Across the Transom: April 2023

Frank Johnson, The Taste Economy, Bastl Microgranny Secrets

Gahlord Dewald :: 04/30/23 :: Mānoa, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i


She writes, “I associate Midwestern insanity with the weather, an omnipresent system of pressures and movements, an atmosphere inside of which I had once lived.”

Rachel Yoder quoted in Kate Zambreno and Sofia Samatar's "Midwest," The New Inquiry


Introduction to uxn programming book


It’s plain that neither the big tech companies nor the startup financiers are going to produce the “ways of relating” that will matter in the next decade. Almost by definition, any experiment that’s truly pathbreaking and provocative is too weird and tiny for them to suffer. They are trapped in their stupendous scale; lucky us.

Robin Sloan in "A Year of New Avenues," email newsletter


Re: Bastl Microgranny


INPUT- should be MONO to MONO cable.

The mG has a tip/ring/sleeve(gnd) input jack, but the ring is tied to the sleeve, don't use stereo cables or stereo cables with stereo>mono adapters. You don't want the one side of the stereo image shunted to ground. mG does not like this !

OUTPUT- should be STEREO to Left/Right Breakout cable.

The mG is a mono synth but outputs the same signal on tip and ring.

I 'd call this "Dual Mono".

If you want only mono out use either left or right from the breakout cable...leave the other unconnected (floating), doesn't seem to matter left or right

Into 2 channels of a mixer you can hard pan each channel to get "kinda stereo"...puttin'stereo efx on one channel works great.

Into a stereo input channel... the pan works as a balance between tip and ring... same sound left or right turn, again some efx are always cool

Be careful when sampling and using the record/ hold (audio passthru) buttons. The mG outputs the passthru audio on the ring, if both outs are connected to a channel you can get phase cancellation depending on where the mG out volume and the mixer channel vols are.

Best to experiment and see what works with your gear.

Re: the 4 pin headers.

Looking at the MG from the top, and in the playing position:

LH Side : RH Side

—>Comm In —>Comm Out

—>Audio In —>Audio Out

—>Negative —>Negative

—>9V —>9v

@Strongwrong via Modwiggler

A sequencing video tutorial, showing the Microgranny sample-change trick.

Sample export settings: mono, WAV (Microsoft) signed 16-bit PCM

The sample names have to be two characters long with the first one being a letter in capitals and the second one being a number. E.g. A1.wav, E3.wav, etc

Command line guide for making concatenated files of sounds and prepping them for Microgranny.


I get a lot of mileage out of the A8 by sampling CV. You can go seriously deep with it. Give it a whirl.

Envelope follower: Send audio into the trigger of a channel that has a +5v static CV voltage loaded into it. Adjust the attack / release to taste and switch the attack start value to ‘From Last Voltage’. By doing this you can get a convincing envelope follower.

Sampling LFOs (especially complex LFOs): Adjust/modulate the start point to easily create varied modulation. Modulate the pitch to speed the LFO up and down. Use Gated mode with custom attack/release times to fade the LFO in and out. Set loop points within the LFO and create micro LFO loops. Use the One Shot and second Loop mode to exit the micro loop to continue playing the longer LFO. Lower Bitrate to create stepped modulation.

Useful quick envelopes: Load and loop a 5v static CV sample into a channel, trigger the channel which will send that CV out with Assimil8or’s envelope applied. You can then use this as an envelope for a VCA or whatever else. Handy when low on envelopes.

Sequencer: Load multiple instances of this static 5v CV into several zones. Adjust the playback level of each zone and set the Zones to ‘Advance’ on trigger. You now have a 1-8 step CV sequencer which can be additionally transposed via the main channel’s level. Add slew by applying an envelope to the channel.

Gates & Triggers: Again with the static CV sample, convert a trigger to a gate (or vice versa) by adjusting playback length with the Sample End time. If the static CV has a second of silence at the end, place the start position in there to get a gate delay useful for some sloppy rhythms or to help with modules that snapshot like Akemie’s Taiko.

Using the Assimil8or for CV manipulation, @OHEXOH at Lines.


“You always have so-called ‘mainstream’ stuff happening,” says Wadada Leo Smith pragmatically. “That’s just the bandwidth of the commercial zone. You have it in every type of music.” Then the sagacious, 81-year-old trumpet innovator slows his speech for emphasis, adding dramatic punctuation with increasing pauses as his concepts expand. “Because those things are there—and you’re not part of them—then you have to build your own reality. And that reality is not a protest against—but it is something for—in this case, for ourselves.”

Wadada Leo Smith quoted in Jim Allen's "Elevating the Underground: The ’70s NYC Loft Jazz Scene," Bandcamp Daily


Gysin's Dream Machine, video


Reuse in image and moving image is more conflicted than the material reuse practices explored in the previous unit, and why? We don’t typically think of physical scraps as having an author, whereas in image making, the words authorship, appropriation, and, of course, copyright, are typically within earshot.

Rachel Meade Smith, "Again, Again," Syllabus Project


Ideas for using logic modules in modular synthesis, A Logic Cookbook for Synthesis by Martin Doudoroff


Using René MKI as a performative instrument, video by James Cigler.


Great thoughts on failure/learning in this video about glass art. Developing the vocabulary of intuition.


Augmenting a 3 head tape deck with a digital delay to maintain tape audio characteristics over arbitrary loop lengths regardless of physical tape loop length (or presence). Video


A rabbit hole lead me back to Jackie McLean on Mars.


There exists a thickness of a stack of paper calculator.


There is a site which does a decent job of separating mixed tracks into stems.


John Whitney worked in the Lockheed Aircraft Factory during the war and while he was working with high-speed missile photography, he was technically adept enough to realize that the targeting elements in such weapons as bomb sites and anti-aircraft guns calculated trajectories and produced finely-controlled linear numerical equivalents, which could potentially be used for plotting graphics or guiding movements in peacetime artistic endeavors. A decade would pass before he was able to buy some of these analog computer mechanisms as "war-surplus" and construct with them his own "cam machine," which pioneered the concept of "motion control."

William Moritz, "Digital Harmony: The Life of John Whitney, Computer Animation Pioneer," Animation World Network


John Whitney "Catalog" (1961) was created using a WWII anti-aircraft gunsight.


Magazines were containers for someone else’s taste, and when you read them you were inhabiting that taste. But you were also co-creating with the magazine, because by reading the magazine you were contributing to its fantasy of lifestyle. “Dreaming is free. You can’t be stingy with dreams,” said Franca Sozzani, the late Vogue Italia editor.

And also this parenthetical aside

I told someone recently that the specific joy of stalking someone else’s Spotify account has been lost as more and more playlists are generated by the platform. It’s the opposite of intimacy, isn’t it? To stalk an algorithm?

Daisy Alioto, "The Taste Economy," Dirt


The R, G, B and Y output on VU003B are fixed (depends of the Component source of course), and the processor part input is normalized the Y output signal and it apply attenuversion (contrast) and offset (brightness) to it, resulting signal is available at the OUT jack. It can also be used as a separate processor if another signal is send to the IN jack, thus breaking the normalization between Y output and IN.

Personal correspondence with Bastien Lavaud


Re: Creative Musician Biographies

I was asked recently about artist bios by someone who lacked a name-brand education and this was my response:

I obsess about this topic and am constantly revisiting it or being nervous about it every time I submit a grant application, pitch a project, send an email to my list etc. So I’ll share some of my neurosis below. Remember mostly: there’s no right way to do this so make sure you do it your way, below are some thoughts you can take or leave or use as you like.

I read others’ creative practice statements often when I’m working on mine. Especially ones that aren’t music—visual artists, poets, choreographers, video artists. Musician creative practice statements tend to have entire paragraphs of boring “the dreaded list" of who they studied with, where they played, and worst yet the gear list. People who align themselves with the term “Sound Art” tend to have good statements and I’d check them out as well.

Except in schools, almost no one will care whether you have a specific music education. Most people can’t even spell Juilliard; when they hear Berklee they’ll think of a town in California. So not having a specific education already spares you from having a boring “studied at blahblah with someone no one really knows about and then went on to some blablah for grad school etc.” Consider your pathway, in this situation, an advantage because you don't feel obligated to waste ink on things that very very few people know about. I do value education though, don't get me wrong on that. Just that it usually doesn't do much for a bio.

Some starting points below, write a paragraph about any of these things and see what congeals. You can stay descriptive (what/how) and keep the meaning (why) oblique/unsaid/alluded to and that will probably be intriguing to people. Or vice versa.

While you’re making a creative practice description make sure to read good writing—poets, short stories, collected essays. Exposing yourself to good writing (not an easy task in a world filled with “content”!) will make it easier for your own writing to be good.

If it’s helpful, consider having a general approach, how you want the writing to be. Pick one, add your own to this list:


For the original people involved, it was really a matter of asking ourselves “what do we need to develop as artists?” If we need it, other musicians probably need it too. We knew that we wanted to write music and to get better we needed to get our music played. And then we need to do this over and over again to hopefully improve.

Hunter Long interviewed by Anna Helperin in Which Sinfonia


“Our task is not to find the maximum amount of content in a work of art, much less to squeeze more content out of the work than is already there. Our task is to cut back content so that we can see the thing at all.”

Susan Sontag quoted in Damon Krukowski's "Against Innovation," Dada Drummer Almanach


Embrace the online/offline dichotomy by cultivating correspondence with people from other sites of cultural production, who can challenge your assumptions and tell you what people are talking about in Tokyo or Puerto Rico. Visit them where they live every once in a while.

Daisy Alioto, "Against Scenes," Dirt


“I wanted to hear the resonance,” he said. “I want to have less notes and more spaces. Spaces, not silence. Space is resonant, is still ringing. I want to enjoy that resonance, to hear it growing.”

Ryuichi Sakamoto, "Ryuichi Sakamoto, Oscar-Winning Japanese Composer, Dies at 71," New York Times


His fans delighted at the breadth of his repertoire and his highly danceable revamps of older songs. In 1810, when Johnson was 18, George Willig, a Philadelphia-based music publisher, heard him play at the coffee house and asked him to write some original music. The result was “Bingham’s Cotillion,” a piece named after William Bingham, the former owner of the coffee house building. It was the first musical composition published by a Black American.

Richard Grant, "Long Before Jazz, Frank Johnson Was Playing the Hottest Music in America," Smithsonian Magazine