Friday, December 28, 2007

WTB: Yamaha P70 or P60 digital piano

As part of my ongoing bid to get music out of my 'little room upstairs' and into the rest of the house (first step: Acoustic guitar in the kitchen), I'm looking for a digital piano for the living room. Obviously this isn't my first choice. My choices, in order, would be: #1: A Rhodes 88, #2: A big ol' Harmonium, #3: A really nice upright piano. However, money, space and neighbours have convinced me that a low-end digital piano is a good start (I'm a terrible keyboard player). So, if you have a Yamaha P70 or P60 for sale, ideally cheap, ideally in London, then please get in touch... (pic via Tarotoast)
UPDATE: Thanks for all the suggestions. I got a b-stock P70 from Dolphin Music, very happy with it, spent the evening clunking out Philip Glass very poorly.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Playing a musical instrument is better exercise than having sex (but not as good as chopping trees)

As part of my day job, I've been consulting the endlessly entertaining Compendium of Physical Activities, which puts all human activity on a scale to measure physical effort and the number of calories burnt. The lowest things on the scale are, reasonably enough, sleep (0.9 mets), and listening to music (1 met). The highest is "Forestry, Ax Chopping, Fast" (17 mets). To save you looking it up, 'sexual activity' ranges from 'passive, light effort, kissing, hugging' (1 met) to 'active, vigorous effort' (1.5 mets). I wouldn't want question the accuracy of the study, but 1.5 mets is the same as 'typing: electric, manual or computer'. Anyway, here are the records for musical instrument playing. To put it in context, 4.0 mets is the same as playing ping-pong. Unfortunately there's no entry for 'light mouse clicking'

1.8 Accordion

2.0 Cello

2.0 Flute (sitting)

2.0 Horn

2.0 Woodwind

2.0 Guitar, classical, folk (sitting)

2.5 Conducting

2.5 Piano or organ

2.5 Trumpet

2.5 Violin

3.0 Guitar, rock and roll band (standing)

3.5 Trombone

3.5 Marching band, drum major (walking)

4.0 Drums

4.0 Marching band, playing an instrument, baton twirling (walking)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tony-B Machine: The most awesome flash music game ever

From France comes Tony B Machine, which pisses on Rave Generator and Punk-O-Matic from a great height. If you've ever wanted to make really awful trance/pop using a Whigfield sample, then this essential. The interface is awesome, and you can sequence your button pushes on a grid, then release your 'recordings' in an album. Here's hoping that Tony B decides to put his interface design skills into making a real piece of music gear soon. Be sure to read the history page which shows how the site has evolved (I prefered the look of v2, with it's Bontempi Organ stylings...) (via Zfigz)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Working microphone in a solid silver ring

Joel at Boing Boing Gadgets has this splendid microphone ring from Etsy ($105, but sold out, obviously). You could hack the module from a $5 K-Micro condenser mic into a ring, maybe with the phantom powered electronics in a wristwatch...

I'm selling all my music gear...

Because now that I've found Rave Generator, my life is complete.

Chimera BC16 - Cute, CD-sized analog modular synth for $229

Love the look of this. The Chimera BC16 is a tiny circular mono synth - those holes are patch points (as you can see in this picture), linking together the VCO, LFO, Envelope, 24db filter, noise and ring mod. Orders taken now, shipping in mid Jan. Next year they'll be coming with the SM16 - a sequencer and MIDI/CV interface, and the PH303 - a $299 303 clone. And yes, before you write, it looks very similar to the Technomage Life which has been about to reappear for a year or two, but certainly isn't currently on sale for £115...
UPDATE: UK Prices are up: The synth (inc patch cords) is £116. The sequencer/MIDI interface (inc patch cords) is £136, both including shipping.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The only Tenori On demo video you'll ever need to watch

The chaps at JBs Music in Tunbridge Wells have even more fun with the Tenori On than I did... (Thanks Alex)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How the Sony Walkman ad was made

Here's a short film about how the Sony Walkman ad (with all the musicians playing one note each) was made - at Alexander Palace in London in October. You might want to skip between 3:25 and 3:50 to avoid the marketing execs explaining how the ad embodies the maverick nature of some crap Mp3 players, but otherwise it's great. Were any of you there? The dude with the Moog Source at the front looks like an MT reader to me... (Thanks Fab)

Tell me about Karlheinz Stockhausen

I don't know anything about Stockhausen besides "great pioneer", "inspired Kraftwerk and Bjork", "not good for parties" and "made music for four helicopters". Anyone got any good stories?

Mark Mothersbaugh and Raymond Scott's Electronium

Inverse Room writes to recommend this great piece from LA Weekly about Mark Mothersbaugh and his amazing career and collection of music gear, which includes Raymond Scott's non-working Electronium - featured in the video above. As the gasps and grunts on the video soundtrack suggest, it really is the Holy Grail as far as synth collection goes, short of finding a working Teleharmonium at a car boot sale.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Extreme hardcore synth pr0n in 3D - Jean Michel Jarre live

Here's a short 'making of' promo for Jean Michelle Jarre's new 'Oxygene Live in your Living Room' album/DVD. It's half in French and contains a great deal of blah blah blah, but you can see the phenomenal collection of vintage gear he used to recreate his 1977 album Oxygene (live, without using MIDI or sync). The DVD release also includes the whole thing in 3D, which you watch using old-fashioned red/blue paper glasses. I couldn't make much sense of the 3D, and the music is fairly ponderous but the DVD is the finest synth porn I've ever seen. I want to see it in HD, to better watch the tape loops spooling up the back of the two-manual Mellotron or read the patches on the numerous EMS Synthis scattered over the stage. There's also a wonderful seven minute film with Jean Michel talking you through the gear, strapping on his Moog Liberation, showing off his Arp 2500 modular and playing an old 1920s theremin.
UPDATE: Here's the JMJ synth walkthrough video on YouTube.

Return of the synth cake! (Also vintage guitar FX cakes)

It's been a while since our last sighting of a synth cake, so I was delighted to hear from Benjamin, who writes: "My friends in the band Freezepop had a synth-cake party and they made..." this awesome SH-101 cake, an almost equally awesome (although lacking the tic-tac buttons) Oberheim DMX cake, and also these vintage guitar pedal cakes. A world salutes you, mighty synth cake makers.

$1,600 reverse loudspeaker makes your room quieter

Wired News have a nice piece on tiny studios and the Bag End E-Trap, an active bass trap - a microphone, a 10" speaker and some DSP, which can counter the excessive bass you might get in a resonant room. It takes a day to tune the trap to the room. Studio designers WSDG have a heavy duty technical paper (.doc link) on the subject.