Making digital music in the sun

Those that know me, know that I spend an awful lot of my time in my ‘special’ room making digital music. It’s fun, but extremely time consuming: getting that right sound, cutting up that beat perfectly or arranging the track so that it flows nicely.

The problem for me, is that I also love the sun, and my dependency on using a laptop with various synths, faders and knobs and stuff means that it’s very difficult to combine these pleasures.

I did try to cretae a laptop hood contraption out of foam board and black card. I prototyped something very basic and then tried it out on the river bank of Richmond. I daren’t show pictures of it as it is an embarrassment given I was trained in Industrial Design. That didn’t work at all and I looked like a real twat. My mate Fosta said it was because of all the ambient light and he is obviosuly right.

So then I thought about investing in some portable, battery powered music equipment and remembered the Akai MPC 500: MPC 500

For anyone that doesn’t know, Akai’s MPC range of drum sequencers with pads have pretty much been in use by every hip-hop producer that’s worth knowing about. Reading interviews of the big and little names, they will always refer to their MPC as one of tehir favourite bits of kit.

Buying the MPC now allows me to sample from my iPod and make beats and loops while out in the sun. When I tried this for the first time, I did get lots of weird looks by passers by and I think a fair few rude boys wanted to give me a slap and knick my box of tricks, but who cares – I can now make beats and do soem sampling in the sun.

The next thing I have been trying to get hold of is a portable synth which I can program in the sun. Surprisingly, there’s very few of these and although I had always had my sights set on a Korg MicroKorg, I am now in the hunt for a Novation XioSynth 25 which is apparently a much better sound source with much more hands-on knob twiddling (Just what I need to get a proper handling on sound synthesis.)

Korg MicroKorg:

Novation XioSynth
Xio Synth 25

It seems, however, that everyone seems to have the same idea and I can’t find one in stock anywhere. I just wanted to buy one, pick it up and play this weekend, but I think i’ll have to resort to buying it over the internet.

Ah well, sunshine with my MPC today it is then…


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