Thursday, September 15, 2011

Making Noise Between Puddles And Clouds

“Is it true the human body is mostly made of water?” I asked.

“Yes, I believe that’s true,” she said. “I think our bodies are something like eighty per cent water.”

“Yes, well,” I said, “I figure, puddles are water and they’re horizontal on the ground. And clouds are water and they’re all different shapes up in the sky. Humans are kind of vertical, moving around between the ground and the sky. Since puddles and humans and clouds are all made of water, I figure humans are, sort of, some kind of intermediate step between puddles and clouds.”

She smiled—it had some elements of a smirk to it, but it was still a smile—and took a deep breath. She said, “You spend a lot of time on the internet, don’t you?”

That was a conversation I had earlier today out in the real world.

I have a lot of conversations like that. I like to have them as quickly as possible when I meet someone. It saves time. Some people don’t smile at all. Some people smile with a bit of a smirk. And some people just smile.

Things usually work out best with people who just smile.


I had a lot of stuff to do today. Today was a crazy day for me.

That’s why I was out there in the real world talking to people.

Everything ended reasonably well, but I didn’t have too much time to prepare stuff for the blog here.

About the only thing I have is that conversation snippet.

I also have a cool link that I spent some time reading last night.

In the music world, right now two big companies have high-profile new synthesizers on the market. I’ve talked about the Korg Kronos a lot. I’ve also talked a lot about the company called Roland. Roland has a new machine called the Jupiter-80.

It’s an interesting marketing confrontation. They both cost about the same. (Way too expensive for normal humans!) But the keyboards are very different.

The Korg Kronos is very computer-like, a workstation, and is built around many different kinds of synthesizer “engines,” giving a user lots of tools for creating and manipulating sounds.

The Roland Jupiter-80 seems to be targeted more as a performance machine. There are almost no workstation features. It’s not a sampler. It’s not a recorder. And instead of being built around multiple synthesizer engines, it is built around a single combination, a coupling of traditional synthesis with special “behavior modeling” algorithms that attempt to produce sounds and articulations that are very realistic in the way they react to a player’s style of performance.

I haven’t had a chance to play a Jupiter-80 in real life, but I’ve read good things about it on the net.

It seems like a big gamble to me to introduce a machine, these days, with almost no workstation features. But it might be refreshing, to many musicians, to get that stuff off the keyboard since many musicians, these days, have those features on their computers anyway.

When I first heard about these two, I thought I’d be a Kronos person. But now I don’t know. More and more, I’m thinking the Jupiter-80 sounds cool.

It will be interesting to see how this competition works out in the market. I’m guessing one machine will sell better than the other, but I really have no idea or even a guess as to which machine will do better with musicians.


Over at a forum dedicated to Korg Kronos users, I saw an interesting thread recently.

Some Kronos users have reported a strange problem with the Kronos.

Something about the frequency distribution of the standard patches has turned up an odd characteristic. Some performing musicians are reporting that the Kronos sounds great played as a solo instrument, but when it’s used in a band context, the Kronos sound gets a little squashed in a typical mix. Apparently this is a known problem with keyboard synthesizers and it is just a question of doing something like using a spectrum analyzer to characterize the overall sound spectrum of a performance and then tweaking the Kronos patches to work well/play well with the other instruments. But it’s an interesting issue that I had never heard of. There is some good discussion of the issue, some history, and some solutions at this thread:

Pianos don't sound as good in the mix as solo

That’s about all I have for today.

I expect/hope tomorrow will be less of a crazy day for me.

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