Steam Powered Studio
February 25, 2010

Haloscan really is gone at last! I'm sure many of us will remember it fondly...

OK, so it's very windy out now. My absentee neighbor's ice-damaged rain gutter is swinging around like mad. I reckon it'll tear itself loose sometime tonight. I tried to get a recording of the ice-fall that ripped it loose in the first place but missed the event. Maybe I'll go for this crash...

Last night Marietta was a hotbed of musical talent, oh boy! It was good seeing Maya again- and Kregger's band was playing too. The Sporting Hill Ramblers may be sporting a new member, I don't know...

I'm real excited about fonts, myself. I chust discovered House Industries' website. Man, can they do fonts! (they've even got one called simian)

house industries

I would like some for my place, but they're sort of pricy. Maybe for Christmas?

Well that's the latest, except I may be getting to try out one of Tom Tonon's pitch-bend accordions. That will be fun to work with. And there's going to be a new (possibly final) mix of Still Makin' Sunshine one of these days- Craig and I sat down and critiqued a couple of options t'other night. And of course, there's more from Ronnie and from Ralph to come. Stay tuned in as always... and go here if you need to make a comment.
music catalogue
February 18, 2010

I hated the bloat with that Disqus commenting system- and the name was pretty bad too. So, see ya!

Let's try this- if you have a comment about Steam Powered Studio, go to this site and find a spot to make it. (although I see Haloscan is still working.)

studio swag
February 14, 2010


OK, now this is what I'm talking about. I set up my recorder this sunny afternoon, hoping by god that all these icicles on my roof would go crashing down two stories and smash upon the ice below, making a tremendous and un-reproducable noise. Well, they didn't feel obliged to do so- except for one or two little icicles, apparently...

Ice Fall

It's a .wav file, but a small one...
About the Studio
February 20, 2010

There's a new featured song- one I recorded a couple years back called What Was The Point. At that time I wasn't sure how much I liked the last "verse", which consists of a few spoken phrases looped and layered on top of each other. But today I was listening to a bunch of old Wilco stuff. I went looking for my song Faith just to compare the sounds on it (one thing you must say for Wilco, the sounds they record are rich and beautiful). I didn't find Faith, but I came across What Was The Point and threw that in for a listen.

I believe it stands up pretty well- the sort of song that could have been on Summerteeth. If I was Jeff Tweedy. And if Summerteeth wasn't perfect just the way it is.

Speaking of those guys, be sure to visit their website and have a look at The Loft. This is a wide-screen photo that you can zoom into far enough to read the titles of the books on the bookshelves. It's Wilco's Steam Powered Studio, only it's upstairs and has lots more guitars in it... (my god, look at this patchbay!)

Wilco patchbay

February 15, 2010

I am still not finding a decent comment system. I like the one Blogger has- but I don't want to host my site there just to use that feature. What I'm thinking is, I might put a link on this page to a blog over there.

I would then be at their mercy as to ads and archives and such. Well, go have a look. I hope that the comments are turned on over there...
February 08, 2010

I have a recording as a result of my screwing around with the Kurzweil. Call it an MP3 by Midnight production- some fake jazz, First Light of Morning

(I haen't figured out how to get those comments working yet!)

February 06, 2010

Sometime soon the old Haloscan commenting system is going to go away. This means that all the old comments will probably vanish. What do you want for free, right?

So now I'm installing a new free comment system. I think you may have to register to use it, but you can use your Facebook identity, or your Yahoo ID, or your Twitter ID if you have any of those. We'll give 'er a shot.

February 05, 2010

This Ralph Toro project is just nuts. I've got folders within folders of different versions of Toro songs- some longer, some shorter, some with different titles, some with different eq... I am posting up the ones that I like best.

I'm following up the last featured Toro song with another one- this one has some history. Ralph recorded this, and got a mix of it, then kept cutting it down and cutting it down until all that he had left was one minute from the middle. Now, I can totally relate to this. If your eye offends you, pluck it out, right? But one of the main reasons there is a Steam Powered Studio is that I feel that many people make perfectly fine and interesting music- they just may not recognize (or appreciate) what it is that they do.

So I've rescued a longer version of Not Anymore than Ralph ended up with. It's the featured song. It's the guitar slinger side of Ralph, and there's an intriguing female harmony on the chorus that I haven't heard in any other Toro song. This is the longest version I have. The structure is a little odd, and this is probably why Ralph kept chopping away at it, but as you know by now, I like the odd song structures. There's a nice lead and some interesting changes in the middle, but somehow he got the scissors to the ending...

February 01, 2010


February 26, 2010

I've decided to really break this page.

Things will get better, maybe.

Just don't expect them to line up.

Featured Song
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February 19, 2010

Mixing is so weird. One of the reasons this is the audio workshop and not the audio factory is that mixing is so weird.

February 04, 2010

There's a new kid in town.


I have been woodshedding with the Kurzweil K2661 lately. It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I was trying to record with it and it started making terrible noises. I thought to myself here this thing is broken now, and I haven't even learned how to use it! That was what I thought, and it was true, because it's possible to play the thing without having the slightest clue how it works.

I bought this particular synth because it can make Hammond organ noises. Not only does it have a specialised system of generating the sound of a B-3, it has slider controls which act like drawbars. One thing I like doing on a Hammond is messing around with the drawbars during a song, so I got that with this unit. But it can do a whole lot more than just make Hammond sounds, and that's what I'm trying to learn about now. Math is hard.

I know that some of you (well, at least one of you) will look with distain on any "synthesized" sound. Believe me, I share your feelings about that. I passed on the whole trend, beyond the small analog synths like the Arp Axxe and Korg MiniKorg 700. Wish I still had them! They didn't "pretend" to be anything other than sources of modified sine, square, and triangle waves.

Now I am trying to catch up with 30 years of digital synthesizer evolution- well, more like 20 years, because this Kurzweil technology is about ten years old. What has happened in the meantime was that a lot of attempts were made to generate pleasing sounds digitally- none of the affordable ones being very sucessful. I mean, DX-7?

But they finally came up with sampling, and higher and higher quality samples led to passable, musical instruments. The Kurzweil piano I have enjoyed playing for many years is a sampled piano sound. To make this work they had to break up the keyboard into small clusters of keys, each cluster with its own basic sample. These are called keymaps, and they are really the "key" to the thing sounding good. Another trick they use is layering different samples on top of each other, which adds depth and variation to the sounds. Still another trick is to use math functions to alter the sound over time, rather than simply using volume changes (ADSR) like in the old days. All this, and more, have added up to making a very complex sound generating thing, which I think may be called a musical instrument. Tastes good.

But ultimately it's a way that I can use samples that I record as the basis for playable sounds. I've got a bunch of recordings of a gas furnace that I need to get into this thing...

February 02, 2010