A Tale of Two Duos

Today we look back at duo performances from the middle of September: an electro-acoustic spoetry performance with Polly Moller, and a punk-themed Pitta of the Mind performance at Bay Area Ladyfest. Musically, conceptually, and socially, these were contrasting experiences, but both very rewarding. Both duos combined voice with live electronics, and both involved my feminine persona . They also provided opportunities for different styles of playing and collaboration.

Ode to Steengo is a piece based on spoetry (spam poetry) derived from Harry Harrison’s “Stainless Steel Rat” series. Polly Moller and I performed it several times as an electro-acoustic duo in 2008 and 2009, and then later in our band Reconnaissance Fly. We reprised the piece for our duo performance at The Nunnery in San Francisco on September 15. It was a more expansive interpretation, with more instrumental breaks and live processing of voices. It was also different in that I used the analog modular for the electronic parts. The Make Noise Echophon was great for processing Polly’s vocals and wind instruments. And overall, I thought this was our best performance of this piece to date. The technology, timing and overall musicianship were strong, and we both had a good time while playing. You can enjoy it in its entirety via the video below:

Amar Chaudhary / Polly Moller Duo: Ode to Steengo, The Nunnery 9-15-2013 from CatSynth on Vimeo.

The performance by Pitta of the Mind at Bay Area Ladyfest in Oakland was something altogether different. Maw Shein Win and I interpreted several classic punk-rock songs as “art-damaged” music and spoken word performances. Musically, this involved a mixture of idiomatic and freeform improvisation on electric piano, mixed with some odd synth sounds. As with Steengo, the performance itself was a lot of fun, and in this case we made that a deliberate and overt part of the show. This was especially apparent in our final piece, an interpretation of The Ramones’ “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” where we invited the audience to sing along with us.

Pitta of the Mind at Bay Area Ladyfest: The Ramones “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” from CatSynth on Vimeo.

Both performances were well received by the audiences, which filled their respective venues, and of course I hope to do both again. Pitta of the Mind already has two more performances scheduled this year, and of course Polly and I perform together quite often. It is a good reminder to make time for duos as a specific performance format even while spending much time on solo work and on full-size bands.

NAMM: The large and small of it (Nektar and Nord)

I tend to oscillate between the very large and the very small when it comes to instruments. On the small scale, I stumbled upon these tiny controllers from Nektar Technology.

These tiny controllers seemed like perfect companions for the iPhone and iPad – and they are quite cute. (Use the stuffed cat for a sense of scale.) The keyboard and continuous controllers both have a small modular footprint, slightly wider than an iPad. I might have gotten either or both, if they were available. Nektar hopes to have these out later this year.

While it is great to be able to show up at a gig with just an iPad, a controller like those from Nektar, and a couple of cables, sometimes one needs a real keyboard. And those aren’t getting any smaller. The Nord Stage 2 is the latest incarnation of my heavy but reliable workhorse keyboard:

The electric pianos (and the primary reason I got the Stage) were the same as ever and felt great. But what is different from the previous version is the synth section, which is now more akin to the Nord Wave. I could definitely use that feature. There are also improvements to the acoustic piano modeling, but that is more incremental. I don’t think I would replace my Stage EX at great expense for these features, though. There are some new acoustic pianos available for the older model, which I will try out at home.

CatSynth pic: Not Quite Keyboard Cat

From AdamAtom on flickr.

DogSynth pic: Hammond and Nord (Reconnaissance Fly)

A first for us at CatSynth! (And possibly a last as well.)

This is Hammond.  He was helping us out in the studio last weekend as we began work on our Reconnaissance Fly album.

The album, which includes our entire Flower Futures “spong cycle”, is quite an undertaking.  Recording a five-piece band performing live requires a complex setup in terms of microphones, cables and general logistics.  My Nord Stage (in the photo above) is actually one of the simpler elements.  But we got everything working over the weekend, fired up Pro Tools and were able to complete tracking on our first song.  Wisely, we started with the simplest one first.

CatSynth Video: Holiday Techno Kitty!

No, that is not Luna. Our own holiday video would probably be a bit more Hannukah themed.

From GayGod on YouTube, via matrixsynth.

Happy Holidays from your friends at Subtractive!
http://www.Subtractive.net

Music by: Justin Bates
Edited by: Kaipo Jones

CatSynth pic: Missy and Nord

Submitted by Addz Vindicare Milner via our facebook page.

“My cat Missy getting some zeds Nord style :)”

CatSynth pic: Synth Kitty (Nord and Korg)

From allisonallison on flickr.

I see a Korg MS2000 and various Nord keyboards.

Readers can always submit their own cat-and-gear pictures via facebook, twitter @catsynth, or contacting us.

CatSynth pic: Gravitarium 2.

Via matrixsynth:

This one in via Silent Strike who composed the tracks for the app with a Clavia Nord Modular 1, Micron Alesis, Jomox Mbase, Reason 4 Propellerheads, M-audio Axiom 25, Elektron Drumachine (pic at the bottom of this post). The app does not allow you to manipulate sound, but I thought it was interesting to acknowledge some of the gear used to create the audio for this app. The Waldorf Blofeld and Yamaha AN200 pictured however were not used.

Looks like Silent Strike had a studio supervisor involved.

Looks like Silent Strike had a studio supervisor involved.

There is also info on the app itself.

Gravitarium 2 combines music, art and science in one relaxing experience. Use all your fingers to guide the star flow. You can create 10 different animations depending on the number of fingers touching the screen:

1 – Rocket, 2 – Sparkle, 3 – Energy flow, 4 – Atomic, 5 – 3D freeze, 6 – Circularium, 7 – Fish, 8 – Vortex, 9 – Lasers, 10 – Lightning.

Use different options to create spectacular drawings made of stars. You can load the “Drawing” preset from the “Options” screen.

I will be taking a look at this app. The idea of creativity and relaxation does appeals to me, but the game-play part is a bit less exciting – though it is the trend in the mobile-app space.

CatSynth video: Gabber cat (Bella)

My cat making gabber for us.

Submitted on facebook by Ian Lambert of Daed.

Nord lead’s arpeggiator was producing the kicks and the DSI mopho was making the hoover sounds (Drum machine acted as a sync clock, and the x0xbox was being used as a sequencer for the mopho)

Bella picked up on it pretty quickly.

A black cat, Nord and Dave Smith Instruments, what is not to like?

CatSynth pic: synth gato

From TheBeastBrothers on flickr, via matrixsynth:

“”His name was Martin (pronounced in spanish) and he liked the Cure’s disintegration album the most (for real)”

The Beast Brothers are also visual artists. You can check out their website www.thebeastbrothers.com or visit their shop. I liked Suavecita (watercolor) and the Shinin (sculpture).