August 1, 2012
Synthetic Holiday Project
My daughter’s birthday is coming up, and she’s always wanted to play the keyboard more. She used to sneak into her brother’s room when no one’s in the house and play his upright piano. Plus, she’s the only one in that generation of the family that’s a fan of Trance and Synthi-Pop in the vein of Daft Punk and Jean-Michel Jarre.
The latter applies to me as well, plus, I was on the lookout for a holiday project. I’m lucky that both my parents are still with us and that they live seven kilometers from the Baltic Sea. That’s were we’ve spent the summer holidays for the last few years.
This year, the project to be pursued in case of bad weather or in the mornings and evenings is ….
Multirack homerecording with a FireWire Audio interface under Linux.
No, just joking, that wouldn’t interest a prepubescent teenager one minute, and anyway, I’ve got it running so good that the difficulties of sound recording itself come to the foreground, e.g. how the fishbrötchen do you make a mixdown in Ardour?
No, since yesterday I’ve got one more input on the aforementioned Saffire Pro 14 FireWire interface. A synthesizer keyboard. Choosing it, a Moog Little Phatty Stage II was a longtime favorite. But my son rightly pointed out that this digitally controled analog synthesizer was monophonus, i.e. you can’t play chords. Did I mention in an earlier post that he’s the real musician in the family? Plus, he was at Musikmesse in Frankfurt this spring and actually played it at the Moog booth. Pondering the alternatives, I still wanted something physical to turn the knobs, adjust the sliders, not one of the ubiqitous software synths plus a Midi keyboard.
The result came yesterday from Thomann (and in the usual delivery time of a bit over 24 hours, they do have their system down!) and it is a virtual analogue synthesizer from Clavia, the Nord Lead 2X. That one is polyphonus, and emulates an analog synthesizer control interface though it’s sound engine is wholly digital. It even comes in a girlie color.
When we came back from the beach yesterday, it was time for exploration and experimentation.
So I put on my sound engineer hat and fought valliant battles with Ardour to record this simple two-track, two-finger Synthi-Pop mashup:
Here you can download the mp3 from my Dropbox public folder. Be brave!
Later in the evening and having read half of the manual at he beach, I sat at the synth and lost myself in the sounds, modifying them to otherworldly beeps and burps. It is an addictive thing!