature" itself was the first "Orchestra"… the first playing of "sounds", which, in turn, activated various Moods, Memories and Actions within the various Beings scattered around this amazing blue ball. Water droplets creating multi-textured Rhythms… The sonic variety of the Wind moving through the Leaves, Caves and other timbre-inspiring objects… all contribute to the character we've all come to know as Nature's songs.
When "Humans" began creating Music, they mostly picked-up "Acoustic" or "Synthetic" instruments. Think about it… A non-electric guitar is an "Acoustic" instrument. An electronic Synthesizer is a "Synthetic" instrument. Wind moving through the Leaves of a Tree and Water bubbling in a Brook are "Organic" instruments.
As Music evolved, Humans continued to experiment with various Styles of Music and, for "me", these boil-down to the following groupings (generally speaking):
As music-gear-technology evolved, Human Society has been gifted with some very powerful, very flexible Music-creation tools. These days, the simple Piano, Flute, Xylophone, Tuba, etc. can produce any type of sound. In fact, electronic Synthesizers can be Patched (setup) so they not only create "Music" without any Human interaction but that "Music" can also evolve (change) over Time AND it can have all the subtleties as though a "Human" were really "playing" it. However, this "ease of Music-creation at our fingertips", means ANYONE can create interesting Music. Today, even the family dog can create a musical masterpiece.
…and this is where our world is today… over-saturated with "Music". Some "good". Some "not so good". Some of it is "bad", but it makes it to the popular Listening Posts (radio, social media, etc.) Some of it is "absolutely great" but no one ever hears it.
In the "old days", there were "Talent Scouts" — people who would travel the country looking for talented people — Singers, Actors, Musicians, etc. If someone was exceptional, that company would bring them in for an Audition. If they "had what it takes", they were "usually" Signed to a Movie or Record company. If they "mostly" had what it takes, they may still be Signed but would be given some additional training, where they were lacking.
Today, however, the Music Industry is being crushed by the shear number of "new Songs" they receive every day. According to the information at the link at the bottom of this article, Music-site "Spotify" adds over 20,000 Songs to its Site each day!!! Not "20". Not" 200"… but TWENTY THOUSAND Songs!!! For a Musician or Song-Writer, this is very depressing. As you can see, even the major Record Producers have a difficult time getting their Artist's Songs heard by the masses.
So how does the "little guy" compete? How does ANYONE get their Music into the right places, so it will be "heard" and then, maybe, "purchased"? Although I don't have an answer for this, it's always a good idea to "follow your Heart" because, if you're in the Music business for the "money", you may want to find another career. As you can see, even if you're the next "Elvis" or "Adele", today's society is currently overwhelmed with Music.
FIND YOUR OWN VOICE
Being a Drummer and Synthesist, I do my best to look into new Music-Gear announcements, instrument techniques, etc. I've seen a lot of articles and videos on "how to create "that sound" in your favorite Song" or "how to play like your favorite Artist", etc. At the same time, society tells us that the Musicians and Songs, which "get noticed" or even "go viral" are the ones that "find their own style". So which is it?… Are we expected to sound like everyone else who came before us or are we supposed to follow our own Path?
When I was growing up, hearing those (now) old Rock Classics, I never thought:
No. Instead, I thought:
…but I never imagined that "copying" another Musician or their Songs would be my "goal"… my "pinnacle". I always wanted to create my owns Songs… to tell the world "my" message. To make a statement.
MAKE YOUR POINT AND MOVE ON
So, if you ever get the opportunity of creating a piece of Music, please GIVE IT A VOICE… make it say something. Time and again, when Sylvia and I are in Public Areas we hear Music which is "sonically" (melodically and harmonically) un-interesting AND the Lyrics will usually repeat… for EVER. In our opinion, if your Guitar Lick or Piano improvisation repeats more than 4 times, you're not being creative and you've lost the very short attention span of your Listeners… AND if your Lyrics repeat more then 4 times in a row, then you've lost your message — if your Song ever had one.
So, repeating an element of a Song is similar. Yes, you're trying to make a point with your Lyrics or Performance but you don't have to beat your Listeners over the head with an idea.
There's a Saying:
However, this isn't telling you to use fewer words that are "different" from each other. It means select each word carefully and allow each to contribute to the overall listening experience — your message. Think of the Notes you select for your Composition and the Words you choose for your Lyrics as the ingredients of a very tasteful meal… too few "interesting Notes" and your Words won't be supported by the Music. Too many repeated Words will sour the taste of that great Guitar or Piano solo we just heard.
LET THE MUSIC GUIDE YOU
I'm not saying you shouldn't play "Cover Tunes". Sometimes it can feel good to Perform a Song which was created by someone else. It can stir some good memories inside you or help you, as a Musician, make a little more money.
So what I'm saying is… listen to the Music. As you're sculpting your Song, listen carefully to what "IT" wants and needs… and pay attention to your own Feelings and Memories, as your Song comes to life. Allow your Song to guide you. If you want to test this, the next time you create a Song, make two of them. With the first one, listen to the Song and let it influence which Words, Notes, Rhythms and Textures you sprinkle into it… and keep your Logical Mind out of it. With the 2nd Song, let your Logical / Clever Mind loose. When both Songs are finished, play them for your family and friends. Don't tell them how you created them. You may even tell them "someone else" created them. Just to get their honest reactions.
Here's the link to the Spotify statistics:
I had been thinking about Alternative Tunings for Music for several weeks. I even did a lot of research to see if any of the current Eurorack, Modular Synthesizer Modules would allow me to actually pick my own "Frequencies".
Several weeks ago, I was thinking about the "A equals 440Hz" (Cycles-Per-Second, Frequency) and that some say "A" should really be set to 432-Hz.
As I was looking at those numbers, I noticed that they are "8" numbers apart from each other. Since I used to do some very basic programming, a few decades ago, my mind instantly thought there might be something to that relationship…
From there, I did something "thinking" and some "math" and settled on the number "32". Computers are based on multiples of "2", which are "zeros" and "ones". Home computers in the early 80s had 8-bit Processors, which is a multiple of "2". I settled on "32" because "2", "4", "8" and "16" Cycles were too close to each other for my note-building exercise. 32 seemed to be the smallest number of Cycles-Per-Second which the Human ear could distinguish a difference in Pitch AND it would take-up an entire Music Keyboard, just to have at least 2 "Octaves".
I left "A" at 448, as a starting point. I then "added" 32, to find higher Notes or "subtracted" 32, to find lower Notes. This gave me these Frequencies:
Since I couldn't find any "easy-to-use" Synthesizer Modules, which would allow me to enter the "Frequencies" I wanted, I did some testing. A few days ago, I used "Audacity" (audio manipulation software) to produce those 13-Tones. I was going to load them into Apple's "GarageBand" software, in order to move them around and stretch them, just to see if this new "Scale" would sound good… or not.
That quickly became a bit complicated so I stopped.
Today, Sylvia reminded me that our Korg Krome Keyboard offers Tunings and Scale creation. So I checked the Manual and turned it ON. It was a bit tricky and did take me a few hours but I was able to set those Frequencies.
So, other than "I just wasn't happy with what I was hearing", I began to wonder… "why"? Is it because those are simply Frequencies which work against each other or is it that my brain is programmed to identify certain sound combinations as "good" and others as "bad"?
Here's the link to the "Disting Mk4":
Here's the link to the "µTune":
Here's the link to the "Audacity" software:
In doing my 1st calculations, I took used the "Note-to-Frequency" Chart on this page:
I then plugged those numbers into the Frequency-Semitone calculator on this page:
Behringer has been making audio equipment and electronic musical instruments for many years. The few pieces of information Sylvia and I had heard about them was mostly from some of their unhappy customers, who let their complaints be known on various Forums.
Around 2015 or so, company Owner, Uli Behringer, commented about Moog's extremely high prices and said he could manufacture and sell similar Synthesizers for around $300.
Later, Behringer's Synthesizers, which were "copies" of popular Synths decades before, would become known as "Clones". The first "Clone" Behringer made was of Moog's famous "Mini Moog Model D". Granted it didn't have a Keyboard but it IS currently selling for $299! A few months later, Moog decided to release something "new". So they created the "Mini Moog Model D" and placed a Retail price of $3,500 on it!!!
The new Mini Moog does have a Keyboard and, although Moog added "MIDI" (digital technology, which the Behringer "Model D" also has), they added a few Patch Points (interconnection Jacks) for Control Voltage and other benefits when working with other Synthesizers. (The Behringer version also has MIDI and several Patch Points.)
Since that first Behringer Synth, they have created their very own, not "Cloned", Synthesizer called the "Deepmind 12". This one does have a Keyboard, has MANY more features than Moog's Mini Moog and Retails for just $1,000!!!
Several years ago, Behringer began building a new Factory in China. The manufacturing building will be about 3-MILLION SQUARE FEET in size!!!
A new, "Behringer original" Synthesizer which has been talked about since it was "leaked" in January 2018, is called: "Neutron". Although it doesn't have a Keyboard, it does have a very flexible set of features, a great sound and will Retail for $299!!! I told Sylvia, the Neutron needs to be on our Music Gear List.
Here's a link to an article on the new Behringer Factory:
Here's an older article, which provides a few more details:
Here's a link to a very good Review (video) of the Neutron:
The Review (in the link above) of the Neutron was done by Nick Batt of "SonicState". If you're not familiar with "SonicState", here's the direct link to their website:
Here's another Plexiglass item that Sylvia and I created a few months ago.
This "Drumstick Painting Box" started out as an Earring Display. A company was throwing it out, so we told them we could make something out of it.
"Plexiglass" / "Acrylic" is a very different type of material to work with. Whether it's "thin", as with the material on this Display Case, or "thick" like the pieces we used in our main shelving unit, this stuff is just not what I'm used to. Granted, I'm not very handy with "Power Tools" and barely know how to create things with "Hand Tools" but this clear plastic doesn't behave like "Wood" or "Metal". (Not that I know what I'm doing with those materials either.)
For this project, Sylvia and I used another Retail Display item — a chrome stand. I don't know its original purpose but it's heavy enough to be a Drumstick Holder, it's adjustable and it's chrome.
The "tray", holding the Drumsticks, was some type of "L-shaped", display shelf, which we modified slightly.
I want to share this because I couldn't find a solution to this problem online and thought others would like to know about it…
Quite a while ago, we purchased a "Tama Speed Cobra", single, Bass Drum pedal for my electronic drumset. Earlier this year, the felt pad on its Beater Head (see image on "left" below) had come unglued. In my opinion, this happened because of "poor design". I had positioned the felt pad so its point was making contact with the rubber, electronic, Bass Drum pad but there must have been enough "angled stress", while playing, to cause it to slide up and break-away from the glue holding it in place.
I never noticed when the felt pad initially came off. One day, though, I happened to look down and noticed that the hard-plastic Beater Head was now making direct contact with the rubber pad. This was not good. The rubber in that area was now indented and the hardness of the plastic and force of my playing could have damaged the Piezo Sensor inside the pad. It didn't but it could have.
Although I could have glued the felt pad back on, Sylvia and I thought it would simply detach itself again. So we decided to buy a replacement Beater. We bought the "Tama CB90F" (see image on "right" below).
This replacement Beater is sold just as you see it in this image:
I simply removed the old Beater and installed the new one.
Within a few minutes of playing, I noticed that the Beater Head had pivoted up — forcing its felt pad to no longer make contact with the drum pad. So I rotated the Beater Head back into position and played the pedal while watching the new Beater. Within just a few stokes, I saw the Beater Head turn upwards again. I tightened everything but this continued to happen.
I went online, to see if anyone else had this same problem and how they fixed it. Lots of people had the same issue but I could not find anyone who successfully solved this problem.
I then got out the old Beater and removed the Beater Head. I immediately noticed that the cylinder, which holds the Beater Head is "knurled" — there are "X" patterns etched into it. I then looked at the same portion of the new Beater and saw that it was shiny-smooth. It's no wonder why the new Beater Head won't stay in position. There's nothing for it to grip to.
So I swapped-out the Beater shafts… placing the "old" shaft on the "new" Beater. This solved the problem.
Here's the link to their product page:
Earlier this year, I had Posted several images and a video of the Synthesizer shelf Sylvia and I had created out of Plexiglass. Since then, I modified it a bit:
Since we still had more Plexiglass, and because we like the look of "clear" shelves and stands for our Synthesizers, Sylvia and I created a few more stands and dust covers a couple of months ago.
Here's a Slideshow of the photos showing the various shelves, stands and dust covers Sylvia and I made out of Plexiglass…
Today, Sylvia and I received 2 new Modules for the Eurorack Synthesizer we're creating.
After a lot of research, planning our budget, saving our money and talking it over, last Thursday, Sylvia and I bought 2 new Modules:
Granted, we eat fried potatoes for supper every night and a can of soup for Lunch, when we go to work, but I have no idea how we managed to "save" and "pay for" those items. I'm not really that good at this type of money-juggling. I have enough trouble remembering to deduct each day's purchases from our Checkbook. "Sylvia" is the financial Wizard in OUR family! I do my best to continually stay tuned-in to her energies and to act-on any suggestions she provides.
As for the timing of this purchase… THAT was also interesting… We bought these from "Detroit Modular" (see links above), which is located in Michigan. We ordered them Thursday morning and the expected delivery was "by Monday". (It was shipped through the Post Office.) Up until Friday night, their Tracking information showed that our package was still traveling through the various States, on its way to us, here, in North Carolina. When I checked their Tracking information this morning, Saturday, it showed that it was to be delivered "today"!
We used the website "Modular Grid", in order to learn about some of the Modules available and to create this Synthesizer using their free software.
This is a picture of our "Modular Grid" Synthesizer. It shows which Modules we currently have and where I placed them. (Of course, they can always be moved. If needed.)
Although we currently have 4 Modules, we don't enough Synthesizer elements to make a complete sound.
Right now, Sylvia and I have an Oscillator, Envelope Generator, a "MIDI-to-CV" converter (so we can play notes in this "Analog" Synth using our "Digital" keyboard) and a Multiple.
To complete the "building blocks", we still need a VCA and VCF.
What I can tell about these Modules, especially the new ones is…
In just testing the Envelope Generator, I had to use the Multiple several times. At one point, I used 3 of its sections and 10 of its 15 Patch-Points. More than once, today, I told Sylvia: "It's a good thing we bought this Multiple."
It wasn't just "a multiple". We did a lot of research, watched a few videos and read several pages of descriptions before deciding on this particular Module. It has:
As for the "Envelope Generator"…
I've been wanting us to have a "delayed Gate" feature in a Synthesizer for quite a while. We may still purchase a Module which only provides that feature but this A-143-2 Module not only has FOUR Envelope Generators, each can be Triggered (activate) separately from the others or Triggered when any of the others has completed its cycle.
I was able to create a 4-stage, one-after-the-other Envelope today. I was also able to create a looping waveshape. Sort of like a customized LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator).
Anyway, so far, we're finding that both Modules were well worth the money.
I've been wanting to fine-tune the image of the Double Helix Oscillator, that I used in the Patch Chart I created and, today, I finally got around to doing just that. This one is cleaner, more professional looking and contains less clutter… making it easier for everyone to indicate Knob and Switch settings as well as the Patch Cord connections routings.
So the updated Chart for this Pittsburgh Modular module is now in our "Downloads" area and is free to download.
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