Saturday, 29 December 2012

Replacing ReBirth - 3OH3

I love Propellerhead software, you may have noticed. I've been using Reason since version 2.5, along with ReBirth RB-338. One of the biggest disappointments is that ReBirth was never properly updated to work with x64 Windows systems and Intel macs. I did find a workaround for Windows 7, but I use a Mac now, and PPC support was dropped with Lion.

So, this is where my combinator comes in. Contained in the orange box is one single Thor synth, but with a bit of creative mapping in the Combinator I've built something that gives you easy access to all the controls you will need to get filthy, squelchy 303 sounds without having to dive too deep into Thor.

I've set Thor up so that the filter uses an 18 dB/Oct slope (like the one in the 303), and the shaper provides the distortion. Thor's sequencer can be accessed by clicking "show devices" and you can use it to program patterns.

Glide is taken care of too; Using a standard sequencer all you need to do is start the next note event before the previous one finishes, or if you're using Thor's sequencer just extend the gate length.

Download it here
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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dealing with a Stop and Search

First of all, this post has nothing to do with my usual subject matter. If you're here for musical goodness and geekery then I'm sorry, but this is something I feel I must say.

Photo by
Earlier this week while walking to University I was stopped by two policemen on the street. They asked me to step to the side of the pavement, told me to empty my pockets and hand over my rucksack. One of them patted me down while the other searched through my bag, and then the contents of my pockets. I asked what I had done wrong, but neither of them gave any reason, but I was warned that if I didn't cooperate with them I would be arrested and taken down to the station.

I was given back the contents of my pockets, minus a packet of unopened cigarettes. I was told that I wouldn't be getting them back because "they may contain drugs". I was also warned upon taking my mobile phone out that if I took any pictures or video of them they'd arrest me for non-compliance. I was given no paperwork, but they took my details in case they needed to get in touch with me regarding the search.

The whole ordeal left me feeling very shaken up, and felt both upset and humiliated that I was singled out on the street, searched in public view and made to feel like a criminal.

I have since found out that what they did was not only against police protocol, but also illegal. Officers are required to do the following in the event of a stop and search:
  • Provide their name and the station they work at
  • Tell you why you were stopped and under which law
  • Inform you of what they are looking for before they search you
They must write down your details, but you are not obligated to give your name or address unless you are being arrested or are being reported for an offence. They must also provide you with a copy of the form they fill out, which must include in addition to the above the names and numbers of the officers. If they do not provide you with this information then they are breaking the law.

I was unable to write down the numbers of the officers at the time. I'll be honest, I was so shaken up it didn't occur to me. The optimist in me hopes that this is not a common occurrence, and that most members of the police force do stick to the law. However, if anyone reading this finds themselves in a similar situation I hope that this is some help to you.

Have a wonderful primary gifting season, and keep making music.
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Thursday, 13 December 2012

Adventures in Boot Camp

Over the last few days I've been giving my mac a bit of an overhaul. I decided not to wipe and start over, because firstly a lot of my software discs are at my house in Durham, and secondly because I just don't have that kind of downtime to play with. I did all the basic stuff, like cleaning up my library, deleting irrelevant preference files, repairing disk permissions etc, but the biggest boost involved installing a faster hard drive.

I looked at SSDs, but with the capacities of the drives in my price range being absolutely tiny I opted for a HDD/SSD hybrid, a 750GB Seagate Momentus XT (£89.70 from Writing this from the other side of a pretty simple imaging and restoration process, I can safely say that this drive is FAST. My Mac boots up in 15 seconds (from the bong to being able to open a program), and my audio sessions load their sample banks much quicker. In fact, every aspect of restoring my Mac to a bootable state worked absolutely flawlessly.

Except for all of the software from one company...

Microsoft Office decided to deactivate itself right in the middle of assignment season, so all of the Word documents I needed to edit were locked shut. To make matters worse, my installation disc along with the product key are back at my other house. The biggest offender though was my Boot Camp partition. To be fair to my Microsoft, this is an issue with the Mac not being able to boot from MBR drives without modifying the EFI, but it was still a pain in the backside. I decided that the easiest solution would be to reinstall Windows on a new partition and copy over the files I needed from the old drive (which curretly sits in a cheap USB enclosure).

Boot Camp is a bit of a mixed blessing, because by default it takes over as the main boot partition, so you have to change that in the System Preferences, or the Boot Camp Utility in Windows unless you want to boot into it every time. The other nightmare is going back to using the Ctrl key as the default modifier key. All of the shortcuts that I take for granted on the Mac have to be temporarily forgotten and replaced by the Windows ones. Simple things like copying and pasting end up causing endless frustration. The fact that Windows also defaults to the wrong keyboard map is also a bit of a pain, but switching to English (Apple International) - or some variation of those words will rectify that problem.

Windows also has a tendency to make my Mac run very hot - about 60 degrees C when idle. I don't know why this is, considering there's nothing registering in the task manager, but something is clearly going on in there because my battery only lasts about 90 minutes when using Windows, compared to about 4 and a half hours in OSX.

In a perfect world I would never need Windows, but let's face facts, it's the world's most popular OS. I don't mind it really; things are a lot better than they used to be in terms of stability. I'm not quite ready to make the jump to Windows 8 though, I might give that one a miss...
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Sunday, 9 December 2012

More Live Looping - "Feel Good Inc" cover by Josie Charlwood

I love it when I find something like this on the net. This is a smashing rendition of "Feel Good Inc" by Gorillaz, performed by the very talented Josie Charlwood.

Not only has she produced a great performance, she's also made a video explaining her setup, including what instruments and equipment she used and how it was all wired up.

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