Music

    Bands

    During my youth I was in a number of original bands and cover bands, as a bassplayer, singer and songwriter.

    1984-1989 Thanks for the Fish

    1989-1991 Colour Jungle

    1991-1992 Caplights

    1992 The Great Curve

    Instruments and gear

    Chiefly bass, also keyboards, guitar, electronic instruments.

    Basses

    Alesis SR-16 drum machine

    A drum machine from the early '90s that only ceased production in 2003! The reason is the excellent quantiser and the solid sequencing and MIDI output. You can input effects and audio to spice up the admittedly unexciting kits, and it's got some good panning. The sequencer can be fooled to create different time signatures for different patterns which then can be alternated in song mode. It misses some onboard effects but stimulates creativity.

    Novation Bass Station II

    A monophonic analog synthesizer, it really ticks all the boxes for basic synthesis for me. I love the aftertouch on the full-size keys, and the filter setup is really intuitive. I do find the arpegiattor and sequencer to be the most odd part of the machine, it takes some getting used to. It's a fantastic little unit for lead lines and silly noises! I'm in the market for a polysynth to deal with pads and some effects and my synthesiser world would be complete. The other really nice thing is that it's uncomplicated to use as a MIDI synth/controller under several OSes. I've not used it under Windows, but I've been able to successfully read/write patches to/from it in Linux and use Rosegarden without issues. It's quite loud, actually, I have to record carefully in Audacity.

    Steinberg UR22 USB Audio Interface

    Great USB interface usable under Linux as well as windows/mac. The mono inputs can fool you with panning from stereo interfaces, but its clean DACs are amazing. Very useful in MIDI situations where you want to sync between a couple of machines which can't do so directly themselves, and important for outputting MIDI data to a DAW.

    At one time before the later 3.16.x series of Linux kernels, linux/sound/usb/quirks-table.h had to be modified for the UR22 in a similar way to that for the Boss GT-10B, but thankfully it's a standard part of the kernel since then. Depending on your setup, if you use pulseaudio, you will have to kill it to allow native programs like audacity access the ALSA channels to get input. When I'm not recording with it, I use the UR22 as a simple practice interface by looping a line in from the computer to one of the inputs, and plugging an instrument and headphones in. Some music will suffer from the mono input but it does well enough!

    AKG Perception 220 Condenser Microphone

    Best value Neumann-design based microphone. I don't know what the 2nd version/usb version are like, I have the XLR version. Perfect for vocals and simple accoustic instrument recordings.

    Boss GT-10B Bass effects processor

    Although superseded by later models, this is an amazing deal if you like your Boss effects. There is a utility to be able to reprogram it from a PC. Linux users have to get their hands dirty with a patch to the ALSA usb driver in quirks-table.h. This file is a moving target: in recent kernels the entries for the Boss GT models has been removed. The catch-all entry won't work because the usb interface has a couple of specific modes, but don't be frightened, it's not that difficult a patch:

    First find linux/sound/usb/quirks-table.h and make a backup file first! Then open the original in an editor and search for the Roland section either by name or by vendor id 0x0582. The file is sorted in ascending order by device id, so we want to put our patch after ids 0x0cxx and before ids 0x0exx, which puts us inbetween two Roland Edirol models currently. Search for the Edirol UA-25EX and work back from there. Found it? Good. Fortunately the syntax for usb quirks hasn't changed, particularly for Roland/Boss devices so this patch should work for a number of kernels in the 3.x.x series. You'll have to apply it by hand, of course, so select and paste the following code into a text file and copy that just before the leading { of the UA-25X entry:

    
          
          {
          	/* BOSS GT-10B */
          	/* FIXME: this driver is assumed to work like its guitar brother the
          	 * GT-10, but there may be subtle differences which need debugging.
          	 * Standard mode is 0x00dd, Advanced is 0x00dc
          	 */
          	USB_DEVICE(0x0582, 0x00dc),
          	.driver_info = (unsigned long) & (const struct snd_usb_audio_quirk) {
          		.vendor_name = "BOSS",
          		.product_name = "GT-10B",
          		.ifnum = QUIRK_ANY_INTERFACE,
          		.type = QUIRK_COMPOSITE,
          		.data = (const struct snd_usb_audio_quirk[]) {
          			{
          				.ifnum = 0,
          				.type = QUIRK_AUDIO_STANDARD_INTERFACE
          			},
          			{
          				.ifnum = 1,
          				.type = QUIRK_AUDIO_STANDARD_INTERFACE
          			},
          			{
          				.ifnum = 2,
          				.type = QUIRK_MIDI_FIXED_ENDPOINT,
          				.data = & (const struct snd_usb_midi_endpoint_info) {
          					.out_cables = 0x0001,
          					.in_cables = 0x0001
          				}
          			},
          			{
          				.ifnum = -1
          			}
          		}
          	}
          },
          
          

    The reference to standard mode and advanced is because only the advanced mode works for use with fxfloorboard. Recompile the module and you should be in business. fxfloorboard is invaluable for making backups because noone can remember all those settings for that awesome patch you made.

    Current work

    I've been writing semi-instrumental electronic music for some years, some of it is on Soundcloud and tindeck. Currently saving for a nice electric guitar to complete my basic instrumental needs.

    Recently I've been delving into parody songs and it's been a good learning experience for recording in my limited setup.

    General fandom stuff

    The Beatles were my first great fandom which continues. I would probably count Talking Heads as my next big interest but I was just as interested in Split Enz, the Police, the Cure, Eno, and a number of other post-punk bands, so as a musician I was never wholly in the punk camp. By the late 80's I became a full-blown Smiths/XTC/They Might Be Giants fiend and then everything changed in the 90's and the list of Stuff To Like and People Who Get It grew ever-longer. Since the 2000's I've actually had to go backwards in time to catch up with all the amazing changes in the electronic dance genres, to the point where I am now which is not having any idea but just going with what sounds good!

    Music essays

    Some stuff I wrote about music-related things: