Grant Muller

Back for the Winter

With Summer over I’ll be back behind the keyboard for longer periods of time, which should give me more opportunities to post. Here are a few things I have planned:

  • Experiments in personal fitness, aimed primarily at testing extremely high-intensity workouts for endurance purposes
  • New features for the GOLSequencer Bank and Harmonic Table
  • Arduino and Microcontroller projects
  • Some new music
  • Peering inside of and occasionally repairing old synthesizers, stereos, and effects
    My home will also very likely be an explosion of DIY home improvement, so stay tuned for a lengthy list of things NOT TO DO.

A Trend You May Notice

For all those paying attention, you may notice that I’m posting with less frequency. This is normal. The fact is, its getting warm again. When that happens, I spend more time outdoors, getting my triathlon on, reading in a hammock, or making my yard happen than hanging out on my computer. When the cold happens again, I’ll be back in front of my computer writing code, or making electronics happen, and other indoor projects. Expect fewer posts for the next few months.

Christmas Time is Tabla Time

tabla-5I’ve had Christmas surprises in the past, but my wife pulled a fast one this year that is particularly noteworthy. As many of you know, I’ve been taking tabla lessons for the last few months, and having a lot of fun at it. I had been borrowing a pair of my teacher’s to practice on, all the while looking at getting a pair for myself.

If you’re in the market for a tabla set in the U.S., your options are limited. There is a college in California called Ali Akbar that sells them, but they can get pretty pricey. Getting them from India is much cheaper, the downside of course being that shipping can get dicey, and of course I would have to go through someone to get them. A month ago I found out that a Ganesh, a co-worker of mine, was going to be coming in from India and asked if he’d kindly bring a set back for me. My teacher Amit offered a while ago to broker something for me, and was able to get the name of a shop to Ganesh. Little did I know that I was throwing a wrench into Cary’s plans.

As far back as October Cary had started working with Amit to get me a set for Christmas. If she were to tell me that she already got a set that would ruin the surprise, so when she was informed that I was trying to acquire a set, she had to get everyone to play along with a little ruse. Amit gave a fake shop name to my Ganesh, who in turn claimed to visit the shop and let me know that that the set would be ready in time. I was really looking forward to getting the set, but was a little disappointed when Ganesh arrived and convincingly told me that “the set wasn’t quite finished in time, but it should be done my the beginning of January, and he could send it out with someone else”. I could wait a few more weeks I guess, but I was really looking forward the them.

Christmas arrived and a great big box was put in front of me, which I didn’t expect. I usually have some idea of what I might get for Christmas, so when I unwrapped the box (a toilet paper box), and saw the same round hard case that Amit brings his tabla over in, I was completely shocked. Here is the shipping label, which I thought was very cool:

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Notice the “new Zaibaba Temple”, I wish mail addressed to me was labeled “near something-or-other”. I’ve played the new set a few times, but I’m going to hold off until I can show the set to Amit and make sure everything is kosher with them. not to mention I still don’t really know how to tune them. Here is the baya, and detail of the copper which is pitted really nicely:

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Here is a detail of the stabilizer ring that the drums sit on, and the wooden pegs for the tabla:

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First test of the Firepod (FP10)

I guess I should start calling it the FP10, since technically its been renamed/rebranded. Firepod just sounds so cool.

Band practice Saturday consisted of cutting a drum track for an ongoing demo that we’re working on (I’ll post a copy when Bill finishes the mixing). I didn’t feel at all prepared for it, but that’s beside the point, and it actually went really well.

The setup consisted of exactly 3 mics. That’s it. A single overhead condenser, and a dynamic on the kick and snare. We ran those into the FP10 along with a mix of Bill’s “wall-of-keyboards”, and cut the 11 or so minute track in about an hour using Garageband on Bill’s Mac.

It sounded fantastic.

Listening back through a pair of home audio speakers later to the unmixed, uneq’d tracks we all nodded in approval at the quality of the recording. I can’t tell you if it was the preamps, Bill’s skills at mic placement, or the mics, but I can tell you that my drumming had very little to do with it. It was the best drum sound I’ve heard while trying to record outside of a studio. The kick resonated in your chest, the snare and cymbals were crisp without being irritating, and the toms pounded like a stomping rhino. Very nice.

There is a section of the track where I’ll be playing something like a drum solo, which is a rare treat for me, and in 7/8 time to boot. It won’t sound great on the demo, but I’m looking forward to preparing something for it live and for later recordings.

I’ve also retooled the home studio a bit. Look for pics of it as well as the AM practice space. To listen to the older demo from a few weeks ago of the first movement, go here:

http://www.myspsace.com/ascendedmastersga