1. After missing the crowdfunding campaign, I was happy to finally be able to buy a copy of Tobie Miller’s excellent Bach solo hurdy gurdy CD at Chateau d’Ars last week. I couldn’t find any official album artwork on the web yet, so here is a quick scan of the cover, for anyone else who got a copy already.

  2. It is possible, if somewhat awkward, to update the Mooer Ocean Machine firmware on a mac using Wine and a cheap USB MIDI cable.

    WARNING: if the firmware update doesn’t complete successfully, it will not permanently brick your unit (as the update can always be attempted again) but the pedal will not work until a firmware is successfully installed! Attempt at your own risk, and definitely not 10 minutes before a gig.

    First, download the update from the Mooer website. The update and update software comes in a .rar archive, so you’ll need something like The Unarchiver to unpack it.

    You’ll need the latest version of Wine for Mac from winehq.org. I successfully installed the firmware update using 3.0.2. Using version 2.0 consistently failed.

    Power on the Ocean Machine in firmware update mode and plug in your USB MIDI cable as specified by the update readme. Check in Audio MIDI Setup that it’s working and recognised. Then, launch the updater using Wine. Select the firmware update file, then click “Update”. You might get a popup window helpfully saying “MIDI Device Error!!”. Try pressing Update again, if you’re lucky it will work. If not, open Terminal and try the following solution.

    The problem with (old versions of) Windows, Wine and this updater program is that they rely on the “MIDI device mapper” utility to decide which MIDI device to use. This would be fine, but under Wine for Mac there’s no easy way of seeing a list of devices or configuring which device to use.

    It is possible to change the default MIDI device used by the MIDI mapper, by creating a text file with the following code:

    REGEDIT4
    
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Multimedia\MIDIMap]
    "CurrentInstrument"="#1"
    

    #0 is the default device, so start at #1.

    I saved mine in MMap.ini. Then, run the following command:

    wine regedit MMap.ini
    

    and re-open the update app. If after two presses of Update you still get “MIDI Device Error!!”, then quit the updater, change #1 to #2, run wine regedit MMap.ini and try again. Repeat until successful. Yes, the update process sucks.

  3. Recently scanned some album covers I couldn’t find on the web. Here they are, to save the work for any other fans of similarly obscure music:

    Seitti, Brelo

    Tanz', Duo Haertel Wascher

    Eetu Klemetti - Kampi-Klemetin nuottikirja

    Gregory Jolivet - Alt'o solo

    Marylin Tucker & Paul Wilson - On The Tide

    Marylin Tucker & Paul Wilson and friends - Dead Maid’s Land

    The Cornwall Songwriters - The Cry of Tin

  4. I built an Ambika to join my family of Walnut Mutables!

    I messed up the LED holes in this one, but the laser engraved front panel graphics and text came out really well. The back panel is acrylic so I can admire my electronics handiwork and Olivier’s amazing design any time.

    I took the opportunity to give my Shruthi a knob upgrade, too.

  5. ♫ Folded Peaks

    beneath every surface the gnarls of a
        biological
            geological
    lifetime, revealed in passing by passing surfaces
    sudden depths, a scream erupting
    unexpectedly, harmony

    Walnut Ambika + Colorsound Overdriver

  6. Put my Shruthi XT back together after the final missing piece for the 4PM filter board upgrade arrived, complete with its fancy new laser cut walnut panel! The whole case is now solid walnut.

  7. Noticed that, having learned to use the beating effect to tell when two pitches are slightly out of tune, I now can trick myself into thinking that in-tune sounds are out of tune by applying light sine-shaped tremolo to them. Wonder if this works for people who haven’t learned to tune using beats?

  8. ✅ improved gurdy MIDI system
    ✅ improved 3 channel gurdy preamplifier
    ✅ DIY hybrid digital+analogue synthesizer

    After a year of work on the hardware and software, finally all the pieces are in place to start composing!

  9. FREE: ATmega1284p TQFN to DIP adapter boards available for Shruthi/Ambika/open source work!

    TL, dr; I had a batch of adapter boards for the ATmega1284P (a pin-compatible upgrade to the ATmega644 used in the Mutable Instruments Shruthi and Ambika open source synthesizers) built which enable an SMD version of the chip to be inserted into the DIP socket on the MI boards. I now have loads of them and am giving these boards away for free to people who want to work on open source Shruthi/Ambika firmware! I’m also happy to assemble them for a few euros.

    For context:

    Why the ATmega1284P?

    This chip is a drop-in, pin-compatible upgrade to the ATmega644 used in the original Ambika and Shruthi designs, which provides twice the flash available in the 644p. This is particularly important for Ambika firmware development because the stock firmware, and YAM, uses up almost all the space.

    Why not just use a DIP ATmega1284p, if they’re pin-compatible?

    As previously discussed on the Mutable Instruments forums, the DIP ATmega1284p chips have a hardware fault related to the UART used for MIDI functionality which can cause the chip to crash. The SMD version of the chip apparently doesn’t have this fault, and therefore using the SMD chip via an adapter board should fix the problem and act as a drop-in replacement without having to totally redesign the synth.

    I designed this board last month and now have 44 of them. I’m sending some to the developer of the excellent YAM firmware, and will experiment with a few myself, but I have no need for so many.

    So, if anyone’s interested in doing firmware development work on Ambika or Shruthi, or using these for any other open-source purposes email me barnaby@waterpigs.co.uk your address, paypal me the shipping costs if it’s going to be more than a couple of euros, and I’ll send you some boards!

    I’m also happy to assemble the boards with headers and ATmega chip for €8 + P&P per board, if anyone wants.

    Disclaimer: the boards are untested, and I personally have not tested them with the shruthi hardware or firmware! I may not have time to do so but will post my experiences here when I get round to it. Point is, these boards are strictly experimental with no guarantee they actually work!

    Boards in stock as of 2017-11-18: 32

  10. Software upgrade for the MI Shruthi: Visual Sequencer

    One particularly cool feature of the Shruthi is being able to set the mixer mode to seqmix and have the control values in the step sequencer determine which sound sources are active on each step. The problem with this is (or, was!) that, even with the clever binary-based approach for determining how combinations of sound sources map to hexadecimal (0-15) values, it’s incredibly hard to remember the mappings.

    I spent an hour or so trawling through the synth code, and documentation for the LCD module, before managing to create a version of the software which, when the mixer operator is set to seqmix, replaces the 0-f step sequencer view with a two-line visual step sequencer, where the four lines from bottom to top represent osc2, osc1, sub and noise*

    The controls for the view are exactly the same as before, i.e. pretty unintuitive, but this visualisation of the sequence data makes designing patterns way easier than before.

    Here’s the software, as .hex and .syx for flashing or SYSEX dumping:

    shruthi1-102-b01.zip

    I originally wanted to have this view all on one line, by creating sixteen custom characters, one representing each combination of sound sources by a bar of pixels. Unfortunately, the HD44780 LCD module only supports eight custom characters, and the Shruthi already defines all of them. I got around this by spreading the display over two lines, reducing the number of characters needed to four, and taking advantage of the “=” default character as the “11” character, and the blank space as the “00” character. I then replaced the two decorative custom characters used on the Shruthi splash screen with single bar characters based on the “=” for “01” and “10”. Finally, in the Editor::DisplayStepSequencerPage function in editor.cc, I made a conditional block based on the state of part.patch().osc[0].option (the non-intuitive location of the mixer operator), displaying the two-line visual view if it’s set to OP_PING_PONG_SEQ.

    This is the first of several UI upgrades I plan on making to the Shruthi firmware, depending on how much I can tolerate working on old embedded code in a language I barely know!

    *according to the shruthi manual, osc1 and osc2 should be the other way round, but that’s how it ends up working so I accepted it as it is.

  11. I built a Shruthi XT!

    The circuit boards and panel were group bought with the Pusherman facebook group, I ordered the components from Mouser, and built the case myself out of walnut left over from a dulcimer build.

    I used the BOM from the Shruthi XT build page, with Mouser’s BOM import tool. Generally everything worked fine with a couple of caveats: it auto-detected the wrong encoder (the horizontal mounting version of the same model) so I had to order another one. The MIDI sockets it found were also different, and had a metal spring on the outside which I had to remove in order to get them to fit the case.

    Watch out when soldering the board-to-board connectors! I put them on the wrong way round the first time and had to remove them, which was tedious.

    On my future MI builds I’m going to try using Bourns PTV09 potentiometers instead of the Alps ones on the BOM, as they cost significantly less and should be approximately the same quality.

    I built the SMR4 MkII filter board but am going to upgrade to the 4 Pole Mission as soon as I get the board and components for it (along with boards for an Ambika, and a normal size Shruthi to inherit the SMR4…)

    Overall I’m very impressed with the synth! It sounds great and is a lot of fun to make sounds with, although it’ll take me a little while longer to get to grips with all the features and wavetables.

    If you want to get into DIY synths, but skip past the “circuit which makes bleeping sounds” straight to “professionally usable synthesizer” I’d definitely recommend building a Shruthi.

    Future improvements planned: upgrade to a 4 Pole Mission filter board, make a laser-etched walnut front panel, more UI improvements in the software, maybe a built in battery and USB port for powering MIDI controllers.

  12. Video: The Poisonous Polonaise (Polonoise No. 19, Wittenberger Apothekenhandschrift, Deutschland)

    More music from Emilyn, John and me!

    https://youtu.be/p3_6zcVobEE

    This one is a beautiful polonaise found in the Wittenberger Apothekenhandschrift, a hand written dance manuscript found in the Giftschrank (poisonous substance cabinet) in an old pharmacy in Wittenberge, Germany.

    Sheet music for this piece, and many other amazing northern German traditional music, can be found in volumes 1-3 of Neues aus Alten Büchern (new things from old books) published by Tramudea e.V., and also on tanzmusikarchiv.de and the TradTanzMusik youtube channel.

    Recorded in Toronto, Canada on 2017-05-12

    Barnaby Walters: Hurdy Gurdy https://gurdy.is
    Emilyn Stam: 5 String Fiddle
    John David Williams: Accordion

  13. Video: Lights in the Sky (Barnaby Walters)

    Finally the first video from my trip to Canada last month! Playing with Emilyn and John is always a blast, and this time we recorded a bunch of tunes. More to come!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhxygxmaiSE

    A waltz I wrote whilst living in Iceland, recorded for the first time with Emilyn Stam and John David Williams on 2017-05-12 in Toronto, Canada.

  14. decided to give up strings on my gurdies. best listened to with headphones.

  15. New singing goal: be able to sing all of Moondog 2, which just blew my mind

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwBGtgoVPLs

    I couldn’t find the lyrics for all of the tracks collected together in one place, so here are as many as I can find or figure out.

    00:00
    Bells are ringing dinga linga linga linga ling-a linga linga linga ling
    dinga linga linga linga ling-a linga linga linga ling
    dig all the kids who carry bells, merry bells
    who are they?
    why they're the
    hippies

    01:21
    Voices of spring were in chorus
    each voice was singing a song
    I could not sing in that chorus until I wrote me a song
    I wrote my song and joined the throng (source)

    03:10
    What’s the most exciting thing about life?
    tell me or I’ll tell you
    come on come on
    I know you know what I know it’s in your eyes
    I’ll have to tell you, I can’t wait
    it’s L O V E it’s love
    and I’m in love; I’m so happy
    it’s L O V E it’s love
    I’m incoherent my dear
    oh happy happiness
    in love
    in love
    in love
    oh happy happiness, happiness
    Darling the answer is love (source)

    05:43
    All is loneliness before me
    loneliness before me
    loneliness

    07:12
    My tiny butterfly butters my bread
    my briny flutterby keeps me well fed
    why should I mutter?

    08:26
    Why spend a dark night with you?
    what a fearful price to pay
    other nights nights would but be
    lonely dark ages for me

    09:37
    Coffee beans make the finest coffee of all
    it’s time to take
    a coffee break
    to sit a while and savour
    the rarest coffee flavor
    of bean coffee
    I make with bottled spring water
    is my day (source)

    11:50
    Down is up and so up is down because the earth is round
    there is no such thing as up or down

    12:58
    Be a hobo and go with me
    from Hoboken to the sea

    14:08
    Remember, remember, remember, memeber
    to vote the way
    the way we say
    or else
    or else what
    I won’t

    16:03
    I love you
    for your lovely still small voice
    I will love your still small voice
    till my voice
    is still

    17:14
    Nero’s expedition up the Nile
    failed
    because the water hyacinth
    had blocked the river
    denying Nero’s vessels passage through
    the Sud of Nubia

    19:08
    No, the wheel was never invented.
    no, no, no, no
    your legs are spokes of a two legged wheel
    and your hips are knobbly axles
    the world was always on wheels

    20:28
    With my wealth I wish I had lived when great genius lived
    what I would not have done
    Fool, the writings of your dying beggar reveal that he is
    by far the greatest one

    22:05
    This student of life
    has enrolled
    as that student for life
    his Alma Mater
    is all the world
    with father time as mentor

    23:31
    Some trust all
    some trust some, ho
    some trust one
    I trust none, ho
    not even myself

    25:01
    Wine, woman and song are too, too much for me
    I am contented with the latter two
    for
    woman and my song are simply
    wine enough you see

    27:25
    Sadness was so mixed with gladness
    that she wept with joy
    she was so sad
    tears filled but enhanced the smile on her face
    she was so glad

    28:48
    Maybe, maybe, maybe someday
    I’ll be recognised for what I am
    before I’m dead and gone
    or if not before then after it all

    30:53
    Each today is yesterday’s tomorrow which is now
    now is all I have
    now is all I need
    now is all I want
    now

    32:32
    Imagine what it's like to have a long suffering
    night walker walking on you
    I’m standing there barefoot, facing the meadow
    oh, oh, something is crawling on my muddy foot
    what the, it's a wet worm
    I tell you I started walking, too
    I mean we parted company
    maybe we think it safe enough to say,
    we had quite enough of us that night

    34:51
    You, the vandal
    plunder the village as you will
    the earthworm will pillage you
    the vandal
    when you are under

    37:01
    Trees against the sky
    fields of plenty
    rivers to the sea
    this
    and more
    spreads before me

    38:22
    Behold the willow bows before me
    but not the oak I’m uprooting
    remarked the wind

    39:51
    Sparrows wake me in the morning in Gotham where I live
    except when I’m up to Tioga
    other birds wake me there
    so fair their singing

  16. Happy 2017! Here’s what Emilyn Stam (fb) and I got up to as the year changed:

    https://youtu.be/IgD1Juw6Yk0

    Emilyn Stam (5 string fiddle) and Barnaby Walters (hurdy gurdy) playing some tunes in the basement at Folk Marathon 2016 Tübingen. 2016 changed into 2017 half way through the third tune (in our timezone, at least).

    High Park Schottisch (John David Williams)
    Squat Waltz (Barnaby Walters)
    Kathryn’s Yellow Schottisch (Emilyn Stam)

  17. Thanks to all those who danced last night in the Klein Jasedow Klanghaus! It was great fun to bring some regional music and dance to the Oya meeting :) I hope to visit again some time!