Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Music of the Dwarves

Orid Oru, "The Universes of Forever": a world not much different from many others, whose most notable feature is a huge inland ocean connected to the outer waters that surround the world only through a small channel in the northwest. The western dwarves of Goden Tarmid "The Rope of Blades" have long followed a complicated prophecy requiring them to send an adventurer around the world, circling the ocean. It was they who built the bridge of Merchantwinds across the strait, making possible, in theory at least, an entirely land-based passage around the world. So far, nobody has actually completed the journey, because there are many dangers along the way. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 6: Voltage Controlled Amplifiers

This is Part 6 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Live-coding a permutation-based fugue

If you've been following North Coast for a long time, you may remember the live video streams I did back in 2016. This week I spent some time getting the software and hardware set up to do that again, which pretty much meant starting over from scratch because enough things have changed that my former config was no longer appropriate. You can read about the technical side over on my personal site. I'm still not sure exactly how I'll be using this capability, but it's something I've wanted for a long time as a way to raise the profile of some of the stuff I do. In the days to come I'll probably plan out some scheduled broadcasts on music, electronics, and other topics. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 5: Saving money

This is Part 5 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Random thoughts on negative resistance

It's been an exciting week here at North Coast. Since selling out the first batch of Leapfrog filters, I've been busy making more. That's still in progress. Then just yesterday I gave a talk at Frequency Freaks, here in Toronto, and that seemed to be well-received. At least, they asked me plenty of questions. I've also been playing a lot with the Roland D-05 I got as a present for the winter holidays, trying to learn how to program it. Somewhere in the middle of all this I'm trying to make progress on the development of the next North Coast module, the MSK 011 Transistor Mixer. There's been Spectre/Meltdown mitigation to do and a move of one of my backend servers to another data centre. And I have a couple of other super secret projects on the go. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 4: Some pitfalls

This is Part 4 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Listening to the Mandelbrot set

Okay, it's New Year's Eve, I'm overdue to write this week's Web log entry, and the topic I wanted to write about is held up because of (among other things) a package that apparently was stolen from my front porch after it was "delivered" during my vacation and I told them not to mail it so early but blah blah blah... Instead of the exciting mystery topic, let's dig into the back catalog again and think about how to listen to the Mandelbrot set. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 3: How to get started

This is Part 3 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Maximizing inharmonicity

As I've said before, I'm interested in slow ambient drones - sounds that smoothly change their texture over a period of time without any sharp boundaries or beats. If you have something like this playing in the background, I want for it to never grab your attention, but when you occasionally do focus on it, you notice something different each time. In my " Totally tubular" posting last month, I talked a bit about making inharmonic bell sounds using a hardware modular synth. This week I've been playing with additive synthesis in the Csound software modular. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 2: Don't do it!

This is Part 2 in a series that started with Part 1. READ MORE

Modular Gift-Giving Guide 2017

The Solstice is rapidly approaching and I'm doing my usual routine of putting off making any plans until the very last moment, then panicking, buying a bunch of random gifts, and handing them out with little regard to who's receiving what. I've come close to the point of That's it, everybody's getting Sine Bank kits! Whether they are into SDIY or not! already a couple of times and it's only December 3rd. If, however, you would like to do things in a more careful way than I do, and if you have a modular synthesist on your list, then you may appreciate these gift suggestions. READ MORE

Modular synthesis intro, part 1: What is it?

My mother asked me to explain what I'm up to in one sentence, for inclusion in the annual Christmas Letter, and I said that I'm making electronic musical instruments. That's a pretty good summary as far as it goes. But people often want more detail on what modular synthesizers are all about, and this is the first of several postings I'm writing so that I can have a place to which I can direct the curious. It's largely based on a series of postings I made in my personal Web log about a year ago; the version here will be updated a bit to take into account subsequent developments in the modular world. READ MORE

Free MIDI software rundown

Modular synthesis involves a lot of on-the-fly experimentation with the hardware, but if you're going to make music in a preplanned way, there's a good chance you will end up involving a computer and connecting it to your modular via MIDI. Here are notes on some of the software I like to use for that and related tasks. I'm focusing on stuff that will run under Linux, but many of these packages are cross-platform. READ MORE


The Leapfrog VCF does not actually go "ribbet," at least not without some effort. But after being told by one friend I showed it to that most people don't want to make real music with their modulars but just want something that goes "uuuuuuuuuuuLAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH" (which, let's face it, is true) I've added a demo highlighting that. Uulargh? Yeah, we've got this. READ MORE

Leapfrog press release



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