BillyRadd Music

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Nob Nob

Had another great Asheville experience this morning, this time at Moogfest's Modular Marketplace where I picked up a little wonder you may have heard of called a brandnewnoise voice recorder. It consists of a small (3″W x 3.5″L x 2″H), pretty, hand-made wooden box housing a digital audio recorder. It is so simple any idiot can operate it, which is right up my alley. Push and hold the red button and it records up to 30 seconds of audio from its built-in mic. Release the red button to stop recording, then push the black button and it plays back your recording. Turn the black nob to and fro to change the pitch during playback.

That last feature is the entertaining part.

I don't completely understand why, but at the ripe age of 67, it makes me smile and even break out laughing to hear my own voice, or anyone else's, for that matter, sound higher or lower than its normal pitch saying just about anything.

The best part is that the inventor, a really nice guy named Richard Upchurch from Brooklyn, NY, was manning his own table at the Modular Marketplace. He was very fun to talk to, is enthusiastic about his products (yes, there are other models - see his site for further details), and he was even nice enough to autograph my purchase on the back.

Powered by two AAA batteries (he even includes two with each recorder) the "Nob Nob", which was the name printed on the carton it was packaged in, requires no training manual and is well worth its $50 price tag in giggles alone. In the first hour after we got it back to our Jeep, Anita Gayle and I had recorded and played back at various speeds, many infantile phrases like, "Hi, how are you", "Must be time for lunch", and my personal fav, "I'm from Ohio", which for some obscure reason kept us in stitches for many minutes more than we should admit to.

Anyhow, Richard's little voice recorder would make a great gift for the friend who has everything because nobody really "needs" one.

Or do they? Yes, they do. Trust me.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Citrus Synthphony

I'm having a really great time exploring the Moog Sub Phatty I got a few weeks ago. So, I put my ears on, cranked up the Logic Pro software, and laid down some tracks. I like the synth as a complimentary sound to more traditional sounds like electric guitar, 4-string canjo, and shuffle drum rhythms.

So, here's the result of my latest efforts. At the most I may eventually find an audience, and at the least, I can't hear the dog barking next door when wearing ear phones. I have even thought of recording a sound sample of some of the loud barking and incorporating it into my next piece. At the very least then, all that canine cacophony would result in a positive outcome for me. Maybe.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Moog's Sub Phatty - Modulate Me, Man

Ok. Another weak moment (or strong decision, depending on how I use this new musical tool) because our comfy Asheville home is now emanating some very strange sonic vibrations at varying frequencies at all hours. Looking at it in its most favorable light, this new turn of events is particularly fortuitous for Anita and me since summer is fast approaching, the windows will be open, and the new electronic sounds will likely drown out the loud, constantly barking dog of our clueless neighbors next door. Turning adversity into advantage is what I'm all about, or at least I am today.

The Moog Sub Phatty is an amazing combination of retro technology and digital control on three progressively deep levels. Luckily, it comes with pretty extensive operating instructions so I have at least a fair chance to make the most of this tone monster. The console itself has 31 control knobs and some cool indicator LED lights in its bank and patch preset panel, a two octave velocity sensitive keyboard, and a tone wheel and an expression wheel.

But, the shift mode gets you even deeper into The Sub Phatty's programming capacity by adding more functions to its console's existing dials and buttons allowing you to change hidden parameters. Plus, Moog supplies (from their online site) free downloadable software the replicates the Sub Phatty's front control panel which shows yet more of the Shift Mode functions, plus "load and preset" options.

It's interesting how life sometimes revolves in circles (or spirals through time, if you will) since I find myself playing with synthesizers again. Back in 1974 when Anita and I worked for Salt Lake City's PBS affiliate TV station, KUED, we rented a prototype synthesizer similar to this beautiful, more sophisticated modern-day Moog to create sound effects for our documentaries. Now, here we are 43 years later trying to figure out analog oscillators, low pass filters, sound envelopes, pulse wave modulation and the rest all over again.

It's still as much fun now as it was back then, only more expensive.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Well, I'll be a MoogerFooger

Here are the latest additions to Anita Gayle's Musical Kit of Treasures. One reason Asheville is so cool is that it's the home to the Moog Synthesizer Factory, right off the freeway through downtown and way too easy to get to. Pictured are three MoogerFoogers - Ring Modulator, 12-stage Filter and Midi-MuRF sitting right next to Anita's beautiful Kevin Spears model Hugh Tracy Electric Kalimba, which Anita daisy-chains through the MoogerFoogers and out through a combo amp.

We already used it for Anita to lay down a music track for one of her short recipe videos about making a  yummy, nutritious whole grain hot cereal on her cooking blog. Nice!

Since we got home with this Moog trio, there have been some etherial and sometimes rather strange vibes emanating from our home.

But living in Asheville, no one really notices.