Yom Kippur 2017, Meditations and Reflections

Star of David

Fast, reflect, and question. These are our personal mandates on Yom Kippur this 5778 (2017). Fasting is pretty self-explanatory – I don’t do it every year, but this year it feels important to do so. Sam Sam does not have to fast. The questioning centers around “what does it mean to be Jewish in this time and place”, an especially complicated and treacherous question for those of us who are secular Jews. Yom Kippur is described in Leviticus, the one book of the Torah that I have not been able to get through in its entirety (mostly because it’s extremely dense and about as riveting as the phone book). But I still celebrate independent of that, based on heritage and family tradition. You are a Jew if your mother is a Jew, end of story. I extend this rule to my cats.

Sam Sam enjoys a snack on Yom Kippur
[Sam Sam is exempt from fasting]

For an excellent read on the topic of secular Jews on Yom Kippur, especially secular Jews committed to activism and social justice, please read this article by Dania Rajendra [Full disclosure: Dania is my sister-in-law.]. For me, part of my plan for this holiday was to compose a track based on sounds from a short-wave-radio synth module an, idea I formulated during a reflective moment last night.

[Cover image taken during Yom Kippur 2016, see this article.]

The track was recorded as a meditation of sorts, getting into a heightened, focused state while turning the knobs of the Eowave short-wave module, tuning into stations that aren’t there. The other “master” of the track was the Wiard/Richter Noisering, which I let control the Rossum Electro-Music Morpheus module. Both focus on chance and working with elements very much outside my control. I also did not want to spend much time outside the meditation-recording process itself. There is no editing save for some tapering at the beginning and end of the track and the obligatory EQ and compression.

I am both doing too much, and too little at the same time. I can’t save all the shelter cats; I can help everyone suffering through one disaster after another in North America and Carribean. But I can try to make a little bit of a difference in each. When I focus on all things “CatSynth”, sometimes my music suffers – I’m overdue booking new gigs for my band CDP and I do feel a need to atone for that. In short, the challenge in 5778 and beyond is to find a way of doing all the things that matter most while minimizing time and resources on the things that don’t. No easy task for someone who tends to say “yes” to everything, hates to disappoint others, and has a difficult time letting go of things. But that last one is another aspect of this holiday, and so it is as good a time to begin as any…

Analog modular improvisation

Here is a little track I created last night improvising with a few of the modules in my Eurorack system. Enjoy!

This analog modular improvisation featured the Wiard Anti-Oscillator and Noisering from Malekko Heavy Industry, Make Noise Maths, and KOMA SVF-201.

Untitled Analog Modular Exploration

This morning we at CatSynth have a sound track for your enjoyment.

Last week I was finally able to start putting together my first analog modular system, inspired by my NAMM trip in January. So far I have installed two modules, a Wiard Anti-Oscillator by Malekko Heavy Industry and an E350 Morphing Terrarium by Synthesis Technlogy/MOTM. In this sample, they are modulating one another, with the “X-Y” output of the E350 as the main audio out.

I just let Pro Tools run as I was exploring. I expected to stop after a couple of minutes, but found myself quite enrapt. After ten minutes, I decided it was enough for this track and brought it to a close. I was quite happy with the result, and consider it to be a genuine work of improvised music.

I hope to start uploading more to Soundcloud and Bandcamp in the coming weeks.

Malekko Heavy Industry at NAMM

This year, Malekko Heavy Industry had their own booth at NAMM. It was actually a bit of a challenge to find, all the way in the back of Hall C past the endless walls of guitars and celebrity-induced traffic jams. But I did find them, and was treated to a tour of a Malekko-only modular system:

In the above image (which admittedly isn’t the best quality), we see a simple patch that was focused on the Wiard Anti-Oscillator and Borg Filter, both of which I was particularly interested in. The Noisering was quite interesting as well and offered a lot of possibilities. The Wiard Jag (Joystic Axis Generator) was very pretty and intriguing, but I couldn’t immediately envision it’s use in a musical performance the way I could with the Noisering.

The system being shown is quite complete, with a host of VCOs, filters, modulators and utility elements. Indeed, one could build something just from their modules alone. But I do think it is most creative to mix and match with our manufacturers.

CatSynth pic: Monsturo: modular set-up

From Analogue Haven on flickr, via matrixsynth:

“Beautiful photo of a nearly full Monorocket Lexington by Monsturo. Nice selection of modules from a variety of manufacturers. Lots of oscillators, multiple filters and several sequencers for control. The Harvestman Stilton Adaptor is used for integrating external effects. LINK: www.myspace.com/monsturo.”

I have tagged some of modules I recognize (e.g., from NAMM).  Click on the tags for other pictures, info and articles.

CatSynth pic: Aki, Arp 2600 and modular

Submitted by Phill Hendricks via facebook:

[click photo to enlarge.]

“That’s Aki, he’s on the Arp 2600. As for the modules, a little bit of everything- Metasonix, 4MS, Malekko/Wiard, Make Noise, The Harvestman, FoH, …. and even a little bit of Buchla in front of the 2600.”

Analogue Haven

Our last post from NAMM 2010 features more images from the Analogue Haven booth, where I spent a fair amount of time.

First up, a modular from Make Noise:

I was particularly intrigued by the two-dimensional sequencer module (in the lower left). A wide variety patterns can be generated along the X and Y axis and modified by selectively removing elements or subsections.

This video probably doesn’t do it justice, but it at least provides some atmosphere:

A portable modular rock (from Analog Rocket) featuring modules from The Harvestman, including the Hertz Donut and Piston Honda:

If I put together a modular system anytime soon, I would want that monorocket case.

Livewire modules, also some remakes of Wiard modules by Malekko Heavy Industry:

Of course, there are a splattering of Doepfer modules in many of these setups.

A compact modular setup from Tiptop Audio: