Saturday, May 21, 2011


I've always had a soft spot for Moog equipment and never the budget to own the hardware. For quite awhile I've been looking at the offerings from Arturia.

Arturia offers some very precise digitally modeled versions of many classic synthesizers though at a significant price - usually around $200 street price.

In the Moog category they offer the Minimoog and the more intimidating but cooler Moog modular. I was on the fence about purchasing either of these for some time and was thrilled to see that they have combined them in a special edition along with some nice extras - the Moog DVD, a small book of some of Bob Moog's notes and a cool geeky button. Better still, the price is $300 with some of the profits going to the Moog foundation (creating a museum to honor Bob Moog and his inventions).

The package is solely for desktop computers - Windows or Mac and the Minimoog and modular sound phenomenal! The Minimoog gives you immediate productivity but the modular takes things to another level if you have the patience to figure it out. You get to patch together any number of modules to make an infinite combination of sounds.

I am loving both modules and use them primarily as AU plugins in Logic 9 (they also work as VSTs). I hope to post some examples soon.

There is always debate about digital versions of analog synths but I think it is analogous to the CD vs vinyl debate. The emulations are excellent! Of course there are many software synths available at that price or lower with more capabilities, but there really is something special about using the same techniques that Moog pioneers employed.

On the iPad side, I wish Moog or Arturia would release something like the Korg iMS-20 but for now, the only iPad Moog item is the Moog Filtatron. This is a faithful recreation of the famous ladder filter and some other Moog effects. It is a bit limited. You can process WAV files through it or mix in it's single oscillator, but you can't play a keyboard directly into it. This means that you pretty much have to combine it with other iPad tools to make music. It does support copy and paste so it is pretty useable.

I haven't used it yet in any of my own compositions - maybe soon.

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Analog equipment with 6 vibrating oscillators

Marty Chamberlain offered up a nice performance on the analog device shown left which he oscillates via a "plucking" interface fed into a recording/digitizing device.

This new version of the track shows that while it is possible to emulate analog performances, there is a lot of expression that midi just can't provide.
Here is an updated version of "A Minor Urge" with Marty's live guitar performance replacing the Garageband instruments. The rest of the tracks, Clavinet, Synth, Drums, Bass are still synthesized with a small violin audio loop included.

So in three posts, I've tried Thumbjam guitars, Garageband guitars and finally, a guitar (albeit with a real guitar player). Progress!

A Minor Urge - Live Guitar by oldlibmike

Friday, May 13, 2011

Garageband for iPad Revisited

While I wait for the latest Nanostudio and Mixtikl updates to hit the App store, I went back to Garageband for iPad for my last piece. I wrote a bit before about some of its advantages and shortcomings. After creating a more complete piece I have a few more thoughts.  I found that the iPad screen makes for an incredible "ribbon-controller" for synthesizers. In the piece below, I was able to slide from note to note in the synth lead on the flat keyboard. You can almost accomplish this on a keyboard by using a high portamento or glide setting but it is actually much easier over the smooth iPad surface. I hope to use this a lot more in the future. 

I love the idea of smart drums where you move pieces of the kit on the grid (simple to complex and soft to loud). I found on a video that you can actually record the movement of the drums to vary up the beats a bit. I did not do that in this piece but will do so in future pieces.

As I mentioned in my Thumbjams post, guitar parts are not easy for me but I do love picking a scale and using the fretboard to pick out guitar solos. That is what I did for the guitar lead on this piece. The rhythm guitar is a smart instrument where I cycled through a few chord progressions.

The other good news is that Garageband '11 has been updated and you can now easily upload your project to the iMac to complete and enhance. This is good news because other than this, there is no way to combine other loops or WAV files into your Garageband projects on the iPad.

What is still lacking is a means of mixing various sources together on the iPad itself. Garageband is fine with live recording but does not let you copy/paste on the iPad or include other loops. Also, there is still no way to edit the MIDI data on the iPad - you have to upload it to the full version for that.

There is a lot of depth to what is possible with the program but it is still a bit of a "walled garden". I would love to see an easier way to combine different synths together with Garageband on the iPad.

Here is my last piece which is a bit more on the melodic side - has a portamento synth lead followed by an acoustic guitar lead. One loop was used and the rest of the piece is performed on the iPad Garageband instruments: