In a post last week I said that I was working on a new song. Well, I finished it over the weekend. It started with a little part I wanted to record so that I would remember it. From there it turned into a real pop song. Yeah, with words and everything!
A few quick comments before I turn you lose with this. Although parts of this recording are “finished”, this is very much just a quick demo, or, if this were one of my stories, this is a rough, first draft (don’t worry – if you have read a story on my blog, it was a rough draft….). I can hear many things I will change if I decided do this a little more seriously. And I might.
So after spending too much time doing that old craft of setting Bach to Moog Synthesizer, I have started to actually write my own music again. Sort of… But there are consequences.
I have written about this many times, but I have a difficult time being deeply involved in more than one art (craft). If I am deep into visual arts, and I mean really studying it, not just a few quick sketches or creating a book cover for my latest, I am not deep into writing or writing new music. The same with writing a book. The deeper I am into it, the less time I have for music.
I have had the Behringer Poly D analog synthesizer for a couple of months now and have done a major project, so I want to do a quick review of it. First, as always, I need to give a quick history lesson. Why? The Poly D is a Minimoog clone (sort of, in a way…).
(Skip to the review if you don’t want to read all of this, or the videos at the bottom)
The Minimoog was released in 1970 and was the first synthesizer that you could pick up in a normal retail music store. It was one of the earliest synthesizers aimed at stage musicians and was extremely popular. Even though Moog soon had a lot of competition in the portable synth market, such as the EMS Synthi (used by Pink Floyd*) and the different Arps (used by many, including Genesis), the Mini was so huge that most people used the terms “Moog” and “Synthesizer” synonymous. And it did find its way into pop, rock, r&b, dance, jazz and beyond through the 70s. Even in the 80s, it was the main synth on the Thriller album and was used by most of the early Technopop bands. In the 90s it helped create the emerging electronica and electronic dance music.
In other words, the Minimoog is one of the most iconic synthesizers of all times.
One of my recent projects has been recording JS Bach’s Little Fugue in G Minor with a synthesizer. I will post the video here in case you you want to hear it but don’t want to read about it. Be aware that I did a few fumbles, but I think overall it worked well.
Last week I worked on a little music project, arranging and recording an electronic version of Henry Purcell’s great aria Dido’s Lament (technically it is named “When I am laid in Earth” but everyone knows it as “Dido’s Lament”) .
Quick back story – Henry Purcell was a 17th century English composer and is regarded as one of the greatest English composers of all times (until he 20th century, no other English born composer compared since Handle was not born in England). One of his most famous works was the opera Dido and Aeneas, based on the Aeneid.
After escaping the downfall of Troy, Aeneas ends up in Carthage. Dido, the queen of Carthage, falls in love. He would happily spend the rest of his life there, but destiny calls; he has to found Rome, you know. So he leaves, and Dido commits suicide.
The opera ends in three pieces: a recitative to introduce the aria, the aria itself, and then a choral part in all of its Baroque counterpoint glory. The recitative (Thy hand, Belinda) is often performed with the aria while the chorus isn’t, but to me the chorus caps it all off greatly… But that aria, called Dido’s Lament, is what most people know.
Have you ever taken a music appreciation class (talking Western Classical music here)? If so, you most likely have heard this before. It does a great job of demonstrating a few Baroque techniques, such as ground bass (that part you hear from beginning to end). It is also often called one of the saddest songs in Western Classical music.
Hey, all. It was an interesting week. A lot was going on and I had a lot to smile about. The weekend was seasonably cool, but sunny, so very nice. I spent a lot of time out doing things, from walks in the woods to the long, hilly version of my run. And there were other things.
I spent a good chunk of last week playing around with music. A few things – in late June I replaced my old music computer (Windows XP, over 12 years old!) and updated all of the other components, including the audio interface, which was well over 20 years old, and the software, which was last updated over a decade ago. Great, I was ready to do some recordings.
Hello and Welcome! Come on over and sit for a spell. OK, it is a bit chilly, but I will get you a steaming mug of super strong dark roast, a (largish) cuppa tea, hot cocoa or some other warm beverage. Weather has been odd, but mostly seasonable. We did have some rain and those awful grey days that November is known for. Today should be nice, though. Oh, were are we? Some of you may recognize the photo at the top as coming from New Hampshire.
OK, the first big thing – why have I been in New Hampshire so much? Well, last week Massachusetts put NH on the list of banned states, which means if I went down there I would be stuck at my house. I’d have to register and they would call me 4 times a day to ensure I was at my house. If I didn’t register or was caught off of my property, it would $500 a day per person fine! So I stayed in NH…
I picked up a Sequential (DSI) Prophet Rev 2 polyphonic analog synthesizer a couple of weeks ago. After two weeks of playing, I decided to make a recording and talk about it.
First a few terms. “Analog” means that the sound is created by electronics as a continuous electrical signal which is then manipulated by other electronics. I know,obtuse, but that definition is a contrast with “digital”, which means the sound is created and manipulated by a computer. Most of the first commercial synthesizers were analog.
I said it was a polyphonic synthesizer (poly-synth). In this case “polyphonic” means more than one note can be played at once, sort of like a piano, with each note being distinct. The distinct note is called a “voice” – my Prophet Rev 2 is an 8 voice synthesizer (16 voice Rev 2s exist – more about this later). The way this works is that each voice is played by a completely different synthesizer! In the late 1970s, Dave Smith perfected a way for a computer to store values for a synthesizer so that all of the different voices (synthesizers) could have the same sound though the user only has to set up the sound once (one set of controls). It also let the user save sounds. This instrument was the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5. It helped to revolutionist the music industry and, actually, music itself.
Hi! I hope you all had a good week. I had a good week. Yes, there were ups and downs, but mostly good, at least on a personal level.
One of the things I smiled about this week was a new synthesizer. I’ll mention the name, even though I know it is meaningless for 99.99% of you: A Sequential Prophet Rev 2. It is an analog polysynth. Got it?
No matter, it is great sounding instrument and I had a lot of fun playing it and creating new sounds. At one point I took out my phone and did a quick recording. The sound was in stereo, with the different parts swirling around (not capture with my phone!) and there was a deep, rich bass (also not captured with my phone) and it was so much fun to just play. Oh well, so my cheap phone couldn’t quite capture it, but I hope you smile hearing this attempt: