Variations on Something Like a Desh

Wednesday, 16 May 2012 16:47 by salim

Yep, I have no idea what it is. But, I am sure it sounds like desh from time to time. I had loads of fun playing it. Might put you to sleep. So, get stoned before listening.

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If I were to find it!

Sunday, 24 October 2010 01:19 by salim

Dissociating deep rooted associations are quite hard. That is why I have to verbally assert “It is not Vande Mataram”

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Bhoopalee, lasya mohini…

Saturday, 9 October 2010 04:18 by salim

Oh yes, I know it is quite cheesy. But I couldn’t resist the pun.

Anyways, I have a kind of love hate relationship with Bhoopali. When we were young, my sister and I had this music teacher, who spend a lot of time in that good old Mohana Varnam. It still leaves a bit of bitterness when thinking about it. But, later on, I learned to love Bhoopali, mainly by some wonderful performances by Chaurasia and Amjad Ali Khan.

So, here is my second one. So far, so good.

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After over 2 years, my first recording

Friday, 8 October 2010 01:03 by salim

Well, I sorely miss making music. I did for the last 2 years. It has been quite hard to break the ice. So, this is what I am trying to do from now on. I will post whatever I record here. Instead of waiting for something to be “complete” which it usually never does, I will post the first mix down.

So, here is the first one. This could be the beginning movement of a song, but right now it is just 9 minutes of indulgence in Mishr Pilu.

Enjoy.

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Gaao Gunkali

Saturday, 17 July 2010 00:38 by salim

In the summers of my college days, my main entertainment during the days was to listen to lots and lots of music. I was just getting into a fuller appreciation of music, both in its breadth and depth.

Though I started serious music listening exclusively with Karnatic Music, I soon discovered Hindustani and Western Classical music. This was both bewildering and amazing at the same time. Being also a student of music, I always tried to find out the secret behind the song, go beyond the surface veil of beauty and emotion… a little like opening up that radio (and getting a serious scolding from my father) to find out if there is really someone in there. (The old valves looked like small people though).

It was around this time I got an album by Bhimsen Joshi. The main composition was Alaap, and two Kayals – He Kartar and Gaao Gunkali in Raaga Gunkali. It immediately caught my attention. The first thing I noticed was the structural relation to Bhoopalam, which was the first raaga I learned to play in my flute. (Yes, I know, so cheasy!).  

It just revealed to me, without any effort from myself. All the punctuated beauty of a minor pentatonic scale. I still remember the strong, commanding voice of  Bhimsen Joshi exploring the universe with me on Gunkali (hmm, may be I was a little bit stoned!)

Today was my monthly E-Music download day. The first album I downloaded was Jeevan by Ajoy Chakroborthy. A wonderful double album, 110 mins of pure bliss. The first four tracks is a beautiful rendition of Gunkali. And he sings the same exact Khayals – He Kartar and Gao Gunkali.

I always thought that, I will never be satisfied by another rendition of these Khayals other than Bhimsenji’s. But, I was so wrong. Ajoy gives a completely different side of Gunkali.

In a very long alaap (20 mins) he shows us a complete landscape of possibilities in 5 notes.

In the second part comes an even greater treasure. A whole 32 mins of Kaisee bajayeeri shyam, Bansuria. Again, this was the Bhajan that made me an absolute fan of Ajoy Chakroborty. But, that was a smaller version (around 10 mins). Very voluptuous, yes, that is a very good quality for Bhariavi. Like a Raphael painting.

Now, I am going to shut up and listen to it…

Get the album. Get stoned and listen to it, the whole of it, in one sitting. I guarantee you, that would be one of the most fruitful 2 hours of your life.

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Struggle with Drivers and Software Updates

Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:01 by salim

So, continuing the saga of setting up the Vista64 Daw.

I have the following audio hardware that requires drivers

1. ESI Wamirack 192X
2. Mackie Onyx Firewire
3. Yamaha Motif ES Rack
4. KORG microKontrol (rarely used, haven’t looked for one yet.)

I have the following software that potentially needed updates in Vista64

1. Sonar 8 Producer
2. FL Studio
3. Gigastudio (Yes, I know they are gone. I bought it way before they planned a shutdown)
4. GVI
5. SwarPlug
6. iZotope Ozone
7. JMT Orchestrator (MIDI Plugin)
8. Swarshala and SwarLibrarian

So the hunt started.

More...

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How did I put an ESI Wamirack PCI card in a PCIe slot

Tuesday, 15 September 2009 16:18 by salim

As I said in my previous post, one of the major stumbling blocks in getting the Dell Studio XPS was the lack of PCI slots in it. So, until recently I am pretty much convinced that the best way to get an i7 machine was to build one. However, whenever I priced an equivalent machine in new egg, it always was close to double the sale price of XPS. This was a major dilemma. Should I pay almost double the amount and go through all the hassles of building and then maintaining a machine or just get Dell with support but lose the Wamirack card. Though I don’t use Wamirack a lot for recording and play back, it is my primary MIDI interface. (May be at the end of the series on my DAW I will give a rundown of my setup)

After searching during the last several months, this time I actually got a verifiable product info about a PCIe to PCI converter card. This is the card from Startech.com. To my surprise the lowest price was found at Dell. I ordered the card even before I bought the machine.

I got the card the day after I got the computer. The first disappointment was that the card had an old 4 pin power connector and XPS does not have a single one of those to spare. I did not have an adapter cable to connect it to a SATA power supply. (I wanted a cable with a white female on one end and a black male on the other.) Even without the power supply, I proceeded to see how I can fit my PCI card to the base. To my horror, I realized that the back plate (riser) of my PCI card is soldered to the card and was not easy to remove. So I got a hacksaw, bent the riser as far as I can bend and sawed it off. Perfect.

My first trial without the power supply of course did not work. It actually made the video card from working. This and the whole hacksaw event did not instill a lot of confidence in me. May be I should just get a USB-MIDI interface. I found a few, but the only one with Vista 64 drivers was the Cakewalk one with four (2 in, 2 out). So the next day, I dragged Shobha out and went to look for the MIDI thingie. I did not find any either in Sam Ash or in Guitarcenter. On my way back, I picked up the power connector. Got home, pushed the card in again, connected the power, turned the computer on. Sweet. The sound of the external box of Wamirack turning on was the best sound i heard that day!

The new unified driver from ESI for the card is much better behaved. It installed without a problem. Except one thing. It thinks two of the 8 outs are digital. hmm, i need to investigate that.

So, if you have an old PCI card lying around which you want to use in a PCIe slot, go ahead, get the Startech one.

(Next, my struggles with Drivers and Plug-ins)

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64Bit DAW, Finally

Monday, 14 September 2009 17:30 by salim

It has been at least two years I have been thinking seriously about upgrading my music machine (will call it DAW – Digital Audio Workstation, just for the ooomph.) However, so many other things stole priority from my music related activities. The old DAW was working fine for the things i was using it for, listening to music and once in a while to play games.

The old DAW was a Compaq that I got on sale. It was a very nice machine at the time I bought it. But, once I loaded all the hardware and software in it, it started deteriorating. May be I was a bit too over-enthusiastic. It started with three internal sound cards, and later a firewire one. I know, I know, that was too much. The drivers for two of the sound cards, ESI pro and Mackie Firewire where quite troublesome. Despite all that, I did all the demo recording and mixing for both my bands and wrote most of my recent songs. So, it did the job as good as it could. Time just grew past it I guess.

For over two years I have been secretly scheming to get a new DAW. First I went to Dell and customized various configurations. Went to New Egg and started two wish lists that I named “My Super DAW” and “My 64Bit DAW”. During one of these sessions, I found the Studio XPS with Intel i7 processor and decided that I will get either that one or will build one on similar lines.

This is about the same time I decided that the next DAW will be Vista 64bit. I have a very different position to Vista both from ease of use and stability perspectives. However, it is not always easy to get a Vista driver for all the obscure hardware I have. It is even harder to get updates for some of the many of the plug ins. Things get even worse when it comes to 64 bit.

While going through all the forum postings and blogs, I found, to my surprise that a lot of digital musicians intuitively ignore 64bit. Their main complaint is the same as the ones I have. They use quite crafty technique of networking several DAWs using iMidi, lpMidi, Ethernet based audio networking plug-ins and what not to overcome the limitations of 32 bit, mainly memory. I have no intention of wiring up a network and diagnose every latency problem for half of the time I get to write music.

So, yet another Studio XPS offer came from Microcenter, I was again very much tempted. This time, I had a better bargaining chip. After a long dry spell in music, I really wanted to get back to it. In many sense it is a much better therapy to life’s problems than anything else. At the same time, buying a Studio XPS is of much less financial significance (and public ridicule) than buying a Ferrari (or worse, a Ford Mustang Convertible).

There was still one sticking point. XPS does not have a PCI slot. My MIDI interface is on ESI Wamirack and I did not want to get yet another interface. I already have two of them and if I could use it in the new machine that will be the perfect way. Last time I searched for an PCIe to PCI converter, all I could find was one from an obscure UK firm with a dubious looking website for close to $100. But, this time I found several of them. One of them was from Startech, who apparently manufactures and sells every niche cards for $60. I actually found that the lowest price for that card is actually at Dell. For $39. This was the final straw. I gave into my desire!!

Stories about setting it up, finding all the updates, upgrades etc. will follow.

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I am mused…

Sunday, 13 September 2009 11:12 by salim

With the help of a very good friend.

So, I find myself sitting in my work area, thinking about music. I even managed to record about a minute of flute. That is quite an achievement considering what i have been doing for a few months. The good thing is that, I don’t feel horrible listening to what I recorded. That is different.

Sometimes I get so impatient with myself. I take so long to write and record a song. I spend more time dreaming about the song than actually writing it. It is a bit against the agile principles, unless one considers the dreaming itself is the iterative process. It would be nice to keep a paper trail of them.

Anyways, I finished preparing Sonar for the new song, created the tracks, routing, soft-synths etc in me “New DAW :)”. So now all I have to do is write the song one note at a time…

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