MNKINO Film Fest: Familiar Pavement with Aaron Marx


On August 13 I had the pleasure of performing an original film score to picture at the Landmark Center in St. Paul for MNKINO Film Fest 2015. The event featured more than twenty short films with original scores. Most of the scores were performed to the films by a talented orchestra assembled for the event. I wrote and performed the music for the film Familiar Pavement by Aaron Marx.

Performing my four minutes of electronic to the film in real time was quite challenging. I did not use any time lock, relying on the original BPM and finding a good starting point to get the timing right. What made the timing critical (and a little tricky) was that I had processed the original film audio with filters and reverb so that it sat well within the arrangement. However, once I found a good marker in the film and practiced it several times I was well prepared.

The original score used the DSI Tempest for all the drums and the Elektron Analog Four for bass, pads, and an arpeggio. The melody line was sequenced on the Analog Four control voltage track and played on a Korg Monotribe (if you didn’t know that was possible read this). At the event I added the Moog Sub 37 to the setup so I could harmonize and embellish the melody lines.

TX81Z Patch Degrader with Interpolation

This quick demo illustrates how TX81Z Patch Degrader is interpolating between previous and newly generated parameter values. TX81Z Patch Degrader is a Max for Live MIDI effect that chips away at patches on the TX81Z by randomly changing (or degrading) parameters at a specified rate. What makes the process interesting is that it is possible to ramp up or down (interpolate) to the new value rather than changing it instantaneously.

To create the Max for Live MIDI instrument I started with TX81Z Editor 1.0 by Jeroen Liebregts who was kind enough to share his work on I added in the degradation process features and made some adjustments to the interface to make room for the controls. Once I get things shaped up I’ll be happy to share the patch if anyone is interested.

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The features I added are visible in the second panel of the TX81Z Patch Degrader Max MIDI effect. I’ll describe them from the top down:

  1. Level bypass prevents the operator levels from being included in the degradation process so that the sound doesn’t completely die out.
  2. When the interpolate switch is on new values (as long as they have an adequate range) are ramped up or down to the new value based on the rate.
  3. Loop causes the degradation to continue indefinitely by reshuffling after all 73 parameters included have been degraded.
  4. Free/sync toggles between changing the parameters at an arbitrary pace set by rate, or note divisions based on the project’s tempo (therefore sync will only degrade while playing)
  5. Rate adjusts the rate of degradation when in free mode, and the time it takes to ramp up or down to new values when interpolate is on. Rate is milliseconds and ranges from 15ms to 2000ms.
  6. Below rate are the note durations for sync mode ranging from a 1/128th note up to a dotted whole note.
  7. Finally the degrade button starts the process while interrupt stops everything so when you hear something you like you can save the patch on the TX81Z.

The TX81Z has a fairly small buffer for MIDI values, so spraying values at it too quickly will generate the “MIDI Buffer Error”. However, even after getting the error it will continue listening to the incoming data, so even though it might be skipping a parameter here and there it lets me keep throwing things at it. The video below shows how the LCD display responds to the stream of values coming at the machine.

TX81Z Patch Degradation with Interpolation! #glitch #fmsynthesis

A video posted by John Keston (@jkeston) on

I’ve saved quite a few very interesting effects so far and have nearly run out of the 32 patch positions available on the unit. Perhaps the next step is to add a library feature especially since I’m not thrilled about the idea of saving patch banks to cassette!

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How Kindohm Makes Wicked Breaks in Tidal

It you’re familiar with live coding (performing music through the process of writing code) then you’ve probably heard of Mike Hodnick (aka Kindohm). Mike and I have had the pleasure of performing together on several occasions and I’m thoroughly impressed with his technique and aesthetic. In this video Mike goes in-depth on how he creates breakbeats using Tidal, one of several languages commonly used to do live coding.

Video: DKO Debut Album Absinthe Referent

SuBTR4CT1V3 is track five on the debut DKO album Absinthe Referent, now available for download or streaming at bandcamp or via the player embedded below:

Here’s how video artist Chris LeBlanc describes his work on this project:

I used VHS source material of sci fi movies from the 1990s that never made it to DVD running through Tachyons + processors, a homemade video feedback processor, and a modular video synthesizer mostly for colorization. I love scenes with virtual reality and the song brings out a pretty sinister feeling in some of this and lets you make up a story pieced together from 10 or so movies.

We are celebrating the release by performing at the Turf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 20, 2015) with Dosh, A Love Electric, and Batteryboy sharing the bill. Please read on to check out some amazing stills from Chris’ video: Continue reading

Moog Sub 37 1.10 Firmware Demo Part 2

Now that I have had some more time to experiment with the new Moog Sub 37 1.10 firmware I made a new video that is more in-depth than the last one. In this video demo I show seven new features within the sequencer and arpeggiator sections of the instrument. Although I did edit the video for length, each feature was demonstrated without having to stop the sequence at any point.

First I review how to turn steps on and off while in step edit mode. This is simply done by pressing the step buttons (patch button 1 through 16) while in step edit mode (bank + latch).

Secondly I show how to set the start and end positions of the sequence while it continues to run. This is really great for repeating any number of consecutive steps in the sequence.

Thirdly I show how to create or disable ties between two or more notes on the fly. This is much faster and accurate than the original way of apply ties while the sequencer continues to run.

Fourth I demonstrate how to turn on/off step ratcheting and how to modify the number of ratchets. Ratcheting is an interesting new feature that repeats a step from 1 to 8 times.

For the fifth feature I adjust the swing amount. Having swing as a feature for the sequencer is fantastic, but it can also be applied to the arpeggiator and the LFOs when they are synched to the clock! I haven’t tried this yet, but I love the idea of manipulating the LFO waveshapes this way.

The sixth feature is modulation sequencing that I applied to the filter envelope amount. The mod sequencing can be applied to a huge list of parameters. Unfortunately is it one destination per patch/sequence, but never-the-less a welcome and useful addition.

Finally for the seventh feature I demonstrate how to shift the sequence back or ahead of the first step using bank + arp range (+ or -).

There’s a lot more still in this release that I have yet to explore. A huge THANK YOU goes out to Moog Music and especially Amos Gaynes for making an already great synth greater!