The Most Powerful Tiny FM Synth: PreenFM2

PreenFM2

The purpose of AudioCookbook is not to promote or review musical instruments, electronic hardware, or audio software. This site is a more personal (perhaps narcissistic) look at music composition and sound design techniques. “Recipes for Sound Design” is one part of that, but experimentation also plays a significant role. I understand that some my experiments are interesting for ACB readers. My approach has been, if it’s interesting to me then I’ll write about it here. In this case I’d like to highlight an extraordinary, boutique, FM synth that has been unfairly overshadowed by the Korg Volca FM. This amazing musical device for sound design and experimentation is the PreenFM2 designed by Xavier Hosxe.

This synth is by no means new. I first heard about it in August of 2013 on CreateDigitalMusic.com. At that time I was fully invested in the Yamaha FS1R and didn’t see a need for another FM synth in my setup. However, more recently I started researching it because I wanted a portable polyphonic synth for live performances. I’ve brought luggable rack synths to shows including the FS1R and Roland MKS-80, but it’s expensive, awkward, and risky to transport them. I love the Korg Volcas for their sound and portability, but both the Volca Keys and Volca FM have a mere three voices available for polyphony.

PreenFM2 Metal Case Designed by Papernoise

The low profile and compact PreenFM2 can be purchased pre-built or in kit form with either a sturdy metal case or an elegant plexiglass design that shows off the inner workings. Either option takes up little space and is effortlessly packed up and transported. Its looks belie its broad feature set and massive capacity for sound design and experimentation. But one of the main reasons I recruited it for polyphonic duties is just that: polyphony. Depending on the algorithm the polyphony ranges from eight to fourteen voices. In comparison the Volca FM has a maximum of three voices.
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Interview: Graham’s O’Brien’s Drum Controller Video Series

Drum Controller - Graham O'Brien

Graham O’Brien is an exceptional and inventive drummer, composer, and producer. It has been my privilege to play with him at dozens shows and on at least five separate projects over the last eight years. His latest solo endeavor is a series of five videos titled Drum Controller. Graham had discussed his goals for the project with me, but when I saw/heard the videos I was immediately impressed. I wanted to know more about how he was able to trigger these beautiful and complex electro-acoustic arrangements without touching anything other than his minimal kit of kick, two snares, high hats, and a ride.

Note: Graham will be performing music with his Drum Controller setup and Thomas Nordlund on guitar at Honey in Minneapolis this Sunday, June 5, 2017. Read on for the interrview and a look at his video series. Continue reading

Moogfest 2016 Workshops

Moogfest 2016

I’m pleased to announce that I will be giving two workshops at Moogfest 2016. Audiovisual Scores for Electronic Music is on May 19 from 5 to 7pm and Sound Art and Sonification is on Friday from 2 to 4pm. The location for both workshops is 21c Museum Hotel, Gallery 6 111 N. Corcoran St, Durham, NC 27701. Details are on the Moogfest schedule site.

Thank You, Prince (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016)

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There will be volumes written about the icon known as Prince, AKA the artist formerly known as Prince, and originally Prince Rodgers Nelson in the next few days. I am just one of hundreds of humble musicians who have lived their careers in the shadow of this physically diminutive yet metaphorically giant monarch of Minneapolis. Prince’s influence is inescapable in this town. Virtually every artist here owes some fraction of their success, vision, and motivation to his legacy. Prince put Minneapolis on the map maintaining his presence here despite his celebrity. Wherever I have travelled, anywhere around the world, and told people I live in Minneapolis the first words out of their mouths are, “Ah! Prince!” Whether or not you’re a fan there’s no denying the enormous talent of this man. Although few artists from Minneapolis sound quite like him, he helped define the music scenes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Working as a musician in the town that Prince built leaves no room for slouches. Regardless of style or genre we have had the impeccable musicianship, virtuosity, creativity, and showmanship of Prince to live up to. The Twin Cities, Minnesota, and the world at large are simultaneously mourning and celebrating Prince’s life and music for good reason. Every show of his I experienced was unforgettable. My heart goes out to everyone he touched. He was “dearly beloved” and will be dearly missed. Thank you, Prince.

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J. Anthony Allen on Art + Music + Technology

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J. Anthony Allen is a fascinating artist with whom I have the honor being a colleague and collaborator. J was recently interviewed by Darwin Grosse for his podcast Art + Music + Technology. Give it a listen to learn more about J’s background, artistic direction, and projects at large.

In addition to the podcast J also will be releasing a remix album titled Conic Arias of which I played a part by remixing the track Time Givers from Aniscorcia. The album comes out April 5th, but you can hear it now on SoundCloud:

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