Wednesday, October 27, 2004

OK, an overview of the effort and key pieces

I have what's called a "desktop replacement" type notebook. What this means is that it's a little too heavy to carry comfortably on one's shoulder for any period of time, and I have also come to see that this means that it will fry your thighs if you try to use for any amount of time holding it on your lap. But that's fine, because the ultralight aspect is not key.

What is key is hard disk speed, RAM, processing power, DAW features with some mobility, and value for the price. So I went with an AMD64 3400+ (1MB L2 cache) based notebook with a 17" WXGA TFT LCD and ATI Mobility 9700 Radeon Graphics chipset w/128MB SGRAM on board, 1 GB of RAM, 3 USB 2.0 inputs, 1 1394 IEEE (Firewire) input, 3D stereo enhanced sound system w/compatible SoundBlaster Pro (which will not be used so much for music production, the Tascam US-122 and M-Audio MobilePre will be the audio devices for that). The disk drive is 60GB/7200 RPM, which is smaller and slower than might be ideal for a full desktop style DAW, but it is faster than the normal laptop/notebook drive and the option of some mobility is why I went this way. Also, for additional storage, I have a Maxtor 120GB external USB HD which transfers data very quickly over the USB 2.0. For connectivity there's a Realtek Gigabit NIC, 802.11b/g wireless card, and a 56K modem.

For audio disc creation there is a NEC DVD RW. The system came with Nero for disc layout, I will use that.

Now, I had thought briefly about going with Linux, but the production apps I really like are on Windoze, so OS is Windows XP Home. I had read that XP Pro was a little overkill as far as networking oriented features which would not be central to my use, and it saved some money to not go to XP Pro.

Ableton's Live 4.04 will be what I use primarily for production, and I've also got Cubasis as part of the Tascam's software bundle. If you want to read about the assemblage of musical instruments go to Utenzil's garageband page where you can also download some free MP3s.

I've got a bunch of VSTs for effects and MIDI instruments, many freeware, some came with the interface bundles, and I bought the Voxengo Soniformer for multiband compression.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A musicians collaboration site

Seems interesting, just found out about this, haven't really looked into it but the concept is good. Nexus site

Today's Utenzil song is here, if you happen across this blog, comments appreciated.

TranzHouse One

Monday, October 25, 2004

Was not feeling well today

The seasons change in the Maryland/DC area like a 3 year old kid playing with a wall switch. He flicks it up and down for a bit, then someone tells him to cut it out and the seasonal climate 'sticks' for a while.

This time of year, that means it gets cold and damp, and then it gets warmer and sunny (humid), then much colder again with precip, and then not so cold but still damp... anyway, I always get sick.

So I will be releasing a CD soon. I'm thinking it will be comprised of somewhere between 11 and 16 tracks.

I wrote previously that the tracks I put up on the internet are Creative Commons licensed. The cover article in Wired magazine features a discussion of 'music in the digital age' copyright, and includes a CD from various artists, including the Beastie Boys, sixteen CC licensed tracks in all. What is very unusual is that the licenses are 'mixed'-- all permit sharing and copying, but no resale as is, but then some permit sampling and remixing for commercial use: that is, you could sample a clip, drop it into your jimmyjauhn and build on it.

Now, the thing about that comes down to this: if you sample anything from anybody, and they are letting you do so with a license such as this, you have to give them credit, the 'props': respect because, basically, it's like these artists are saying, 'yeh, you can jam with me' to anyone that has the wherewithal.

And it's also a bit of a challenge. Because everyone who has ever played electric guitar has toiled for hours trying to do a note for note lead pressing play, rewind, play, rewind or some fancier way of drilling on it, only to be scolded by some other guitar twerp (who spent time doing the exact same thing) for being unoriginal/uncreative/'a rip off'/derivative/'ah, big deal, you stole that from ...' etc.. and of course they were right because you did so you have to take what you like and transform it so that you can use it for your own. It might come down to some modal scale that you end up learning was the basis for whatever riff, and then you get a handle on that and voila you have taken a step towards working on your own style-- but the guy who played the riff that led you there is always going to have your respect.

So *because* these tracks are tossed out there for sampling, anyone who uses them has to transform them enough to be considered cleverer than the next guy, and the race is on for people who chose to use them, and they will all owe *something* to the originator.

Friday, October 22, 2004

More re: Cats...

having said all that before re: cats, there is nothing quite like the sound of a kitty kat horking up a hairball.

Miscellaneous items of possible interest

This is very cool. Dirty Vegas uses Ableton Live software. They use Apple/MacOS computers, I use a windows PC. Plus they have actually sold a record or two... hee hee... I will have more info about the laptop I use at some point.

I mostly sing and play guitar. I have sung in bands off and on since I was twelve. It is very difficult to sing and sound as good as people sound on records, because the vocals are highly processed. Of course, people with voices that sound good will still sound good without the processing. Some people have said some very nice things about my voice, sometimes I believe them and sometimes I just can't.

"What's Here" is a song w/vocals that you may or may not wish to endure. It's primarly vocals, actually, with the exception of the drum loop and one synth sample.

Thinking about it, most of the people who "sing best" aren't in the genres I like to listen to most. For example, Alicia Keys has an amazing, beautiful voice, is a wonderfully amazing singer and talent, and I enjoy hearing her songs and/or TV performances when they come my way, but I do not buy CDs of that type of music.

But I sing well enough where I won't use samples of other people's voices in my tracks because I consider that cheating, A Lot. It's real work to get a good vocal sound, it takes several kinds of talent, costs money and time and to just rip it off a CD to stick into your track is not real song crafting.

No cat pictures here

Blogs with pictures are more interesting, generally, so I should add some more I guess, but I have to take a bit of time to comment: what is it with people blogging pictures of their cats?

This particular blog, being concerned with electronic music and providing links to sites enabling indie musicians and providing outlets for their music does not contain pictures of cats. I'd have to say, while cats are generally o.k. animals, it is kind of strange that so many people should think their cat is particularly interesting.

Having said that, here is a picture of a device called the Helmholtz Generator

You can read some interesting electronic music history here.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Legal Free MP3 downloads at

There are a bunch of Utenzil tunes as legal MP3's for download at Utenzil's garageband site and from other artists on

These are licensed with a Creative Commons Music Sharing license that allows you to "download, copy, file-share, trade, distribute, and publicly perform" (e.g. webcast). Basically, no commercial use read the full license here.

If you register for and join the fanlist for Utenzil or any other artists you like, you will get notifications of new uploads and gigs.

Here's today's featured song Alp-E-Phants.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Software and stuff...

I use Ableton Live software, which I think is great. It's a very intuitive interface. I learned to mix on PA boards and in the studio on a Tascam board, the difference between these and Live is that "a track" in Live is a stereo track, more like a DJ board (which where their initial usage started, for loops mixing).

For the tracks on Utenzil's Garageband site, Live Delta 2.1.2 and Live 3.04 were used. I have recently upgraded to Live 4.0, which incorporates MIDI sequencing as well. The easy way to get a mono track to happen in order set out the image is to use the "Utility" effect as the first effect in the chain, set it to the mono preset. You can also add some separation to elements by dropping the Utility effect into the Master track and widening out towards 120 degrees of pan.

I also use the Tascam US-122 USB interface and M-Audio MobilePre USB interface. Yes, I know that Firewire is better, and I'll be going that route eventually, but this is what I felt I could afford starting out.

The MobilePre is cool because it has a stereo mic input as well as XLR and 1/4 jacks. I have a small Sony stereo condenser (battery powered) that I can plug into this and capture ambient sound wherever whenever, recording with Live. The MobilePre came with a really nice bundle of starter software products, and the Tascam came with Cubasis.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Conspiracy theory theory

This is new and interesting at this point, I am sure I'll start posting less soon. Flipping through the blogs, and there are of course those that concern themselves with politics and schemes.

This blog is about electronic music, so this will be brief: the appeal of conspiracy theories is the perpetuation of the illusion of control. It is somehow more comforting to believe that a shadowy alliance of darkly motivated very smart/somehow special people is behind everything than it is to believe that chaotic things can happen randomly. More importantly, as a "discoverer-believer" in the conspiracy, one is somehow very smarter/specialer than the conspirators: "ah, it all falls into place, now that I have divined the intricate key aspects of the plot". This provides a satisfying sense of comprehension and ocntrol.

Here is my theory about current events: the world is going through a conflict between hierarchically organized/patriarchical cultures and "guild-centric" organized/non-patriarchical cultures. The latter presses the boundaries of the former, the two are not easily reconciled, so each regards it as a near-final if not final struggle.

This conflict will eventually be ameliorated by a realization of roughly equivalent infrastructure and educational standards in lesser developed areas of the world who rely on a rigid hierarchical social structure with strong leading figures, because it will enable self-reliance and mobility. This can be very disheartening and stressful for the people in these cultures, it is undermining and unbalancing, the people in these socities who have a larger stake in the continuation of the model will resort to violence in order not to relinquish their hold on the reins.

I'll have to write a song about this I guess.

You can buy Utenzil Tunes

At my shop on You know it's authentic Utenziltronix when you see

instruments, plans, thoughts and songs...

I am listening to internet radio, on the digitally imported site. About what instruments I play... guitar, vocals, drum machine, sequencers, some percussion, some bass, some keyboards.

I have been playing for a long time, long enough that I should be better at some of these than I am, but long enough where I've got to do something with it.

What I'm going to do, I'm using software to write and record music, some of which I program, some of which are recorded performed live, some of which are sampled from live sounds, some of which are from sound libraries. Some tracks will be more samples, some will be more programmed, all will have *something* live (at least just effects parameter twiddling, at most vocal and instrumet performances). I will use licensed sound libraries/loops, I will not rip/remix/"borrow" from other recordings.

There are lots of places where people are doing this, you know, all over the world. Indie, underground, homegrown, whatever you'd like to call it, it's not all crap, it's not all good, it's not all "weird" and it's not all "sane".

Today i will reveal my dark vision, or maybe not...

So if you haven't listened to any tracks yet, please do, right here Real Player streaming of course is best if you have a broadband connection, MP3s available for free download. If this blog is read by anyone feel free to comment on the music, esp. which tracks are good enough to be on a CD. My dark vision is that, someday, everyone with a computer will be recording and producing music, the real dark pessimistic vision is that everyone ends up listening to nothing but themselves, but a more realistic pessimistic dark vision is that lots and lots of people with computers end up making lots of music that is not very good, and the art of music degrades, leaving archealogical MP3 archives not unlike the pottery of some ancient cultures where the quality and artistry progresses, then stagnates, then becomes utterly simplfied and formulaic, degrading before the culture disappears. A less pessimistic dark vision is that the music gets really really weird and super intricate to where we are transported into a whole new sonic culture, but that's nothing new, really.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The first post

I am an electronic musician, the name of my project is UTENZIL. I have some songs available as MP3s, posted on a music hosting site, at that you can download and share for free. I am planning on producing a CD for sale, that includes some of this music, and some new music. In this blog, I will describe some of my experiences as I go forward with this project. It will likely be mostly boring plus I don't want to get too personal about myself; despite that, I hope you enjoy it.