Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mattson Mini Modular - Pre-AHNE Photos

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

It’s AHNE time, and after several years I’m finally getting a chance to go again. AHNE stands for Analog Heaven Northeast, by the way, and it’s a synth geek gathering held annually around this time of year about 30 miles west of Boston. I’m going to bring my Mattson Mini Modular, possibly for its first public showing on the East coast. In my preparations for the trip I had the modular out and open, so I decided to take some photos, both of the whole thing and of each module. Once it’s set up at AHNE I’ll take a few more “action” shots. I’ll take photos of everyone else’s gear as well, so expect another post next week.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bolero and Bionics

So I’m innocently minding my own business, just sorta idly going through some Gizmodo posts, when I see one titled From the Archives: Wired’s Bionic Quest for Bolero. That’s just too darn intriguing on too many levels for me to possibly be able to ignore.

I’ve always loved Ravel’s Bolero (but according to the article he himself was always a bit dismayed by its popularity). I’ve seen it performed live a good number of times, but I have to admit that pretty much all of those were by Todd Rundgren’s Utopia in the early 1980s. The first time I saw them do it I had basically no warning, and I ended up being totally blown away. I’m a huge Todd fan, so it was a special treat to see him do Bolero. They first played classical instruments, then their rock ’n’ roll instruments. Completely amazing.

But I digress. This was supposed to be about bionic ears.

The Wired article was from maybe four or five years ago, which I didn’t realize at first, but that doesn’t matter so much. It was also filled with interesting science and technology, but that wasn’t so important either. What made it worth reading was the sheer amount of angst, hope, worry and joy. I cannot possibly imagine what it would be like to lose my hearing, and to then against all hope be able to use technology to fight to get my hearing back. I also can’t think of a more joyful thing to strive for in that regard than to hear Ravel’s Bolero. To keep trying different technologies, each with it’s successes and setbacks, to finally be able to hear a voice but to not have the capability of hearing music, and to keep on persevering through years of effort, that is a story worth knowing about.

I can hear music. I take it for granted. I have friends who don’t quite hear what I hear though. They can certainly hear a song but can’t separate the bass from the rhythm from the lead. It is almost beyond my ability, however, to imagine what it would be like to finally once again be able to tell the difference between two notes an octave apart, and to be able to call that a total victory. And then a year later to be able to get a software upgrade for your hearing which lets you distinguish five different notes in an octave instead of one is simply mind boggling.

We live in an age of miracles.

Photo: from the Wired article. CT scan: Valley Radiology; Matt Hoyle.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mobius Music

Mobius music. Such a simple idea, yet absolute genius.

It’s been a long time since I posted something, missed a whole month in fact. I’ve been somewhat busy, doing the occasional music thing but mostly with life in general. I have a bunch of posts lined up, just waiting to be written. However, there was just something that to me was completely mind-blowing about this mobius strip music box that compelled me to write about it.

It’s a simple music box, it’s a piano roll, it’s a little twisted. The notes sequence through the tines in all different directions; backwards, forwards, upside down and around and around.

Some of you may be scratching your head and saying, “eh, whateva, it’s a music box.” I have no problem with that. For me, however, it’s simply a thing of beauty.

It’s Escher’s music box.

Hmmm. Anyone have a spare player piano they don’t need? I suddenly have an idea…


And a tip o’ the hat to Cikira on the synthsights mailing list for posting the link, thereby allowing me to be amazed this evening. Thanks!