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January 31, 2009

Oh, geeze... Another great i-pod ap!

As if there weren't enough fun toyz to play with, I happened to check out the ap store tonight and, on a whim, downloaded something called idrum. Now, if everything has to have a stinkin' "i" in front of it in order to be in the store, that's going to get old quick, but this application is the i-tits.

It's basically a groove box, something to make rhythm patterns with, and while there's plenty of those available for computers, this one is tons of fun, mainly because it's so easy to use. There are no instructions needed- and after several days of trying to understand my synth manual, this is a blessed relief.

There are little boxes, and inside the boxes are other little boxes, and inside those boxes are littler boxes. And they are different colors. And if there's something in the box, it makes a noise when the beat comes around. And you can pick what noise it makes.

And even better, you can step outside the box and trace with your finger where you want that noise to be in the stereo field. Live. Seamlessly.

It's about the coolest interface for mixing I've ever seen. And it cost me $.99. Here's my first attempt to use it- everything you hear was made using that program except for the lead guitar, which is a real lead guitar. Thank god, there's still a place for old dogs who can play the guitar...

The Stokers- Groove01.mp3 or The Stokers- Groove01.ogg


And... no Sakata!


 
January 30, 2009

Sean's Rig

Here's a great shot- a view from the driver's seat, from Sean from Big House. Up top there is a Korg Trinity and on the bottom is a Kurzweil K2661, like the one I'm trying to learn to operate. Follow the link to see a nice big version of this photo, let me know if you can figure out what music is on the music stand.

I bought one of these synthesizers because it can emulate the operation of a Hammond organ, with a set of sliding controls that allow you to change the tone of the thing in real time, more or less. You can hear how well that works on the song Prime the Pump, just below, although I've got to admit that I don't have a clue yet how to use this thing. The manual for it is probably the most obtuse (in the sense of "indirect or circuitious") piece of literature I've ever read.

And I'm a reader, boy. I actually enjoy reading scientific journals, and dense technical manuals, and long philosophical excursions... but this manual beats them all. It seems to have been written by seven different people, each given a particular paragraph in sequence, but not allowed to read what anyone else had written. It doesn't help that Kurzweil felt it necessary to name everything differently from other manufacturers (although this is common in synth world...), so that "patches" or "presets" are "programs" and "filters" are "FUN". Seriously, it's maddening.

But the thing sounds amazing! I've had a Kurzweil digital piano for years and have never gotten tired of the sound of it, unlike every other digital piano I've ever heard, which usually stay interesting for about 20 minutes. I guess circuitiousness in the manual is the price to pay for that sound.



 
January 27, 2009

So long, Mr. Updike.

Hey, I came across a song I'd written years ago and never finished because my lyrics sucked. But the tracks were pretty nice, and I now have something like a Hammond organ, so who needs lyrics?

The Stokers- Prime The Pump.mp3 or The Stokers- Prime The Pump.ogg


Some of it is bullshit... but hey, that Sakata is in there too!



 
January 25, 2009

Tonight I was checking out Bloom with a guitar accompaniment. I wasn't sure how this would work out, it seemed that it would be hard to play guitar with that much space, but it wasn't so bad. An E-Bow might be nice, or an Echoplex.

The most fun part was playing along with Robot Eno, the sequence of notes from the i-pod based on parameters set by the real Eno. Sometimes Robot Eno led and I followed, sometimes Robot Eno followed me.

I also threw some Sakata drums into the mix. Same beat as last one, only slowed down. Oddly enough, it's just about the same tempo as All I Need by Radiohead. Maybe it's some sort of ambience tempo? Does ambience actually have a tempo?

The Stokers- Bloom02.mp3 or The Stokers- Bloom02.ogg


Again, the basic bed of it is that Eno ap Bloom, with some of that MiniSynth in there too.



 
January 23, 2009

If you're new to Steam Powered there are just two things you need to know. Number one is that there are hundreds more songs available to people who sponsor the studio.

Number two is that sponsorship is the very best way to pay for the music you enjoy. It's simple, it's direct, and it just makes sense. Welcome to the future!



 
January 22, 2009

DPM48

Now computers and i-pods are all well and good, but there used to be other ways to make music. My Sakata DPM 48 was quite a bargain back in 1987, considering that it was one of the few drum machines with digital samples. But it stopped working a while back, and I thought it was historical.

Come to find out that there were watch batteries in the RAM module that needed replacement. Did that, and it's good as new. The sounds are great!

So here's a new song done the way we used to do.

The_Stokers_Saka1.mp3  or  The_Stokers_Saka1.ogg



 
January 21, 2009

Who are the most memorable people from centuries past? I was thinking of this the other night, watching a special about Einstein. It isn't hard to imagine that Einstein and Hitler will be the two most memorable people from the 20th century. And that's an interesting pair.

What about the century before that? And the one before that? I don't know much about history, and I'm not interested in making a judgement about the greatest or most important- I'm interested in who will be remembered, for whatever fool reason. Could be Napoleon will be remembered, not as a statesman or warrior, but because when people go crazy, they think they're Napoleon and are always shown with a funny hat and their hand in their shirt, cross-eyed with their tongue sticking out.

So in that sense, who is the most memorable from the past? For some centuries it's a lot easier than for others. I mean, who did anything memorable from 900 to 999? Add your comment, I'll be running the names through Google to get an idea how memorable people are. (Napoleon just got 42,800,000 hits)



 
January 17, 2009

Here's a song made using nothing but the i-pod and some string.

The Stokers- Bloom01.mp3


The basic bed of it is that Eno ap Bloom, with some of that MiniSynth and PocketGuitar in there too, as promised. I was hoping to get this posted by midnight- well I nearly made it.


 
January 16, 2009

I've been doing repairs and inventory around here. You know those darn insurance people, they'd like detailed lists of contents in case of loss. And it isn't like I'm planning on having any losses, but that's just the thing about insurance, innit?

This was prompted by my getting an i-pod Touch, which makes it really super easy to record things like serial numbers while flat on your back under a piano or while peering into the back of an amp with a flashlight. And because the iOwn software backs up my list on the web somewhere, I should only have the dreadful chore of entering this information once. Knock wood.

Yes, it's all about the pod lately. There's a new application from Brian Eno called Bloom (yes... yes...) that lets you make ambient sounds (thanks, Mr. DiLiberto!), and between that and MiniSynth and PocketGuitar I'm sure you'll be hearing what that sounds like, for better or worse, soon.

But I've got to get back to work one of these days. I'm in the middle of the Gadjos thing, and I have a ways to go with Kregger's music, and Jeff Gibble has applied some nice leads to a Stokers tune that I need to listen to carefully, so stay tuned!

Anyway, here's a new featured song, from those mad skilz Liberation Fronters...



 
January 09, 2009

playboys by Bruce

Ah. There.

(photo: Bruce Campbell)

Visit the Gadjo's MySpace page for a sample of the latest thing...



 
January 07, 2009

playboys phone

Scott texts Joe: wher r u

We had a great time on Sunday. Sadly, I have very few pictures, but I suspect that many exist.



 
January 04, 2009

Joy of Joys (not).

I've used several different computers over the years to manage this website, and different software to write the code for the pages and to make the mp3 and ogg files, and to edit the graphics, and to upload the files to the host site(s)...

None of it by itself has been too tough- a little frustrating at times, but there's plenty of help out there on the web. But yesterday and today I have been switching everything over to a new(er) computer, and this has been a chore. I'd rather be making music (which I hope to be doing here in a couple of hours).

So this post is basically a test of the new(er) computer and software install, just to see if I can finally consign that noisy old PII heap to the pile of old computers that I can't seem to part with...

(later) That seems to have worked! Here's a partial list of stuff I use, just to plug it.

Host: Site Ground
ftp software: Smart ftp
Page editing: 1st Page
Song editing: Gold Wave
ogg encoding: OggDropXPd
text editing: NoteTab Lite

That's most of it. I like good software, but as you can tell, I don't care much about the hardware it runs on. This computer is running Windows XP (the old one ran Windows 2000). For a few years there I had a good deal going- I would simply transfer the hard drive from one machine to the next, and never have to re-install all this software and fuss with settings and all that guff. But then SATA drives came along and I couldn't do that anymore. Maybe this setup will last a few years...



 
January 02, 2009

Thanks to Burt and Dr. D, the new year was bracketed with sponsorships! Rather than reset the Sponsometer like last year it's going to register cumulative "steam pressure" from now on.

And theres's another Gadjo Playboys session planned for Sunday... so how about one of their songs featured for the new year?



 
January 01, 2009

Here's a peek behind the curtain- some stats for the site from December '08.

visits

Visits is unique daily visitors, excluding "robots". Pages is the number of different web pages those visitors visited on the site. Hits is the number of various files requested by those visitors (since there are many different graphics files on the home page, each visit here causes many hits as the page downloads). Bandwidth is the number of bytes transferred.

This isn't so bad, I think. Naturally I'd love to have thousands of visits a day, but an average of 27.35 per day is OK with me for now. Not so long ago it was fewer than 10.

hits

And here are the different files transferred in December. Pretty straight-forward- the top one has no name, but that's the homepage. The "Entry" stat is for the number of times this file was hit directly from some external referrer, like a bookmark or a link in an email. The "Exit" stat is the number of times people left the site after hitting this file, without hitting another page on site. Those numbers say a lot about visitors and what they're after.

For example, Orgy of Hate was hit 118 times last month, with all but four of those hits coming from somewhere off site. That means that there's a direct link to the song from another site, that people have the song bookmarked in thier browser or music player, or that people are sharing the link via email. Or some combination of all of the above. It could be one person playing it 114 times in one month, but I think that's unlikely.

Season of Joy has a lot of plays, but no links from offsite. So that means all of those plays came from the link on the Steam Powered Studio homepage. It's all pretty geeky, I know, but this is important information that I can use to promote songs!



 
Featured Song:

#260
The Old Time Liberation Front
Feeder Mice Jig


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Repairing a Kurzweil piano key.



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