Dec 19, 2008 Gear
There was a recent Keyboard Magazine article about mobile music making which finally put me over the edge into hacking my PSP.
When I bought the PSP, I bought it primarily as a video game unit, largely influenced by the wonderful game Loco Roco. I’ve played a few decent games on it since, but over time it’s become mostly a media player, allowing me to listen to music and watch movies on the go with better quality than an iPod. For a long time now, I’ve been mostly just using it as an mp3 player. I like it for that, but I feel like I could be doing more with it.
So last night I went out and bought a spare battery and then set out hacking it so that I could install homebrew software. (I have no intention of pirating games.)
To my great surprise, I pulled it off without any real problems. From there, I installed PSP Rhythm and PSPSeq, which seem to be the two major music composition titles available for the device. I’ve played more with PSP Rhythm, which is simple, relatively intuitive and fun. It also comes with lots of ready-to-go sounds of surprisingly decent quailty. You can crank out rhythms on it fairly quickly, so long as you like the structure and approach and your beat is fairly simple. I tossed together this laughably terrible beat in a couple of minutes just learning the interface on the bus this morning:
PSPSeq is more complex, less possible to just pick up and use well, and doesn’t come with anywhere near the immediately useful sounds. However, sporting sample playing and many different synthesis types, including some fairly exotic ones, as well a probabilistic note scheme that’s pretty neat, once I get the hang of it, I think it’ll be pretty handy.
Do I think I’m going to do a lot of serious composition on public transit? Unlikely. For one I just don’t have the concentration in those circumstances. For another, the tools, while cool, are still more limiting than I’d like. However, they can render out audio files (as demonstrated above) or export MIDI files that I can load into logic or any other sequencer, so I might work out beats or simple ideas that I could use to spark off other works. And I think that if I take the time to master it, PSPSeq looks like it could be pretty nifty.
Dec 14, 2008 Uncategorized
I haven’t been doing a lot of work on music since the commissioned stuff over the summer finished. Life has kind of gotten in the way, as I think I’ve talked about before.
Tonight, however, I sat down and built a synth from scratch in Reaktor for the first time in ages. It had some interesting features, I suppose, but nothing really *innovative*. This is where Reaktor is sometimes a challenge for me. I like playing with the technology and figuring out how to implement function that I’d like to see, but there are just such powerful pre-made synths out there that it’s hard to imagine something I’d like to implement that I couldn’t get off-the-shelf easier. I even disdained using Reaktor’s included macros for the most part to force me to really know how the components that I was adding worked, but that ended up feeling like wasted effort to a degree since usually I could have gotten the same thing from a Macro in two seconds and I’m not sure what I got out of it otherwise, plus the Macro versions sometimes had neat features that I hadn’t thought of.
Still, it was nice to be playing with sound again. I hope this trend continues.