Mowing

Finally started mowing through some work I’ve had on the back burner.

CM_CardboardBox_1crop_Feet400

More in the near future.

Music in the margins

Having all kinds of fun with music these days.

Dim, that’s Dana and I just put out our Druid Queen collection. Eight songs that refused to fade from the few megatrickles we have left.

[iframe]<iframe style=”border: 0; width: 100%; height: 120px;” src=”http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2635856117/size=medium/bgcol=333333/linkcol=0f91ff/transparent=true/” seamless><a href=”http://dimsongs.bandcamp.com/album/druid-queen”>Druid Queen by Dim</a></iframe>[/iframe]

 

And Quadra Nixx is busy putting together tracks for a forth coming collection of originals +. Marc Jackson, Jon Young, Jan Fields, Jack Perry and myself making that noise. Here we are back in the day.

 

Malleable Memory

I finally got a power cord for the KX88. And I hooked it up to the old Proteus.

I had avoided playing on it because I didn’t want to torture myself. There is something grossly unsatisfying about playing a silent keyboard. So with everything hooked up I started plunking, but there was no sound. Which I’m going to call a good thing. Why? Because I learned something about myself. I remember magically. I improve on reality more the further I am away from it.

Without sound, the KX88 keys felt heavy and mushy. Like those on the Akai MPK88, a keyboard which I had rejected when I had first played it. After correcting the Midi channel communication the sound came out beautifully and the keys suddenly felt more responsive. This was a bit of a shock and a joke on me. I have been longing for the return of my KX88, and now I find that my hands may have moved on. I played on a Roland RD-700NX and it felt like a piano, with a very similar resistance and response; reminiscent of a dry Steinway, like one in a practice hall where humidity and temperature are controlled. The Roland action was lustworthy, but I’m not sure if I would find it  a fuller experience or if Yamaha has somehow balanced the essential synergy between tactile feedback and sound response. And, I’ve decided not to worry about it.

The KX88 takes a heavier hand and will help me develop strength and technique that will hopefully translate the a quicker, lighter board in the future. Next I’m going to try out the Kurzweil 2500/2600/PC3K8 series and the Korg KronosX.

Candy, Candy.

KX88

Today I took delivery of my (new to me) midi keyboard controller.

KX88

I had one before, but lost it in a fire. This one is so clean and unblemished, like it just came off the showroom floor. Of course there’s dust in the crevices, but the keys are aligned, the button membrane is free of gouges, and I can’t test it out because it came with the wrong power cord.

This last detail would detract from my day, except that I just found my favorite midi controller, that I have been searching for since the day I lost my other one, and it’s in my studio awaiting sonic adventure.

More later…

Dubba Kick

There I was lying in bed. It was late and I was only just able to talk myself into going to bed. Right then, an idea occurred to me. What if I could re-voice the hi-hat pedal to become a second kick drum pedal on the SD9K. Then I triumphantly went to sleep.

Years ago I would have gotten up as soon as the idea struck me and started testing the hypothesis, but some quiet wisdom (exhaustion) counselled me to get my sleep. Impulse drive disengaged.

This morning I got up and started pushing buttons on the SD9K controller box. I chose a User Kit to edit. Called up the edit function, set my kick to ‘maple 24’. Called up the hi-hat pedal and edited it to trigger the ‘maple 24’. And Boom, or perhaps I should say Boom Boom.

Boom Boom, Boom BaDoom, Boom BaDoom BaDoom, Boom BaDoom BaDoom BaDoom, BaDoom Dooma Dooma Doom, Doom Dooma Dooma Dooma Dooma Dooma Dooma Dooma Dooma Dooma Dooma…

Guess I got carried away. But it worked. And the hi-hat pedal still closes the hi-hat, so with a bit of finess I don’t have to change patches to play an open/closed hi-hat pattern. I just use a calmer foot to do it, because my big foot goes Boom.

Z-key 88

Zkey88_bw

This is my review of the CME Z-key 88. My previous post should give you a sense of the build quality of this instrument. And while it’s possible for someone to destroy any instrument, this one makes it easier. The internal connections are engineered a little on the light side. I suspect it is all meant for quick assembly, but it falls below the curve of what is acceptable. I love the spartan design. The clean lines and uncluttered control surface immediately caught my eye, and played into my aesthetic for simple function. It seemed like a steal at one seventh of its MSRP, but clearly it is over priced as a retail item. That being said the savvy DIYer could soon have a fun box available on the used market. And these guys will hit the used market sooner than others.

What is the target audience for this machine? I think it is meant to appeal to home recordists who are moving up from the M-audio Keyrig 49, or similar controllers. People who don’t want full DAW control but are tired of the octave limitations of the smaller keyboards. The look of the Z-key series fits nicely into a home studio, and offers the appearance of a full piano keys.

The promo material touts a new technology called Zenith, that is alleged to have the feel of a standard piano keyboard. No. This keyboard feels much more like a Keyrig 49 than a Steinway. I was going to say it feels more like a little Christmas organ  (the kind with a little electric bellows, that kind of wheezes out notes), but that would’ve been more for effect since I can’t really remember the feel. It’s been a while.

Why would anyone want one of these? Here’s why. It offers larger keys than the standard minimal controller. There is some slight weight to it. There are seven octaves immediately available, (it’s fun to stretch two arms out over the playing surface). And it is fast. The action is faster than many of the more professional true weighted keyboard. I guess less weight equals quicker movement. Yamahas seem piano like (but not as wooden as say a Steinway – which is lighter beneath the finger and heavier toward the hammer), Rolands are a bit thicker, heavier; concrete. The Zkey is not in the weighted class, but it is a fun hybrid and the adaptable player could find it a gas to play.

Look for used ones. The retail price is laughable.

Black and White

Got home found a box on the deck. Knew what it was. Early. Took out my knife, cut open the box; styrofoam peanuts. Dove in and came up with a 7 octave keyboard. Glee. Pulled it out set it on the table. Gloom. The pitch bend wheel was gone; punched into the machine, but I could see it. When you buy “as is” off Ebay what do you expect. Well, I expected it to look like the photo. The one with an intact pitch wheel. Flashlight spilunking. Doom. This probably means it won’t function at all. Plug it into USB. Lights flash on. Hope. Call up music program, depress keys. Sound comes pouring out. It works. Change gears.

Disassembly was a delicate task. Best to go slow when you don’t know the terrain. Forty screws later. Oh, the screws they used were too small. I go buy bigger ones. Reattach pitch bend wheel (two screws). Start reassembly. 40, 39, 38, 37, … 2, 1. Test keys. Some notes hang. Note Offs not recognized. First the G above middle C. Then that self corrects, then A,A#,and B one octave above. Then B two octaves below. Waste of time and money. Grrr. Continue reassembly anyway. Last screw. Set keyboard in another position; in doing so I had to change to a longer USB cable. Works perfectly. IT WAS THE DAMNED USB CABLE. What a bargain, how brilliant I am.

It’s bedtime +. I’ll review the keyboard later.

STAHP!

Sometimes you just have to not go forward. But when it’s something you love to do; doesn’t that mean something is wrong. Yes, it means that the time is wrong. But can’t you push through. Yes, but will you end up with the truest expression or will you end up just finished. You have to take a quick inventory of your energies and experiences in the past, then determine whether to push, but when you know, why not relax and gather your energies for a dance with the muse.

If you want to push; spend the time practicing a new technique or learning something new. Or give yourself permission to vegetate.

Boom Boom Ratatat Crash

I just got a new (to me) set of drums. Not real drums. These are quiet Simmons SD9K drums. And that’s exactly what I needed. No grumpy cat neighbors looking displeased at my existence, at least for keeping them up all night. Now if I just had the skill to play them. Nah, the hell with that, let me just beat on ’em.

First Broken String

And I mean first. I’ve been playing guitar for at least twenty years and I just broke my first string. I was wailing into a full bend when “thwonk”, my B string broke. I’ve known this to be a disaster for other players. Once in the wilds of Canada, while adjusting a loose fret on a thirty dollar Kay guitar (the thing was as big as a boat), a guitarist friend broke a string right in the middle. That meant a trip to Ottawa, for a string! Of course there are the stage breaks. When you have to go to the back-up guitar. That can kill the mood of the song, sometimes the whole show.

But my little break was a symbol of joyful exuberance, and I’m taking it as a call from the guitar for a fret job, which it needs. Maybe I’ll get them dressed too.