Tatsuya Takahashi’s Powers Of Ten – A Synthematic Journey

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These videos capture a presentation by Korg’s Tatsuya Takahashi at the 2020 Most Wanted: Music ‘hybrid music conference’.

Most Wanted: Music (MW:M) was held Nov 3-5, 2020 as a hybrid online/offline music event.

Takahashi is known to Synthtopia readers for his work as Chief Engineer at Korg, where he helped create some of their most popular recent instruments, including the monotribe, the volca line and the monologue. He is now CEO of Korg Berlin.

The first video is Takahashi’s Powers of Ten – A Synthematic Journey. The video – taking inspiration from Charles and Ray Eames film Powers Of Ten and Kees Boeke’s 1957 book, Cosmic View – is described as “a journey into the depths of some of Tatsuya’s instrument design highlights.” The film features images and sounds of the Takahashi’s Minilogue, Monologue, Volca, Triggers and Granular Convolver.

The second video, below, captures his presentation at the MW:M festival:

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“Making a living from designing musical instruments is a funny business. On one hand they are commercial products. On the other, they are forms of expression,” notes Takahashi. “From the big hit volcas to the personal projects that are painfully close to my soul, each project has a different story to tell, but there’s also a continuum that runs through them all.”

Shut Up & Play: Sounds Of The Korg Trident Synthesizer

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This video, via Perfect Circuit, offers an audio demo of the Korg Trident – an 8-voice, polyphonic analog synthesizer with three distinct, programmable sections.

The Trident features Synthesizer, Brass, and Strings sections. These can be individually tweaked and played, assigned to sections of the keyboard, or be layered to create more complex sounds.

“In this video, we show off a handful of the lush, vintage sounds that can be coaxed out of this classic synthesizer. The Trident is certainly an instrument that rewards playing its keyboard, while engaging and tweaking the different sections as a performance element.

We also showcase some of the Trident’s external CV inputs with a small set of Eurorack modules, expanding the instrument with more complex modulations than what is possible within the Trident alone.”

If you’ve used the Korg Trident, leave a comment and share your thoughts on it!

Dancing Astronaut presents Supernovas 002: RUNN

Dancing Astronaut presents Supernovas 002: RUNNIMG 3192

Supernovas is a recurring Dancing Astronaut feature dedicated to vocalists in the dance space who, with their own idiosyncratic vocal signatures and unique lyrical perspectives, have played pivotal roles in bringing electronic records to life. Each installment in the monthly series spotlights one vocalist. The serial continues with Supernovas 002: RUNN.

Dancing Astronaut presents Supernovas 002: RUNNIMG 3167

“Hey, do you want to give this a try?”

RUNN can’t remember exactly how the base of “Free Fall” landed in her lap, but she can recall a friend’s manager issuing this spoken invitation.

Her response was unambiguous: “Yes, absolutely.”

“Illenials,” of course, know how this story ends: in the fourth tracklisting of Illenium‘s sophomore LP, Awake, issued on September 21, 2017. But what they—and other listeners—might not know is that RUNN had never intended to earn credits as a vocalist on the Awake inclusion. Illenium, however, had other plans.

“I’d been a writer for many, many years and was very much a behind the scenes writer doing a lot of pop pitch work,” RUNN told Dancing Astronaut. Per serendipity’s—and Nick Miller’s—call to keep RUNN’s vocals on the track, then in the making, the singer-songwriter was not to remain “behind the scenes.”

“I wasn’t expecting that,” RUNN said. “I sort of stumbled into being an artist. I think it was always something I wanted to do, but was always too afraid to take that first step. And then it sort of happened so organically.”

“Free Fall” would be the push to set off a domino effect:

It just gave me a place for my voice to be heard—not literally; but also, you know, literally—for what I had to say, instead of helping other people say what they wanted to say. And I found that incredibly empowering and fulfilling, and then when more opportunities came, I couldn’t say yes fast enough,” RUNN added.

Nearly four years later, RUNN has had a lot of practice with saying “yes.” Case in point, “Blurry Eyes” with Hotel Garuda (2018), “Nothing Left” with Wooli and William Black (2019), “Waiting For You” with Trivecta and Last Heroes (2020), “Intertwined” alongside Jason Ross (2020), and most recently, “Fix It” with Grant. That this is by no means an exhaustive list of recent examples bears mention.

Though RUNN will expectedly have more opportunities to answer in the affirmative when additional collaborative pitches find their way to her over this next year, she will also be focusing on her solo work to a large degree. “Strangely enough,” she says, she’s written some of her “best material” in the past year:

“It feels weird to say that last year has honestly been very clarifying for me where I was able to really focus on just my music and what I wanted to say and how I wanted it to sound and work with the people who are closest to me. So I was incredibly blessed to come out of 2020 with a large catalog of songs that I’m looking forward to putting out and I cannot wait for people to hear them, they’re all totally different.” 

That the original productions implicated in RUNN’s plot for 2021 are “all totally different” is a byproduct of her writing approach. Over the years, she’s “continued to evolve and expand” how she writes, and during our interview, she’s careful to emphasize that writing, for her, is “never a one-size-fits-all” experience. Sit with her catalog, and you’ll find that her music—solo outputs and collaborations alike—echoes this point.

Although RUNN cut her teeth in the pop field, its “formulaic” nature, marked by a “right way to do things and a wrong way to do things,” appeals to her considerably less than the “open-minded” quality of songwriting in the dance space. “There’s a lot less rules and structure, so it gives you a lot more space to be creative, which I find very freeing and refreshing,” she said.

The comparatively more amorphous character of dance music songwriting has allowed RUNN to continue placing a premium on authorial authenticity—the heart of her songwriting ethos. Throughout her tenure as a songwriter across genres, she’s realized the following: “the best songs for me are the ones that are the truest to me.”

RUNN’s arrival at this conclusion is owed in large part to her own experience as a songsmith, but it can also be credited to the artistic perspective of one of her sonic influences, John Mayer, whom she calls “one of the most unappreciated lyrical geniuses of our time”:

“I was at a masterclass with John Mayer a couple of years ago in college, and he said something that really stuck with me, which is the only thing you have the right to write about is yourself and your own experience. And so rather than projecting my brain into somebody else’s experience and trying to assume what they would feel, I just tried to really dwell within myself in past experiences, the current situation I happen to be in relationships with my own friends or family.”

These days, RUNN’s personal encounters, brushes with emotion, and realizations remain important informants of what will translate to a page and, eventually, a .wav file, even as she’s shifted the sequence of steps in the general scope of her writing process.

“I find that a lot of the time recently, I try to get on the microphone before I even have even heard the music that’s been sent to me to write over, and I will just see what comes out,” she explained. “A lot of it is gibberish and mumble mouth, and then sometimes I’ll say a word that ends up being the title or the theme of the song that I didn’t even know I needed to talk about. When you give yourself that kind of freedom, stuff just comes out that you know you need to process.”

In this way, songwriting for RUNN isn’t just cathartic; it’s also a barefaced check-in with herself that leads to the kind of “good” lyrical “story” that she referenced earlier in the course of our interview. “A good story is a good story, no matter what kind of music you put it on top of, and I think a compelling one can translate,” she said. Indeed, this is precisely what RUNN’s stories doubling as songs have done to date, and what they will continue to do: translate—and powerfully, at that.

Stream RUNN’s Supernovas playlist, featuring 11 songs of her own choice, below.

Featured images courtesy of artist

The post Dancing Astronaut presents Supernovas 002: RUNN appeared first on Dancing Astronaut.

US Music Industry Revenues Way Up, As Streaming, Vinyl Sales Grow

The RIAA reports that recorded music revenues in the US grew 9.2% to $12.2 billion in 2020.

This is the fifth consecutive year of growth for the industry, with streaming music and paid subscription services driving much of the growth. And, while streaming revenue growth was strong, the growth of vinyl sales more than doubled it.

So – while it was a terrible year for most performing musicians – the pandemic didn’t stop people from streaming and buying more music.

Streaming music revenues grew 13.4% in 2020 to $10.1 billion, 83% of total industry revenues.

The category includes services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music Unlimited; ad-supported on-demand services YouTube; digital radio options like SiriusXM; and miscellaneous other streaming licensing.

And, for the first time since 1986, revenues from vinyl records were larger than from CDs.

Total revenues from physical products were essentially flat, at $1.1 billion (down 0.5%) despite the challenges to retail from the pandemic. But vinyl sales grew 28.7% year-over-year to $626 million. Revenues from CDs dropped a whopping 23% to $483 million, continuing a long-term decline.

Bright Sparks Documentary Captures Stories From The Beginning Of Modern Synthesis

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GForce Software, in collaboration with the group I Monster, has made their documentary Bright Sparks available to view for free.

Bright Sparks features a fantastic collection of interviews, with both instrument designers and some of the musicians that have used their instruments.

The documentary, originally released commercially several years ago, was created to accompany I Monster’s album Bright Sparks. The album has 8 tracks, each of which explores a classic instrument and its creators:

  • The fantastic tale of Dr. MOOG and the birth of the shimmering beast 05:18
  • The uncertain contents of the BUCHLA box 06:00
  • Alan R Pearlman and the ARPiological exploration of the cosmos 06:16
  • The ballad of Harry CHAMBERLIN and the surreptitious window cleaner 04:55
  • The Bradley Brothers realise the transmutation of the Chamberlin to the MELLOTRON 04:36
  • London 1969—The Wizards of Putney deny accusations of unholy enchantment at the Electronic Music Studios (EMS) 05:12
  • Electronic Dream Plant (EDP)—The dirt in the ointment 03:50
  • The further adventures of K. FREEMAN and his incredible machine of a thousand strings 05:08

You can view Bright Sparks via the embeds on this page or on Youtube.

The ‘A Side’ of the documentary, embedded above, focuses on US based electronic music pioneers, including Bob Moog, Don Buchla, Alan R Pearlman and Harry Chamberlin. It features contributions from Herb Deutsch, Michelle Moog-Koussa, I Monster’s Dean Honer & Jarrod Gosling, Adrian Utley, Daniel Miller, Billy Currie, Karl Hyde, Alessandro Cortini, Will Gregory, Dennis P Colin and Alan Pearlman.

The ‘B Side’ of the documentary, embedded below, focuses on British electronic music pioneers, including the original Mellotron makers, Les, Norman and Frank Bradley, EMS’s Peter Zinovieff, Electronic Dream Plant’s Adrian Wagner & Chris Huggett, and String Ensemble inventor, Ken Freeman.

It includes contributions from I Monster’s Dean Honer & Jarrod Gosling, Peter Zinovieff, Chris Cross, Daniel Miller, John Bradley, Karl Hyde, Ken Freeman, Fred Gardner and Goldfrapp’s Will Gregory:

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I Monster’s album has been released in two versions. Bright Sparks, embedded below, includes narration & vocals:

Bright Sparks Instrumental, embedded below, features alternate instrumental mixes of the album tracks.

It also includes a bonus track Beneath The Planet Of The OBERHEIM, from a planned Bright Sparks vol 2.

Both albums are available via I Monster’s Bandcamp page.