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My first MB build - and cartoons with SID


Blatboy

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Greetings. I'm starting this blog as a record for myself, and also to keep from pestering everyone constantly on the MB Forum over all the details of what I'm doing. Even though I think it's incredibly exciting, I'm still in an orbit deep within the galaxy of Noob, you dig. It's probably not that interesting to you kids out there with mad electronikz skillz. Perhaps my experiences will be of some use to someone else taking the plunge into this world, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm probably just gassing myself here.

I'm a professional musician in New York City. I play trombone and ukulele, mostly in acoustic jazz type situations of varying degrees. I do a lot of composing music for television...mostly cartoons... Work's been a little slow the last coupla years, so I've allowed myself to embrace some of my vintage-tech related obsessions at a higher obsessionary amplitude (er, my term) than I had allowed myself in the past.

If this sounds odd coming from a jazz musician that plays mostly 20's and 30's stuff... it's not like I grew up in the depression. I grew up in the 70s and 80s. I considered myself quite the synth nut when I was in jr. high and high school. I was also a computer enthusiast (NERD) on my C64. I programmed a decent bit and dabbled in hacking. While going to music school, I completed a minor in computer science as well.

While most the composing I've done (for hire) has been for acoustic bands or even orchestras, I've always tried to find a way to rock some SID somewhere. My first attempt at this was for an animated short by my incredibly talented sister-in-law, Ariel Martian. I wanted the music to be half played by a live orchestra and half played by SID.

Buffalo Head was a science project in a half. I wasn't aware of some of the hardware options that were out there like Hardsid...nor did I have the budget for that at the time. I ended up using an SX64 and a MIDI interface through the cartridge port. Some of the music I composed and inputted with the old Sidplayer/Sideditor from Compute! like I did in high school...entering the music with a joystick. Some of it I played "live" via MIDI using M64. Transferring files from the internet to the SX was a bitch. I remember I had to send M64 as a SYSEX dump via Logic on my Mac (!) just to get the application into the SX64 from the internetz. Crazy.

After that I found Hardsid (at a time when I was gainly employed) and I thought my problems were solved. I ended up doing a series of shorts with Ariel for Cartoon Network in 2005. I used Hardsid...mostly.

Here's one of those:

I enjoyed working with Hardsid in a recording environment, and it did the job well, all things considered. This being said, my studio runs on Macs, and Hardsid is Windows only. I've worked on Windows machines for years, so I've no problem with that technically. However, it was a big pain to have to get a second computer hooked up via MIDI from the Mac, then piping the audio from the Hardsid audio back into the Mac. And face it, I'm pretty sure that the majority of music production is done on Macs in the US. (If not a majority, a very hefty non majority percentage, and certainly worthy of support. )

Lately, in the last year, I've been playing some SID, via Hardsid, live in concert in a duo. Musically speaking, the duo is totally outside of what I normally play around these parts, and I'm having a ball. Playing Hardsid in a live situation isn't great though. They've not been too good with updates, the software interface is not wonderful, and they promised a Mac plug that they never delivered on. (That's what I get for buying early...) Granted these guys don't do this full time, and they are very clear about that, so I really can't give them too much hell. However, Hardsid is not the technology that fulfills my needs. ("needs" may be a bit of a strong term for this, I suppose...hehe) Once you start using it live, not only do I have the delay from the Hardsid to deal with, but also I have to deal with a laptop on stage, running XP, being finicky about hardware being plugged in the exact same USB port as last time. (grumblegrumble)

I have a small project studio that I do my composing and recording work in. Since I've had no real work recently, my budget for repairs is pretty much non-existant. So, I've been dabbling in electronics ever since I fixed an old RX17 drum machine. I've repaired a few other pieces of gear in the last year that has saved me hundreds of dollars.

Then, one day, as I was trying to find new options for playing SID live (I was even looking at emulators! The horror!!!) I came across Midibox, and I completely freaked out. I had just finished building a Micro-KIM and I was rarin' for some other projects. I just wasn't expecting to run into something like the MB-6582. Man. What a machine.

Therefore, I'm going to document my build. I've been working on it for about a week now, so I have a little catching up to do... but I have all my images and I'll be writing more as I get time.

As I do this, if anyone sees any glaring errors or has suggestions, I'm open.

Thanks for reading...

blatboy

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