Digital Scale

  • Note: So you, the Reader, won’t be frustrated after reading this, what I discovered (below) didn’t work. I’m simply explaining the details of what I went through, in order to find an “alternative”, hopefully “better”, Music Scale… but I didn’t.
I had been thinking about Alternative Tunings for Music for several weeks. I even did a lot of research to see if any of the current Eurorack, Modular Synthesizer Modules would allow me to actually pick my own “Frequencies”.
  • There are lots of Oscillators and Sequencers, which allow you to “manually” set their “Frequencies” but getting them to produce those same exact Frequencies every time, is not something I found while doing my research.
  • Yes, there are Modules called: “Quantizers”, which will align every Pitch, Voltage and MIDI Note, coming into it, to the closest “Note” in its Scale. However, in “my” research, “most” force you into selecting from a list of Pitches which aren’t broken down smaller than quarter-tones.
  • I only discovered 2 Quantizers which allow you to select your own Frequencies but they seemed to be a bit difficult to program. One is the “Disting Mk4” ($189), by “Expert Sleepers”, and the other is the “µTune” ($299), by “Tubbutec”.
Several weeks ago, I was thinking about the “A equals 440Hz” (Cycles-Per-Second, Frequency) and that some say “A” should really be set to 432-Hz.
As I was looking at those numbers, I noticed that they are “8” numbers apart from each other. Since I used to do some very basic programming, a few decades ago, my mind instantly thought there might be something to that relationship…
  • Since “Society” has been lied to in so many different aspects of this “Reality”, what if those “liars” knew the core Frequency for Music should be “448Hz” and, in order to mislead everyone, moved the number “down” 8 Cycles-Per-Second (making it “432”), to throw us off track, instead of “up” 8 Cycles where it should be (making it “448”)?
From there, I did something “thinking” and some “math” and settled on the number “32”. Computers are based on multiples of “2”, which are “zeros” and “ones”. Home computers in the early 80s had 8-bit Processors, which is a multiple of “2”. I settled on “32” because “2”, “4”, “8” and “16” Cycles were too close to each other for my note-building exercise. 32 seemed to be the smallest number of Cycles-Per-Second which the Human ear could distinguish a difference in Pitch AND it would take-up an entire Music Keyboard, just to have at least 2 “Octaves”.
I left “A” at 448, as a starting point. I then “added” 32, to find higher Notes or “subtracted” 32, to find lower Notes. This gave me these Frequencies:
  • 128, 160, 192, 224, 256, 288, 320, 352, 384, 416, 448, 480, 512
Since I couldn’t find any “easy-to-use” Synthesizer Modules, which would allow me to enter the “Frequencies” I wanted, I did some testing. A few days ago, I used “Audacity” (audio manipulation software) to produce those 13-Tones. I was going to load them into Apple’s “GarageBand” software, in order to move them around and stretch them, just to see if this new “Scale” would sound good… or not.
That quickly became a bit complicated so I stopped.
Today, Sylvia reminded me that our Korg Krome Keyboard offers Tunings and Scale creation. So I checked the Manual and turned it ON. It was a bit tricky and did take me a few hours but I was able to set those Frequencies.
  • The “tricky” part was that I had to use “Audacity” to play each Pitch in a loop, while I found the closest “key” on the Keyboard to that particular Pitch. Then I adjusted its “Semitone” setting until they sounded the same.
  • When I was done, that “Scale” was spread across 2, standard Octaves on the Keyboard and used both the “black” and “white” keys but not all of them were next to each other.
  • I marked them with small pieces of Post-It Notes, so I could see which “physical” keys were part of that “Scale”. I even recorded a low-to-high “run” of Notes into the Krome, in order to hear it played back smoothly at different Tempos.
  • I then tested this “Scale’s” Chord capability. It was difficult listening to the “run” of Notes, because they weren’t too pleasing, but the Chord possibilities were even worse. I found 3, maybe 4 combinations of Notes which sounded “ok” together.
So, other than “I just wasn’t happy with what I was hearing”, I began to wonder… “why”? Is it because those are simply Frequencies which work against each other or is it that my brain is programmed to identify certain sound combinations as “good” and others as “bad”?
Here’s the link to the “Disting Mk4”:
Here’s the link to the “µTune”:
Here’s the link to the “Audacity” software:
In doing my 1st calculations, I took used the “Note-to-Frequency” Chart on this page:
I then plugged those numbers into the Frequency-Semitone calculator on this page:
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Behringer has been making audio equipment and electronic musical instruments for many years. The few pieces of information Sylvia and I had heard about them was mostly from some of their unhappy customers, who let their complaints be known on various Forums.

Around 2015 or so, company Owner, Uli Behringer, commented about Moog’s extremely high prices and said he could manufacture and sell similar Synthesizers for around $300.

  • This was at a Time when Moog’s “lower-priced” Synthesizers were Retailing for around $1,500. (Of course, these contained “Keyboards”.)

Later, Behringer’s Synthesizers, which were “copies” of popular Synths decades before, would become known as “Clones”. The first “Clone” Behringer made was of Moog’s famous “Mini Moog Model D”. Granted it didn’t have a Keyboard but it IS currently selling for $299! A few months later, Moog decided to release something “new”. So they created the “Mini Moog Model D” and placed a Retail price of $3,500 on it!!!

  • The original “Mini Moog” was released in the early 70s. I was still in High School but, after hearing it’s awesome sounds on various Rock recordings, I just had to have one. So I saved all my money and bought a brand new Mini Moog from the local music store… for $1,495!!!

The new Mini Moog does have a Keyboard and, although Moog added “MIDI” (digital technology, which the Behringer “Model D” also has), they added a few Patch Points (interconnection Jacks) for Control Voltage and other benefits when working with other Synthesizers. (The Behringer version also has MIDI and several Patch Points.)

  • Although Moog recreated the “Model D”, they did add a few improvements. So, in order to save everyone a lot of confusion, why didn’t the call this new version the “Model D+” or “Model D Plus”?

Since that first Behringer Synth, they have created their very own, not “Cloned”, Synthesizer called the “Deepmind 12”. This one does have a Keyboard, has MANY more features than Moog’s Mini Moog and Retails for just $1,000!!!

  • Behringer has also stated that they have assigned several of their Engineering Teams to Clone many more of music history’s popular Synthesizers.

Several years ago, Behringer began building a new Factory in China. The manufacturing building will be about 3-MILLION SQUARE FEET in size!!!

A new, “Behringer original” Synthesizer which has been talked about since it was “leaked” in January 2018, is called: “Neutron”. Although it doesn’t have a Keyboard, it does have a very flexible set of features, a great sound and will Retail for $299!!! I told Sylvia, the Neutron needs to be on our Music Gear List.

  • About 8-months ago, I was working with our “incomplete” Modular Synthesizer and wanted to create a sound that was in my mind. the Function I needed was inside our “Roland System-1m” Synthesizer but it didn’t offer any way to access it from another Synth. So I told Sylvia “The System-1m isn’t as flexible as we need it to be. So we should trade it in at our local Guitar Center store and get something else.” That “something else” is the “Neutron”.

Here’s a link to an article on the new Behringer Factory:

Here’s an older article, which provides a few more details:

Here’s a link to a very good Review (video) of the Neutron:

  • On that web page, I was surprised by some of the Comments. Everyone had something good to say about the Neutron (and Behringer). There were even 2 or 3 people who said, in the past, they would not buy anything from Behringer… but were now considering purchasing this amazing Synth.

The Review (in the link above) of the Neutron was done by Nick Batt of “SonicState”. If you’re not familiar with “SonicState”, here’s the direct link to their website:

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Plexiglass Shelves, Covers, Drumstick Holder and a Drumstick Painting Box

Yesterday, I Posted some information on the Plexiglass shelves and dust covers Sylvia and I created for our Synthesizers. I added this information to our mirrored Blogsite on “Weebly” but there are too many images to also add them here. So if you’re interested in seeing how we used 3/8ths-inch-thick Plexiglass / Acrylic sheets, to build these items, please visit this link:

Here’s the link where I Posted information and photos on how we created a “Drumstick Painting Box”:

Here’s the link to the “Drumstick Holder” we made:


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Tama Speed Cobra Beater

I want to share this because I couldn’t find a solution to this problem online and thought others would like to know about it…

Quite a while ago, we purchased a “Tama Speed Cobra”, single, Bass Drum pedal for my electronic drumset. Earlier this year, the felt pad on its Beater Head (see image on “left” below) had come unglued. In my opinion, this happened because of “poor design”. I had positioned the felt pad so its point was making contact with the rubber, electronic, Bass Drum pad but there must have been enough “angled stress”, while playing, to cause it to slide up and break-away from the glue holding it in place.

I never noticed when the felt pad initially came off. One day, though, I happened to look down and noticed that the hard-plastic Beater Head was now making direct contact with the rubber pad. This was not good. The rubber in that area was now indented and the hardness of the plastic and force of my playing could have damaged the Piezo Sensor inside the pad. It didn’t but it could have.

Although I could have glued the felt pad back on, Sylvia and I thought it would simply detach itself again. So we decided to buy a replacement Beater. We bought the “Tama CB90F” (see image on “right” below).

​This replacement Beater is sold just as you see it in this image:

  • Shaft,
  • Balancing Weight,
  • Beater Head, etc.

I simply removed the old Beater and installed the new one.

Within a few minutes of playing, I noticed that the Beater Head had pivoted up — forcing its felt pad to no longer make contact with the drum pad. So I rotated the Beater Head back into position and played the pedal while watching the new Beater. Within just a few stokes, I saw the Beater Head turn upwards again. I tightened everything but this continued to happen.

I went online, to see if anyone else had this same problem and how they fixed it. Lots of people had the same issue but I could not find anyone who successfully solved this problem.

I then got out the old Beater and removed the Beater Head. I immediately noticed that the cylinder, which holds the Beater Head is “knurled” — there are “X” patterns etched into it. I then looked at the same portion of the new Beater and saw that it was shiny-smooth. It’s no wonder why the new Beater Head won’t stay in position. There’s nothing for it to grip to.

So I swapped-out the Beater shafts… placing the “old” shaft on the “new” Beater. This solved the problem.

The Beater on the “left” came with my Tama Speed Cobra pedal:

The Beater on the “right” was purchased as a replacement:

Here’s the link to their product page:

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New Modules

Today, Sylvia and I received 2 new Modules for the Eurorack Synthesizer we’re creating.

  • A couple of months ago, we purchased the 1st piece… the Case.
  • Our 1st Module was the “Double Helix Oscillator” by Pittsburgh Modular.
  • A few weeks ago, we bought the “qMI 2” a “MIDI-to-Control Voltage converter”. Made by Vermona Modular.

After a lot of research, planning our budget, saving our money and talking it over, last Thursday, Sylvia and I bought 2 new Modules:

Granted, we eat fried potatoes for supper every night and a can of soup for Lunch, when we go to work, but I have no idea how we managed to “save” and “pay for” those items. I’m not really that good at this type of money-juggling. I have enough trouble remembering to deduct each day’s purchases from our Checkbook. “Sylvia” is the financial Wizard in OUR family! I do my best to continually stay tuned-in to her energies and to act-on any suggestions she provides.

As for the timing of this purchase… THAT was also interesting… We bought these from “Detroit Modular” (see links above), which is located in Michigan. We ordered them Thursday morning and the expected delivery was “by Monday”. (It was shipped through the Post Office.) Up until Friday night, their Tracking information showed that our package was still traveling through the various States, on its way to us, here, in North Carolina. When I checked their Tracking information this morning, Saturday, it showed that it was to be delivered “today”!

We used the website “Modular Grid“, in order to learn about some of the Modules available and to create this Synthesizer using their free software.

  • It’s a great website. You can search for Modules by “Manufacturer’s Name”, “Function” (Oscillator, Envelope Generator, etc.) and can see which Modules have been released recently and which are the most popular. You can also build your own “on-screen” Synthesizer. Their software will keep track of how much money the total System will cost AND whether or not the Modules you selected will actually fit inside the Case you used.

​This is a picture of our “Modular Grid” Synthesizer. It shows which Modules we currently have and where I placed them. (Of course, they can always be moved. If needed.)

Although we currently have 4 Modules, we don’t enough Synthesizer elements to make a complete sound.

  • If you’re building your own “Modular” Synthesizer, and don’t know which “types” of Modules to buy, look at the classic “analog” Synths of the past. Two of the easiest ones to use, to follow the signal flow (sound) from start to finish, are the “Mini Moog” and the “ARP 2600”.
  • There are no locked-in-concrete rules with this but “basically”, you start with a sound source, such as an “Oscillator” So you’ll need a “VCO” (Voltage Controlled Oscillator). (“Voltage Controlled” simply means its Pitch can be changed by a frequency which is produced by one of your Modules. Putting a parameter under “Voltage Control” will not only make changes faster than you can “manually” change them, but it also means “random” and / or “very fast patterned” changes can be produced.)
  • Next, the Oscillator’s sound get filtered. So you’ll need a “VCF” (Voltage Controlled Filter”).
  • From there, the sound moves to a “VCA” (Voltage Controlled Amplifier”), then to a Mixer and finally, out to Speakers, a recording system, headphones, etc.
  • Also, because you’ll be using a “Voltage Controlled” Filter and Amplifier, you’ll want a Module which is designed to control them and this would be the “Envelope Generator”. Just as we use our mouth, tongue, breath and Voice Box, to “form” and “speak” words, an Envelope Generator produces Stages of voltages which control the opening and closing of the parameters of the VCF and VCA. (Of course, with Modular Synthesizers, almost any Module can be used to change the parameters of almost any other.)

Right now, Sylvia and I have an Oscillator, Envelope Generator, a “MIDI-to-CV” converter (so we can play notes in this “Analog” Synth using our “Digital” keyboard) and a Multiple.

  • The “Warna II” is a “Multiple”, Mixer and Inverter.

To complete the “building blocks”, we still need a VCA and VCF.

What I can tell about these Modules, especially the new ones is…

In just testing the Envelope Generator, I had to use the Multiple several times. At one point, I used 3 of its sections and 10 of its 15 Patch-Points. More than once, today, I told Sylvia: “It’s a good thing we bought this Multiple.”

It wasn’t just “a multiple”. We did a lot of research, watched a few videos and read several pages of descriptions before deciding on this particular Module. It has:

  • two, 1-in-4-out Multiples,
  • one, 4-in-1-out Mixer,
  • and the two Multiples can be switched, to convert the incoming signal to its opposite polarity.
  • Plus, all of the Inputs on this Module are “DC” coupled. This means it will accept “Audio” sound sources AND “Control Voltages”.

As for the “Envelope Generator”…
I’ve been wanting us to have a “delayed Gate” feature in a Synthesizer for quite a while. We may still purchase a Module which only provides that feature but this A-143-2 Module not only has FOUR Envelope Generators, each can be Triggered (activate) separately from the others or Triggered when any of the others has completed its cycle.

I was able to create a 4-stage, one-after-the-other Envelope today. I was also able to create a looping waveshape. Sort of like a customized LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator).

Anyway, so far, we’re finding that both Modules were well worth the money.

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Double Helix Oscillator

I’ve been wanting to fine-tune the image of the Double Helix Oscillator, that I used in the Patch Chart I created and, today, I finally got around to doing just that. This one is cleaner, more professional looking and contains less clutter… making it easier for everyone to indicate Knob and Switch settings as well as the Patch Cord connections routings.

So the updated Chart for this Pittsburgh Modular module is now in our “Downloads” area and is free to download.

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Modular MIDI-to-CV

Last week, Sylvia and I returned the Pittsburgh Modular “MIDI 3” Module. After 2-weeks of working with it, we found that it just wasn’t offering the features we needed.

A few days ago, we ordered the “qMI 2” by Vermona. Here’s a screenshot of it.

qMI2 Image small

Here’s the link to that Product’s page:

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The “MIDI 3” Module

Although it’s possible to control the “Double Helix Oscillator” with the Arturia “BeatStep Pro”, there are times when you just want to get back to a familiar input mechanism… like a Keyboard.

  • Yes, our “ARP 2600” does have a Keyboard which produces Control Voltages and can control the “Helix”… but… all of the keys stick and a few of them produce random Voltages, making it difficult to use.

We want to use our “Roland SH-201” Synthesizer’s Keyboard to control this new Modular Synth we’re in the process of buying Modules for. However, the “201” is “Digital” and doesn’t have a “Gate” or other Control Voltage outputs, which could be used to control a Modular Synth.

So yesterday, we ordered the Pittsburgh Modular “MIDI 3” Module. This will convert our SH-201’s MIDI information to Control Voltages for the Modular Synthesizer.

I’ve fine-tuned the Patch Chart for the Double Helix and have created a Patch Chart for the MIDI 3. Both of these can now be found in our “Downloads” section. (See the menu at the top of this window.)

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Double Helix Oscillator – overview

Sylvia and I have only had the “Double Helix Oscillator” for a day and a half and we’re really enjoying it. The build quality in their “Stucture 270” Case is first-rate. The “care of design” that’s behind the Double Helix has infused this Module with more functionality than may appear at first glance. Each time we “just want to try a simple Patch”, “hours” just fly by. For us, that’s the sign of a versatile piece of gear.

On June 21st, I sent an eMail to Pittsburgh Modular, asking if there was a Manual for their “Double Helix Oscillator”. This is their reply:

  • The Double Helix is an excellent analog synth voice module. While we don’t currently have a manual for this item available, I’ll be happy to give you a brief walkthrough of its functionality.
  • The Double Helix contains two full range analog oscillators. They can sweep from subsonic LFO range, up past 20 KHz. The first oscillator has 5 waveform options (including a 1 octave down suboscillator and our signature Blade wave) while the second oscillator as 3 waveforms. They both track 1V/O and have various modulation options available.
  • The module also contains an LFO (with Sine, Square, and Random outputs) and an analog noise source
  • The Contour section is where the Double Helix shines. It contains two sections: Timbre and Dynamics. The Timbre section is an analog wavefolder. Basically, it continuously folds the peaks and valleys of the incoming waveform to add complexity and upper harmonics to the sound.  The Dynamics section is based on our Dynamic Impulse Filter module and allows for organic “plucked” percussive sounds
  • Finally, the CV router at the bottom allows for easy control and experimentation with modulation. You can route several modulation sources to various locations simultaneously, which adds even more complexity to the sound.

Although they don’t “technically” offer a “Manual”, they do provide some very helpful information on the Double Helix product page. Here’s the link:

Because Sylvia and I needed a “paper” version of that information, I pulled-out the content from that web page and reformatted it into standard pages… and I allowed for those pages to be on 3-holed paper. (So they could be placed in a 3-ring Binder.

  • Note: If you print those 4-pages as “double-sided”, the holes in the paper will not interfere with the text or images.

You can download this file from the link below.​

Double Helix Overview (pdf)

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The “Double Helix Oscillator”

Over these last several months, after buying 3 small Synthesizers, Sylvia pointed out that I wouldn’t be satisfied until we got a “Modular”.

  • I thought about it for a while and she’s right. My experience with Synthesizers started in the 70s, when Synthesizers themselves were still evolving. There were only a handful of companies making Synthesizers and “Moog” and “ARP” were the most popular.
  • My first Synth was a very basic Korg. While in High School, I saved-up and bought a “Mini Moog Model D”. About the Time I was getting bored with its limits, I read about a much more flexible, more powerful Synth: the “ARP 2600”. Again, I saved-up some money, sold the Mini Moog and bought a “2600”.
  • In 1972, I took 1 Semester of private Synthesizer lessons from a local college. The Professor in charge of the Music Department told me he went to school with Bob Moog. The Synthesizer in the Electronic Music Lab was a “Studio Moog”, similar to the “Moog System 55”. Here’s the link to that model:
  • My point is, Sylvia’s observation is correct… Since I came up through “old school”, analog, one-function-per-button, Synthesizers, I wouldn’t be happy until we bought a Modular Synth.

So, after doing a lot of research, we decided to jump in. About a month ago, we bought the 1st piece — the “case”. It’s a “Structure 270”, made by Pittsburgh Modular. Here’s the link to its product page:

Last Saturday, Sylvia and I drove to our local Guitar Center store and bought our 1st Module — the “Double Helix Oscillator”, also made by Pittsburgh Modular. Here’s the link to it’s product page:

When we brought it home, I was just going to try out a few simple things and… almost 4-hours went by… Whoosh! Now THAT’S a sign of an interesting piece of music gear.

  • The keyboard on our ARP 2600 doesn’t work right and we don’t have another keyboard that will send “CV” (Control Voltages) out. So we couldn’t play this new Oscillator with a regular keyboard. However, since we have a “BeatStep Pro” (by Arturia), I was able to connect its “Pitch” output to the Double Helix (to change notes) and the BeatStep Pro’s “Gate” output to the ARP 2600’s “Gate Input” (to fire the Envelope Generators / open and close the sound to the speakers).

Knowing that the “Double Helix” doesn’t have any way of Storing Patches (saving its settings), I spent almost 3-hours today creating a Patch Chart for it. I’ve uploaded it to this Blog and you should be able to download it from the link below. So if you own a “Double Helix”, this Chart may be of some help in keeping track of the sounds you create.

  • A contrasting pen color, such as “red”, works best.
  • For “Knob” settings: simply place a line where the “white line” on the real Knob should be turned to.
  • For “Patch Points” (Jacks): just draw a line from any Patch Point to any other. It’s better if you don’t draw those lines over any other Jacks, Knobs or Switches. If you need to indicate that a Patch Point on the Double Helix is connected to another Module, just end the line below the diagram and add some text explaining where the other end should be connected.
  • For “Switches”: since the Double Helix Switches can be moved to 3 positions, I illustrated those positions with 3 small circles for each Switch. Just fill-in the appropriate circle or draw a line through one of them.

Click the link below to download this Chart…

Double Helix Patch Chart

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