Handbag Spam

Hello ladies and other. There has not been much worth saying, and so I tend my ‘garden’ and only occasionally write about my cables and boxes in the pages menu-ed above. That in itself says all that’s needed, a self-centred thing away from attempts to persuade anyone of anything. Because who cares? Really?

This diary has lasted about six years and it’s enough that I get to laugh at my younger self without anyone giving a damn either way. But if I don’t write something now, what will I get to laugh at six years from now?

Busty Ginger!

Let us begin at the beginning.

Also the outside keeps wanting attention. Just last week the fates decided that I had spent so much time mocking MOOCs and flipped classrooms and all of that cyberdildonica that I needs be punished by being part of a research project in exactly that. Of course I said yes. I will flip the classroom with vim and vigour because either it’s meaningless and therefore it’s right up my alley, or it’s dangerous and I’ll know better how to denounce it, or it actually works and I get to be wrong about something and have a richer universe.

Also the rising number of record labels that are lining up, wishing that I was dead so they can flog my old artworks. I’ve stopped worrying about it, it’s ridiculous and where I would have once complained about it, it’s like complaining about rain. Just take the money and use it on the garden, not try to remould the outside world, which was always an insanity. They want me dead, and in a way so do I.

The Vivid festival is on and I can’t even be bothered punching that, despite some mildly humiliating behind-the-scenes goings-on.

The only thing that needs some intervention right at the moment is the usual bullshit from tenured academics congratulating ‘disruption’ in the music and film industries, cheering on file sharing and telling musicians and film makers they have to ‘embrace change’. As the current Australian government starts destroying the education industry I expect to see a lot of those academics forced out of their positions. I will send each one of them a message congratulating them for ‘embracing disruption’ and see if a tiny morsel of insight has finally reached their lifeless minds.

I might be a tenured academic but by God I can remember life on the outside.

H10X3rQ

Swan Upping

I have the task of digitising my old man’s writings. He was a psychiatrist, working everywhere from the prisons to the air force as well as a private practice. He seems to have written about eleventy billion articles going by the folders still to be copied. I can forgive him, because most of the time he was deflating the pompous.

I invite you to enjoy a little excerpt about medical publishing from 30 years ago which shows not much has changed since then. Please extend the reference to ‘Medicine’ to include ‘The Arts And Social Sciences’.


I would like to consider the proposition , commonly advanced, that the material published in medical journals is scientific. Imagine that I am a scientist, and that the object of my study is swans. As a result of some observation and some thought I have formulated the hypothesis that all swans are black. You will note that it is a good hypothesis, not only be­ cause it can be understood by anyone prepared to listen, but also anyone who takes the trouble to inspect swans will be able to refute it, if indeed it is incorrect. Additionally, it motivates us to make further observations of swans: we have science at its best.

In the course of my enquiries I go to the zoo, and there I observe a white swan. My hypothesis is refuted: I retreat, cogitate and then declare a new one, ‘all swans are achromatic’. Once more it is refutable: discover but one coloured swan, plain, polka dotted or even tartan and I must hypothesise again. This, as I understand it, is scientific activity: the construction of refutable hypotheses which are then tested so that we will be led to better ones. We approach the truth asymptotically, but we never achieve it. Remember that a refuted hypothesis may be most useful nevertheless: think, for example, of those hypotheses of Newton which not only still serve us well, but also caused other great minds to work so hard to produce better ones.

BlackSwan

Now let us change tack a little. My initial paper about swans would have been brief and to the point. ‘Having observed a number of swans, it is my hypothesis that all swans are black. I would be grateful if any observations of swans inconsistent with this hypothesis were forwarded to me at the above address.’ The second paper would be no longer. ‘I refer to my previous hypothesis, namely that all swans are black. This hypothesis has been refuted by my observing a white swan. I now propose that all swans are achromatic. Once more, observations to the contrary would be much appreciated.’ Note, by the way, that I regard refutation of my hypothesis as a step forward, not as the destruction of a cherished possession.

Now, I imagine that as I continue my advance into pure science, other papers might begin to appear. First one might encounter: A Portable Digitalised Tele­colorimeter for Examining the Plumage of Swans at a Distance by A, B and C.

Succeeding papers might be a function of the interests of the day – thus we might confidently anticipate: A Search for Endorphins in the Faeces of Chenopis Atra to by D, E and F, rapidly followed by A Double Blind Controlled Trial of Six Beta Blockers in the Arctic Nesting Whistling Swan by G, H, I, J and K, repeated as many times in as many journals as there are permutations and combinations of the authors’ names. There might be a paper on A Special Apparatus and Wetsuit Combined to Permit the Endoscopy of Swans While Swimming: those of you familiar with current literature will be able to invent further titles of your own. Certainly, after a time the literature would become self generating, able to continue even if all swans in the world were to perish. Under these circumstances we might have A comment on the use of non parametric statistics in Duddle­thorpe’s Analysis of Honking Behaviour in Swans, including Cygnus Dolor, the mute swan. And then, A Reply.

Finally, of course it would spill over into other.literatures. Swan Upping: some radical feminist strategies for introducing new therapeutic modalities into the management of high socio­-economic status zoophiles.

Our literature is launched. We can assume that PhD’s and MD’s are already being won and that a portfolio filled with nonsense of this kind may well lead to rapid academic achievement. Before long I shall receive on my desk prospectus, posted direct from Ruritania, inviting me to subscribe to the new Inter­national Journal of Swanology. The first issue will be of some five hundred pages and contain a distillation of the wisdom revealed at the 1979 International Conference. No doubt by coincidence, the Editorial Board of the journal will bear a remarkable resemblance to the list of contributors.

Every article will have the same conclusion – ‘Under standard experimental conditions X num­bers of Y things were submitted to procedure Z. Using statistical procedure A , and computer programme B, it has been demonstrated that there is reason to believe that further research in this area may be beneficial. The authors wish to express their gratitude to Miss Helga Futt for her typing, and to the Cornucopia Institute for their funding’. Meanwhile, no one has produced a coloured swan.

Now what is all this? Science? I think not – rather it is an industry. We have people count­ing things in the hope that some­ thing will turn up, obsessionals who believe that measurements are worthy ends in themselves, plagiarists, pragmatists who see how to get on, masseurs of data and – mixed up with it all – a handful of scientists and savants – diamonds in porridge.

Needle in a haystack

If you find all that uncon­vincing , then let me come at it another way. A couple of years ago I had an illness which kept me busy for a while, and made it necessary for me to postpone many things, of which one was my scrutiny of the literature relevant to my daily tasks. In the long run I found myself confronted with a year’s journals, which in time were subdued. When I finished dealing with them I asked myself what benefit that rather cheerless exercise had produced – in what way was my practice changed as a result of my labours. The answer came readily enough, for there was only one element in it – I was even more concerned about the lithium – haloperidol interaction than I had been when I started. For one year’s reading this was not much of a yield.

But perhaps all that is but a demonstration of my own per­sonal limitations, so let us try another perspective. Writing about psychiatry is difficult. Some of it cannot be quantified at all, like music. It is difficult for pseudoscientists to get a foothold there, for you have to do your own thinking and measurement doesn’t help. Further, if you do happen to write something intelligent or interesting, those programmed to respond to words like double blind and chi square are not triggered and will pass you by. Promotion does not lie that way. However, there are aspects of psychiatry which can be measured with good relia­bility, (let us not worry too much about validity) reduced to numbers, and then spun into webs of factors, variances and God only knows what else suf­ficient to satisfy anyone. From that point of view one of the simple tasks is to investigate the treatment of depression; there is plenty of it around, its subdivi­sions are manageable, and there are some effective remedies in existence. All systems are go: if you wish to start a career in research, start there.

What has happened? In the last 12 months, as part of a quality assurance project of the RANZCP and the University of New South Wales, researchers at the latter constructed a bibliography of the treatment of depression.

The successful treatment of depression requires patience and much tying up of loose ends, particularly in the case of neu­rotic depression. This in turn requires time and one would be reluctant to be comfortable about outcome with less than three months’ observation. Nevertheless, in the 100 acceptable studies, the median time for the duration of treatment, and for the time from the beginning of treatment to the assessment of its results, was four weeks. Only one study in eight had followed patients for the three months or more which any clinician would regard as necessary. Even when the trial was between two effective treatments, the median duration was still four weeks­ indicating that the researchers were more interested in getting quick answers to pharmacological questions than they were to discovering what happened to depressed people. Few of the studies produced data on compliance, a major issue in all pharmacological treatment in psychiatry. I should mention that the paper which produced the best results of all was impeccable in its design and revealed that two chemicals long since departed into the history of psycho­ pharmacology were much more effective than anything else. The firm producing one of the reme­dies had funded the trial.

Large haystack, small needle

I could go on but let me make my point clear. I do not assert that all medical literature is trivial, incompetent or faked. There are numerous papers of wisdom and perspicacity and without them the various disciplines of medicine would stag­nate. What I do say is that an unfortunately large proportion of the medical literature is re­petitive, uninspired and created more for the advancement of the authors than for the advancement of medicine. Further, much of it has very little to do with science.

Moreover, the relevance of much original medical literature to most medical practice is marginal. The more learned the journal the less its creators will be concerned with discovering the needs of its audience, which is why there is a steady pro­liferation of more and more specialised journals. Eventually one reaches a state in which the only people who read a particular journal are those who write it – we have passed from incest to masturbation.

The gap between what authors write about and what prac­titioners do is more noticeable if one looks back at the journals of say thirty years ago. Indeed, as you read them, you will find it difficult to decide what the practitioners of the day did at all. A friend of mine, eminent as a practitioner as well as an editor, once told me that he enjoyed using the library at Harvard, for there the journals are bound with their advertisements still in them. From the advertisements he managed to get a feeling for what was afoot in those days.

JOURNAL OF GENERAL PRACTICE JANUARY. 1984 pg. 11

The ephemera of physicality or whatta lotta cables.

So you (looks in mirror) have decided to go back to music making with hardware. The new century’s dream of having it all-in-one has given way to the ‘maps’ and ‘systems’ of the new decade. Or you just got an eBay addiction. The motion is one of forgetting and being drawn forceably into the void of not knowing. That sounds good, I’ll use it in a conference. Anyway, there’s been an awful lot of forgetting.

You forgot just how much infrastructure this crap requires. Ouch.

I was fortunate to have some of my old infrastructure still in place – 19 inch rack, patch bays, some cables. But it’s not enough, way not enough. If I was going to advise myself a year ago when I was starting to plan, I’d have some sage advice.

Nowhere near as obsessive as it could be.

Nowhere near as obsessive as it could be.

You need a tape measure.

Right, so the first thing that you’re going to need is a tape measure and you are going to always check how big things are, to ensure that the thing that encloses or holds the other thing is actually bigger. Because the only thing that can be relied on to be bigger is the floor. And that’s not ergonomic.

Ergonomic.

Just because a thing manages to sit on another thing does not mean that you can actually reach it or see it, or in any way make decent use of it. Unlike your software, it won’t come to your face, your face has to go there, and there might be several other things sitting on top of it by this point. I have planned to buy only small things, which I thought would mean most other things would be bigger. But that has problems as we shall see.

Layout.

So you have to get a piece of paper and draw a picture of where you think it’s all going to go. Because you soon find a recursion loop where the former is on the latter which is on the former, or the void is not just in your mind but under the main keyboard. Don’t go to too much trouble because when you buy a new thing everything else will move around in a grand diaspora.

Making do.

I am keen on making do. It was once necessary to mount everything on milk crates and it’s not like I am going to get the carpenters in to bespoke my hobby rig. But you can do yourself a great disfavour by starting with recycled bar stools and cardboard and eventually having no way to reach the toilet. I’ve found some simple tricks, one of which is bathroom trolleys.

trolley

Advantages – you can fit three or four small things on a trolley, the trolley can be rolled to the right spot, and they come in kits that I can carry under my arm, not having a car.

Also this: RAST as 19 inch rack. Many things are 19 inches across. Use your tape measure.

You need a labeller.

Get a DYMO labeller and label everything, especially cables. I know a DYMO is not the best way but they are on special at the supermarket.

Cables and doodads.

Now it surprised me to find that the world has changed in 30 years, it’s true. Some things like guitar cables are timeless. MIDI cables are not timeless – they’re a bit rarer than they used to be. Jaycar denied they had MIDI cables, but had them as DIN Audio cables. Or they did the week after I asked about them and they now stock them constantly as I keep going back for more.

Generally you need two guitar (6.5mm) cables and two MIDI cables per box. If you buy good quality that starts to add up fast. Cheapest is about 7 bucks a cable or $28 per box, but you can easily go way up and be up for $100. Buy bulk.

You need coloured cable ties. Tie cables together in coloured coded stereo pairs. Don’t bother bundling those until your setup is stable which will never happen.

When you start connecting your boxes to your computer you will tempted to buy the readily available USB to MIDI cables, and these do work. I then had to get a larger USB hub so that I had enough slots for each cable. The madness started when I found that some software can’t decide between two of the same USB adaptor and it became a game of finding more cheap and shitty brands to mix up.

So I ordered a multiple output MIDI box. The shop rang back to say that might take a month to deliver. They suggested that I trade up to a more expensive sort that would be only a week or so away. I said OK. It’s now been over a month. Today I ordered another one from another dealer who has 3 in stock. Rule is – almost no one wants MIDI boxes and they are rarely in stock. Available to order is not the same as in stock.

express-128-large-frontGet a big one. I don’t care that I have two, it’ll save grief years from now.

You need a mixer.

Think of how many channels of sound you are expecting to need. Double it. No, it’s not software you just can’t run another copy. Now get the tape measure and figure out size of mixer versus how much you can plug into it. Like an Upworthy post the answer might surprise you. The trick is using auxiliary inputs, effect returns, any damn thing to get more channels. This is what I bought:

QX2222USB_P0AL2_Top_XL

On special for about $270. Note it has a USB connection this is a good thing as now all your boxes are connected to the computer, although not as individual things – but $270. And it fits in a 19″ rack. Tape measure!

Knobs

In my case modesty has lead to my buying small and cheap boxes, and most of it is programmed on the same computer that has all those nice VSTs I could be using. I find myself sitting in the same place more or less. Perhaps all of this should be about moving about, and I have arranged a bit of discomfort to (a) give myself something to complain about while (b) having to shift my arse to make things happen. Part of that is about making to sure have a few knobs scattered about, and that’s a something to keep in mind in the heat of the bidding.

… and taxes.

Aside

Pardon me, I have to shut all comments as some fool is trying to post several hundred fake handbag spams a day. Like it’s at 9000 spams and counting…

UPDATE: down from 300 to 7 today. I don’t know if bots eventually get ‘bored’ and pages move down a list. We’ll lock down for a while. I’m on Twitter anyway.

UPDATE: it relentlessly seeks to sell handbags, 10,000 spams and rising. It is insatiable. All comments locked until it moves elsewhere.

Death

maj13

Hello 2 dogs and one person. Today is about death, or at least the meaning of death which is associated with the card;

  • Ending of a cycle — Loss — Conclusion — Sadness
  • Transition into a new state — Psychological transformation
  • Finishing up — Regeneration — Elimination of old patterns
  • Being caught in the inescapable — Good-byes — Deep change

according to The People’s Encyclopaedia of The Cloud.

I actually owned a tarot card pack when I was very young. I liked having a ‘system of everything’ – wouldn’t you? It’s why people become programmers, they get to control a small complete everything. Pity I didn’t understand the meanings back then – which pre-teen would get what Death was about? Better to be a mystic and control the full everything, but anyway…

…anyway, the last few days I was thinking – ‘this really is a complete load of shit isn’t it?’ By it I mean pretty much everything that everyone seems to have turned into ‘everything’. No, hang one, that’s not very helpful is it? Start again…

If you live long enough you get to see the cycles. You see the dawn, the inkling, the enthusiasm and the swelling ’til it bursts and the retractions and denials. I wrote about that last time. But more than that – now talking about the cycles from the outside – they go beyond laughable, beyond tedious – they become painful. Somebody gets in your face about the grandeur of something you already saw die again and again in a lonely corner and you feel pain.

I want out of that cycle.

Part of the fault is that I am powered by enthusiasm which is a dirty fuel, and runs out quickly. You can get a lot done quickly on enthusiasm, but when it runs out you are left dangling over the void. Another role comes along and you get your enthusiasm up for that one – a little less, a little shorter. Another role might get you started for a while but the cycle is now obvious; just jumping from role to role is no real progress. And you are confusing your enthusiasm for something with it being actually worthwhile.

When really the first question should be ‘is this worthwhile?’

Worthwhile to whom? If I make 1000 YouTube videos showing pictures of huge breasts while talking about computer games I’ve played – sure, that would do nicely for a large number of people. Those that dislike that kind of popular culture still measure how many people cite a paper or attend a conference – popularity is always the winning argument no matter what’s being debated. It’s pretty funny watching managers that want to ‘apply quality frameworks’ and ‘certify research value’, go into a panic when the sales aren’t there.

But this is about more than poor old academia. It’s about the ‘everything’ that we have built. In the country of the blind, the guy with Google glasses is king. He’s going to wander around a 3D visualisation of reality and we’ll all keep a hand on the shoulder of the next guy.

Bruegel_1568_Parable-of-the-Blind

The guy on the ground is the futurist – the rich one that made up some science fiction. About to fall on his ass is the great communicator, the journo that writes a pop science book or two. Armed with his walking stick, next up, the academic, with the business man, the worker and the consumer a few years behind. The joke is none of them are blind. They just have adopted a way of seeing, a personal technology that cloaks the world around them. They put the Occulus Rift on their heads and went on Facebook.

Visualisation is a post-punk word that has just walked back on stage to wild applause. Even though the stasi are watching I can’t clap, I just can’t do it any more. The irony of the blind men making a blinding device is too much. Visualisation is a very practical business in a limited sense, been around at least since people drew what dinner looked like on cave walls. X-rays are good and so are speedometers. But the blind men don’t mean that – they mean overlaying data on top of things to tell you what you are seeing with a few ads. Zoom out and fill your eyes with big data.

repin_cossacks5

Dogs and their person; hear me: 24 years ago, driven by insanity of enthusiasm and fear of unemployment I made a computer assisted teaching presentation about Ilya Repin’s Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, on an Amiga. You could fly around the painting, call up information about the painter and the situation that was described. It was a marvel of the dawn of New Media, a proof of the glorious future to be. Now we can do it more and bigger and in 3D and I am not really sure if it was worthwhile the first time. I certainly know that previous experience is unwelcome.

What happens when you walk away from the procession?

051_768px

The other direction leads to muddled, incoherent mysticism of the type that Reich and Jung and Dee indulged in their old age. Sounds fucking great, some necromancy and visits to Pluto on a flying demon – hell I don’t care, so long as it blows a mind or two. Because popularity is never going to be a guide to risk, and risk is what is sorely lacking.

The tarot cards are back in use and the Death card is face up.

Innovation

Twitter is a great place for bon mots, quips and dips. But the meals are not filling. I have to bring a line of questions here to have a chance of saying anything at all.

The question is about innovation, a word I get to hear in education all day, every day, along with bird calls, whoops and other sounds of the jungle. It’s a pretty sound, innovation. It sounds like somewhere they would visit in Star Trek. That may be why people use it so rapidly and vapidly.

Innovation exists, but it’s gone before you see it. It was there in a side room somewhere, ignored. Then somebody walking by was struck by the idea. They put it in words. Somebody else turned it into a set of principles. A lone wolf followed those principles in some private space, and was called a loopy or a visionary. More likely loopy, because the visionary is the person that tries the idea again in a larger space, dropping the bits that don’t fit the context. An academic ‘gets the picture’, they write a paper, they give a TED Talk, the idea is on TIME.COM, it’s being misrepresented in the newspapers, there’s a conference with a panel of visionaries that agree this innovative practice is exactly what we must put into practice everywhere no matter what.

By the time it’s hit ‘best practices’ as documented in Power-points by the Innovation Panel at the company executive level, the idea is a set of callisthenics for staff to learn in 2 hour training sessions. They make feeble attempts while preserving their experience gained over years of trench warfare. The new thing is absorbed into a wide folklore of practices, an archaeology of new things. Maybe it helps, maybe it doesn’t, but the machinery has already spun off in pursuit of a new innovation.

Like most things it starts with action, and is turned into words because words are easily counted and peer reviewed. The words then replace the action.

I have been through this many times. Probably the easiest to describe is computing.

Dickheads.

Dickhead

1979 dickhead. I think that’s a punch card on the shoulder for some dickhead reason.

I was the only person in my high school or anywhere I knew that had a personal computer. I used it to make simple art and music. Other students called me a dickhead. In 1980 I enrolled at university in mathematics, because I had a vague idea about making computer based art. There was nothing there either which made me a depressed failure, so I switched to history of science, because that was more fun (but also I’ve since realised that universities are good for hearing about people like yourself that are dead.)

Somewhere in that period Time Magazine declared The Personal Computer Revolution. I was now a pioneer dickhead.

I got drunk, did music and kept making computer art stuff, meeting up with a small bunch of other people who were also reject dickheads. By the end of the 1980’s we dickheads were starting to show up in galleries and exhibitions, the curators of which happened to be walking by. This caused some academic somewhere to ‘get the picture’ and spout the name ‘New Media’ which was an innovation that must be defined, funded and taught. Much words were penned about electronic media, cyber arts, linkages and French philosophy. By 1990 there was one computer at the university that ran PhotoShop and way too many journal articles.

The early 90’s were a fun time for me, playing the tame dork, ready to explain computer stuff to the Common Man over the TV, radio, newspapers and conferences. Oh the conferences; to be sitting on a panel with my fellow cybernauts, telling the audience of educators and funding bodies about this innovation that was going on, hurry hurry, get with the system. I was no longer a dickhead – according to one newspaper I had geek chic.

This tame media geek role was something new. I’d just waddle onto the telly, predict online sales or DVD and wander off again, feeling cheerful because no one had called me a dickhead recently. But others ‘got the picture’ – what if you charged the audience to hear this futurism? What if you made it REALLY expensive and only CEOs could be there? What if you called it TED? You would have the innovation industry,

I was outclassed by the late 90’s and had to go and get a real job. But being knocked down can knock a bit of sense into your head. Cut to the chase; here I am now, an academic in charge of a media arts degree. When I went to university in 1980, what I wanted was not even a glint in the vice chancellor’s eye. Not even peer reviewed. It was actually innovative, and no one had got it yet.

Innovation takes place in the underground. If you are reading about it in a newspaper or a university handbook, you are seeing the innovation industry, which runs about 3-5 years behind the thing itself. These can be good and successful things, but they are not the innovation itself. And that’s why any discussion about how the powers can support and develop innovation is baloney, because they can’t see it. Creativity, maybe, creative industry sure thing.

Once an innovation leaves the underground, you can’t put it back. So the idea of revisiting the innovations of the past to try regain inspiration are doomed to failure. Retrofitting the past can be pretty, but it’s well said that the past is foreign country.

Relax. Some kids are out there doing it for you. You just can’t see them.

Soggy’s Saga

You will remember I am sure my dear neighbour Soggy the Sailor. If you have forgotten, please do refresh your memory.

sailor

Soggy has been absent on a long voyage to the land of Hipster Douche, having fought many great battles against taste and relevance, battles I must admit I hoped would lead to his falling in a volcano and it hurting. Instead he returns triumphant, a golden fleece in his paws. I am not sure what it it is, but if I may be allowed a guess it has the dreary beige earnestness of The Best Of Glenn Campbell, although with a bit more Country and Western twang.

Of course the best way to play Glen Campbell is loud and proud at 3AM. As always, I’m amazed at the ability for his insipid gruel to work its way through my walls and keep me from the oblivion I crave.

And as is always the case with Soggy, he and some other turd will adopt the same instrument as his muse, plunk away at it sporadically over the hours and then (I guess) fall into a stupor about 5AM. His guitar is as bad as his fiddle. Fuck him.

I have a new friend, Party Girl That Yells Over The Top Of The Universe. She has the kind of voice that strips paint at thirty paces and she seems to enjoy holding parties somewhere diagonally behind my place which always end up WITH HER OPINIONS BEING ELEVATED OVER ANY PERSON THAT DARES TO TALK BACK. Good times, sad times, any time is right for yelling. Laughter must be shared with the entire Pacific Rim, otherwise there might be some Fijian that isn’t paying attention to her. Right now she has met up with another of her kind and in the manner of two knights colliding in a slow motion joust, the two of them have been YELLING ANGRILY OVER THE TOP OF EACH OTHER ABOUT SOME SHIT DOESN’T MATTER for about an hour. Like a dogfight, it needs a bucket of water thrown over it.

When I was twenty something I did have heated arguments like that. But as I wasn’t able to breathe through my arsehole I had to pause every now and then.

The argument has worn out and we’re back to her just yelling OH MY GOD, I’M SO TRASHED every minute or so, as if to stake out the limits of her sonic cesspit. If I may say ma’am, you are a dreadful bogan and the suburbs are calling you. Answer their call.

Thing 666: destiny

The portents were all there – the fussing with waveforms, the obscene level of interest in Roland system exclusives. It starts with Aspirin and it ends up with Heroin, or in my case the evening my hand slapped eBay hard for a card.

$_57

SR-JV80-04 VINTAGE SYNTH – artefact of an era when Roland JV synthesisers lumbered unchallenged through prehistoric tropical forests. A hardware sample library with waveforms from Roland’s stable of ancients, plus some mysterious additions from MG and KG and OB, whoever they may be. Quite a few different cards were made and bless you if you wanted the Hip Hop one, but I’ve been after these particular waveforms since I encountered that orange thing and realised that it was the Abbot And Costello Meet The Wolfman to the Bride of Frankenstein of my dreams.

What use? I have paid a small army of Japanese sound engineers wearing identical uniforms to make looping samples of their equipment library – probably the same library as seen in the recent AIRA videos. They’ve done a better job than me, with sources I can’t match. Look through available sample libraries from software vendors you’ll rarely find the raw sounds. You’ll get lots of interpretations of the sounds, legally unique but not what I want. The card represents access; technical and legal.

photo

Actually they want as much old crap as they can eat.

You will be astounded to hear that there are bearded men on the Internet who argue over which box should house this card. The consensus is that it must live in a JD-990 because warmth, phatness, monster cables – who the hell knows why really. I tend to trust those souls that have owned various boxes and say they all sound much the same. The JD-990 was the last of the D generation, followed by the JV-1080. I don’t know what the D and V mean. I do know that the JV-1080 was Roland’s biggest thing in years, a huge seller. The JV-2080 was much the same but had a big screen, and the pinnacle is the JV-5080 which had people selling their daughters, but probably not too many daughters, as cheaper boxes soon arrived.

$(KGrHqMOKpYFJlzlQvD7BSdzbi,F,!~~60_57

Knowing my disease, some day a JD-990 will come. Meanwhile fleacore rules say that small cheap box is best. The JV-1010 is the first one of these cheap boxes and has the same guts as a JV2080 + a card called Session built in. It’ll do nicely.

There’s no editing available on the box itself and so you have to run a cut down version of Emagic Sound Diver, particularly quaint on a Windows machine where the Mac OS7 graphics look tres moderne. Works pretty nicely mind you; the 4 Roland tones roll along an endless panorama of sliders and knobs…

diver

clicken to biggen

Sonically it’s a mixed bag. The basic sounds are tiny samples compared to today’s software, and have obvious loop points. If I wanted an oboe I’d stick with NN-XT. The Session card has a sweeter sound, let down a little by the low sample rate (apparently 32KHz) which some people then claim is ‘warmer’ (rule 34). As with all audio hardware the slight imperfections of cables and amplifiers add a little noise that works like a studio exciter, a bit of natural sparkle.

The waves that come with the Vintage card are good in that morbidly obese Roland way. As you run through the list you notice duplication – the first two are JP-8 Saw A and JP-8 Saw C. (Where’s the B? It’s over on the main wave bank. Mysterious east at work). Inspect the presets to find that their slight differences are combined to create analogue-like drift and disparity. Strings will have more variations that basses. The different sounds are sometimes subtle and sometimes recognisable, you’d have to be very obsessive to need every single one of them but the obvious ones do make sound design easier.

The filters are Roland filters and no one is going to write a sonnet about them. If you really were hoping for an authentic OBX sound you’re not in luck, although few of the waves have original filter sweeps in them, notably the wretched TB303. Compare the sampled Prophet 5 sounds with the sounds made by the AN200. Yamaha have access to the circuits of the original and have designed their failures, the JV doesn’t know how to fail on that level. The AN200 is wilder and greedier for the spotlight.

But let’s be honest, you don’t buy a box with Roland on it looking for punk. Roland is summery afternoons, small children splashing at the beach, your favourite pullover. The JV will always be the warm fuzzies up in the gearshift of your next anthem.

jd990

Aristotle and Newton on Colour.

As I crawl my way through writing my thesis paper it’s a relief to talk about some of the ideas I cover, using words that are not quite as carefully chosen. There’s time when I’m sitting at my desk for quarter of an hour or more agonising over a single word; that one is too loose, this one implies I am claiming something that I can’t prove. Here I can write like Humpty Dumpty.

Go on ask me a question. Anything.

Go on ask me a question. Anything.

At first glance you wonder what the hell Aristotle’s on about when he says all colours are made from black and white. That seems unlikely to survive the first experiment, silly old Ancient.

For a start there’s a language issue here, black and white are better described as bright and dark, and these are better described as daylight which is yellow and bright, versus night which is blue and dark. That makes more sense, we can see how colours range over the course of a day, and Aristotle was always one for starting with the bleeding obvious, or with ideas he called endoxon, things you have to accept –  like black holes – because somebody smarter than you worked it out.

One of my sources wonders if he ever saw colours created by close proximity of black and white. Like this;

bridget_riley-scaled1000

That’s Bridget Riley BTW who is too cool for school.

bridget-riley

I actually think the ancients experienced the blinking of light and dark when sunlight spills through trees etc. Black and white blinking makes colours.

benhams_disk

duchamp

In this theory colours like red are made of lots of bright while greens are loaded with dark. But how do they look so different to their sources? How is it that they mix to make other colours? This is where I am most invested because I want to show that music serves as an endoxon. Aristotle says (being careful not to credit Pythagoras because that guy was a complete myth) well think of musical notes. You get a string and you twang it and you get a distinct pitch. You divide that string into exact ratios and you get other pitches. Musical notes are divisions of other musical notes, and it’s pretty damn likely that red is a certain ratio between blue and yellow. Of course if you can’t get red from mixing these two then you’re not doing it right.

Seemed like no one could get it right for 2000 years.

At least he tries to explain a plausible solution. Newton couldn’t be arsed. He does two things that would make Aristotle hit the bottle. He shines white light (Goethe starts screaming here It’s not bloody white you moron!) through a prism and gets a spectrum. Which he then draws as a circle. Divided into seven colours because hey, you can write a music scale around that and la la la la European philosophical tradition. It’s not mathematically valid he says, but it’ll do.

Dispersive_Prism

Breaking it wasn’t the hard bit. Putting it back together was the real experiment.

Do you see a circle? I don’t see a circle. I sure don’t see that the colour at one end of the spectrum joins up with the one on the right using some bogus violet bullshit. OK, so he’s describing why mixing red and green makes yellow, which you can see in the rainbow, but also why blue and red make purple which seems hard as they’re either side of the seating arrangement. He really means that once you have multiple sources of coloured light then they intersect to create other colours, but that diagram just caused no end of trouble because it implied that the circle was a description of a physical structure related to music. And that confusion is the first step in the journey that I’m studying.

Newtons colour wheel

This is how hippies were invented. And why D is a truly bogus note.