Sunday, November 29, 2015

Through the cracks...

I found a couple of instrumental tracks that I had recorded over the last month or two but had failed to post.  They're weird, y'all, but you've probably come to expect that from OFDM.

Here's an electronic misrepresentation of "Do, Re, Mi" from The Sound of Music.

And the delicately named "Dismemberment No. 1 in b minor":

Live music!

I'm blessed to go to church with a bunch of musically talented people.  We put together a concert of American folk, jazz, and theater music for the community last week and people actually came!  And had fun!  Here are a couple of recordings from the night.  Mallory Nuzman's singing with Jenny Webb on piano, John Brady on bass, and myself on guitar.

I got to do a solo piece on guitar as well:

The rest of the excellent performances from the evening are here.  Sharing music online is fun, but live music is a blast!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two wrongs make a wronger wrong

I was dismayed a few months ago to find that no one had yet made a Christopher Cross/Kriss Kross mashup.  Surely 1980's adult contemporary music and 1990's kid-rap could be blended together to make something horrific and hilarious, right?  So, I assumed the responsibility as a netizen of Interwebtopia to make an unnatural combination of Cross' "Sailing" with Kriss Kross' "Jump":

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Marcel Duchamp decided in 1919 that ruining other people's art can be art too:

Tonight I broke in a new synthesizer module I make a couple of days ago by using it to abuse a lovely Brazilian folk song performed by Luciana Souza:

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Here's a little bluesy morsel of audible junk food.  I had fun playing for a bit the other night on the Hammond organ, guitar, drums, and synthesizer.

For those of you with more appetite, feel free to check out a recording from a trio that I recently played in with my friends Scott and Kim Ripplinger:

A bunch of other great recordings from church buddies who played in that same concert are here.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


I've finally designed and built a couple of modules for my synthesizer using the front panels and strip boards that I custom ordered a few months ago.  Aaaaand they sound....absolutely horrifying!  Better than I had hoped!  Here's a video of me attacking my laptop's microphone with my 40-year-old synthesizer with the new modules:

I suggest hiding your laptop in a family member's room with this video playing on repeat.

Eventually I'll get around to posting the schematics and firmware on github so that other weirdos can build this stuff if they like.  Currently I've built a dual voltage controlled low frequency oscillator (VCLFO) and a dual envelope generator.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

You're doing it wrong

It's fun to take a familiar song and play it the wrong way; use the wrong instruments, sing it wrong, etc.  For example, check out these guys:

What will the song do when you take away some of the familiar bits?  Will it still stand or will it fall apart?  Is there more to a song than the snapshot of it that the recording studio may have captured on the first go 'round?

I've had my own fun with unexpected, awkward, and even frightening covers in the past.  This time I wanted to try out a big thick rock tune with just a piano.  After an evening of beating and kicking my poor old upright piano, the result is this:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The same thing we do everyday, Pinky...

So, I like synthesizers.  They're buzzy, growly, quacky, chirpy fun.

Most look something like this:

Keys, switches, some knobs if you're lucky.  But back at the dawn of time the earth was ruled by gigantic, fearsome synthesizers like this:

They are called modular synthesizers.  It was thought for a time that they might be extinct, but healthy populations are starting to develop once again in a few parts of the world.  They allow musicians to connect groups of oscillators, filters, amplifiers, etc by hand to construct sounds electronically.  In addition to giving more sonic flexibility than their smaller descendents, they have the added virtue of looking like something from an evil scientist's lab.  Here's a picture of my own modular synthesizer, which was sick and neglected when I found it:
Sadly, no new modules have been made for my own modular system for about 30 years, so I've decided to make some of my own!  The problem is that my new ones sound nice, but look crappy.  Exhibit A:

To be fancy, I drew up a front panel in DIPtrace and placed an order with Dirt Cheap Dirty Boards. They finally arrived from Hong Kong today and they look good!
This is a generic front panel with a jack board and strip board that I'll use for a handful of different hand wired modules.  Here' a shot of the perforated boards before separation:
And here's everything put together for a quick fit check:

At 25 bucks for a run of ~10 boards (I received 12), I think it's a great deal!  If there are any other old PAiA enthusiasts out there looking to expand their old modulars, you can get a run of these here:
The holes are drilled for potentiometers, 3.5mm jacks, and tip jacks like those found here:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Organ Donor

Everybody used to have an organ in their house.  It was kind of ridiculous.  I've written about this before.  As those things started to land in garage sales and thrift shops, though, people figured out some fun things to do with them.  They've got keyboards, tube amps, foot pedals, and bunches of other goodies just waiting to be re-purposed for cooler musical projects.

About ten years ago one such organ fell into my lap.  A move out of state meant I had to get rid of it, but not before I removed a rotary speaker cabinet out of it.  Back before the reign of the transistor, it was easier to add effects to musical instruments with motors and baffles than with extra gain stages, and practical real time digital signal processing was beyond everyone's wildest dreams.

This Leslie speaker has a 6-8" speaker behind a large styrofoam baffle that spins in front of it, changing the direction of reflection.  It adds a tremolo (amplitude modulation) and a bit of vibrato (pitch modulation).  I use a light switch to turn on the single phase motor which spins the baffle.  I'm a bit embarrassed, but I was done with engineering school before I learned about using diodes or RC filters to suppress (snub) switching transients on motors and solenoid coils.  I've added a little board with an RC snubber to the speaker to eliminate that loud electromagnetic interference pops that occur when I switch off the motor otherwise.  Here's the little board that I made up for the snubber:

It's a series resistor (240 ohm) and capacitor (0.05 microfarad) in parallel with the motor to give the transients a path to ground after the switch is opened.  A schematic may be overkill, but here it is:

Here's a little video to demonstrate how the speaker sounds:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Sugar and spice

For long periods of time the kids will largely ignore all the weird stuff in Dad's room.  Then at other times they'll get curious about the instruments and equipment that I use.  The other day Lucy (age 3) wandered in while I was playing guitar and announced that she wanted to record a song.  This is a recording of me playing along to one of her improvised songs.  Josh wandered back and forth in front of the mic as we recorded, contributing rubbing and shuffling sounds.  The bang as something hits a guitar body at the end was him, too.

Lucy will sing alone as she plays or occasionally to me at bedtime, but I think this is the first time I got a decent recording of one.  After we finished, I got out the headphones and said, "Okay, do you want to hear it now?".  To which she answered, "Nope!".  Then she skipped off to play a different game.