Across the Transom: August 2023

Understanding Maui Wildfires, Time/Space Technologies, Eurorack to TX-6

Gahlord Dewald :: 8/31/23 :: Honolulu


Re: Modular into TX-6

The lack of a pad is the thing that makes the TX-6 a bummer with Eurorack. TX-6 is effectively a line level mixer and bills itself as that. This means to use eurorack modular with TX-6 you'll need a DI or some other kind of attenuation to keep the signal from clipping and distorting.

For not-in-Euro DI, I have built and used the DIYRE Cinemag passive DI boxes. They aren’t stereo but they are lovely and insanely easy to build. That is an option for transformer-based attenuation. I love them very much. I wouldn’t sweat it being “stereo” or not. Transformers are all going to crush differently anyway. The wiring inside these is essentially a bare wire soldered to a transformer and a jack so not a lot to worry about there. If this is the sort of thing that’s going to worry you, go for a not-transformer solution.

Also from DIYRE there is the passive Line Attenuator, which is similary easy to build. All the thing in their studio essentials line are easy builds. It sounds lovely and is stereo and does not have a transformer.

If you want to do more than 2 channels and don’t need/want transformers there is Little Labs 8810U8ERS. Small package, and as the name says there are 8 attenuators.

All of the above are going to need cables to get from Euro to 1/4" and then down to whatever for the TX-6

Then there’s the even simpler Koma attenuator cable thingies. Built terribly and fiddly as hell but they do the job if you are careful about handling them. Set them where you want them to be and then let them go. Added bonus is the plug side is low-profile so fits nicely in the TX-6.

Good output modules (with or w/o transformers depending on your taste) also do the job. I’ve used Rip, TAI-4, and NWS (transformer version because I like transformers), BLN (remember to set the dip switches for however you're using unbalanced/balanced signals in), Nearness (with -6db switch) and all of them do it well.

Headphone modules also work fine, you can either use them as stereo or as a ch1/ch3 sort of setup using the TE TRS-2xTS cable (or something does same). Using the volume knob of the headphone module you can attenuate things. This might be my least favorite option as it sometimes (but not always) introduces noise floor issues but it works fine in a pinch.

You can also use passive audio attenuators in Eurorack. These will be doing essentially the same thing as any of the out-of-the-rack attenuators. For example, Pulp Logic 1u Atten-A does the trick. The important thing here is that it be passive. This means it won’t be connected to your power rails and therefore won’t be adding any of the trashy eurorack noise floor. Passive attenuation will lower the noise floor as well as the signal volume.

If you are worried about stereo imaging, mult an oscillator into 2 passive attenuators and dial them until they match levels on the TX-6 meters or whatever other metering source you like.

I’ve used everything mentioned above with TX-6 and they all do the job just fine. Some add things I like (different transformers), some are more handy for ad hoc outputs (Koma attenuator cables, a handful though because many will break/plan for breakage), some are nicer to wire into the studio patch bay (8810U8ERS), some are nicer for specific performance rigs just to have everything simple when sending signal to FoH (TAI-4, for example) and adapt to the TX-6 with custom cabling.

Everyone’s ears are different, everyone’s source material is different, everyone’s electrical setup is different. So of course ymmv.


Having an educational video also became a practical issue once I started to spend more time teaching. It would be valuable to have more material about this music which featured artists in action.

Kyoko Kitamura re: her documentary Introduction to Syntactical Ghost Trance Music, from her blog.


In other words, “Sí, se puede” is removed from its original context of striking farm workers in California and is re-employed as a meme celebrating and advertising earlier Hollywood films at exactly the moment Hollywood writers and actors are striking against being replaced by literal meme machines, or AIs that generate new scripts by remixing human-written scripts they have been fed, and that also reproduce the faces of background actors so those memified faces can melt more cost-effectively in Oppenheimer: The Squeakquel. Not to mention that the husband who says “Sí, se puede” says it while using Duolingo, an app advertised throughout Barbie. Thus the labor activist’s chant is commodified into a commercial for a language-learning app for white people.

Jared Joseph in an essay about memes, translation, and Barbenheimer


The key to Baraka’s analysis is his understanding that these stylistic shifts in the music were inextricably linked to the sociopolitical conditions of the people. Despite this fundamentally materialist formula, Baraka understood that the church and spirituality were an important tool for shaping the music and worldview of Black people dealing with the horrors of slavery.

John Morrison in "How Black Musicians Carved Out a Space in Ambient Music," Okayplayer


Ricky Tinez demonstrates the effectiveness of drum accents, polyrhythms, and generating forward motion in this video. A drum programming masterclass.


I am certain there are lots of students on my campus who can play, for example, a rippin’ mandolin solo in their bluegrass band. Generally, and lamentably, I rarely even meet them, let alone have them in class. They do not tend to be music majors, and anecdotal conversations with music faculty at other liberal arts colleges suggests this is a trend. The reasons for this are manifold and certainly not specific to my school, and maybe I’ll try to write about them in a later post. I would like these students to take more music courses, but honestly I don’t think they’re wrong in judging that what we offer might only be of selective utility to them. We as teachers have to make the change first.

Will Mason in his newsletter.


Eight editing tips (from this video):

  1. Cut on the action (can be visual or audio)
  2. Cut on the beat of accompanying music
  3. J cut: audio from second clip comes in before the video, bleeding under previous clip
  4. L cut: audio from first clip hangs on longer, bleeding under following clip
  5. Eye Trace: keeping focal point in the same spot between two distinct shots
  6. Match cut: match shapes/movement from the two shots in the same place
  7. Matching camera movement: keeping moving camera in same direction/pace between two cuts
  8. Fake camera movement: making camera moves in the box with zoom/truck
  9. Bonus: don't cut, leave a shot a little longer


Re: Maui Wildfires

Some links to understand and gain perspective on the Maui Wildfires.

  1. The Washington Post discusses climate/weather first and then the extremely relevant colonialist land-use decisions (and the continuation of those decisions) which lead to having a drought on a tropical island.
  2. Research on the value of upland trees in harvesting water is discussed in Science Daily. The upland fire on Maui was on land that had been cleared of native trees and plants to make room for ranching.
  3. On the other side of the water cycle SF Gate discusses how water is used on Maui. If resorts are using up the available water then the entire ecological system is drier than it would otherwise be, leading to dangerous conditions.

In these three links you can understand a little more about the systemic issues, the science, and the political challenges that resulted in the Maui Wildfires.

"Climate change" is often used as a way to minimize responsibility for catastrophic outcomes. But there are real choices and decisions about land stewardship which will need to be made if we want to continue inhabiting this earth.


Free music is used as a name for any work in which the artist has set the criteria free from critical approval, industry or institutional oversight; a context in which the artist decides if that criteria was met, in which the player or players have freedom to express themselves through improvisation, using the particulars imbedded within the operational methodology in use. This definition of free music does not exclude improvised music that relies on harmony. Instead it views the use of harmony as a device within a methodology. So Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker are free music musicians, as is Anthony Braxton. In free music, artists synthesize, interpret, and invent material. But invention to some degree is the goal. And invention can be accomplished by the discovery of a new synthesis or new interpretation.

Joe Morris in an essay describing his book Perpetual Frontier


There was something there about the joys of exploring technology via sound but also about redefining and claiming space, and about self-expansion and duplication. Echo, for example, suggested so much about space and the manipulation of time and memory and sound.

Louis Chude-Sokei in SOUNDWALKINGThrough Time, Space and Technologies


Jazz musician and educator Barry Harris talks forward motion / "feeling the and" at The Hague in this video.