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Figuring out sounds

One of the most frustrating aspects of playing an electronic instrument is figuring out sounds. You're not constrained to what a physical instrument can make, so the range of possibilities is enormous, but it's hard to figure out what sort of sound I'd like to make, let alone what sound (virtual instrument) would do a good job at that

The instruments I'm using right now are piano, kick drum, hi-hat, accordion, jawharp, sax, and bass. While at some point I might use different sounds on different sets, for now I'm just trying to find one sound I like for each instrument. That's currently:


Before our kids learned to talk, I would play tickles with them. I would make tickling gestures as I moved towards them, they would start giggling a little, then I would tickle them and they would laugh. We'd continue until they seemed to be done with the game, and then we'd move on to something else. As they got older and learned to talk a bit I would ask them "do you want to be tickled?" and their initial response was typically to say 'no' and giggle. They really looked like they wanted to be tickled, and the traditional way to handle that would be to interpret the 'no' as a play 'no' and try to do what you think they want you to do.
Festival Stats 2018

Here we are, 2018:
What is Live?

In experimenting with different ways of making music, one thing I've been thinking about is what makes music "live". What's the difference between having a band on stage vs an mp3? This is something I've been thinking about for a while and while I don't want to try and define "live" music for everyone I think I now have a good sense of what I want: every sound should be initiated by the musicians movement, in the moment.

Rhythm Stage Setup

I've been playing with a jammer, breath controller, foot board, and tilt controller, trying to figure out both what sort of music they're good for and how to combine them with piano/mandolin when playing live. Here's what each can do:

  • Jammer: 98 velocity sensitive keys in a Wicki-Hayden hex layout.
  • Breath controller: measures breath pressure
  • Foot board: effectively two velocity sensitive keys
  • Tilt controller: measures the angle of my head
  • Piano: 88 velocity sensitive keys in an awkward layout that I have a lot of practice with.
  • Mandolin: string instrument, needs two hands

I think I've talked about all the others before, but the tilt controller is a Yocto 3D V2 on a hat:

These can combine in a lot of ways. For example, I can play mandolin with my hands, drums with my feet (kick / hi-hat), and then use the breath controller to play something jawharp like controlling pitch with head tilt.

Let's go through some of the pieces:

Water Usage and Washing Machines

Earlier this month (9/4) our dishwasher started leaking, and I disconnected it. The new dishwasher comes in about a week, but I was curious whether I would see an increase in our water usage from handwashing the dishes. After downloading the data, though, there were more interesting slope changes:

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