Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today's Most Excellent...

...device trial. I spent some time last night digging around for a new (and cheap) convolution reverb; I've got a set of the most-tasty Spirit Canyon Audio impulses but needed a unit for using them. Most convolution reverbs have a bunch of crap to intermediate between the raw impulse file and the playback. Searching around KVR, I ran across something I'd never seen before - a plug-in called Reverberate by LiquidSonics. A quick eyeball showed that its rather pedestrian user interface included a click-to-use file browser, and just the right number of controls to make it usable. Also, the "high-end" plug-in allows you to have two convolutions running simultaneously, with a mix between the two. This is perfect for working with the, um, extremely creative impulses that come from Canyon's series.

Dropped it on my system last night, played some more today, and am happy as a clam. Rather than wait out the 30-day trial, I ponied up the money (US$90 for both the high-end as well as the "core" single-convolution engines) and have been running drums through metal tubes, boiler rooms and muscle tissue all afternoon. Best software buy in some time.

Thanks LiquidSonics for a great day!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bloons TD 4 for iPad - some hints

A few hints as I've made my way through a bunch of the levels of Bloons TD 4 on the iPad:

- Boomerang monkeys simply don't aim correctly; at least not like on the Flash version. Don't use them until later rounds, where you can immediately update them to lightsaber mode for cracking ceramic bloons.

- As with previous versions, almost all levels benefit from having a lot of banana farms. Get 'em early, and build them up steadily.

- On some of the levels that have really short tracks, get glue monkeys in place early. However, don't do anything else until you are able to upgrade them to Soak mode; they are almost useless without it.

- Whenever a level allows it (meaning, any level with water), use as many monkey buccaneers as possible. When upgraded, they smear out a lot of the bloons, and their crow's nest upgrade really helps when camouflage bloons appear.

OK, now back to your regular programming...


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Gettin' the Nod

Last night I was doing my self-Googling (required by law every 3 months or so...) and ran across a really nice review of the F/i Question for the Somnambulist album that I played on. Nice to be given credit for "driving drum work"; for what it is worth, my hands were numb after some of those live MPC sessions; with song run-throughs often going 45 minutes or more, my pad-wackers were beaten.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Posts of the Minneapolis/Spark gig

Vimeo user "himeropa" (maybe this is henrickson...?) has posted some videos (along with audio) of the gig I was involved in at Spark. Giving them some time to air out has improved my already high feelings about the performance; give a listen and see what you think.

Video 1:

Gregory Taylor, Darwin Grosse, Tom Hamer, Mark Henrickson - May 2010 pt 1 from himeropa on Vimeo.

Video 2:

Gregory Taylor, Darwin Grosse, Tom Hamer, Mark Henrickson - May 2010 pt 2 from himeropa on Vimeo.

Video 3:

Gregory Taylor, Darwin Grosse, Tom Hamer, Mark Henrickson - May 2010 pt 3 from himeropa on Vimeo.

Video 4:

Gregory Taylor, Darwin Grosse, Tom Hamer, Mark Henrickson - May 2010 pt 4 from himeropa on Vimeo.

All excerpts of the show - sounds like it was taken off a board mix. Cool to have these available. For those of you that don't care for abstract sound art, I'll try to have something a little tamer in a few days.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about programming

... synths!

In a discussion on Muff's Modulars & More, a discussion broke out about books to use for synth programming. All the usual suspects were trotted out (Strange, Roland 100m manuals), but someone pointed out that all of the Sound On Sound synth tutorials were now freely available.

One of the best written series ever on synth programming, this one is a must-read if you wanna go beyond presets (or figure out what that shiny new modular synth is good for...).


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cool night networking (in more ways than one)

Got a note from John Gunther (CU mastermind of interesting concerts), letting me know that there was going to be a crazy new net-performance (in combination with NYU and Purdue) on Sunday. Luckily, I'd gotten home from visiting my parents and headed down for the show.

It just happened that several of my favorite people were there, including Janet Feder and John:

John Drumheller:

and EJ Posselius:

I also got to re-introduce myself to Synthia Payne:

And watch some dancers improv to a pretty wide variety of sound and music:

This was a pretty heady undertaking, trying to do collaborative improv from all three locations simultaneously. I'm proud to say that (IMHO) the best work came out of the Colorado crowd, with a haunting drone piece by JD's BLork ensemble, and a fabulous "round" led by John Gunther. It's amazing to see what telematics has become; I'm going to have to try this myself sometime...


Monday, November 8, 2010

Dancers Mediated!

Well, the big show went off this weekend, and it went great. 10 computers and 9 projectors in the end, all run by a network of Max/MSP/Jitter patches. I ran the whole thing from a central system on a podium, shooting OSC messages all over the room to control the video playback selection.

The best part (for me) was seeing the dancers work with the "flaming" feedback system. In order to match the music and the other visuals (as well as not taking away from the Henry Moore sculptures), I built a rather interesting patch with built-in limiters and other control mechanisms. Since feedback is so unpredictable, it led to a more controllable system - but still not predictable.

The dance troupe (7 dancers from the 3rd Law Dance Company) did a fantastic job, and all of the people helping with the rig worked very, very hard to make this happen. It was nice to work "big" for a change (the room was 60' by 60', and varying from 14 to 20 feet high), and I did my best to make interesting use of the space. Everyone that saw it seemed to like it, so I guess my vision was vindicated!

I need to take a nap now! I will put production details on the artBlog starting tomorrow.

One review: westword blog


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"You gotta be kidding me...!"

OK, so you may already know I'm a knucklehead Packer fan; something that makes my art friend sad for me, and makes my football friends worried for me. Nevertheless, Sunday night provided an incredible game between the Vikings and Packers (one the the Packers won, but that was just an extra benefit). I'm sure a bundle was made on the game, because it seems like everyone in the world watched it.

But Brad Childress, coach of the Vikings, is in the process of making an ass of himself. "The worst officiated game I've seen" indeed. As Kevin Seifert (of ESPN NFC North blog) says, this is a loser's complaint. Childress has continued his discussion, using Nixon-esque "expletive deleted"'s to get his point across, then following it up with a tattletale about the NFL chief of officials admitting to a blown call. I'm thinking that using a public podium to squawk about officials is probably setting yourself up for something untoward in the future (regarding bad calls).

But more than anything, what I'd love to see is a football ref get in front of a podium and say something like "That was the worst coached football game I've seen!". This would be appropriate, since one blown call could have easily been overturned if Childress could have found something useful in his pocket (like a red flag). Also, when Adrien Peterson is getting something like 20 yards per carry when he runs, letting Favre throw is pretty dumb.

Can't control Favre's choice of pass vs. run? Well, that's what the Big Hook is for. Or are you afraid that he might pout? Whatever...

I guess Childress is going to get a fine. Too bad it's just that. I'd love to see how a 15-year veteran referee would grade Childress' coaching technique (maybe as Phillips-like) as an alternative to a fine. Maybe that would help owners see exactly which rail to use to run ignorant coaches out of town.


Sunday, October 17, 2010


I know I haven't been posting much here - since the Spark Festival performance, I've been doing a lot of work for my classes, working *really* hard on some of our new ideas we came up with at a Cycling company meeting, and doing some prep work for this big multimedia show at the beginning of November. But I took out a little time for a guilty pleasure: installing Windows 7 on my MacBook Pro.

Guilty pleasure? Sure - because there are some things I want to do that are pretty Windows-focused. Examples: the expressPCB board layout software, Sony Acid and Sound Forge - and that super-sexy Mahjong game that they give away for free. This has led to me actually making some headway on the circuit board, doing some of the work for the Sound Production class I GTA and wasting a significant amount of time on casual game-play.

Things are coming to a head with a lot of projects, so I suspect that Windows is going to go unused for a while until I get my head above water, although I will need to do a little video production on that end of the field.

But Windows 7 is working pretty well - once I got the trackpad working that way I want it. Basically, it took jumping into the Bootcamp control panel and turning off almost all of the trackpad options, then going into the Windows mouse control panel and slowing down the mouse activity significantly. Now, the mouse works about the same on Windows as it does on the Mac (my initial reaction was that I was PISSED at how poorly it worked...), and it is effective enough to do all of my Windows work without having to always fire up the HP.

I'm probably going to be AWOL for a little while until I'm done with the big November 6th performance. I'll make sure to do a decent write-up about that. In the meantime, you can see my day-to-day activities at my artBlog and at my devBlog. This is where I spend less time thinking and just write about what I'm doing.


Sunday, October 10, 2010, how I grumble at thee...

OK, so maybe I'm just cranky about the tremendous fail that is the Green Bay Packers. But this is week 5, and in all five weeks of the regular season (as well as all the weeks of the preseason) there have been technical problems with the AudioPass feed or the Game Center console. Both of these things are managed by small monkeys with extraordinarily large hands, and it is clear that these monkeys grew up in a Czech zoo with no understanding of the local (or any other) language and an Eastern European concept of American football.

Well, perhaps I exaggerate. A little. Still, I have problems with the audio feed every week (and I can hear the opponents radiocast without a problem, so I know it's not my gear or connection. I've stopped sending support requests because they now ignore 'em. I've spent a bunch of money on this feed, and I expect the vendor to, um, deliver.

Is it really that hard. Have a smart guy on the Game Center. Have a competent camera operator doing the analysis shoots. But try to figure out the audio feed before either the MacBook or dLink box go flying through the window.


Followup: Every week since this posting, the audio has been balled up coming back from commercials. This shows you exactly the amount of power I wield in the media world: NONE.


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Long Haul

Leaving this evening for the long haul to Minneapolis to play at the Spark Festival. I don't leave until after 6pm (due to classes and work), and I have to be there at 7:30pm for sound check. That means pretty much a straight shot - Google Maps tells me it is about a 14 hour drive, but that doesn't include zonking out at waysides and such. I'm actually a little nervous about this, but I'll burn it out. See you there?

Results of the gig will be posted on the ArtBlog.

[Note: I forgot to publish this before I left, so now you get this message along with an iPhone photo of the late-night dashboard...]

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fritzing as a New Option

(copied from my artBlog)

This is why I'm in the program, man. I started bitching about hardware creation in the "ancient networks" section of a class, and someone said "Oh, you should check out Fritzing". Never heard of it. Apparently, they are using the Romulan Cloaking Device to keep underground, and I was surprised there was something I hadn't already rejected.

Got it, crashed it several times (it's in Alpha state right now) - but also got the board I wanted in the sizing I wanted. Its parts list is limited, but they are doing the right thing w/r/t limiting the wholesale creation of bogus parts; you can use generic parts easily, and the labeling allows you to make sense of them in the schematic and PCB views.

This is going to be THE KILLER TEACHING TOOL for hardware-focused media tools; I'm going to dive into this whole-heartedly, because it radiated "The Future".


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Conceptual Split

Well, the time has come to get a little serious about all of this, and to start paying attention to the stuff I put online - and the places that I put it. In a recent class, the student (of which I am one) got read the riot act about how much information we are putting online, and how useful it is for people that are either a) trying to track what we are into, or b) trying to find out how relevant our work is to anything else.

Hence, I am now splitting my posting activities between three blogs:

my ArtBlog, which will contain a running commentary on what I'm working on.
my DevBlog, which will show hardware and software developments I'm dealing with.
this blog, which is sort of my personal take on everything else (and some of the above).

Why bother doing this? It's so that I have places to point people where they might find things that interest them. Some people will want to see my Process w/r/t art; thus, the ArtBlog. Some will want to know what I'm up to with Cycling '74 or my own creations; that's the DevBlog's point. Finally, some people just want to keep in touch or hear me rant; that's this blog's new reason for existance.

Since I'm compelled to be Super Blogging Boy, you will hopefully see more action in all these locations. Enjoy!


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lucky Man

Well, I'm back from a horrible trip to Wisconsin (more on that in an upcoming blog), and trying to get some things done before school and work collide into one great big autumn mess. Work for the coming year looks interesting, and will involve a lot of "learning new things" - one of my favorite aspects of working for Cycling '74. Hopefully I'll be getting my Master's degree next spring, but my thesis idea fell through the floor based on reading Joel Chadabe's book - alas, I'll have to find something new...

But I took some time yesterday to lay down a live-to-disk version of The Means Of Production, all spurred by Gregory Taylor's request to play it on his RTQE radio show. I was blown away by his request (the show is one of the best ways to find out about new music), and quickly did a in-home performance that I recorded, did a top-and-tails edit, then shipped off. It's playing tonight, but you should be able to catch his WORT-FM archive for the next week or two.

Getting the opportunity to be on his show, coming back to my mountain house, playing some music and looking forward to a busy but interesting fall reminds me of how lucky I really am...


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Means of Production (Part 2)

Sorry I didn't post Monday or Tuesday - cluster headaches got in the way. Nevertheless...

Featured above is a picture I took of the performance rig during setup. You can see the metal plates that were used for reproduction, and the "back to the audience" setting of the environment.

Today's post is all about the front end of the performance system - the modular synthesizer. Since this performance featured the modular (and me patching the modular), it was an important part of both the sound and the performance experience.

My modular is a two cabinet system, featuring a mix of modules and other modular (by Moon, Encore and MegaOhmAudio). I started with a blank slate (no patch cords inserted, no settings in place); from there, I created patches for each of the five movements in the piece. My modular is built in two "voices", with each voice filling a cabinet. Here is a closer view of the modular:

You'll notice a "Kentucky spitting gap" in the cabinet on the left - this is the place where the Grove Audio VCLFO will eventually go, as well as an Instrument interface that wasn't in the house at the time of the performance. In any case, the flow of the concert went as follows:

Movement 1: Set up a noise-based sound on the right-hand cabinet, start patching a melodic sound on the left.

Movement 2: Play the melodic sound on the left-hand cabinet, start patching a dual-oscillator feedback sound on the right.

Movement 3: Play the feedback sound on the right-hand cabinet, start patching a dueling counter-melody on the left.

Movement 4: Play the counter-melody on the left-hand cabinet, set up the noise-based finale on the right.

Movement 5: Play the noise sound on the right-hand cabinet.

Since I was jacking and knob-twisting the whole time, it gave the audience something to key into. There were a lot of questions afterward about the use of the modular, the differentiation of the sound from the effects, and how much was pre-recorded (! - NONE OF IT!!!). I got to introduce a lot of people to a new sort of music-making machine, and give them a little glimpse into the efforts required for some people - mad people like me - to make some noise.

It really did go great, even through Movement 4 sort of failed (it had gotten dark, and I think I mis-plugged the quantizer outputs somehow). In any case, success was felt, and I got to do a fairly heavy-duty modular gig for an art crowd that seemed intrigued.

More tomorrow (or so) on the output section and effects.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Means of Production (Pt. 1)

So Thursday was the Big Gig at Object+Thought in Denver. My first public solo performance with the modular+laptop rig, and it couldn't have gone better. The place was filled, I had an interesting reproduction system (amplified steel plates - think plate reverb and you'll be close) and everything was well-rehearsed.

The name of the piece was "The Means of Production", and I flipped the normal performance setup around: I sat with my back to the audience, and had them watch me work both the modular and the laptop to create the sound they heard. It was a bit unnerving, since it meant that I couldn't have any pre-recording backups or anything; I either got the patches running and active or it was going to be really quiet (and embarrassing).

In this entry I'll talk about the basic process, with more info (and photos) in upcoming posts.

The piece was written in five parts. I had set up my 2-cabinet modular so that each cabinet was a specific "voice". While one side was creating the current sound, I could be patching the other side - giving me space to work, and meaning that it was unlikely that I would unplug any active sounds. The final module used was a cross-fader, allowing me to fade between the two cabinets as the new sound became ready.

The output of the modular went into a Max/MSP patch (interface shown above) that I build specifically for this performance. It features four channels of loop capture, a master delay line, a loop shuffler (basically, the guts from the MFL Buffer Shuffler) and an 8-frequency morphing resonant filter. The filter was there for a specific reason: to occasionally "ring" the metal plates as a nod to the performance setup.

Now I know what some of you are saying: "If the analog modular is running through a Max patch, it isn't analog anymore!". That's true, but the point of the modular wasn't to create the phattest sound possible, it was to provide an interesting (and extremely variable) sound creation process that I could capture and manipulate.

The result was great, and certain parts (especially the end of the second movement) went better than it even had in rehearsal. Many people came up to talk to me, and were amazed that this wasn't a pre-recorded section; when I told them that even I was surprised, they lit up with a realization of what they had just seen. It was great fun, and I hope to do it again soon.

After my set, I had a chance to talk to a lot of friends and acquaintances that had made the trip out - including my old friend Ron Bucknam, a phenomenal guitarist and experimental musician. He and I had played and recorded together 30 years prior, so it was a shock to see him standing by the watering hole. Meeting new people, re-meeting old - a gig just doesn't go any better than that.

OK, so I'll provide more tweaky details tomorrow, but thanks for watching for now!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Dance Minute

Dance Minute from darwin grosse on Vimeo.

During the Spring Quarter, I took an "Expanded Cinema" class taught by Trace Reddell and Jim Lavita. One of our assignments was to create a short piece using source material provided by 3rd Law Dance/Theater, featuring choreography by Katie Elliott. I used this section, which featured a duet, and created a Max/MSP/Jitter program that allowed me to manipulate the colorspace and motion characteristics of the visuals, and would use the movement of the dancers to generate a simple ambient soundtrack (using realtime controls).

I recorded the result, shown here. The motion manipulation turned out to really enhance the pauses between movements, and the color manipulations make the pauses seem to "flame up"; making for some beautiful visuals. The soundtrack isn't as successful as the visuals, but you can decide for yourself.

I'm hoping to work with 3rd Law in the future to do some of this live, and we've submitted the work for inclusion in a film-about-dance festival. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Thanks to Jim Lavita, Katie Elliott and 3rd Law Dance/Theater for permission to use this video and to post the results here.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Welcome to the cesspool (eBay edition)

I have to admit not doing much eBay shopping lately, but I jumped onto the site to look for an Ensoniq EPS-16+ for a friend. I ran into this beauty of an entry:


The dude doesn't even bother to pretend to want to sell the thing; he just spends all his time describing how he doesn't have time to answer email, you are probably just a fuckwit so you shouldn't bother purchasing it, and even if you do buy it, it probably won't work because you don't know what you are doing.

I hope the damned thing falls off a table and breaks his foot.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Modular - SVF fun

FilterExcursion #2 by DarwinGrosse

Here is a quickie track I popped together with a bunch of modulation on a simple VCO->SVF filter combination. Again with the quantizer, which really does make self-modulated modular stuff seem a lot more deliberate. Quant on the front end, RE-20 on the back end - I swear I could put a 2x4 in the middle and it would sound pretty good.

I spent some time reconfiguring my modular layout so that a single cabinet would contain most of what I'd need for a gigging rig. Up to three oscillators, but I'm feeling like I have too few VCA's and envelopes for my pleasure. I wish someone would do a decent 1U oscillator for these portable systems.


Vacation Update - Saturday

Woke up bright and early, started repacking for another attempted trip home. This one is aided by Andrew - the true knight. He drove down from LA (in The Admiral - a beautiful 1987 Mercedes four-door, pictured above), and hauled the whole crew back to LA for a 3pm flight out of LAX. I owe him more than I can say - the stress of trying to get us back is wearing on me mightily.

Stop-and-go traffic the whole way, but it gave Andrew and me a chance to talk about a ton of different stuff. Not wasted time at all, although I'm sure the kids were bored as hell (although they took over the iCrap to an extraordinary extent, and kept themselves pretty busy during the drive). Big mess-up at the check-in counter, but we got it wired, and got to check three bags in for zero dollars. That's pretty good these days.

Of course there was a delay on the out-bound flight, but we left LA at about 4:30pm, and got home around 7pm. By the time we hitched a ride to the parking lot, found the car, got everyone in and hit the road, it was almost 8pm. Cold and rainy, it pretty much bookended the shitty weather for our trip. But the kids were happy, I was driving home, and we eventually got to the mountain house.

Vacation done! I need a long night's sleep!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Vacation Update - Friday

Up early, cleaned everyone up, loaded up the Crown Victoria rental and took one more pass at San Diego Stuff. No sun again today - giving us a total of 4 hours of sun for our entire visit. People say this is normal; I say it should be something that I read about in the fine print of the San Diego Tourist Contract To Leave All Your Money In California.

We went onto Coronado Island and drove down to the Silver Strand State Beach for a walk-around. $10 to park, but I did it happily. Why happy? Because there wasn't a single remaining thing there to cost any money. No gift shops, hamburger slappers or take-a-photo-you-don't-really-want crap. Just a really, really long beach. Graham had fallen asleep in the car, so K stayed with him while I went for a stroll with the two older boys. What a hoot! Chasing the surf, examining kelp piles and finding little shell bits were all part of the hard work of fun, and we ended up soaked, freezing, and happy as all get-out.

We changed in the car, then headed for a second day at the SD Zoo. We had a purpose this time: to see the cats and the polar stuff - both things we'd missed the first time around. The boys were a little goofy and tired, but we still had a good time. Took the Skyline back to the exit, then headed back to the airport for the flight out.

Dropped off the Way Huge-mobile at the Dollar Rental place (one of the scuttier rental holes I've been through), then shuttled to the airport. The Frontier person was really nice, and helped us get prepped for a flight that was going to be delayed. We spend some time in the food court, then went through security for our area. Since we knew we were going to have a long delay, we set up all our iCrap (iPhone, iPod Touch x2, iPad) with power connections and began the long wait. After a few hours, Kristin noticed that there was nobody left in the terminal. At all. That's gotta be a bad sign...

I went out toward the ticketing area, and was stunned to see security completely shut down. Headed out the gate area to see our bags sitting on a pile in the middle of the terminal. That can't be good, right? I grab them and head up to the ticketing area, only to see a huge line. I ask the guy at the back of the line about the situation, and get the bad news - everything to Denver is cancelled.

The guy let me use his cellphone to call K, and she hustled the boys (and our stuff) back to the ticket area. We waited for about an hour before we got the good news: no flight until Sunday, and even then the family would be split between two flights. This was Not Good. So I asked about flights out of LAX, and was told I could get a Saturday booking out of there. So we did that while I searched for a one-way rental car to LA. The answer? No such thing: while we were sitting like a bunch of dumb-asses in the gate area, everyone else in San Diego rented cars for the wagon train to a different flight. Not a single rental car in all of SD.

I was at wits end, so I pulled a tough one out of the hat: I called my friend Andrew, who has had my back so many times in the past, to see if he'd be able to help. Within a few minutes, the plan was hatched, and we took the "distress rate" hotel booking at the Sheraton Resort and Marina (a really, really nice hotel) for the evening, with renewed travel plans for Saturday.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Vacation update - Thursday

Went to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park today, which is by far the best thing of the trip for the adults. The kids were not impressed, but Kris and I were. This is the place I could spend some time, but the boys weren't having it. Back to the hotel for more swimming, which is where we encountered The Coming Hoard. I guess I'd not thought of Thursday as being "moving in from Kansas" day, but it seemed like everything went rogue.

First off, there were about 30x the normal number of people at the pool - all of them sporting two arms of beers and two wagons of kids. All the kids were nasty and rancorous, and their parents were loud and obnoxious. We vacated the pool early, and headed to our rooms for a quiet evening of relaxation. Not to be, since the younger versions of the Pool Invaders decided that they needed to try and head-butt their room doors open, shake the Pepsi machine until it started fizzing from the top, and practice slamming their room doors in preparation for future domestic violence episodes. This continued pretty much unabated through the night.

Leaving on Friday, and happy for it.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vacation update - Wednesday

San Diego Zoo today. I don't think I'm wired up correctly for zoos - I can't get into oohing and ahhing over some stupid panda, and I'm pretty sure the black panther is pacing back and forth, thinking only about breaking my legs and sucking the marrow out of the split bones. The only sign of excitement from the kids came when we saw the pythons; other than that, it was all boring-boring-boring to them. They came alive for the swimming at the end of the day.

Thankfully the sun came out today, and it made the afternoon swim much more enjoyable. Worked for me!

Tomorrow, more zoo! How did that happen?


Vacation Update - Tuesday

Seaworld today. Aiden (the 6 year-old) is our family biologist, and he loved it. Cynicism completely washed away when I watched his take on Shamu, and as a result I bought him the largest stuffed Shamu we could find. It is about as big as he is, and I have no idea of how we will get that thing home. Cynicism completely returned when we paid $60 for a stupid lunch meal, only to see a dude named Jesus slap my burger together with amazing contempt. I'm sure at he really wanted to wipe his ass with my bun, but I also suspect that Seaworld has them wear assnets for exactly that reason. Snot on your lettuce, anyone?

The whole park was kind of dingy, but it was saved by the last show - the SLL (Sea Lion Live) show. The sea lions weren't that great, but the main entertainer, Jeff, lit up the place and had us all howling. Low-brow for sure, but still fun. Also, they did a 20-minute pre-show, which is exactly the right thing to do to help bide time. More event places should take a cue from this.

Positives: Aiden loved the whales, sharks and other stuff. Touristy toys were inexpensive, and there weren't too many super-commercial things.
Negatives: Jesus (shudder...),raft ride wasn't as cool as advertised.

Two days in SD, two completely overcast days. Does the sun ever shiine here? Was I somehow tricked into returning to Wisconsin?


Vacation update - Monday

KidFit-at-Legoland by DarwinGrosse

On vacation with The Family this week - San Diego, making it our first vacation ever that didn't include either work or family. Woke up at 3am,in the car at 4am for a 7am flight. Into SD at 8:30, and straight to Legoland. Please to spend all your money...

We went to LL first to get it out of the way, since it's all the kids could talk about, and the rest of the trip would have been miserable if we hadn't done it quickly. Massively overspent on everything, but had a good time. I got to see and hear one of the most outrageous kid-fits ever in the line for the junior driving school ride; it was so good that I downloaded a field recording app on the iPhone so I could capture some of it. It sounded like the raptor cage in a Jurassic Park movie, and I'll post it here when I get home.

Positives: Fun rides, especially with Graham (the 4 year-old), interesting purchases of big-ass Lego Star Wars stuff and OK food.
Negatives: Onerous parking, didn't take Lego VIP points for the purchases, and a damned long way from SD.

Staying on Mission Bay; 2 rooms poolside. Everyone is very tired this evening...

(Edit: The track is now added to the post, but it isn't as horrible in recorded form as it was in real life. Just assume that the tortured cat sound is a 3 year-old boy, and you'll get the picture.)


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sequence duplicated.

Here's a little Sunday afternoon toon done completely with the modular. The percussion tracks are filtered noise with interesting modulations. The various harmonic and melodic lines are all the same 18-note sequence, time and rate shifted, and played with variations of the same patch (varied via different settings). Volta played an important part in this one...

Round Robin by DarwinGrosse

Enjoy! (Or not!)


Monday, May 31, 2010

Beep-boop go the dual-feedback oscillators

Self-Feedback Sequence by DarwinGrosse

Here's a little ditty created with the modular, using two oscillators feeding back with each other, a little sequencer control, a state variable filter (controlled by S&H noise) and an odd rhythm driven by a mix of two LFO's.

Enjoy (or not)!


The second cab is in...!

Earlier this week I got my second modular cabinet and loaded it up. Everything is "for real use" mods except for the banana jack interface in the left cabinet. I split my setup into two halves: the left half, with the sequencer, is for sequencing play. It has a two-oscillator synth voice with a state variable filter. The right half is my "playing out" case, with another two-oscillator synth voice and a bunch of modulation sources. Most of this is dotcom ( modules, although I have the Moon Modular 565/565e quantizer and a Megaohm dual LFO.

You'll also notice in the rack that I've got some critical pieces: my beloved Wiard joystick controller (with the ultra-helpful voltage meter), a MOTU 828 mkIII (which gives me unparalleled interface between computer and synth), a 1/4" patchbay and a power strip. All stuff to make my life easier.

Much, much fun.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Obsession and Respect

My children have introduced me to Internet Crack in the cloak of a game: Bloons Tower Defense. I've cranked away at it until I got the gold in all three free levels, and was feeling pretty good. But it just didn't get me the household respect I needed. So, when my new iPad came in on Friday, I immediately downloaded Bloons TD (the iPad version, name changed to protect the innocent or something) and got to work.

Now, the next paragraph is going to sound pretty stupid to most adults, but if you have a kid in elementary school, feed them this statement and see if they aren't blown away:

"Today, I got to level 107 on the hard level of one of the paid Bloons levels. I lost 41 lives in level 37 - the first M.O.A.B. level - but didn't lose another one until the end. I was able to get to level 107 by getting rid of everything and buying tons of Super Monkeys. In the end, my level had 60 Super Monkeys upgraded to Plasma Vision and Epic Range. I didn't get defeated until the game sent over 100 M.O.A.B.'s in a row, which overloaded everything and caused the loss. But by the end, I had kids from around the neighborhood all huddled around my machine as we wiped out level after level of attackers."

OK - back to work now. Thanks for listening!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

When I press a special key...

QuantMelody by DarwinGrosse

... it plays a little melody.

Here's a little modular goodness where I let the modular do the composing. This is using a S&H on a white noise source, then feeding that to a Moon Modular 565 Quantizer. This takes the random stuff of white noise and turns it into notes. I've got a 565E Expander, so I set it up to quantize to a simple pentatonic scale, and the notes are made.

Quantizers just rock.

The sound is two triangle waves (32' and 4') mixed then pumped through the Q150 ladder filter. Really simple, but oh so pretty.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fun With Modular (Filter Excursion #1)

FilterExcursion #1 by DarwinGrosse

Here's a little track I made with the modular this afternoon - there was some curiosity about how "phat" the dotcom Q-150 Transistor Ladder Filter is; I'm thinking it is about phat enough for me. This is a pretty simple patch; more information about the track is available on my SoundCloud page for the track.

Things I like: The Boss RE-20 effects, the built-in control mixer on the filter, the snappiness of the envelopes, the downright killer sound of the filter.

Things I don't like: I'm not finding a slew limiter setting above 1 that is musically useful at all, the output of this modular is HOT, HOT, HOT.

Overall fun, though. Recorded in Logic, MP3'd with Peak, not much technology though. And, before you comment, I know that the same lick gets boring after 7+ minutes. So sue me - this is a filter demo, not the gushing of my soul to the masses...


Sunday, April 25, 2010

No, it's their fault...

OK - so I got my modular synth setup (bragging to commence Real Soon Now), as well as a MOTU 828 and Volta. This should allow me to use the eight analog ins and outs as voltage control for the modular - meaning that I have a bunch of virtual modules that save me both space and money for the future. I oughta have eight virtual modules, but right now I have six. How's that?

Well, the MOTU 828 has eight analog ins/outs along with a dedicated main output (for your DAW audio out) and dedicated mic/instrument ins (to connect your gear). This should leave all eight analog ins/outs available for Volta - but in the case of Logic, it does not. Logic has a bone-headed system where it assumes that the first two outputs are going to be your monitoring outputs, and auto-names them as "Stereo Outs". It also routes any tracks assigned to the "Stereo Outs" to the master output - which can go anywhere you like (thanks to the I/O Assignments Preference). It's stupid, because it means that Logic basically prevents the use of the first two analog outputs if you are using other outputs for the mains.

Now, this could all be OK if MOTU allowed you to reorder the inputs and outputs as they are seen by Core Audio. Alas, no such thing. Their setup application (which looks like it was made for OS 9...) doesn't help much, and the interface's outputs are presented to Core Audio in alphabetical order.

So... Apple's Logic is boned because it assumes that audio interface I/O #1 and #2 are the best options for default stereo input and output (true in every case except MOTU). MOTU is boned because they decided that analog 1/2 are the best first option for outputs (despite the fact that they have a dedicated Main output). In Googling this issue, everyone that has talked to either companies gets a finger-point to the other.

Who could make the easier fix? Hell, it doesn't matter. All anyone has to do is spend five minutes:

- Apple: make is so that the Stereo Output label represents the Stereo output value in the Preferences, and leave the "first two" outputs alone.

- MOTU: add an option to the Setup program that allows me to set the Main 1-2 as the first element in the Core Audio output list (like the Mic/Inst input is the first in the input list). Or better yet, just give me a patchbay (like Digi was able to do about 10 years ago).

In either case, I think both sides are bone-headed. But in the end, it should probably be MOTU's fix to be made, since they were willing to sell me Volta (which makes the problem apparent) and the 828 (which is an otherwise outstanding interface). I spent $900 for the pair, and I was thinking that the combo represented 8 modules for $112.50 each - a nice price. Instead, I'm getting 6 modules for $150, which it a bit less enticing and rather underwhelming in quantity.

But in the end it is just the fact that they whole system's workflow is screwed by this problem, and I'd just like it fixed, please.


So, it turns out to be a labeling thing in Logic, and you can work around it - as long as you are willing to ignore the labels things are given. Logic and Volta are not best friends, leading to gems like this (from the Volta manual): "Press the "+" button on its channel strip. This will create an aux track with the first multi output pair from Volta (Volta 3-4) as its input". So the labeling of Volta 3-4 is actually output 1 and 2 in the plugin, causing a lot of the confusion.

Also, there is the "stereo output" thing. In Logic Preferences, you define the "Stereo" outputs - in the case of a MOTU 828 MK3, that is outputs 9 & 10 (the Main Outs). However, during track creation, you have to ignore the "Stereo Outputs" label, which is always assigned to the first two outputs - no matter which ones they are. The answer is to just always assign audio outputs to outputs 9 & 10, go ahead and use the labeled "Stereo Outputs" as analog 1-2, and don't worry about it.

Oh yeah, one more thing. If you are using Volta, just don't ever, ever use the Master volume control. It inexplicably turns the volume down on all subbed outputs, which means that it will turn down the "volume" of Volta (i.e., turn down the output voltages), which will drive you system insane.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dancing with Them What Paid Ya

I got a little ping from Paskie about the newest sequencer from; if you have Reaktor, you need to get it. If you have friends with Reaktor, you need to introduce them to it. It is fabulous, and completely pushes the envelope on sequencing tools.

But I was curious about something. I was sure this would be covered on the (quite great) CreateDigitalMusic site, and I wanted to compare Peter's coverage of this to some of the Max for Live stuff. See, with Max for Live, he always mentions:

- It's just wrong for there to be no Max for Live runtime that allows everyone to run this stuff for free.
- There are "open and free" options (particularly pD) that should be considered for this work by his readers.
- There need to be options, options, options, and he can't wait until something done in Reaper, OpenFrameworks or on his beloved Android phone...

Well, given that it appears that NI in some way sponsors the CDM site, I was curious to see if Peter would have a different tone. And, sure enough, he does. There's a gentle poke (with an apology mainlined in the article) at the company, but anything approaching the mumbling about free, open, options or freakin' Android are all buried deep into the comments, and were only stated after repeated poking by his readers.

Ah, what a hoot...!


When Lovers Turn Evil

Developers for hot platforms tend to become very excited; the leap onto a platform when it is young, create some blasting applet that gets tons of attention, then get waylaid when the platform owner decides that it wants the attention (and money) that comes with said applet. Everyone has heard of the troubles with Apple and iPhone/iPod development - now welcome Facebook as that lover that turns into Satan.

A good CNet article here: link

I had coffee yesterday with a new friend that told me about his experiences creating some compelling content for Facebook a while back. He went from zero to blasting in just a few months, and the results looked spectacular.

Right up until the day that they turned off the spigot.

This just serves as a reminder that depending on a large platform to hand over cash is a fool's gig; as my friend says, what you are really doing is early market testing for them, and the second they are able to see the monetization option, you are dead. So banking on Apple, Facebook, Twitter or even Google (the "Don't Be Evil" moniker notwithstanding) is a very shaky business deal unless you can find a way for the mothership to buy you before they kill you.

The current landscape is just too creepy. I'm gonna go make some music now...


Friday, April 9, 2010

Allie burns up the screen...

My friend Allie is getting all of the friggin' press that Denver has to offer. She's started up a line of jewelry, based on "The Barbie Crotch" (her words, not mine) that has gotten a lot of attention. Her most recent photo shoot, for 303 magazine, was literally "Too Hot For Print", so they ended up making a web-specific display: here.

Probably NSFW (although most of my readers work outside the typical cubicle farm...).

She's also interviewed in the most recent 303 magazine, and has been getting a lot of notice in the fashion world. It's fun to see someone you know catch a small version of the Big Ride; hopefully things keep moving forward for her.

You can see much more of her artwork at

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A new PLAY video

PLAY: Using the Xformer MFL device from darwin grosse on Vimeo.

I've been struggling making a video to show how to do chord and key changes with Step Sequencer (not that it is hard, but all of the video I've shot has been daft). So I decided to step away for a day and popped off a little video about using the Xformer Pluggo MFL device. It's something I use a lot, and want people to give it a look.

One thing that you, the more informed viewer, will probably question is when I use the accent setting on steps that are not active. Since I have a bit of a decay on the steps, the point is to add a little bump to the end of the step (as it overlaps the next step). Super-subtle, and possibly impossible to hear in the video, but I seem to be able to "feel" it.

Of course, I could be deluding myself. I've done it before.

Anyway - enjoy!


Mr. Moneybagsblogger

Loving this article by Daniel Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs). I'm one of his biggest fans; I have numerous times recommended his book "Option$", which is not only a great Fake Steve Jobs book, but pretty much nails down the Silicon Valley male persona. In this article, Lyons points out the folly of trying to make a living by blogging (unless your mortgage is for a trailer home). Spot on.

People often ask me why I shuttered the Creative Synth site. This is a good overview of what happened, and I was especially chagrined by my discussions with the manufacturers who work I covered. Over and over again I was told "We don't advertise on the Web, but if we did we would just give the money to Google." This was especially disturbing in cases like Native Instruments, where (at the time) my site was the only one doing any tutorial coverage of Reaktor.

If anyone is curious about whether Google sucks the oxygen out of the room, I'll tell you they do. Google Ad Sense? It's really Google Ad ¢ents, meager as all get-out, and a joke for anyone but the Huffington family.

Like they need the cash...


Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh yeah...

Sterling Dot Star from darwin grosse on Vimeo.

I forgot to post some of my work from last quarter. Here's a screen cap of a generative video bit I did for a Bruce Sterling literature overview - we were supposed to do a mediated artwork based on the collection of novels and non-fiction stuff we read. This is a 8-screen security station emulation with a bunch of media: some collected, some created and some collected-and-modified. It was a blast!

Max/MSP/Jitter, of course.


Friday, April 2, 2010

A Great Big Misunderstanding...

Today, the day before iPad-ness rules the earth, I bought an iPhone. My employer (Cycling '74) offered me the privilege, and I jumped in with both feet. Geek Out!!!

One of the things that I downloaded was the Google iPhone app. It basically lets me do All Things Google, including access to all my GApps-based Cycling information. It also includes some neat additions, like a Voice Search module that lets you speak in the phrase to search.

Now, just a few days ago, I'd done some digging around in Google Maps, and stumbled on a street view of Oconto Falls, WI (population approaching zero) that had a picture of my cousin walking out of a family restaurant. This made me think that Google had become too powerful, Big Brother-ish and scary.

So imagine my delight when I lifted the iPhone to my face, clearly and distinctly said "Darwin Grosse" into the microphone, looked at the screen - and saw that it had successfully found thousands of options for me to "donate clothes" throughout the San Francisco area. Ha ha ha ha ha...


Friday, March 12, 2010

Amazon to the Rescue!

Thank God that Amazon is watching out for us! Kristin was just checking her Amazon marketplace account and found the following Very Important Product Recall:

"This is to inform you that the following item has been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): Gerber Gator Machete and Gator Machete Jr."

OK, so about 10 seconds of research tells me that this isn't the same Gerber that makes the baby food, so this wasn't necessarily made for little kids. Still, how would you know if this thing malfunctioned? The Gator lived long enough to eat the junior machete weilder? So who's complaining, exactly?


Heading to the Evil Genious Bar for a break...

Quarter is now officially done. BLOrk tomorrow. Then Madison. Needed a good laugh, and the Onion story on Google has run its course. So there's this...


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The modern mix-tape

As you know if you've been reading this blog, I've been doing some research on Berlin School music and the impact that networking has had on the fan base. I put out a survey to some fans, and got back a lot of interesting material, including information on web services I'd never heard of. My favorite is, which gives you a place on the web to create and host a mix-tape of your favorite tracks.

One of the respondents pointed me to his new-school Berlin School music mix tape, and I've been enjoying it all evening. You can check it out here. This gives you a sense of where my head is at right now...


Friday, February 19, 2010

Reputation Management - What do you want from me?

Last year, a really smart guy (Rafael Fajardo, one of my professors) lit into a discussion about reputation management. The idea is that you, alone, are responsible for getting and maintaining your reputation online. I've been thinking about this ever since, and have developed some ideas about the process.

It seems to me that this breaks down into a few different issues:
1. You have to get ahold of anything that might refer to your name or chosen moniker.
2. You have to develop a site that represents your view of the world, art or whatever.
3. You have to maintain this information in perpetuity.
4. Once you start developing a base of followers, you have to feed them.

So I've started the process, and have dealt with #1. Luckily, with a name like Darwin Grosse, it's pretty much unsoiled territory. I'm not sure what Mr. John Smith might do, but maybe that's why there are people that call themselves buttmunch2000.

I'm working on #2, but I'm falling apart at the seams to put useful stuff up there that doesn't conflict with my other online crap. I suspect that at some point I'll have all of my music, videos and other goo linked from there, but I can't deal right now. I've got a lit review to write.

The hardest, though, is #4. I have a few, deeply disturbed, followers right now (you know who you are), and I'm not doing a good job of keeping them fed. So this is what I need. People - what do you want? Tweets? Smart blog talk? Links to kitties doing chin-ups?


Monday, February 8, 2010

Darwin and Steve, secretly videotaped...

... although I don't think we'll be buying into Intel's Turbo Boost software quite as quickly as Space Invaders.


(Yeah, this was post-game show fodder, but was still one of my favorite commercials for the game.)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

OK, so I'm a dummy...

I've got to admit that I've never found a 3-D software program that made sense to me. I spent about a month trying to come to grips with Blender and I failed miserably. I could only do things that the tutorials said for me to do, and I could only do them exactly as the tutorials did them. For making my own work, I was useless.

Finally, I decided to spend time (for about the fourth time) with Google Sketchup, and I decided to get a book to walk me through it. I like books, and I like using books to learn something new. I went to the local B&N and started diving into the books that were available. It took about 30 minutes to come to a horrifying conclusion: I needed the "Google SketchUp 7 for Dummies" book in order to make sense of this software.

I've always thought that the "For Dummies" series of books were for people self-selecting themselves as idiots, and that getting one of these books meant that you would never actually become a useful user. This one book made me rethink the entire thing. Author Aidan Chopra does an excellent job of holding my hand through the learning process, but also provides a lot of tips and ideas that made me anxious (and able) to launch off into my own.

I've got a school project that's going to have some pervasive 3D work, and I'm glad I finally found a way to wrap my head around the problem. Now, if I can just figure out how to get these models imported into Max/Jitter, I'll be cooking!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Here I Come, Oh Ye Berlin Schoolers

Alright, so here we go with some Media Studies craziness. This weekend was Berlin School weekend. I spent almost 4 hours interviewing Mike Metlay about the early days of the Berlin School and the cassette cultuer that it bred. Then I pounded the Big Four Tangerine Dream CD's (Phaedra, Rubycon, Ricochet and Stratosfear) while programming step sequencers in Max for Live. More of the same today (except I was programming cellblock changes) - all in the name of science.

Social science, that is.

I'm in the process of writing up a mini-thesis about the Berlin School music fans that developed their own music, tradition, authenticity signifiers and communities as an alternative to typical "niche community" studies. I've found that most studies of niche culture either considers the group a bunch of pathological nitwits or a quaint but unsophisticated grouping ripe for TARGETED INTERNET MARKETING.


The deeper I dig into the Berlin School world, the more interesting I find both the community and the people in it. This is very different from, say, American Idol fan-nuts; the Berlin Schoolers took the music into their own hands and have developed it into a (sorta) living and (kinda) breathing form of expression. I'll have more details to post soon, but let's just say there is a lot of information here that will contradict most niche community study that's gone on to date.

I'm sure I'll be crucified for going this direction, but at least it is fun.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Real World iPhone App Marketing.

So how does an iPhone app developer do any marketing these days? I'm not really sure. With umpteen gadzillion apps on the market, I guess it's back to one-on-one sales. A good example is a recent snag of Looptastic Producer. I first saw this in action on my favorite web-production The Cranky Geeks. They had some guy on there talking about iPhone apps that he was hawking, and some audio program was used to remix the Cranky Geeks theme on-the-fly. It seemed fun, but didn't really register on my radar at all.

This weekend, I'm at NAMM and meet up with one of my long-time industry friend, David Battino. We started talking about all-things-audio - as well as all-things-interwebs. I mentioned that I was addicted to the Cranky Geeks show, and he laughed, saying that he'd been involved in getting one of his clients covered on the show. It turned out to be Looptastic Producer, and he was the person that had set up the remix content used on the show.

NOW I HAD A REASON TO PAY ATTENTION. Someone that I knew and liked had some direct experience with the product, was part of the "team" in some way, and I was motivated to give it a try. Well worth the effort, and a cool piece of software. An interesting turn of events, but perhaps this is really how software is marketed in Our Brave New World.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Must see non-TV

OK all you slackers. Here's a post for enjoying while just sitting around staring at the screen. Last week there was an opening at the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery on the DU campus for video artist Cliff Evans. Fantastic, inspiring stuff. He's got a fair amount of work on his website (, much of which straddles the worlds of utopia and dystopia. Challenging yet fun viewing, I suggest that you give it a view whether you like video art or not.