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SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

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SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Sep 09, 2019 1:22 pm

As I'm sat here blinking in the cold light of sun and noticing the chill in the air, I understand that it's now September. It appears that I spent the entire Summer getting the Soundtrack Machine to work. :bouncy:

After several instances of two steps forward, one step back, I was able to get the thing to actually play my latest piece of ... music? We'll call it music lol. :)

And here's what it sounds like! Please note, this is just a live songwriting demo to see if I could actually do it -- so forgive any rough edges!

https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... n-complete

Basic architecture: MC-500 as master clock and MIDI sequencer. It plays the orchestral bits (JV-1080 with expansion cards) and drums (DR-550). BeatStepPro converts MIDI to CV sync and goes to the modular. A second sequencer, the XOR NerdSeq picks up the slack and plays the bass lines as well as various bleeping and chiptune noises. Added to that is a live synth (TX7), two live guitars, live bass and an analog sample playback device called a 'cassette deck' for the spoken word bits between the movements; this is necessary because each floppy for the MC-500 can only hold so much music and I want something to play whilst swapping disks. So, I incorporated that into the actual piece.

It's a rather big piece of music, length-wise, but any feedback is welcome.

This was a massive, multi-month long process that taught me quite a bit about arranging for something with this many moving parts to be performed live. My entire workflow and approach had to change, and I was REALLY happy to leave the computer behind unless I was actually recording something!

For super nerds, below is the list of synth voices from the modular part of the setup:
Bass: Moog Mother-32
Chiptune: 2x Twisted Electrons AY3
PWM melody line: Boomstar Oscillation with WORNG Vector Space and WMD/SSF Modbox
Mixer/filter: WORNG Sound Stage
Effects processing: WORNG LRMSMSLR/strymon AA.1/BOSS RV-500
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Martin Walker » Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:48 pm

I liked CONCERTO FOR A DYING SUN a lot Ben! :thumbup:

Bit of a slow (yet atmospheric) starter though - I was grabbed within a few seconds but was then getting a bit bored with the lack of changes...

...until 3:57 when everything burst into life and recaptured my attention and held it firmly from that point onwards 8-)

...currently enjoying the next atmospheric section 10 minutes in, and once again you pull the cat out of the bag at with a powerful change at 10:47 :clap:

13:24 is that a Mike Oldfield guitar influence? And a bit of Alan Parsons added to taste?

15:46 now it's Pink Floyd - this is most enjoyable!

17:50 Nice change - a touch Tomita/Wendy Carlos! Shame this section didn't go on longer though ;)

29:00 Well I've just made it to the end, and what an enjoyable overall experience!

I couldn't help but notice various opportunities for small amounts of ear candy to be added en route, but nevertheless this is powerful stuff.

When's the album artwork going to be finished? Don't forget to put "...and no computers were used in the making of this album" in the liner notes :smirk:

Bravo that man!


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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Sep 09, 2019 3:30 pm

I'm loving this :D :clap: :clap: :clap:
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Sep 09, 2019 5:57 pm

Finished listening to the whole thing and, just wow. Fantastic stuff... it's so atmospheric and evocative. I totally love it. The end section in particular was superb! Any chance of a downloadable version (free or paid) for my music library? :-)
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:28 pm

Wow, thank you both for the kind words! And for proving your endurance lol.
When the song is done, I will gladly pass along download info!

And now to start working on the follow up song, with the equally self-indulgent title of FOR THE SHIPS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA. :D
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:57 pm

Martin Walker wrote:I liked CONCERTO FOR A DYING SUN a lot Ben! :thumbup:

Bit of a slow (yet atmospheric) starter though - I was grabbed within a few seconds but was then getting a bit bored with the lack of changes...

...until 3:57 when everything burst into life and recaptured my attention and held it firmly from that point onwards 8-)
Thanks so much for the detailed breakdown; it was fun virtually following you along. :)

...currently enjoying the next atmospheric section 10 minutes in, and once again you pull the cat out of the bag at with a powerful change at 10:47 :clap:

13:24 is that a Mike Oldfield guitar influence? And a bit of Alan Parsons added to taste?
Wow, you nailed it! Huge Oldfield fan and it shows, for better or for worse lol.

15:46 now it's Pink Floyd - this is most enjoyable!

17:50 Nice change - a touch Tomita/Wendy Carlos! Shame this section didn't go on longer though ;)
It did, originally, but then I literally ran out of memory on the floppy and had to cut some bits out lol
I shall be revisiting the idea of a canon/fugue, however...

29:00 Well I've just made it to the end, and what an enjoyable overall experience!

I couldn't help but notice various opportunities for small amounts of ear candy to be added en route, but nevertheless this is powerful stuff.
Thanks! There are plans for some vocals so there some of those repetitive bits are actually verses.

When's the album artwork going to be finished? Don't forget to put "...and no computers were used in the making of this album" in the liner notes :smirk:

Bravo that man!
Thanks again!
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Sep 09, 2019 7:58 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:Finished listening to the whole thing and, just wow. Fantastic stuff... it's so atmospheric and evocative. I totally love it. The end section in particular was superb! Any chance of a downloadable version (free or paid) for my music library? :-)
Wow, thanks, Eddy, that is high praise, indeed! :D
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby blinddrew » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:07 pm

Thoroughly enjoyed that! :)
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Sep 10, 2019 12:41 pm

blinddrew wrote:Thoroughly enjoyed that! :)
Thanks for giving it a listen!!
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Folderol » Tue Sep 10, 2019 1:54 pm

Very much enjoyed this too :thumbup:
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Sep 10, 2019 3:56 pm

Folderol wrote:Very much enjoyed this too :thumbup:
Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for listening, and for the feedback!
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Richie Royale » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:00 pm

The start is very much John Carpenter - Escape from New York.

Good work, I'm sure you are happy to make it to the end!
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:27 am

Richie Royale wrote:The start is very much John Carpenter - Escape from New York.

Good work, I'm sure you are happy to make it to the end!
Thanks for listening, John Carpenter is a definite influence!
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby BillB » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:09 pm

Hey Ben, just had chance to listen all the way through - excellent!

You old axe-wielder, you - and we thought you were just a synth-nerd - well I did, perhaps I haven't been paying attention!?

I loved the overall epic tones, takes me back to many of the references that people have made above, plus Genesis, and a few others.

Well done with the programming, impressive what you have been able to wring out of the MC-500. The DR-550 sounds better than I expected it to, presumably it is well-suited to the rock vibe. Nice to hear the TX textures in with the JV orchestral tones. Overall, very impressed.

When is the UK tour?
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Sep 11, 2019 10:08 pm

BillB wrote:Hey Ben, just had chance to listen all the way through - excellent!
Thanks for listening!

You old axe-wielder, you - and we thought you were just a synth-nerd - well I did, perhaps I haven't been paying attention!?
LOL -- oh, in case I've not mentioned it, I can play guitar; in fact, I studied jazz and classical guitar for 10 years which is why I am a rubbish keyboard player. :)

I loved the overall epic tones, takes me back to many of the references that people have made above, plus Genesis, and a few others.
Yep, guilty as charged. I wear my influences on my sleeve whilst, HOPEFULLY, not sounding like a complete copy.

Well done with the programming, impressive what you have been able to wring out of the MC-500. The DR-550 sounds better than I expected it to, presumably it is well-suited to the rock vibe. Nice to hear the TX textures in with the JV orchestral tones.
Yeah, it sounds surprisingly good, right?! I think part of it as writing to the sounds instead of writing a part and just using those sounds, if you follow what I mean.

Overall, very impressed.
Thanks again!

When is the UK tour?
Man, I wish! May happen one day, would love to play a couple of gigs on the wrong side of the Pond lol.
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Re: SOUNDTRACK MACHINE first demo -- MC-500 + modular

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:18 pm

I have been working on streamlining the arrangement and performance of this piece and am almost ready to press Record! I agree with the criticisms of the original demo in that I can probably do more in less time, sharpen the focus of the intro and reduce the meandering in some parts. I have also been taking a critical look at the structure of the piece and think it can be stronger. Unfortunately, I couldn’t do that until I had the whole thing done and could hear it in toto.

The biggest performative change to my setup has been the addition of using the sample player in the Disting Mk4. It uses up a track from the NerdSeq, but if I like the way it works, I’ll invest in the trigger expansion from XOR. As much as I love using tape for the voiceovers, the 5G interference here creates too much noise coming through. I am not against the use of samples in any event, as long as they are of my own creation. :)

The other big change is in revoicing some instruments; I now have the TX7 playing the bass lines and the Mother-32 playing top line melodies. I am using the JP-08 as the live poly synth, it has some absolutely brilliant patches available.

The bass algorithms for the DX/TX7 are immense and very nostalgic sounding, I really like them!

So, more music arriving in the next few weeks!

I need to buy more floppies now....
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