Music - Synthesizers - the K150 and the Maple Leaf Rag

Most of my pianos samples were played back on a Kurzweil K150.  At the time, this device was quite clever - it used additive sine waves to simulate a piano.  Pressing an individual note did in fact sound like a piano!  But it had a couple of bugs.

One was that, for me, for playing fast ragtime, the pedal programming had a bug where if you hit a note, then the pedal, then lifted the note quite quickly, it made a truly horrible squaking sound.  Of course this happens a lot when playing stride piano when hitting the bass notes.

The other problem was that it does not in fact have enough sine waves to sound like a real piano.  Each note had 16 sine waves available, with a total of 240 sine waves available (so 16 notes at a time, if you didn't really use all 16 sine waves?  What an odd number.).  And so it has a kind of bell tone to it because it is missing some of the higher harmonics.

I played the version of Maple Leaf Rag below in June 2003 on the K150.  I guess one noteworthy thing is it forced me to play (mostly) without the pedal!  But you can hear the bell-like sound because 16 sine waves is not quite enough.

Music - 8-bit 11K

A long time ago, before 16-bit audio cards were normal, and storage was tight - maybe 1996 - I experimented with making great sounding low-res 8-bit audio.

This one minute sample of Beethoven's Pathétique Sonata is 8-bits wide and playing back at the incredibly low rate of 11025 samples / sec.  It is stereo which improves it.

(I wish I knew the source of this music.  I have to admit it sounds a bit synthesized but that might also be the low bit rate.)

Pretty nice, eh?



One thing is for sure - you don't have to worry about getting tracked for visits to this blog!

I noticed a link on the 'Stats' page - More about this blog.  It took me to a page that tells me that:

  1. Everyone visiting is using Android OS
  2. Everyone visiting is (somehow) using Mobile Safari (an iOS based browser) on their Android OS  and
  3. Everyone visiting is from Singapore.
So ... 

Music - Piano - Two Part Invention in D

It turns out it is hard to play the piano well!

I didn't know because I simply spent every waking hour during my junior and senior years of high school teaching myself to play.

I always loved Wendy Carlos' performance of Two Part Invention in D (by Bach) on Switched-On Bach.

This is by far the hardest thing I ever taught myself.

Technically I know how to read music - actually doing it is very slow and painful.  My only chance was to memorize this.

I can't play it anymore.

As I listen to this recording from c. 1986 I hear every hiccup.  But a couple of days ago I listened to it in the car where I was quite a bit less critical and well, it's an achievement of some kind.


Music - Composed - Goth Mar

(Repost from 2008 with some additional text.)

I've only composed, as in actually thinking it through and writing it down on paper (physical or electronic), two tunes, and the first one is lost to history (so far). Normally I just noodle around and overdub.

The second piece I actually thought through is this one. 

I composed it one note at a time using Cakewalk in sheet music mode. It's got some really thick chords in it. It's got a good tempo. It's got some really fancy finger work - in fact, it's probably not humanly possible to play, which is cool.  One of my goals was to have constant volume for every note and have the dynamics come from the number of notes.  The drums were added later from the SR-16 using MIDI sync.

I like it quite a bit. 


Music - MIDI - Seaside

I wish I could tell you where the name for this came from. Doesn't sound much like being by the sea to me. More like trapped in a cave near the sea with monks chanting in anticipation of your drowning.

But I digress.

I think the rhythm is from a drum machine, but then I went and remapped all the drum sounds to other sounds.


Music - MIDI - Walking

This piece is greatly enhanced by the drum machine.  It's one of my favorite toys.  It's an Alesis SR-16 and the great thing about it was that you could trigger different "breaks" depending on when you hit the break button (or pedal).


Music - MIDI - South Coast Plaza

South Coast Plaza is a shopping mall in Southern California.

Inside was (is still?) the Carousel Court.

The Carousel Court included a clock which would "ding dong" every hour or maybe every 15 minutes. I dunno.

Clock with bells:

For unknown reasons I decided to actually compose a song with that "ding dong" (first->lower fifth) chime as the theme.

When I say "compose" I mean that I actually thought about what I was doing, recording it in MIDI, making modifications, and tweaking it a lot, as opposed to my improv pieces where I mostly just sat down and screwed around for an hour or two.

The bird chirp sounds at the start and end are because of a tune I learned about in a music class in college where some famous dude had composed an orchestral piece of some kind based on birds chirping. I felt my simple "ding dong" theme was reminiscient of that so I added in some bird chirps at the start and end.

As you listen, you'll hear that the piece is quite a bit more complex than "ding dong" but that was the basis!