20210730

Learning scripting with Norns. Motivated to find a method for using CVpal as a poor-crow (canary maybe?), for clocking modular and possibly providing synced lfo’s or s&h’s. The topic has its own thread but so far the utility is a desire. I succeeded in making a proof of concept utility using tmi. It uses the tmi as sequencer which produces notes ramping up from lowest to the highest (which CVpal permits c2-c6) and each note has note velocity data which ramps up and down (127-1-127) to produce a saw like lfo. Each changing note produces a gate which can be used for sync. Not perfect for syncing but works for modules which expect a rising edge. Got it running parallel with goldeneye and felt like a guru for a while. I’ll test other scripts too for fun.

Collecting resources for a stand-alone mod (or tmi additions).

20210725

Build a Alex Rice Piezo Preamplifier following Zach Poffs documentation. Seems to work well with my i4 instrument input. I’ll have to build a few shielded piezos to get a better understanding of its quality. The build was relatively easy and I sourced a matched 2N3819 jfet pair locally (should have found a more sensitive couple but went for 11,6 & 11,7 Idss). Also… Should have fitted the 1,5k (R3) resistor I used with a 1-2k trimmer for balancing the transistor bias (the balancing process is detailed in the Cortado preamp documentations). But I’m happy with this as is… Perhaps for the next build.

Fitting a Neutrik NCJ6FIS combojack in a Hammond 1550A case took filing but worked well in the end. Added a belt clip from an old Würth tape measure so that I can keep the unit on me during performances. A neat and small package! I’ll etch some descriptions (using ferric chloric acid!) on its workings to the case before its done. I’m dreaming of building a stereo-pair which could be fitted to the two inputs of my tascam dr40. Found a good resource for all sorts of audio/electronics stuff Elliott Sound Products (the piezo preamp looks promising) maintained by Rod Elliott.

Getting more comfortable with Norns. Digging Cheat Codes and other grids optimized devices using my secondhand launchpad. Also coping with script tweaks by accessing the device over maiden. The forum introduced me to a bizarre programme Argeïphontes Lyre which can (for example) chop up files into desired lengths (working with the Trans-Siberian Railway -Sound Archive recordings using goldeneye).

20210504

I’m into manuals right now. It’s a new thing for me. I’m reading long technical manuals which guide how to use a tool or technology. I recently bought a Casio ProTrek PRG-40 watch from the year 2000. I bought it for cheep, a corner of the watch face has chipped of but it works. It’s a survivalist watch with a compass and an altimeter. Exactly something I wanted in my teens – It’s currently affordable and looks like a grotesque sculpture. The manual for the watch module qw2271 is incomprehensible. Being stressed by work I’ve spend my nights studying it.

I imagine reading a manual is like reading a bible. There are meta-narratives (altimeter operation guide is a promise of future adventures), key combos which I have to recite to remember and the entire manual opus, echoes a deterministic world-view: Read this and you will learn it, then you will know it – There is an order to life, sleep easy. This particular watch is so complicated to use that operating it makes me feel like an indoctrinated member of a clergy. I’m of the manual readers -clan.

Bibliographic Sound Track by Tan Lin speaks to me trough the manual and data management aesthetics. I relax when stuff is listed and written not to be read. Reading becomes a “syncopated or rhythmic process of absorbing information” and I really need to absorb information which I don’t need to use (in any fashion) to soothe the hurt timetabling and personal management causes.

… reading as in not reading one word after an other but as in navigating an architectural space … 15 years ago we would have never mistaken a owners manual with literature, but today. It’s easy …

I pre-ordered a M8 tracker/sampler/synth and was one of the lucky 300 800, who managed to source a unit from the first production batch. A large part of the appeal of the device is nostalgia (like with this 80ties dream watch) but also the complicated manual (draft). The operations look esoteric. Numbers are counted in hexadecimal and the sequencer commands resemble code. Navigation is based on key-combos. The developer also hosts meet-ups were beta-users share tricks on how to use it and everyone (developer included) seem surprised by the features of the device. There are behavioural patterns lurking in the design, which users are revealing trough meticulous study. The meet-ups are super long and I’ve watched a few… It’s like a manual as an audiobook and following them helps me to forget work.

Link talks about grey literature, stuff which is not intended to be read indefinitely. It is situated, temporal and in the case of the old Casio watch, reading is a process of engaging with something which is obsolete (necro-literature?). In the case of m8 the reading is speculative, the thing which the manuals describe is still in development. It does not exist. Reading it feels liberating or unburdening. In 2018 I discovered instrument demo-videos and that they feel liberating to listen. Here is a playlist of instrument tutorials I listen to as music.

I want a tool for sequencing songs. I’m stuck because I can only produce riffs. Orca/Norns has been great for this and jams even, but using it for songs would require an epiphany on how to work it (for me). The sampler Orca uses is feature rich but the synth implementation is not as advanced as with m8 (I don’t have much midi gear and the midi CC implementation of Orca is still weird too). I’ve never made songs in software… I’ve made riffs and sang over them but I feel stuck (and I can’t even sing out loud at ease in my cellar studio). The Little Sound DJ workflow (which m8 is an iteration of) supports Ableton Live style track-playback, which I think might be helpful. It also has a good midi support and I might be able to program a setup with automated KP3 effects for vocals. Also thinking about midi-to-cv stuff for future prosperity. Okko has been working with trackers and perhaps the m8 will find use!

20210107

Suomalaisen kodin likaiset paikat : hygienia ja modernin asunnon muotoutuminen [The dirty spaces of Finnish homes: Hygiene and the formulation of the modern living habitat] (1998) Kirsi Saarikangas. A thorough analysis of how the current design aesthetics of Finnish homes have been formulated. Saarikangas argues that discussions on “domestic hygiene” (the spatial sergrigation of genders, placement of visitors and the emergence of the kitchen as an all white laboratory with tiled, easy to clean surfaces etc.) paved way for the broder acceptance of “racial hygiene” in Finland. In her view this is evident in architectural Functionalism, which she identifies as a (borderline) post-traumatic stress reaction to rot and decay, which people had witnesses during the wars. More on the PTSD-architecture-approach in Chatting with Architect and Neuroscientist Ann Sussman about Buildings, Streets, and Cities (2020) Kunstler.

Saarikangas builds a case that architecture and interior design serve as “tools for organizing domestic life”. The ways that spaces get divided, regulate how habitats meet, what they are allowed to see and what kinds of assemblies they can form. Citing Foucault on biopower she argues that modern architecture is about organizing and controlling bodies and to enforce “healthy” life-styles. An interesting detail is that natural light became linked with hygiene: Light baths were recommended as a remedy (“Where the sun does not shine, the doctor will come”) and it made dirt visible. Citing Julia Kristevas notes of dirt, she broadens this approach to city-planning, which is largely concerned with enforcing distances between citizens and things which are deemed unhygienic (such as animals).

Miten Saanasta tuli pyhä? Erilaisten rinnakkaisten Saana diskurssien tarkastelua [How did Saana become a sacred mountain? An analysis of parallel discourses connected with Saana.] (2019) Taarna Valtonen. A revealing analysis of discussions which emerged after a Finnish, nationalistically geared artwork was presented at the Saana mountain, which is located in the Sápmi. Valtonen argues that an emerging “transnational indigenous folk discourse” is spearheading idealistic views which link ecologically mindful practices and the appreciation of the sacredness of nature to indigenous worldviews. She argues that on occasion these generalized standpoints lead opinion forming processes more then the actions and arguments of people who inhabit particular sites and engage in particular practices.

I’ve been setting up my studio in the civil defense shelter. Currently attempting to build a telephone line between the shelter and our flat. Use old phones as an intercom article on ePanorama (Tomi Engdahl, undated 1996?) offers good hints and schematics. Sound works great using a 9v power supply and a 220Ω resistor (~25mA flows) but I haven’t gotten the ringers on the phones to work. I attached a piezo buzzer to the 3 & 5 terminals of the first unit (I’m working with Ericsson Dialog phones from the 70ties) which the schematics (found inside the phone case) designate as “Additional Ringer” inserts and an other piezo to 2 & 5 terminals of the second unit. This works well for one end but the piezo sound on the other end is very low. Really frustrating work.

Making room for future work with mini-FM transmitter stuff (Tetsuo Kogawa). Online vendors from China offer really cheep mini-FM transmitters and I’ve ordered a few to test the concept. Interestingly there are many units which offer I2C support (or serial command) which hints opportunities for developing Norns or other monome-world programmable FM receiver/transmitter modules. I should document the process so far and add inspirational entries to Modulargrid. Building a transmitter and a receiver on the same board seems very challenging. I think the variable capacitors which set the transmission/receiving FM channel affect each other.

20201225

Disabled the Auto WiFi hotspot script on my Raspi following the Script Removal guide. Using the Raspi as my studio terminal… Yeah, I build a studio over the last two weeks. It’s a small room (240 x 230 x 235). Originally a compartment of the mandatory civil defence emergency evacuation structures of our apartment building. It’s below ground level but has a cute window trough which I can see the grass. In the summer I can turn this space into a camera obscura!

I build long shelves, two tables (one for standing and the other for sitting) and a weird high work stool using a Brooks-bicycle saddle and timbre I salvaged from a nearby construction site. The tables and shelves run along the walls and are mounted straight to them (made from OBS hence channelling strong 2000-berlin vibes). I’ve used every corner of the space and even added a sitting hammock to the ceiling. I got everything ready just before I was relieved from my gig-job at Posti. Still recovering from the gig.

I haven’t used the space much yet and there is still some work to be done. I’m currently moving all my gear, tools and supplies from the closets I’ve used to stash them. Dismantled the WaterLab patch (made notes of it) and organized my modules to the two cases I’ve build. I can finally test CaliOSC with the Mutable Instruments CVpal with my Norns (running Orca). The hammock is positioned perfectly for working a keyboard/Norns and to send signals to the modular.