A tale of two mistresses

I am used to this phase now.

This transitional phase from one all-encompassing aspect of the project to another. I try to do 2 things at once. In this case software design and hardware design, but, try as I might, one will usually take precedence. back in January, I knew that learning enough CAD to design the hardware in 3d was going to take most of my waking life, but using project management principles I realized that if you spend more of your daily time on one thing, you can make more progress with that one thing, allowing you to move on to something else fairly quickly. 6 weeks of 18 hour days gave me a controller I am very proud of (for the time being. I have already made a number of design iterations in the last few days).

looperlogic-notesNow as I open up the room in my head that stored the gestural synthesis research and patches, it is as if I am reading someone else’s notes. 2 full notebooks full of notes, each page tweaking something from a previous page, annotated with barely legible scribbles. It feels as if all of that fervor has seeped out of my ears and rolled under the bed somewhere.

Couple that with a severe case of cabin fever, exacerbated by the presence of a gorgeous hot red 3d printed seductress who calls me to be with her constantly. It’s not enough that the controller itself feels great and looks the business, but since she arrived, she has had a profound effect of my current NI Kore 2/Komplete audio 6(audio interface) based sound set. photo-from-tausendMy latency (the amount of time between the time I play a note and it comes out of the sounds system) is currently 32samples!! Without going into a lot of highly technical explanations this basically means that when I play fast passages, they are now, for lack of a better term, perfect; attacks fall right where they are supposed to and not a few milliseconds later. Drums are especially tight now. This is NEW. Most of my anxiety in the past has been with trying to play in a manner that distracted from my ongoing battle with latency. Solved. Thus, I just want to get out and play, play, play!!

kore-rig-picBut before I pack of the gear and become kokopelli, I must put the programming hat back on for a few more weeks. playing the Kore soundset is much fun, especially because I am used to it and have been playing with it for a couple of years now, but the beatjazz system is the real intended nervous system of this controller.pd-pic An integrated system encompassing many forms of sound creation and manipulation, all interacted with through gestures and motion that will be freely downloadable, shareable, and modifiable by me and/or anyone else. This is the future of the beatjazz system. To not simply be a controller/synth metaphor, but an integrated sound prosthesis. Fortunately for my sanity, part of the iterative process for this will include going out to test it on people.

This is a sharp move away from hermit vibe that has cultivated so much progress in the last year (thankfully); Sitting in my blissfully quiet flat, listening to Coltrane, babbling to myself and creating. But, 3 things converge to make this unfeasible going forward. 1. The pre-mentioned cabin fever, 2. The need to test the system on a crowd and 3. Income. Busking will solve all three. I can test new sound constructs, before unleashing them on audiences at festivals, shows and conferences, be a bit more social and supplement my income in a manner that I feel doesn’t distract from the trajectory of this project.

It would be win, win and win, but now I must satisfy two mistresses within this context; that of wanting to play something that sounds good in the here and now and something that will sound good in the (hopefully) near future. The mistresses are Kore and the new, untested, beatjazz system (alpha1).

Kore sounds so good now, I just want to play it for hours, even at home but the PD based system has to be iterated daily to have anywhere near the progress I had on the hardware front recently. Both want and need a lot of attention.

reaper-picMy recent solution has been to reintegrate Cockos Reaper back into my system. This is a fantastic multitrack digital audio workstation with one major feature that I find indispensable; a driver called Rearoute ASIO. This allows any ASIO capable audio applications audio to be routed directly into reaper and out to any other application, with almost no latency. I first discovered Reaper a few years ago when I first wanted to play softsynths live during my DJ sets. So I used it to allow Traktor and fl studio to be used simultaneously and used it all the way up until my previous laptop died.

At first it didn’t want to work with the version of pd-extended (0.42.5) I have been using so I upgraded to the latest beta build(0.43.1) and so far, all is cool except that pd-extended lowest latency is 64 samples. Although this is still far faster than what I am used to and only an increase of .7ms, I did take note, and I do believe that once the system is all Pd based, this will be negligible. Kore worked right away.

kor-elementsCurrently, the performance system is based on 8 sound element channels, elements being a grouping of related sound types (i.e. bass, leads, pads, etc.) I have two empty ones. What I envision as the way forward that will allow me to keep iterating the beatjazz system while being able to get out and play in public is to route Pd synth audio into reaper where it will be routed to one of the two empty channels in Kore, playable like any other sounds in the system. Once one of those Pd synths is good enough, it will replace a Kore synth element. Eventually each of the synths in the Kore system will be replaced by Pd based synths, still running thru Kore and reaper with those being the last items to be removed. I feel that this will allow the system to evolve organically.

This should keep both mistresses happy while allowing me to not need to sit in this flat for another 3 months of 18 hour days as it should be easy to go busk somewhere and, when necessary, stop and tweak the code when and where needed. Let me know if anyone is interested in a four-square/Facebook location update when I do my busking crawls. Its most definitely time to interface with people again so holla at me.

Also this Saturday, I am going to play for the record release of a great berlin-based duo, Tanga Elecktra. If you are in Berlin, you owe it to yourself to come to this show at Franz. These guys are the real deal. I have seen them a number of times before and played a few shows with them and that are smoking! Trust me on this. If you don’t, don’t say I didn’t tell you they were about to blow up. Holla...

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