Teenage Engineering work with Rick & Morty creator on Pocket Operator

Synth love is reaching into the world of television. Teenage Engineering’s latest Pocket Operator not only features animated cult hit Rick & Morty, but involves a direct collaboration with that show’s producer.

Oh yeah, and I guess Justin Roiland kind of gets an edge on the rest of us in that he has an Emmy Award and we don’t. (Not yet. Hmmm… maybe Bastl Instruments and I will make a wacky sitcom set in a Czech village.)

From the description, it’s a little unclear what the PO-137 actually is, other than limited edition with various TV tie-ins. Yes, there are Rick & Morty animations added to the graphics. And yes, you get some custom samples voiced by Roiland himself. (You can hear some of those on the TE preview site.)

But I think it’s a safe bet that the PO-137 is really a re-skin of the PO-35 Speak. Both have “8 vocal characters,” but now those characters come from Rick & Morty. So look to the Speak specs for an idea of what’s in store:

vocal synthesizer and sequencer with built-in microphone for 8 different voice character sampling.

microphone for sampling
120 seconds sample memory
8 voice characters
8 effects
transpose and change scale
replaceable drum sounds with microtonic (sold separately)

This reminds me a bit of when KORG unveiled their OK Go edition volca sample. But Rick & Morty’s rabid fanbase seem to make for a sure-fire hit.

Personally, I don’t want any of your cheap merch, and I can’t really get into Rick & Morty paraphernalia. I just want you to give me a damned portal gun. Now that’s something I’ll invest in.

Also, side note, missed opportunity here – what someone really needs to create is BMO from Adventure Time. I guess we just have to wait and see how Playdate works out.

I’m just going to ponder what the most obscure cartoon partnership we can imagine for MeeBlip. So, Fyodor Khitruk isn’t alive any more, but maybe, like, one of his animators? (Винни-Пух for Eurorack!) How about a Hedgehog in the Fog ambient synth?

I’m sorry, this was supposed to be a news story or something. Please, go on about your day. Спасибо и спокойной ночи.

Preorders in July; shipping in November. The Pocket Operator… Винни-Пух synth I can’t answer.

https://teenage.engineering/

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A Buchla synth repair turned into an LSD trip, and made the evening news

It seems the legends are true – there really was LSD added to vintage synths. A Bay Area, California Buchla 100 reportedly triggered an acid trip decades later.

The equipment in question is a Buchla Model 100, 1960s vintage – the modular that defined what now some people call the “West Coast synthesis” style. I learned on one of these, too, though don’t recall any particular hallucinations.

The report comes from a local CBS television affiliate in San Francisco, KPIX, and their broadcast operator Eliot Curtis. (Synthtopia beats me to this one, though I’d seen the video last night – karma for when I was writing up Elektron news next to them this month!)

The LSD itself was located inside the machine, looking like crystals, and while we don’t have the specifics of the test, was apparently tested for authenticity. Finger contact with that substance triggered a nine-hour trip.

You may be wondering how this LSD lasted this long. I haven’t been able to find any data on that – which might suggest whether or not this LSD originated at the Buchla’s manufacture or whether someone added it later, or even if the story is true at all (CBS or not). The only study I could find deals with decomposition in urine, not storage of the chemical itself. But the synth should at least have kept the substance away from light and most likely also humidity, reducing its rate of deterioration. (Eliot also seems… well, fairly convinced!)

Whether you believe the LSD here is from the 60s or not, there is a verified association of Don Buchla and LSD and the use of the drug at some events. (That doesn’t mean everyone was tripping – I heard the Joshua Light Show creators explain that they needed to stay sober for their work, and the optical effects were effectively trippy enough!)

From the CBS report:

In 1966, some Buchla modules ended up on an old school bus purchased by LSD advocate Ken Kesey and his followers known as the Merry Pranksters.

During the last of Kesey’s acid tests — LSD-fueled parties — at Winterland on Halloween in 1966, electronic sounds, possibly from the Buchla, appeared to interrupt an interview of Kesey.

Buchla used LSD and was friends with Owsley Stanley, the genius behind the Grateful Dead’s sound system. Stanley, also known as Bear, was a masterful sound engineer and legendary hero of the counterculture. He was also famous for making the purest LSD to ever hit the street and kept such a low profile that not many photos of him exist.

What is in question here seems to be the exact provenance of these modules, which might locate the history of the alleged LSD discovery. Knowing who reads CDM, I imagine our readers may have some idea.

Also, while Synthtopia and others say this means the ‘red panel’ myth was true, that may be a stretch. The story is, the red paint on Buchla’s red panels had LSD in it – so you could, perhaps, lick the panel if you needed a little extra creative flow in the studio. I had also heard this story related when I was researching the Moog recreation of Keith Emerson’s modular – don’t forget, the East Coast was into some strange trips in the 60s and 70s, too. But those stories notwithstanding, it at least sounds like this particular acid had been stashed inside the machine, not in the paint as the legend goes.

Then again, who cares where it was – synths that can make you literally hallucinate are a pretty wild discovery, let alone the possibility that they might do so decades later.

As for the TV report, it’s worth watching just to see their reporter do the open in front of the synth – this is not your normal evening news special interest story, so thank you, Bay Area, you’ve still got it:

Repair Of Iconic ’60s Era Synthesizer Turns Into Long, Strange Trip For Engineer

Having just returned from Russia, let me say on behalf of people repairing Soviet instruments, “ah, lucky Americans, they get actual LSD causing their hallucinations, not old Communist chemicals…” (I’ll try to inhale deeply while I’m in Riga near some Polivoks and can let you know what happens. Seriously, don’t lick any eastern bloc electronics. Or… some of our current stuff, for that matter!)

For more Buchla 100 history, here’s an unboxing by the Library of Congress – though no word on whether this got the US government or this University of Chicago researcher high:

Unboxing the Buchla Model 100 [Library of Congress Blogs]

This song seems … literal now:

The post A Buchla synth repair turned into an LSD trip, and made the evening news appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Les Productions Zvon offers Sounds from Christmas past / Winter Holidays

Les Productions Zvon Memory Collection 09 Winter Holidays

Les Productions Zvon has released Memory Collection 09 – Sounds from Christmas past / Winter Holidays, a sample pack featuring a collection of samples taken from recordings of Public Domain TV shows and ads from the ’50s and ’60s. The samples in this collection are taken from 15 Public Domain TV shows and 29 ads […]

The post Les Productions Zvon offers Sounds from Christmas past / Winter Holidays appeared first on rekkerd.org.

7 Tips for Mixing Film & TV Scores + Free Presets at Waves Audio

Waves 7 shortcuts for film TV score mixing

Waves Audio has published an article in which award-winning TV and film composers Michael Josephs and Nick Murray share some tips for mixing film scores. Tips range from experimenting with the stereo image to layering of the frequency ranges of your percussion, how to make pianos sound more intimate and less MIDI-ish, and more. These […]

The post 7 Tips for Mixing Film & TV Scores + Free Presets at Waves Audio appeared first on rekkerd.org.

Save 91% off Underscore sample library for Kontakt by StudioWeapon

VST Buzz is offering a 91% discount on StudioWeapon Underscore, a Kontakt sample library developed specifically for composers who write underscore music for film, TV or video games. Underscore is a sample library designed for writing underscore music for film, TV & video games. It’s a rhythmic juggernaut jam packed with features perfect for filling […]

The post Save 91% off Underscore sample library for Kontakt by StudioWeapon appeared first on rekkerd.org.

From food stamps and survival to writing the songs you know

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” says artist and composer Allee Willis. Yet her output ranges from Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “September” to the theme song of Friends. If you don’t know Willis, you should – and her story might inspire yours.

Behind all the cheery social media these days, most artists you talk to have struggled. They’ve struggled with creativity and sobriety, mental health and creative blocks, unfriendly industries and obscurity. And sometimes they’ve struggled just to get by – which is where Allee Willis was in 1978, living off food stamps and wondering what would happen next.

What happened next is a career that led to an insane number of hit songs – along with plenty of other fascinating side trips into kitsch and art. (There’s a kitsch-themed social network, an artist alterego named Bubbles, and a music video duet with a 91-year-old woman drummer on an oxygen tank, to name a few.) But what it hasn’t involved is a lot of widespread personal notoriety. Allee Willis is a celebrity’s celebrity, which is to say famous people know her but most people don’t know she’s famous.

At least it’s about that gap. The odds that you don’t know her? Decent. The odds that you don’t know her songs? Unlikely.

Let’s go: Earth, Wind & Fire “September” and “Boogie Wonderland,” The Pointer Sisters’ “Neutron Dance,” Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield’s “What Have I Done To Deserve This.” The theme from Friends, recorded by The Rembrandts (if you knew that, which I suspect you didn’t)… all these and more add up to 60 million records. And she co-authored the Oprah Winfrey-produced, Tony and Grammy-winning Broadway musical The Color Purple. More songs you know in movies: Beverly Hills Cop, The Karate Kid (“You’re the Best”), Howard the Duck.

The Detroit native is an impassioned use of Web tech and animation, networked together machines to design an orchestration workflow for The Color Purple musical, and now lives in LA with … Pro Tools, of course, alongside some cats.

But this isn’t about her resume so much as it is about what she says drives her – that itch to create stuff. And for anyone worried about how to get into the creative zone, maybe the first step is to stop worrying about getting into the creative zone. We value analysis and self-critique so much that sometimes we forget to just have fun making and stop worrying about even our own opinions (or maybe, especially those). In the end, it was that instinct that has driven her work, and presumably lots of stuff that didn’t do as well as that Friends theme song. (But there are her cats. Not the Broadway kind; that’s Andrew Lloyd Weber – the furry ones.)

There’s a great video out from CNN-produced Web video series Great Big Story:

And her site is a wild 1999-vintage-design wonderland of HTML, if you want to dive in:

https://alleewillis.com

More:

How she wrote “What Have I Done to Deserve This” gets into her musical thinking – and incongruity (and she does sure seem like she knows what she’s doing):

Plus how she hears and why she needed a Fender Rhodes:

The post From food stamps and survival to writing the songs you know appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Gothic Instruments releases DRONAR Vintage Synth for Kontakt

Gothic Instruments DRONAR Vintage Synth Module featTime+Space has announced the release of DRONAR Vintage Synth, a new module in Gothic Instruments’ critically acclaimed product line of atmosphere creation tools. Vintage Synth comes with a retro futuristic vibe reminiscent of the classic 80s synth from which the sounds were derived. Transport your audience into an epic audio universe brimming with trepidation, tension […]

The amazing classic synth and experimental moments on children’s TV

Before it reverted to Internet age-blandness, American kids’ TV enjoyed a golden age of music, scored by oddball indie composers and legends alike.

And, wow, it could even teach you about synthesis.

Perhaps the most famous of thesse moments is when none other than Suzanne Ciani went on 3-2-1 Contact in 1980 to step inside her studio:

Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame was actually a composer before going into television, and the show’s deep commitment to music education reflected that. That music was generally of the acoustic variety, but he did one day tote a rare ARP Soloist synthesizer along with his trademark shoes and handmade sweaters – and his message and song about “play” might well be an anthem for us all.

Canadian-born composer Bruce Haack made an epic appearance on that same show in 1968, where he demonstrated a homemade electronic instrument. Haack himself as as prolific a composer of far-out sci-fi music for children as he was (much darker) experimental compositions and psychedelic works.

The best all-time “Fairlight CMI on a kids’ program” (because, amazingly, there’s been more than one of those) – Herbie Hancock, Sesame Street, 1983. Herbie keeps a terrific sense of cool and calm that all kids’ shows could learn from in this day of cloying, sugar-sweet patronizing programming:

Synths were all over vintage Sesame Street, often providing sound effects as in this oddly hypnotic Ernie puzzle:

Steve Horelick, the composer behind Reading Rainbow, showed off his Fairlight CMI and how digital sampling worked. (I have vivid memories of watching this as a kid – sorry, Steve.) Steve apparently came up at a time when Fairlight ownership was rare enough to get you gigs – but a good thing, too, as a whole generation still sings along with that theme song. And you probably got a second educational gift from Steve if you ever followed one of his brilliant video tutorials on Logic.

Even better than that is Reading Rainbow‘s synesthesia 3D trip – John Sanborn and Dean Winkler’s Luminaire, which was made for Montrea’s Expo ’86, to music by composer Daniel “No, I’m not Philip Glass” Lentz.

Better video of the actual animation and music, which – sorry, Mr. Glass, I actually kind of prefer to Glassworks:

Somehow this looks fresher than it did when it was new.

A young, chipper Thomas Dolby explained synthesis to Jim Henson’s little known 1989 program The Ghost of Faffner Hall!:

Oh yeah, also, apparently Jem and the Misfits imagined an audiovisual synth in 1985 that predicts both Siri and Coldcut / AV software years before their time. Plus dolls should always have synthesizer accessories:

Apart from education, there’s been some wildly adventurous music from obscure (who’s that?) and iconic sources (the Philip Glass?!) alike.

For a time, an experimental music Tumblr followed some of these moments. Here are some of my favorites.

Joan La Barbara does the alphabet (1977):

And yes, trip out with a composition by Philip Glass written especially for Sesame Street:

You can read the full history of this animation on Muppet Wiki,

More obscure, but clever (and I remember this one) – from HBO’s Braingames (1983-85), evidently by a guy named Matt Kaplowitz.

Not growing up in the UK, I’d never heard of Chocky, but it has this trippy, gorgeous opening with music by John W. Hyde:

American composer Paul Chihara’s 1983 score for a show called Whiz Kids is hilariously dated and nostalgia-packed now. But the man is a heavyweight in composition – think Nadia Boulanger student and LA Chamber Orchestra resident. He has an extensive film resume, too, which now landed him a position at NYU:

From Chicago public access TV, there’s a show called Chic-A-Go-Go, which in 2001 hosted The Residents.

But The Residents were on Pee-Wee, too:

Absurdly awesome, to close: “The Experimental Music Must Be Stopped.” This one comes to us from 2010 and French animation series Angelo Rules:

The post The amazing classic synth and experimental moments on children’s TV appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Dronar & Sculptor Bundle by Gothic Instruments 50% OFF for limited time

VST Buzz Dronar Sculptor BundleVST Buzz has launched a sale on the Dronar & Sculptor Bundle by Gothic Instruments, a unique bundle that allows you to create everything from vast evolving atmospheres to monstrous slamming impacts and strikes. The bundle comprises Dronar Hybrid and Sculptor. Primarily aimed at Film, TV, Video Game Composers and Sound Designers, together they form […]

Impact Soundworks releases Momentum percussive sound design library

Impact Soundworks MomemtumImpact Soundworks has released Momentum, a new percussive sound design instrument library for Native Instruments Kontakt and REX/WAV. The library is the ideal rhythm collection for film, TV and game composers. It comes with over 2,500 truly unique, organic percussion performances, categorized and tagged with extensive sound design tools. Besides the powerful Kontakt patches it […]