A synth tech, technique and travelogue blog by synthesist Mark Mosher. He is a composer, producer, electronic musician, and multimedia artist from Boulder, CO. He releases and performs cinematic electronic, experimental, dark ambient, dark techno, musique concrète, and glitch music.
Heads up, Ableton just released a free set of Max for Live devices called CV Tools. In this post I’ll offer some info on overview videos, a summary mind map I made to give you a one-page perspective on all this, links to a collection of videos just released on Moog’s Demo Library YouTube Channel, and lastly a link for more info and how to get CV Tools.
My piece was inspired by the movie “War Games”. I also use max for live and Isotonik Studios Tetriq sequencer to create arpeggios with Tetris and to map a wireless Xbox Controller for crowd interaction. Wait for the big finish at the end from another fav movie – haha.
“Mark asked us to embrace “arcade sounds” in our mini-sets. I captured a 4 minute “video game sounds trivia recording” that covered 20 classic game sounds into “Audio Stretch” on my iPad. I scrubbed around that file for 12 minutes recording into “Audio Share”. I cut that recording into 6 two minute files and opened them in “Samplr”. My set was about improvising with those files.” http://www.jadeane.com
Mike Metlay’s set featured some great video classic game sounds.
J.L. Kane played a fun set set featuring some classic game songs and beats. He also donned my DEVO Energy dome for part of his set. Note we used the dome as a bowl for ticket drawings.
Thanks Again & Stay Tuned for Event #72
It’s hard to believe it’s been 7 years since I founded the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup. Since then we’ve grown to over 800 members all along the Front Range surrounding the Boulder and Denver area, won “Best Music Meetup in 2017 by Westword Magazine, and have hosted 70 events!
The Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup is where synth enthusiasts of all levels meet to share there passion for synths, network, get inspired, get hands-on with gear, tell people about projects, and find collaborators. It is synth technology agnostic and features broad variety of rotating presentation topics and experiences each meetup – most presentations given by members themselves. Many meetups feature a performance by a meetup member.
In this post I’m going to offer some info on our upcoming 7th Anniversary event.
I’m working on a follow-up post on the origins of the meetup. So if you want to know how first Denver Ableton User Group, a Synthtopia Post, a Laurie Anderson commencement speech, and a Tom Hodgkinson book lead to the creation of the meetup stay tuned or subscribe to my blog to get email notification for future posts :^)
7th Anniversary Party Tuesday July 9th at Tilt Pinball Arcade in Louisville
In celebration of the 7th anniversary of the meetup I’m very excited to announce we’ll be meeting at the amazing Tilt Pinball on July 9th from 7-10PM. Yes that’s right it’s the return to the city of Louisville where it all began 7 years ago!
#71 – Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup 7th Birthday Party at Tilt
Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019, 7:00 PM
Tilt Pinball 640 Main St Ste B Louisville, CO
39 Synth Geeks Attending
In celebration of the 7th anniversary of the meetup I’m very excited to announce we’ll be meeting at the amazing Tilt Pinball. Yes that’s right it’s the return to the city of Louisville where it all began 7 years ago! This event format is a party focusing on mingling in the main arcade and bar with some giveaways and a short synth performance so no…
This event format is a party focusing on mingling in the main arcade and bar with some giveaways and some short synth performances featuring arcade and video game sounds by Dino J.A. Deane, Mike Metlay, J.L. Kane, and yours truly.
We’ll be doing some drawings for giveaways at next Tuesday’s meetup. A Huge thanks to Isotonik Studios for providing 3 copies of Arcade Series Ultimate Max for Live sequencer Packs for drawings.
“Derezzed (Mile High Edit)” was really an illustration of the show concept I designed and performed from 2010-2015. While that show was performed with all original music I also thought it would be fun to do a cover with the same show design – because – well I love Daft Punk. So let’s start with that…
“Derezzed (Mile High Edit)”
I re-sequenced the song from scratch (no samples for the original were used). I performed the music and visual live in a single take with no edits.
Derezzed (Mile High Edit) - YouTube
My rig at the time was Ableton Live, Percussa AudioCubes, Moog Etherwave Theremin Plus, and Tenori-On sending MIDI notes to an Ableton Rack with VSTs. I used the Machine to control the arrangement in Ableton on-the-fly and to live sequencing the parts I wasn’t playing live as well trigger clips in Live to automate changes in Resolume. The AudioCubes were used to trigger and control effects through gestures, as well as add 4 more dimensions of gestural control for effects for the Theremin. I used the Tenori-on to improvise a lead :^) More on all this below…
Background & Show Design
I created the show concept in support of my original alien invasion sci-fi theme concept albums Reboot, I Hear Your Signals, and – at the time – the forthcoming Fear Cannot Save Us.
Note: These albums are available on Spotify, Apple Music and most other outlets. The albums are free “name your price” on Bandcamp.
My design goal was to have the audience more easily relate to what I was doing with a complex and abstract rig by incorporating controllers that offered real-time visual feedback. This would allow them to correlate what I was doing with what they were hearing from the speakers. As the show evolved I amplified this further with projected visuals with real-time FX using only live camera input.
Visually the show design was a inspired in part by Tron, and John Carpenter’s “They Live”. I also used additional lighting to create shadows inspired by German expressionism films like “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari“.
Here is an example of a live performance. More videos from shows at the bottom of the post.
Mark Mosher Performing "New Heart Beating" Live at Electro-Music Asheville 2014 Festival - YouTube
Mark Mosher Performing “New Heart Beating” Live at Electro-Music Asheville 2014 Festival
Here is a rundown of how it all worked.
Ableton Live Suite
Logitech C920 Web Cam
Native Instruments Maschine (I’ve since switched to Push)
Moog Etherwave Theremin Plus
Novation Remote SL 25 MKII (not used in this shoot but used in most shows)
At the center of this entire rig was Ableton Live. Here is a short video on what I was using Live for at the time.
Ableton was used to host virtual instruments, do MIDI mapping for all the various controller, for live arrangement of for MIDI sequencing playback for parts I wasn’t playing live, and dummy clips were used to automate lights on the AudioCubes and controlling and automating Resolume for visuals.
Evolution Through Iteration
The evolved quite a bit throughout the years. As time went on the show became more complex and rich for the audience while I simultaneously worked to reduce complexity on the rig side.
For example when I shot the Derezzed video, I was using two laptops, one for music, one for visuals. As processors got faster I got both Ableton and Resoume running on one system with virtual MIDI ports. It was cable hell!
Cable hell period of the show. Photo taken during “Derezzed” shoot.
By the end of the show run I upgraded to wireless AudioCubes thanks to the ongoing development of the cubes by Percussa. I also replaced the Maschine with Push when it released and then with Push 2 when it released. As time went on I was able to get the show running on one laptop instead of 2.
Select List of Performances
It was a really cool show and it was really fun to perform it out and was well received. Here are some of events where I performed the show.
The University of Denver’s EMAD Program, Inaugural Black Box performance and talk back
University of Colorado School of Music, Artist for Ableton University Tour
Dairy Center for the Performing Arts
The Art Institute of California/Sunnyvale
The Microsoft Store, Denver
Electro-Music Festival in NY; Ashville, NC, Indianapolis, IN
Max for Live is an incredibly helpful solution that allows you to further customize and extend Ableton Live. While you can use it as a development tool, many people I’ve bumped into don’t realize it’s also extremely useful to artists who don’t develop.
For example, I’ve been using it for years now to use Ableton Live itself more like a modular and to extend Live through both free and commercial Max for Live devices from Ableton and third parties.
As Max for Live is a bit misunderstood so I wanted to spread the word about a video I discovered via Darwin’s Grosse’s “All Things Modular” Blog, It’s ELPHNT‘s YouTube channel and the videos covers about all sorts of use cases for non-developers.
A new live video series by Matthew Hodson (MATTHS) on the Percussa SSP Eurorack Module began on June 16th, 2019. the live stream/video is broadcasted on YouTube Live on Sunday’s at 6pm UK time (11am MST).
Jump in the chat room as Matthew will be joined by Bert Schiettecatte, Percussa’s founder and lead engineer/designer, who will be there to answer questions about the SSP as the live stream unfolds.
The series is a live stream hosted by Matthew himself, where he will share his perspective on integrating the SSP into a professional music production context. The series will consist of multiple in-depth videos highlighting everything the SSP is capable of: sampling, granular and wavetable synthesis, external and internal CV modulation, MIDI control and CV generation, sequencing, effects processing, multichannel recording, FM and traditional subtractive synthesis. The videos will also cover polyphonic and multitimbral patch design. Each video will focus on a different aspect of the SSP.
The first two episodes are on YouTube. I’ve watched the first and was in the live stream chat room for the second one and thought it the series was a great way to both learn how the Percussa SSP works, what it sounds like, and how to create with it.
Percussa SSP Eurorack Module Part 1 Livestream (COME PATCH WITH ME 11) - YouTube
Percussa SSP Eurorack Module Part 2 Livestream (COME PATCH WITH ME 12) - YouTube
About Percussa and the SSP
Percussa makes hardware and software for forward-thinking professional musicians, sound designers and artists, since 2004. Percussa is known for its award winning AudioCubes product, a wireless patching and performance interface, Synthor System 8, a wireless digital modular synthesis system, and the Super Signal Processor (SSP) eurorack module, a high-end DSP module, modular-in-a-module and multichannel recorder/sampler, featuring 16 inputs and 8 outputs, at 32 bit resolution, supporting sample rates up to 192kHz.
You can find the Percussa SSP Quick start manualhere.
For the latest information, software updates, and examples, please check out the Percussa forum.
About Matthew Hodson (MATTHS)
Acclaimed electronic producer Matthew Hodson, brings dynamic and intense productions, characterised for the controlled fusion of both ambient and aggressive electronica under the name of MATTHS. Recent MATTHS performances include opening for Wire; supporting Alex Banks (Monkeytown Records), Ulrich Schnauss and Rival Consoles (Erased Tapes). MATTHS has worked with the original BBC Radiophonic Workshop on their new material at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios. In May, MATTHS also played 2 shows at the Superbooth Festival in Berlin.
Chris and Rudi discuss Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” one minute at a time. They are occasionally joined by guests from other movie-by-minutes podcasts, as well as film enthusiasts, musicians, and other deep thinkers.
When Chris told me which minute we were going to discuss I was super excited as it’s one of my favorite parts of the film. Use the links below to tune in and listen to hear us geek out hard on science fiction, film, sound design, and visual effects! I also talk about how to use modern visual software to approximate some of the star gate effects. Show notes below that.
Earlier today my go to synth news site Synthtopia published a post about the new Ableton Learning Synths site… ” Today, Ableton quietly launched Learning Synths, a new website that teaches the fundamentals of synthesis in an interactive way.”
It’s an interactive media site called Learning Synths. You can use the site right from within their browser on your computer or mobile device.
I spent some time poking around in the site and feel it’s a great site for students or up -and-coming musicians and producers who want to learn more about synthesis so I wanted to also do a post to spread the word.
I also wanted to do this post to share a mind map I made from the course menu (hamburger top right) which illustrates the comprehensive the site content.
Synthesizers are at the foundation of many different kinds of music. They’re musical instruments that can make a huge range of sounds. But they can be hard to understand.
Learning Synths is a new, interactive website that puts a powerful but easy-to-learn synthesizer right in your web browser. It’s free, sounds great, and works on any internet-connected device. Best of all, it comes with its own step-by-step lessons so you can explore and learn the fundamentals of synthesis at your own pace.
The lessons in Learning Synths start with the very basics, so they’re perfect even if you’ve never used a synthesizer before. Or dive right into sound design with a rich-sounding instrument that’s built for exploration and play.
Outline in Mind Map Form
The course is quite interactive and comprehensive as you can see from the mindmeister mind map of the site outline I created below.