For the gear heads

A fair bit of new gear added, and some new gear not. First, the not added –

 

Roland Cloud

I was excited to try the 30 day demo of this a few months back, because…

Roland Cloud SH-101

The SH-101! My very first synth, in full emulated form! The 30 day demo seemed ok, so after a month or two had passed I decided to sign up for the subscription version. It was pretty cool having the D-50 and Jupiter 8 too, though the System 100 was my favorite, a patch bay style modular synth that could plug anything into anything.

But and however – I upgraded everything because a new release had come out since I demo’ed it, and suddenly none of the VST 3 versions of the synths wouldn’t work. They loaded, they made a noise, but the interface was reduced to a tiny, empty box. The VST 2s still worked, so I contacted support.

I gave them my system details, that I was on Cubase 8 and so on… their response made me unsubscribe. They said “We tested it on Cubase 8.5, that’s the fix.”

Cubase8_Med

No diagnosing to see if it was just the fact it was Cubase 8 (could be because it’s a dual Xeon system, could be something else I have installed on my system, who knows!), that was the long and short of the answer, delivered in a pretty short tone too. All rather odd because every other VST 3 I have works just fine.

Now, I will also add that the interfaces on these things are terrible – the interfaces are just tiny images, too small to see on a 1920 x 1080 monitor, and there’s a zoom in feature that simply zooms in on this tiny image, resulting in a large but now very fuzzy image. Pretty shitty – why not just have 2 or 3 resolutions of image?

Anyway, since the VST 3s had gone from working to not working in the space of one update, and support had no interest in even having a look to see if there was a resolution, I thought no point in subscribing and writing things on this because who knows if some upgrade along the way, the VST 2s would disappear up their own arse as well and I’d be left with a bunch of songs that were inaccessible, and I could bet on the same short reply from support there at Roland should that day ever arrive.

In fairness, they did cancel my subscription, even though the terms and conditions pretty much say that can never happen (they mentioned that it hadn’t cleared yet, so they could cancel it), so that was one plus point. A shame, but there you go.

 

Bazille

Having lost access to the modular System 100, I wanted to find something similar. I’m contemplating doing some “space rock” (think Hawkwind-style) and that needs warbly weirdness. Besides, it’s just fun messing around with a patch bay! Enter….

Bazille

Mmmm nice synth! This is the empty set up, so it’s not covered with cable spaghetti, it looks even better when it is. Plug anything into anything else, create arps with the sequencer, draw graphs (on page 2 of the UI) and get as crazy as you can think of! Bliss!

I demo’ed a bunch of different ones before settling on this one. Check it out for yourself!

 

Novation Impulse 49

This search for new synths was prompted by an upgrade on my keyboard. Having been working with a very basic Line 6 synth-style no-aftertouch device, I decided to get something semi-weighted. After doing a lot of tedious reading and watching of YouTube videos, I settled on…

Impulse

I didn’t really want the pads, knobs and sliders, just a nice keyboard, though I will try and make use of them now I’ve got ’em. Liking the keys so far! The Automap software is a mixed blessing, will write more about it in depth later (or maybe YouTube it) – it took a bit more setting up than it said (the settings I had to use were not what was shown), the transport buttons are great to start recording without poking at mouse of computer keyboard, sometimes the plugin controls are useful, but at the moment all the native Steinberg effects become “locked” from mouse editing and I have to use the Impulse to change the settings. So some good, some bad.

Visit Novation to read more.

 

Geist 2

I am considering creating some music for sale on licensing websites, the stock music kind of sites. Plus I also wanted another way to create drum tracks that were more electronic in nature. I wanted some ability to randomize things too. Tried out a few demos again, and settled on….

Geist 2

Did try out the slightly cheaper Tremor too, but I liked this better, even though I am planning on using it for drums and rhythm tracks rather than whole “song like” things.

Mostly good so far, has had a few hiccups (it has flaked out on me twice in the last day, haven’t quite fathomed recording into it yet as when I did it moved all the notes around), but overall it’s doing what I wanted from it. The Transmod feature is awesome, the sounds are pretty good, I can use it to drive EZDrummer too if I want or record into Midi from it, so will be a nice flexible addition.

I’ll have to explore doing some things that are always a bit tricky, like having “random bells” or even “random windchimes” – not tried it yet, but I think with it’s various randomization abilities plus maybe some Transmod, it should work. We’ll see!

FXpansion’s Geist 2 page.

 

Music

With all this new gear, spent some time learning it, and some time hopping about from one experiment to another. Did some tweaking on an in-progress track, The Five Sisters, which has a long way to go as it is going to be a multi-part piece

The Five Sisters.jpg

At the moment, it’s a lot of copy and paste to lay out the structure for the first main theme, so will need to go through and record those parts in full (even if they are repeating, it’s always more human-sounding and alive to play them than just repeat them in the software).

Got some ideas for some of the other themes too.

Throw in some sound design on the new Bazille, some categorizing of sounds on the machine (one reason I don’t want to update Cubase, because it loses all the categorization I’ve done in its library system so that I don’t have to wade through crap sounds to find the ones I like!), and a bit of guitar sound designing in getting a Mike Oldfield style highly compressed clean Strat sound.

Expect some equipment reviews / demos here or on YouTube, and snippets of in-progress music when it gets far enough along! Happy Halloween for when it rolls around!

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Adieu AM Freehand

AMFreehandGUI

This is an image of something I can no longer see – the GUI for Angular Momentum’s Freehand.

I’m rather partial to this synth, but worse, it was the mainstay of a track  I was just wrapping up. I found that one sound, Rising Pad, was causing clicks and wanted to get in to the synth to see if there was something that could be tweaked to avoid this, but alas, it just crashes when I try to open the GUI in Cubase, so I have no way to edit the sound.

Had to get creative and add Acon Digital’s Declick to the final stereo channels (somehow adding that as an insert on the synth track itself wasn’t doing the job.)

Rather a shame, as I will have to avoid using this synth anywhere again now that I can’t get in to the GUI – if anyone knows an answer, let me know!

http://www.faolglas.com/

The sun will rise

TheSunWillRise

Whew… life has been exhausting and hard for the last few months, which is why no new music. Major upheavals that were beyond anything I could ever have foreseen, such that it all seems like some bizarre unreal dream.

One facet of that has been a move at short notice, so am just settling in and setting up and getting used to a new normal. There are challenges ahead – with new rent to pay, and changes to my financial situation, there is much uncertainty. But on other scores, more stability. In the end, I will accept that uncertainty as it is at least primarily under my control!

After months of barely touching an instrument, today was the day I played and wrote in earnest for the first time in months! In part, getting things ready so there is a “routine” to be able to follow to get to the point of getting songs done on… well not paper, but digital storage!

I did pick up on some songs from the rock side, but for my instrumental side I returned to my 5/4 piece, which is going to take a while to finish – the 5/4 time section is the middle of three at the moment, with the first and last sections being just scratch notes for now, so this one is a long term project!

I also had one of those random themes pop into my mind, so set that down, and it may tie in to a short festive piece I’ve had around for ages, we’ll see. If it does, would be good to get that wrapped up in the next week or so, as the right time of year to release that upon the world!

Meantime, if you are facing adversity yourself, persevere and have faith – for however grey the day seems, or dark life appears, the sun will rise again and return warmth and colour to your world.

– Faol Glas

Form From Void

FG_Energy

Music has been a bit on-and-off-again lately, with work having spikes and lulls, and with a lull today I jumped back in to work on “Form From Void” – this one used to be called the rather random “Optical Detectors” just from its history, but I had to find a better name for it!

Extremely pleased with the electric guitar sound, and the bass sound – used my bass guitar for this, a synth just didn’t sound right. It inspired the above image, which makes good watching while the track is playing, heh! You can hear the track here!

Cubase8_Med

Some things came up – Cubase (running through ASIO4ALL which has always given me the best latency) has always grabbed all the sound to itself while running, such that anything that wants to make noise freezes (eg an MP3 player or a video on YouTube.)

Since upgrading to Win 10 though, sometimes this freeze continues even once Cubase is closed. Found I had to disable my AudioBox as a sound device and re-enable to get it to clear. So there’s a tip if anyone else has the same problem!

Next up, my latency was supposed to be a pretty good 3ms, but I could tell it wasn’t. Hit a string on the acoustic, and there was just the teeniest bit of delay in response. I found that disabling ASIO Guard in Cubase remedied this. Weird, wouldn’t you think that a Guard would ensure the ASIO was working at its best?! So another tip.

Songwriting Log Aug 2nd

Been back to working on some pieces. Sometimes it goes fast, ideas just pop down and things develop quickly – other times it is a slower and more painful experience. Lately it’s been the latter!

InTheStudio

Working in the studio.

Been working on the bass for a track called “Optical Detectors” (a strange name, comes about because it started life as a short extract to accompany a demo video for 3D sofware), but has been hard to make it sound like it all gels. Have played around with whether the bass (and the synth pad) should be an eighth note early or not at a couple of places to get it sitting comfy, and still not 100% decided.

So I left it and moved on to another as-yet-unnamed piece, and decided it needed bass next – there’s no escape! That went a bit better and got something working for it. So far it’s pretty short, not sure where it needs to go, what other sections it will grow like branches sprouting off a tree. Time will tell!

Celtic Soul

CelticSoul_imageDevelopment on the next collection of pieces, Celtic Soul, has slowed a little – this is due to being creative in other fields!

First, I have been working on a ton of 3D animation, which is my “day job,” and then I also had a lot of inspiration on the rock side of things so focused on recording those songs.

All is not lost nor forgotten though! I’ve just put together the front cover for the collection of songs, which I am rather pleased with!

I’ve also collected a few new items in the sonic arsenal – Harmor, a synth from Sonic Line, and the Restoration Suite from Acon Digital, which is perfect for recording bass and guitar (or rather, for cleaning them up after recording!)

Now, I just need to find time to put them to good use!

All the best,

Faol Glas

Forest Kingdom II – Winds

I have quite a battery of synths in my collection, they’re kind of addictive to collect. Going to briefly mention Forest Kingdom II today, as I was using it this afternoon.

ForestKingdomII_s This synth does a lot of things well, so I’ll be coming back to it sometime, today I am just going to mention the Winds section.

In there you’ll find a collection of ethnic and folk flutes, and a didgeridoo to boot, probably more, I don’t recall and it’s late and I’m not going to open it up to see!

The flutes, like many instruments, have various intonations and expressions, so you get a more natural sound than just a same-sounding note across the keyboard – this is a big plus to me, and I love the way that Forest Kingdom II implements this.

I guess I should note that anyone who plays a real wind instrument may still cringe at the sound, just as I cringe at the sound of ANY synth guitar.

There’s never been one, acoustic or electric guitar sound, that I haven’t found very unpleasant indeed. Note that this is not the same as feeding a real guitar through a synth, that works, done that sometimes myself; it’s when the synth tries to be a guitar that I find it quite hideous.

So, my apologies to those players of other instruments that I will never be able to afford the money to buy and the time to learn! I will keep right on using the electronic sounds which sound awesome to my ears!

Feel_the_Spirit

Today was writing a short piece that will accompany the intro sequence to a video series, relating to spirituality. As it happens, I’m creating the video intro too.

Anyway, I find writing short pieces like this harder than writing long ones! A curious thing. There’s not much in it, in terms of notes, you can see it on the right there – mostly it was a lot of “engineering” that went into it, finding the right sounds, tweaking them just so, etc.

Oh and this was my first recording of my bodhrán, that was interesting too – always wanted to try that since I have a decent mic. Fortunately being a short piece where the drum isn’t very loud anyway, I was able to play it sufficiently well to work!

I may extend this piece, whether or not I end up using it in the intro sequence – maybe I should have just started it as a long piece and grabbed a section of it for the intro, might have been easier than trying to write it short!

Go in light,
Faol Glas