I dive deep into the new firmware updates for the Roland MC-101 and MC-707 grooveboxes, which offer some much requested improvements and features, including complete sound design from scratch on the MC-101 (the partial tone editor), new effects including phonograph, exciter, and JD Multi, scatter step sequencing, MC-707 sample assign, and more.

I finally got around to updating my MC-101 today after watching Gabe Miller’s walk through. I was circumspect about how fiddly the partial tone editor would be. I found it fine and love the ability to build from scratch. A great addition.

I had no intent of buying anothersynthesiser, but I changed my mind when listening Mark Ronson, in an interview with Jamie Lidell. He explained how he likes to start off sessions with a few toys, including an MPC, a Moog and a Juno. My latest addition is the Roland JX-08, a Boutique combination of the JX-8P and the PG-800. I really like my MC-101 and know that there is still a lot that I am yet to master. However, I really wanted something I could manipulate.

I once borrowed a PG-200 that was attached to a GR-700. I would play a note on the guitar, click hold on the foot pedal and spend time just looking for sounds. Although the JX-08 does not have the same solid feel as the PG-200, it has so much more functionality, including an arpeggiator, two channels and a sequencer. In addition to this, the sequencer has a random generator and random playback function. Together with built-in speaker, I like just sitting with it and poking it every now and then.

In Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions, Taylor Swift talks about how Aaron Dessner gave her Silvertone guitar with a rubber bridge and how playing some instruments write their own songs. I had a similar experience with the JX-8P. I am yet to properly dig into the various pattern, but for me it provides a piece of randomness that was missing with the groovebox.

Bookmarked Patatap (Patatap)

Patatap is a portable animation and sound kit. With the touch of a finger create melodies charged with moving shapes. Warning: contains flashing images.

I came upon this website/app which provides a combination of sounds and visuals. Although not quite ‘found sounds‘, there is a certain serendipity in tinkering with the various sounds. Although I always seem to fall into repetition. When exploring, I am always reminded of Kirk Hamilton’s adage thump, pop, sizzle and Jack Antonoff’s discussion of I Wanna Get Better.

“Charles Arthur” in Start Up No.1830: explaining those odd wrong-number texts, Covid’s missing immunity, Google offers abortion data deletion, and more | The Overspill: when there’s more that I want to say ()

Liked Lil Beat Maker: Simple Online Beat-Making Machine | (

A free online beat-making machine based on a circular timeline. Have fun creating simple drum loops and patterns with this easy web app.

“Clive Thompson
in A Wooden Microphone, “Missile Command” As Therapy, and The Secret Life of Soil | by Clive Thompson | May, 2022 | Medium ()

Liked Martin Lüders’ VST site (

The PG-8X is a virtual synthesizer, inspired by the Roland JX-8P with the PG-800 programmer. The synth architecture is a standard 2-oscillator -> Filter -> VCA design. These elements can be modulated by a common LFO and one of two ENVELOPEs.

The PG-8X is patch compatible with the JX-8P and can read and write JX-8P Sysex data.

This is a VST soft synth inspired by Roland JX-8P.

“Espen Kraft” in Roland JX-08 vs JX-8P | There will be blood… – YouTube ()

For a few years I have been exploring various software solutions associated with music. A part of my interest was about access, it is a lot cheaper to by a Model D from the app store, than it is to buy an actual Model D. However, this was also about space. The problem though with the iPad was that it was always somewhat temperamental in regards to connect up a keyboard and having an iPad mini made the screen finicky.

Of late, I have come upon the realisation that sometimes there is power in the contraint of working with what you have at hand. Although this can be limiting in regards to options, it can also provide freedom from seemingly unlimited choice of apps and application. In some ways I was inspired by James Blake who shared his preference for physical synthesisers and samplers, rather than trusting a laptop. Therefore, in addition to our Roland F140R and my Korg Volca Modular, I recently got a Roland MC-101 and a Behringer MS-1-RD. I liked the idea that the Roland can do a lot of things and provides a rich set of sounds not available with the F140R. While in regards to the MS, having tried out a few different synths last year, I am glad that I did not get the slim keys that comes with the Korg Minilogue XD.

The next purchase will probably be a small mixer and speakers now that there are so many audio channels.

Bookmarked Ableton: Inside the Music Software Company Everyone Wants to Buy by Steve Knopper (Billboard)

Behles created Ableton Live with Robert Henke, his partner since the 1990s in the ambient duo Monolake, whose music — then and now — sounds like keyboard players tinkering with didgeridoos in the jungle. They did it to solve a musician’s problem: Existing production programs like Pro Tools and Logic were designed to record and edit sounds after musicians had already played them. Behles and Henke wanted to write music in real time on laptops as they grew more portable. In Monolake (which signed to a German independent record label but never found a mass audience), they first used a music-focused programming language called Max, then began to write the software that became Ableton Live. Once they realized that it could be a viable product, they brought in Roggendorf, a more experienced programmer. (Henke is still involved in Ableton, but only Behles and Roggendorf are considered founders; Jan Bohl, the CFO and the company’s fourth partner, joined later.)

Steve Knopper dives into the world of Ableton and how as a company they persist to be independent. One of the interesting aspects is the way in which the technology has inspired new possibilities.

Girl Talk used Ableton Live to edit familiar songs together into mashups and turned that into a career as a live DJ; David Guetta used Ableton Live to create “Titanium” (which helped introduce pop star Sia to the world); as Jack Ü, Diplo and Skrillex used it to Ableton-ize their 2015 smash with Justin Bieber, “Where Are Ü Now”; Childish Gambino and producer Ludwig Goransson used it to layer and loop guitars and keyboards for their 2016 hit “Redbone.”

“Many massive artists, producers, songs and albums wouldn’t exist today if it wasn’t for this program,” says Adam Alpert, The Chainsmokers’ manager and CEO of Sony Music joint venture Disruptor Records. “I could safely say The Chainsmokers wouldn’t be The Chainsmokers without Ableton.”

This reminds me of Steve Johnson’s discussion of the way in which new music comes from broken machines.

Personally, I have spent a lot of time with the Launchpad app on the iPad, but have never spent the time to get my head around Ableton to make the most out of the workflow and its possibilities.

Bookmarked Peter Zinovieff in 2018 (BBC)

BBC Archive catches up with composer Peter Zinovieff, 50 years after he appeared on a Tomorrow’s World report about computer music.

He explains how he procured his first computer (perhaps the first computer to be installed in a private home in Britain), and reminisces about its limitations and its trailblazing live performance at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall.

What impact might computers have on the way we experience music in another 50 years’ time?

Peter Zinovieff reflects upon electronic music and how it differs from traditional music. It is also interesting to consider Zinovieff’s quote from a performance in 1968:

One of these days, a computer could produce a sound as emotionally satisfying as a full symphony orchestra

“@BBCArchive” in BBC Archive on Twitter: “The hugely influential synth pioneer Peter Zinovieff, has died aged 88. A couple of years ago, BBC Archive caught up with the great man and asked him about his 1968 appearance on Tomorrow’s World and what music would sound like in another 50 years time.” / Twitter ()

Bookmarked Trent Reznor on Love of Synths in Book, ‘Patch & Tweak With Moog’ (Rolling Stone)

“It’s good to treat your inspirations as precious. As a lyricist, I can’t tell you how many times as I’m just about asleep, at the last seconds of semi-consciousness, I’ve been thinking, ‘That’s a really good line. I’ll remember it in the morning.’ No chance – it’s instantly gone.”

“So have a little recorder by your bed. You may be thinking you’re going to remember it. I assure you, you’re not. You’ll remember that you had a good idea – ‘what was that thing I was thinking of?’ – but it’s gone. That feeling is the worst.”

In an excerpt from Excerpt from PATCH & TWEAK With MoogTrent Reznor reflects upon electronic music and appreciating the possibilities of an instrument.

It wasn’t because that was the best-sounding sampler, it was because that’s the one I had. It didn’t have enough memory and it did a lot of things poorly, but I’d find every trick you could imagine – from sampling things three or four times higher than they normally are to stretch them out, to using some of the weird aliasing that might come in when something was dropped four octaves down. Because it was all I had, I had to understand it deeply: there was a sense of having mastered it. I haven’t felt that way about any instrument in years – not only because I have more instruments now and I have less time, but also because I have less discipline to spend the kind of time it takes. I’m distracted by the other things that also matter, like writing songs or composing.

I remember being in part inspired by Reznor and Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile to explore electronic music and step sequencers. I found a site talking about NIN and it had links to various open source applications. However, it has only been more recently that I have come to appreciate subtractive synthesis.

via Ian O’Byrne

Oliver, I really enjoyed this breakdown of how you turned a jam into a track. Growing up, I never quite knew how it all worked, especially in regards to sequencing. (Life before YouTube.) Even with all my dabbling with synths and software (particularly Fruity Loops), I could never quite make sense how some sounds and songs such were made. I think that I thought DJing was just a guy with a crate of records.

At one stage many years ago I had a Roland GR700 and would press hold on a note and just explore sounds with the Roland PG-200 that you could attach. However, all I had to record with was a tap deck, which I never properly saved. I recently bought a Korg Volca Modular, thinking that might be something of an entry point, but again like the PG-200, it feels like it has its limitations.

I recently came upon and think that this might be my next point of exploration. I would love to build my own, as Chris Beckstrom has, just not quite sure about the time and space. (I knew I should have kept my reference monitors.)

One question, what are the trigger pads? I assume, like a Launchpad, they are linked to Ableton that allow you to trigger samples and/or midi tracks? Or are they triggering a module within the rack?

Replied to Getting Started in Synth DIY: First Steps (

I built a modular synthesizer without any electronics experience, and I want to empower others to do the same, to build their own weird sound machines. I want people to know that this is not beyond the realm of possibility- you can do it, and for cheap!
A few years ago I started trying to build an a…

Thank you Chris for this write-up. It would seem that Forrest Mims’ book Getting Started in Electronics might be the right place to start. For now I have been looking at Korg’s Volca Micro-Module as a starting point to making sense of modular synthesisers.