It’s rainy, so I’ve been playing with my sound equipment. More televangelist samples from youtube, played and tweaked via the Akai MPD26 midi pad device. Drum beats created with DrumBeatz app for Google Chrombook, channeled into Korg KP3 for distortion and then into Garageband. Two tracks — drums and preachers.
I had the morning off, so I took some time and grabbed a few more funny televangelist sound clips and imported them into the Ableton project I reference in the previous post. Lots of fun. I have solved a few little problems, and am gaining more understanding of the software — like maybe .005% of it. But enough to have some fun.
As you can see in the pic, the Akai controller has 16 drum pads, 6 faders/sliders, and 6 knobs. The drum pads can be used to “play” the software instruments, such as drum kits, synths, etc, that come with the software, or as I have been doing each pad can activate a sound clip you have imported. The knobs and whatnot can be assigned to control other things, like volume, effects, etc.
This is really pretty addictive.
And then there’s the controls of the Akai itself, that I haven’t even really gotten into. Apparently you can control the software from the Akai, if you know what the hell you are doing — as in calling up programs and profiles you have saved. It’s not a big deal since I will never be “performing live”.
So, here’s the really fun part. I’m running the software on my 8-year old 13″ MacBook. I got the 3rd party replacement battery from my mom’s old MacBook, and it will actually hold a charge. This machine has 2 gigs of RAM — the bare minimum needed to run this software. The software has crashed once, but overall I’m happy I can even run it. The 3rd party batteries are shitty. They aren’t quite the same material as the real Apple replacement battery, and they don’t fit as well either. But they are about $30 rather than $130. At this point I don’t think it is worth spending $130, or really any money, on this old machine, since a new MacBook Air is not that expensive. But man, given the bullshit we have dealt with on the broken MacBook Pro, I really really love this old computer. What a fricken workhorse.
I am finally spending some time learning to use the Akai MPD26 pad controller I got a couple of years ago. The device can do a lot, and I’m using it with the very complicated Ableton Live 9 DAW software. So there’s a huge learning curve.
My interest is simply using it to activate one-shot or looped audio clips, but as I learn more I get additional ideas for ways to use it for noise “music”.
Generally I like using actual hardware instruments rather than computer samples, but I can see where this could get very addictive. With the computer and a controller, the possibilies are really endless. I could even use my hardware instruments to record samples into the computer for use with the pad controller. So yeah — endless possibilites to may totally non-danceable sounds to offend the sensibilities of normals.
Here’s the first experiment — one clip on one drum pad, with some effects assigned to a couple of faders and knobs.
Been working on a noise soundtrack for a skate video project. Samples from 2001: a Space Odyssey, with noise from a Korg Monotron Delay, Bleep Labs Pico Paso. Samples captured, looped, and tweeked with Korg Kaoss Pad 3.
For several years now I’ve been playing around with electronic music. I guess I actually started with music about 12 years ago with the guitar. I’m not very good on guitar. I practice a bit, and I can play the basic chords pretty well, but I’ve not taken any lessons to really improve my playing, or put the time in.
So a couple of years ago I discovered Korg’s Kaoss Pad products, which are sythesizers and effects controllers operated by touch pad. After watching some instructional and demo videos on youtube, I got them and tried it out. It’s really fun. I don’t claim to be good at writing songs, in fact I don’t write them, I just improvise. I don’t care. It’s all about fun.
The effects controller of the setup is the Korg KP3 (the red one) — the third version of the Kaoss Pad. While it has a few built-in sounds (drums and synths), mostly what is does is take sound input from another source (another instrument, a microphone, or even an iPod) and allow you to manipulate and play with the sound with a wide variety of effects, such as delay, reverb, looping, flanger, modulation, and combinations of all of the above. It also allows you to create sample loops — up to four of them — which are held in the machine’s memory and can be activated at any time. So the KP3 is a fun and easy device to use for live performance or recording.
OK — so I hope Korg is listening. They came out with a new version last year called the KP3+, on which they made a few programming changes to the device and added a few new effects. So it isn’t so much a “new version” as a slightly improved version of the old version. It seems like a lot of people are not upgrading — not enough benefit. I am one of those people. Can’t spend another $300+ dollars or whatever on a devices that is only a tiny fraction better than what I already have. They also came out with a handheld version of the Kaoss Pad, which is kind of cool, but much more limited and just not something very useful to me.
So Korg — here is a list of things I’d like to see on an fully updated/redesigned Kaoss Pad.
I liked the little screen on the new mini Kaoss Pad (the Kaoss Pad 2) which allows you to easily read the names of the programs. A small screen like this would be a great addition to the KP3, as it is not easy to read the giant letters that scroll across the touch screen.
More Loop Banks: Love the loop banks. Need more of them. The solution now is to chain another KP3 to the first one. Why not give a new version 8 loop banks — same size buttons as they work really well.
Option for creating longer loops that are not constrained by the beats/timing of the machine: Kind of like a looping pedal for a guitar. Sometimes you want to be able to create a loop that is longer than the time available.
The ability to apply an effect to one loop only, even if all the loops are playing, or to no loops and only apply the effect to the input current running in the Kaoss Pad.
Any other cool stuff you geniuses can think of.
OK Korg-Friends — get on it! Thanks for your time.
Over the weekend I built this kit that I ordered from Bleep Labs, in Austin. It is the Nebulophone, a little synthesizer.
Having never soldered before, I did this skateboarder style — meaning that I bought a soldering iron, some solder, watched a youtube video on how to solder and then learned by doing it on this kit. That’s right. I didn’t even try the soldering thing out on some junk first. How dumb was that? Turns out that while it may have been dumb, I still managed to do a pretty good job of soldering the fairly tiny connections.
I have always enjoyed doing stuff like this. I built a lot of models when I was a kid, and yes, I painted lots of miniatures for D&D. So I like doing detail work of this sort. My eyes are not so good anymore, which makes this a bit challenging. BUT, with a little squinting and a lot of light I had success. Turned it on and it made lots of cool noises.
The Nebulophone does not have its own speaker. I plugged it into my Kaoss Pad KP3, which goes to my headphones and/or amp. For a $55 kit, this thing has a lot of functionality. For one thing, you can record 32 notes into its sequencer than play it back a varying speeds. Cool. Really just scratched the surface on Day 1 with this synth. Really fun to team it up with the KP3 effects and loops though.
Think all those gnarly synth sounds in the early DEVO albums. That’s what this synth is good at producing.
For more info on the gadget and it’s powers, click here.