Nathan Moody live at ROBOTSPEAk

Live patching, designs, and techniques that push the performance envelope.

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noisejockey
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Nathan Moody live at ROBOTSPEAk

Post by noisejockey » Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:59 pm

Jordan of the San Francisco synth store ROBOTSPEAk asked me to play one of the monthly Church of the Super Serge events at the shop. I was excited about the chance...and it's always an honor to play alongside r beny, aka MW user wildfrontiers. This was our second bill together. Even though this was a pretty informal affair, I thought I'd offer a writeup, mostly for those synthesists and musicians considering live performance with modular, just to share experiences.

Playing an event like this is more like a house or gallery show than a typical venue. It was small, with very low ceilings (so I hung my A camera from a pipe), and between 20 and 30 people. And their being present meant they were also practitioners. This is great because they're naturally curious and receptive...and a little intimidating in that their expectations might be really high. It helped that I had lots of friends who were kind enough to turn out for the event. The intimacy was engaging as a performer.

Before any other insights, a video of the performance (sorry, the B cam overheated after the first few minutes):
[video][/video]

Audio Only:
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This was the smallest setup I've ever performed with, and this was its maiden voyage: 6.5U of Eurorack, a Rare Waves Grendel Drone Commander, a Roland TR-606, and an Industrialectric RM-1N pedal. The smaller setup was great at increasing confidence - fewer things to manage at once. Being able to load in one trip was a revelation.

My modular instrument was a 6U Elite case dominated by Verbos modules and a 1010 Music BitBox. The Verbos Voltage Multistage ran the melody on channel A to a Verbos Harmonic Oscillator, and sent FM to a Dixie on channel B. I also ran Peaks in sequencer mode to run the Dixie, advancing that and the VMS manually in the intro to the Grendel Drone Commander's rhythm until I activated the Pamela's New Workout for system clock. The Voltage Multistage ran through a Disting as a quantizer, and that was just magical to perform with. I didn't use the Shapes module at all, and only half of the Quadra's channels.

Image

The 0.5U case is my new "Live Toolkit," in a Frap Tools 42hp skiff. It's all the modules I need to take any one of my three cases and perform with it: get line level signals into it, compress the main outs, have balanced outputs, speak DINSync, and have a separate stereo line out for recording the set. An O'Tool as a diagnostic tool and tuner. This way my other cases are more like instruments and less like tool boxes. It's a more, ahem, modular approach.

Image

I used the Verbos Scan and Pan as a two-bus submixer. Its left channel went to the Audio Damage DubJr, and the right channel went to a large spring reverb tank. Panning each channel changed the effects send. I used this more in rehearsal than for the set, but it was handy.

The BitBox was very helpful for generating some variation in the second half of the set. I only ran two triggers into it and used the touch screen for (time-quantized) sample playback. The BitBox's touch screen is a primary control service, and shouldn't be seen just as an info screen. Good performance tool. (This is also what replaced the 606's weak kick, triggered via the 606's Low Tom trigger output.)

The set ran shorter than expected (18 minutes). I went super myopic during playing, losing concious track of the audience for most of the set. Performing in the round is also super cool, because it really helps address the issue of audience cause and effect and the visible influence the performer has. I also found that I can't go into a performance with anything more than the lightest of buzz, if any, or I get nervous and self-conscious. So, no more pre-show IPA's. :doh:

Live mixing continues to be my bane. What sounds great in the studio just doesn't translate to actual PAs (especially kicks), and I'd love whatever advice people care to share on this. Sound check is always where the rubber hits the road, but let's be honest, these days you're lucky if you get a meaningful one at all. Feeling like I need to mix on the fly and not know where the balanced mix will be on any given fader is something I'd rather just not worry about, so I can focus on the performance.

You've all probably seen this advice before, but bring everything you need prior to patching into the house mixer, including cables to get to said mixer, a power strip, extension cables, and spare interconnects (DINsync/MIDI, patch cables, etc.). I'm 50/50 needing that stuff or not, but it's simple "insurance" for any gig. Of course, if your show is in a synthesizer shop, well... :tu:

The funniest part of the show was the realization that at least two people assumed that I was performing under a pseudonym; they expressed surprise that Moody was actually my last name. :lol:

Thanks to Jordan and Steve of ROBOTSPEAk, my fellow performers (r beny, the Edomites, and Carson Day) and fellow MW forum peeps sinebrave, badrobot, auxren (and probably more and I just don't know it), and all my current and new friends for coming out and supporting the Church!

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dan_k
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Post by dan_k » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:49 pm

Really lovely set Nathan, thank you for sharing!

Your detailed performance notes and thoughts are also appreciated. I'm interested in process as there's so many unique and personal ways to approach these things that there's always something new to be learned.

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Worwell
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Post by Worwell » Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:57 pm

A great set and insightful post. Thank you.

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noisejockey
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Post by noisejockey » Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:04 pm

Thank you so much, Worwell and dan_k!

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BonJoey
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Post by BonJoey » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:13 pm

Both the performance and the extra info in the post are great. Thanks for this.

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scottmoon
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Post by scottmoon » Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:42 pm

I watched it last night. :yay: :tu:
"If you think this world is bad, you should see some of the others" - PKD

My band's noise https://soundcloud.com/lunarasylum

Jfalconcrest
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Post by Jfalconcrest » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:42 am

In regards to two items, as a touring performer who has been at it for 10 plus years: The musical items (that kick you mentioned) that are most variable / potentially problematic should get their own mix channel with an EQ, and as for sound checks, sometimes you just have to forcefully railroad a sound check into existence. Be insistent, clear on why you need one, and basically don't take no for an answer. Make it harder for them to say 'no' than 'yes', if they are being particularly resistant.

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ccastellanossf
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Post by ccastellanossf » Sun Jun 04, 2017 11:40 pm

I miss San Francisco :waah:

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captjrab
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Post by captjrab » Wed Jun 07, 2017 5:52 pm

ccastellanossf wrote:I miss San Francisco :waah:
I miss San Fancisco too, and I actually live here still.

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ccastellanossf
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Post by ccastellanossf » Wed Jun 07, 2017 8:18 pm

:lol:

Yea it's changed a lot.

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