Our latest video features the Benjolin, a module designed by Rob Hordijk and distributed by Epoch Modular. From the official website:
The benjolin is a multifunction synthesizer designed by Rob Hordijk. The module consists of four separate function blocks: two VCOs, a state variable filter and an additional circuit, invented by Hordijk himself, called a rungler. This particular arrangement emerged from his efforts to design a synthesizer that was, as he puts it, “bent by design”. As such, the module functions according to principles of chaos theory, where short to long sputtering patterns spontaneously transform themselves, at times, gradually, at others, quite suddenly, morphing into new pattern doublings and bifurcations.
The rungler is what gives the module (and its predecessor the Blippo Box) its chaotic character. It’s basically a shift register timed off the two oscillators which then fed as a control signal back to the oscillators, creating a nonlinear dynamic feedback system. It’s a lot of fun to just play and explore, but I have also used it in both recordings and live performance. It works particularly well with subtle control inputs, like the Theremini.
We have a brand-new CatSynth TV! This one demonstrates a couple of the hidden features of the Moog Sub Phatty synthesizer.
In particular, we look at filter-topology selection and Oscillator 2 beat frequencies. The filter selection makes the instrument much more powerful, moving between the extra crunchy 1 and 2-pole filters to the smooth 4-pole that is “quintessentially Moog”. The beat frequency is a bit more esoteric – it maintains beating frequencies across different pitches, leading to some odd detunings in different registers. But it can add a new timbral-metric component to compositions – something to explore in more depth.
We also look at the Editor/Librarian software from Moog, which is really handy for accessing these features as well as saving patches.
The Matzoh Man returns for Passover on CatSynth TV, this time accompanied by a Minimoog, Roland VP-03 vocoder and our trusty Nord Stage EX.
The Dayenu song is a tradition on Passover. The word dayenu approximately translates to “it would have been sufficient” and is used as a phrase of gratitude for each of the miracles recounted in the Passover Hagaddah.
Yesterday, countless people joined March for Our Lives in communities all across the United States and internationally. We at CatSynth attended our local rally and march here in San Francisco and created this video of the experience.
March for Our Lives is part of a larger movement protesting gun violence and gun safety, especially as it affects our youth. This has been bubbling for a long time, but it erupted in a full-fledged movement after the tragic shooting at Stoneman-Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida. The students who survived the shooting immediately spoke out forcefully against the seeming intransigence of leaders in the face of gun violence and have since been joined by countless other young people as well as those of us who are a bit older and support their message. It culminated in the events yesterday, where hundreds of thousands participated. There were a variety of opinions, from simple common-sense measures like banning specific devices and background checks to entirely abolishing the Second Amendment. But what united them is the idea that continuing to do nothing is unacceptable and must change. There was a modest success in Florida in the wake of the shooting, but it remains to be seen if more action comes from this.
We at CatSynth strongly believe that we need to do a lot more to reduce gun violence – and increase gun safety – in the U.S., and that cultural intransigence in some segments is no excuse. But we will save a detailed opinion for another time. For now, we leave you with the speech by Emma Gonzales, who with her fellow Parkland students have become the faces and consciences of this movement.
Purim is the “most synthesizer-y” of Jewish holidays, given that one of it’s central rituals is noisemaking. This year we created a synthesizer demo running sounds from a gragger through several modules.
The demo uses a mixture of pre-recorded gragger on the QuBit Nebulae and live sound via the Mikrophonie and Make Noise Echophon. The full list of modules used in the Purim demo is:
Make Noise Echophon
Qu-Bit Nebulae (v1)
Rossum Electro-Music Morpheus
Make Noise Maths
Make Noise Tempi
Malekko Heavy Industry Noisering
I do wish I already had a Qu-bit Nebulae v2 for this project. You can see our review of v2 from NAMM 2018 here.
Purim is a holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from the king’s wicked advisor Haman, as told in the book of Esther. Traditionally, the gragger is used to mask the name of Haman when said out loud during readings.
You can hear her sweet but demanding voice, and see how our little girl spends a typical afternoon. It’s a pretty envious existence if I say so myself 😺. One can also see her rather unique way of walking up and down stairs.
One of our CatSynth TV episodes this week featured a close-up demonstration of the Wicks Looper by Rarebeasts, a tiny musical instrument that can make beats, loops, and all sorts of noises. We also added a Korg Delay Monotron for filtering and delay effects in the last portion of the demo.
The Wicks Looper is a fun instrument that I have used in several live performances, though less so lately. Its audio jack is a bit fussy at times, but as long as I remember I know how to make it work reliably. Both it and the Monotron should see more use again this year as I plan out new ideas for solo performances. And we still love that cat logo that looks so much like our dear Luna. But there is also a (non-black) Luna who lives with the human who created the instrument, a fact involved in our discovering it in the first place.
Rarebeasts has moved on to newer custom electronic instruments that are quite sculptural in nature. You can see their work at their Etsy shop.
Specifically, I-87, a limited-edition American IPA made by Davidson Brothers Brewing Company in Glenn Falls, New York. Glenn Falls is a little north of Albany and just south of Lake George.
As we can see from this map, it is just east of Interstate 87, here the Adirondack Northway, so the name for the beer is not at all surprising. US 9 also goes through the town center, as does one of its myriad auxiliary routes, NY 9L, and NY 32 which like US 9 and I-87, follows the Hudson River.
As for the beer itself, it is definitely an IPA and has the characteristics one would expect, including the hoppy flavor. But it also had a bit of a sweet/caramel flavor as well. I’m by no means an official beer expert, but I quite liked it. I will have to drop by the brewery when I’m that far north in New York state again.
See more of Glenn Falls, New York and many other fine towns across North America in our Highway☆ app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.