CatSynth Pic: Mr Maximillion with Peak, Alpha Base, Moonwind and More

Our pal from Arkansas Mr. Maximillion returns!  We see him with a Novation Peak, JoMoX Alpha Base and Moonwind, Deluge by Synthstrom, Novation Impulse, and more.  From Charles Whiley via Facebook.

CatSynth Pic: Korg Poly-800 and “Time-and-space” effects pedals

Little cat sitting on the corner of a Korg Poly-800 synthesizer.  Submitted by thedigitalpurrgatory (Anton Largoza-Maza) via Instagram.

A cat on a synthesizer with time-and-space effects pedals. [Korg Poly-800, Malekko Ekko 616, GFI System Specular Tempus, Eventide TimeFactor]

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Sutro Baths Ruins at Lands End

The ruins of the Sutro Baths at Lands End on the western edge of San Francisco.

Quite a few of our recent Wordless Wednesdays have focused on the western parts of the city.  Here are some previous posts:

Wordless Wednesday: Orizaba

Wordless Wednesday: Lake Merced Abstraction

Wordless Wednesday: Windmill (Golden Gate Park)

In addition, there is our video and article about Lake Merced.

CatSynth Pic: Stash

Stash and synthesizers

Meet Stash, who comes to us via Gloria Alexander.

This is Stash, He really likes the music…But I had to stop playing when he landed on the board.

It looks like he’s ready to start singing along!

It looks like he’s ready to start singing along!

Submitted via our Facebook page.  Identification of the synths left as an exercise to the reader.

CatSynth Pics: Synergy Cat

Gracie returns.  This time with not one but two of the rare Synergy synthesizer from Digital Keyboards.  Submitted by our friend Alsún Ní Chasaide via Facebook.

Gracie is absolutely adorable with her poses on the synth 😻.  But she has also chosen a very interesting instrument.  The Synergy is a hardware additive synthesizer with 32 digital oscillators and various modulation sources.  Additive synthesis requires a lot of resources in hardware (i.e., compared to FM), and the Synergy carried a hefty price tag.  There aren’t that many of them in operation today, so it’s quite amazing to see two of them in the same place at once.

From Vintage Synth Explorer:

The Synergy is a digital additive synthesizer manufactured from 1982 to 1985. Of the approximately 700 to 800 that were produced, it is estimated that less than 100 may still be in operation today. In the 1970’s, Bell Laboratories developed a high-speed additive oscillator system which was used by Digital Keyboards, a US-based division of the Italian synth/organ maker Crumar, to create a sophisticated additive synthesizer known as the Crumar General Development System (GDS). The GDS originally sold for about $27,500. The Synergy was essentially a lower-cost version of the GDS, without all the programmability of the GDS, and a price tag closer to $5,300…

…Although the Synergy is not programmable, it does feature 24 tone presets (with many more available via 24-tone cartridges). The sounds are generated by additive synthesis and phase modulation using 32 digital oscillators, computer controlled, and allocated dynamically. Polyphony is variable, depending on the selected tone preset.

You can see some of Gracie’s previous appearances via this link.

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam

It’s a good time to check in with Sam Sam.  Life is good for her at CatSynth HQ, as she relaxes, gets brushed and cuddled, runs around, plays, explores…it’s good to be the cat!

Here we see Sam Sam on the upstairs balcony.

Behind her to the left is a painting/collage by Kasper Rodenborn.  We acquired it at his solo show at Far Out Gallery here in San Francisco last year.  You can read our review of the show and also watch our video (it was one of our earliest on the CatSynth TV channel).

Of course, Sam Sam never misses an opportunity to demonstrate her trademark “scratch’n’roll” move.

It’s irresistible and definitely gets my attention whenever I’m sitting nearby.  She does love getting attention.  For example, her she is yesterday in the studio while I was busy working on our latest synth-demo video.

We hope you are all having an enjoyable and relaxing weekend.

 

The Making of Lake Merced

Today we talk about Lake Merced, as well as the recent video we made featuring it.

Lake Merced is located in the southwestern corner of San Francisco, in the vicinity of the SF Zoo and SF State University.

Lake Merced in San Francisco

Despite its odd shape and the fact that it borders three golf courses, it is actually a natural lake.  It is fed primarily by an underground spring.  In the 19th century, the lake briefly had an outlet to the ocean, approximately where the Great Highway breaks off from Skyline Boulevard, just south of the zoo.  The outlet is long gone, but the lake’s ecosystem retains some of its saltwater heritage among the fish and other wildlife that inhabit it. Lake Merced and its surrounding park remain one of the last and largest natural spaces left in the city (in spite of the golf courses), and is home to a variety of plant and animal life.  On the day I visited to shoot video, I encountered this egret.

But it is definitely an urban natural space, with sounds and sights from the surrounding city mixing with nature.  I am particularly fond of this view looking east over the lake to some apartment buildings.  It brings to mind Flushing Meadows in the New York City borough of Queens.

I have been spending more time in the western neighborhoods of San Francisco of late, and Lake Merced is one of the spots I revisit.  This is what inspired me to make it the subject of a CatSynth TV video, complete with original synthesizer music.

Here is see the final post-production on the video in Pro Tools.  Front and center is Tracktion’s BioTek software synthesizer, which I reviewed during NAMM 2016.  It was among the primary instruments used in this video where I blended its mix of natural and traditional-synthesizer sounds with the sounds of the field video.

I also made extensive use of the 4ms Spectral Multiband Resonator and Epoch Modular Benjolin (designed by Rob Hordjik).  They both have very elemental sounds that resemble air and water.  The Benjolin is chaotic by design, and a small turn of a knob can change it from liquidy to screeching, so it’s sometimes a challenge to get a good recording that fits the concept of the music.  The SMR is a lot of fun to play, especially using alternate tunings and changing the spread and morph parameters.  A clock is used to constantly shift the bands.

 

Rounding out the sound palette were the Arturia MiniBrute 2Mimimoog Model D, and Metasonix R53 vacuum-tube waveshaper and ring modulator.

The Moog Model D, the MiniBrute and several of the modules make cameos during the video, as does Sam Sam.  Watch the video all the way through to spot her 😺

This was a fun video to shoot and put together, something a bit more creative and abstract than our usual demos or live-show reports.  I have more of these waiting in the queue to be made…

 

CatSynth Pic: Kirppu and Analog Solutions Leipzig-S

Meet Kirppu, who is relaxing on top of an Analog Solutions Leipzig-S synthesizer. Submitted by Jouni Salo via our Facebook page.

 

CatSynth Pic: Charlotte and Arturia MiniBrute, Roland SH-101, and Korg MS-2000

Charlotte returns and shows off her Arturia MiniBrute, Roland SH-101 and Korg MS-2000 synthesizers.  Submitted by Lee Tizzard via our Facebook page.

Wordless Wednesday: Independence Day

The flag we see every day out the window from CatSynth HQ.  We wish all our fellow Americans a happy 4th of July (Independence Day)!

(Shot on an iPhone using Hipstamatic Lisbon Pack)