17
Nov

I started this post last tuesday, so it’s in the wrong tense and mentions events that have now happened, as if they hadn’t. Whoops.

There’s been a tape theme around my musical activities today. The buzz on wiretotheear and between some friends was around Berna, a virtual electronic music studio modelled after old fashioned tape editing and raw electronic noise generation. The tool lets you play with cutting up tape, layering basic oscillators and other techniques used by some early modern classical music, sound art and soundtracks for film and TV from the 50s to probably the early 80s.

Later on, I was preparing for the Blanco gig on Saturday and decided to label some of my keys and controllers on my main keyboard. These keys trigger specific sounds and effects rather than playing notes on an instrument – it’s often dark on stage and the labels help me see (and remember!) which keys to press.

Icons for keys

Icons for keys

The masking tape I used was slightly too wide for my keys and some of them started sticking to their neighbours. If any tape manufacturers out there would make a reel of masking tape that was just little less wide than the smallest keyboard keys, they’d sell a lot of tape to musicians!

The labels are fun to come up with, too. Colour coding them improves readability - green triggers samples or launches Clips in Ableton Live, red turns effects on/off and black is a transport control. I had a brain fade with the slider labels and made them all black instead of red!

More labels

More labels

UPDATE 2009-11-14: The gig was last Saturday. Combined with a headtorch, the labels were very useful. They may seem childish and unprofessional, but as I have bad eyesight and stages have unpredictable lighting, these things are a huge help. Several times during the set I looked across from audience, or my laptop, to the keybaord and was able to find the right key, button or fader with more speed and accuracy than I have the entire time we’ve been gigging.