Tag Archives: Music

Old Time Synthesiser Simulator

As a musician, my primary instrument is the flute, but I play most of the woodwinds.

One instrument I’ve always enjoyed playing with, just for fun, is the synthesiser keyboard. It’s a love that my autistic adult son also shares. He has a wonderful MIDI keyboard by Roland that he uses to compose classical music on. It’s plugged into his desktop computer, using the JACK Audio Connection Kit software and Ardour and Audacity  for mixing, recording,  etcetera.

Imagine my delight while poking around the Package Manager when I found the Bristol classic synthesiser program. You can use it of course with the JACK Audio Connection Kit, or you can also install the monoBristol package to provide a direct GUI to play with old-time keyboards without it.

Open your Package Manager and search for Bristol, and install Bristol, Bristol Data, as well as the MonoBristol package as shown:

Package Manager installing Bristol

Package Manager installing Bristol

The GUI program won’t show up in your Menu, so open a Terminal window and simply type: monobristol

You can of course, also create a menu item to start it with a click!

After it’s launched, you will be presented with a huge matrix of the available classic synthesisers you can play with:

MonoBristol GUI with control panel

MonoBristol GUI with control panel

MonoBristol GUI with control panel

MonoBristol GUI with control panel

I have owned several over the years, but the mini Moog was always my favorite.  Search the list, click on the synth you’d like to play with and simply give it a click!

Moog Mini

Moog Mini

Once open, you can use your mouse, keyboard, or your connected MIDI keyboard to now play the displayed synthesiser. All of the dials, knobs, switches, and other controls on the keyboard are available to change settings. Change the envelope, attack, decay, etcetera of the sound, just like you could on the original!

Yamaha CS-80

Yamaha CS-80

Tired of playing with the Moog, then load a Yamaha, or a Fender Rhodes!

Some great software in the Package Manager, so explore it and enjoy!

 

Software: Fine Tuning Your Ears For Music

I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to write about his piece of software, as music is something that’s very important to me. I’m a woodwind player, with my primary instrument being the flute, but I get by just fine on the sax, clarinet, and about any other reeded instrument I can get my hands on.

It doesn’t matter if you play classical music like I do, or heavy metal, jazz, or anything else. Knowledge of the basics of music is always the key to playing better.

Today’s software is called Solfege, and it takes it’s name directly from the French music education system by the same name, Solfège

What Solfege does, is help teach a student about the basics of music theory.  With it, you will be given examples of various notes, melodic intervals, chords, rhythms, harmonic progressions, etcetera, and then quizzed on what you hear.

Installation is simple, just head over to your Software Manager and search for Solfege,

Once installed, you can launch the program from the Education tab in your main Menu.

Solfege Start menu and settings

Solfege Start menu and settings

I’d recommend you start with Major Scale and its modes to get a feel how the program works. I use a quality pair of studio headphones when using this software, but a good pair of reference monitors will do just fine as well. I would not recommend trying to run this software with the cheap, plastic speakers that come with most computers, as they can product unwanted harmonics that will defeat the purpose!

Solfege Major Scale and modes

Solfege Major Scale and modes

Next, you can start to learn the names of different rhythms in music:

Identifying a rhythm

Identifying a rhythm

And or course, cord progressions as shown below:

Solfege - testing your knowledge of diminished and augmented chords

Solfege – testing your knowledge of diminished and augmented chords

So give the Solfrege software and learning method a try, and  become as familiar with music and its many components as you can. This will help make you a better musician!