Archive for the 'Music' Category

Feb 06 2024

Bass Home Studio Setup

Published by under Hardware,Music,Software

After a break of many, many years, I’m playing the bass again. Since I also want to experiment with sound and different genres and not only record but also try to compose a little, I acquired a few toys that I want to learn how to use:

  • Ibanez SR300E-IPT (The bass)
  • Fender Rumble 25 (The bass amp)
  • Lenovo IdeaCentre Gaming 5 17IAB7 Intel i5 12400F, nVidia 3060 RTX, 32 GB RAM, 512 GB NVM SSD + 1 TB Crucial SATA SSD, Windows 11 Pro for Workstations
  • Sharp 50″ 4K Screen
  • Focusrite Scarlett Solo (USB Audio IN/OUT)
  • Yamaha ATS-C300 (Soundbar/Subwoofer Combo for the Sharp Screen & PC)
  • Jam Origin Midi Bass (turns my bass into a MIDI device via software)
  • Steinberg Cubase 13 Pro (The main DAW)
  • Propellerhead Reason 12 (The virtual synthie rack that I plug into Cubase; I don’t use it as a DAW)
  • Audacity (in case I need an external Wave Editor)

The good news is that with every session that I play the bass, the fingers get less rusty and I’m slowly getting a feeling for the instrument again.

The bad news is that the learning curve for the software is steep and brutal – that stuff is unbelievably complex and complicated, and I have the brain of an IT guy, not the brain of a sound engineer. I guess “I’m thinking it wrong (TM).” But, as always, if I throw in sufficient hours and energy, I’ll get there eventually.

A note on the choice of Steinberg Cubase: Initially, I downloaded a trial version of Cubase 13 Pro and compared it with Ableton Live Lite 11 (a license for Live Lite came with the Focusrite device). During the first minutes, Ableton appeared to be easier to use, at least for simple stuff. But while playing more with both products, the differences in their respective target audience became more and more obvious. Then I compared the list of reference artists that both companies show on their respective websites. On Ableton’s page, mostly musicians from the techno and electro scene were listed – none of the names meant anything to me, that is neither my music nor my crowd and I also don’t need a software that was originally designed for live performances. On Steinberg’s page, names like Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestri, Accept and Arch Enemy were listed. That message reached me and the choice was made for me right there.

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Nov 22 2023

My GT86 and its soundtrack

Published by under Music,Thoughts

 

GT68 Front

GT 86 Rear

“Second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning.”
My GT86 on the day it got its license plates. The G stands for my late dog (rather: ultimate friend, partner and teacher) Gustav, a wonderful Kangal-mix, who was born on March 26, 2009 and whom I still miss every day. Just like I also miss my baby girl Ryka, whom I lost this year.

 

I mostly listen to music in my car, so this post is as much about the car itself as it is about its soundtrack.

I would never have taken on a loan to buy a sports car, even if it’s just an entry-level sports car like my GT86. Getting into debt to buy a toy is irresponsible and it would also kill the fun for me. But after everything that had happened back in 2021 and the years before, I badly needed something that was plain and simple fun, that I could enjoy without having a nagging bad conscience.

I had been window shopping for a GT86 for over three years already, since I had first sat in a Dragon edition of it in a Toyota dealership in Bonn. I didn’t have the money at the time, so the car turned into one of those dreams.

A few years passed. Then one day I found the one in the pictures above and I literally felt my heart beat changing. I knew immediately: This was my GT86. It had very low mileage and the right color, there was only one pre-owner in the papers, it had all inspections perfectly documented and they had been exclusively done in official Toyota shops, it was an automatic with a paddle shifter and there were no spoilers or any other obnoxious plastic stuff attached to it. It was exactly the car as the designers and engineers in Japan had originally conceived it. It was perfect. And this time, I could afford it. On the same day, I sent the shop an eMail that I wanted to buy it.

There are plenty of faster cars out there. The automatic version, as I have it, is factory-throttled at 215 km/h, the manual version is throttled at 235 km/h (strangely enough, on one of my first rides with it my GT86 had reached that speed as well). That’s plenty fast, especially if you hold that speed for more than just a few minutes. The first time I drove my GT86, I literally broke out in hysterical laughter behind the steering wheel. The same happened the second time. And it kept happening.

The Japanese engineers worked their magic: The car will hold its top speed until you literally run out of gas, no matter if you’re going uphill or downhill. Everything will feel 100% safe, because there is not one single part in that car that will be running at or beyond its specified operational limit. You can sense that there are reserves available and you just know that the car can take it.

Japanese racing driver Keiichi Tsuchiya, who happens to privately own a GT86 and who also works with the engineers at Toyota, said this: “Don’t change a single thing on that car. You can only make it worse.” And that is exactly what you feel in a GT86: It’s perfectly engineered. If there is one thing that I admire with all my heart, then it’s great engineering.

Five minutes after I had signed the contract, Toyota sent me an eMail that I could now pre-order the GR86, the successor to my car, and it was only a few thousand Euros more expensive. But I did not want the successor. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and in my eyes the GT86 is way more elegant and beautiful than the new GR86.

For similar money, you could also get a V8 Mustang with 455 horse power and at least on straight roads, it will always leave the GT86 behind. I like the Mustang for what it is, and for a while I was thinking very loudly about buying one. My neighbor bought one after I had bought my GT86, and his Mustang is a stunning beast. But the feelings are very clear: It’s his Mustang, and this is my GT86.

Horsepower and speed are not the point of these cars anyway – if you believe it’s just about power and speed, then you’re really not getting it. Cars like this are about how they make you feel when you drive them. It’s about what they do for you. And that is something very individual and different for everybody. All car lovers have their own connections to their cars and things their cars do for them.

Driving this car makes me feel like I’m sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet, like I’m a bird of prey soaring through the air, like a wolf on the prowl, it makes me feel alive and in balance with myself.

It’s great to just listen to the sound of the engine when my GT86 and I are running down the Autobahn. (The sound and vibration of a pumping engine are a sensation that electrical vehicles don’t have and cannot provide – there’s no blood pumping through the veins of an electric car.)

But my car is also the place where I can enjoy loud music and be with myself, feel myself. Driving and listening to my personal favorites helps me think and dream.

These are some of the best songs to listen to when I’m on the road with my car, in no specific order:

 

Avril Lavigne, I’m With You. This song helped me survive the early 2000s. Avril deserves to have a monument built for this one.

Arch Enemy, Handshake With Hell.

Arch Enemy, Sunset Over The Empire.

Nita Strauss & Alissa White-Gluz, The Wolf You Feed.

Disturbed, Immortalized.

Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound Of Silence. A timeless masterpiece and easily the very best song ever written. (The cover version by Disturbed works even better in a car, though.)

Zager & Evans, In The Year 2525. It never fails to amaze me how visionary and way ahead of their time the lyrics of this one are.

Black Sabbath, Heaven And Hell.

Dio, We Rock.

Dio, Rock’n’Roll Children.

Rainbow, Gates Of Babylon.

Axel Rudi Pell, Casbah.

Roy Orbinson, I Drove All Night. I also love Celine Dion’s version of it.

Dua Lipa, Be The One.

Dua Lipa, Physical. My GT86 and I racing down a German Autobahn, remembering her.

Dua Lipa, Houdini.

Jam & Spoon, Right In The Night.

Mylène Farmer, Désenchantée. This is how I feel today, near the end of 2023: Tout est chaos.

Metallica’s cover versions of Turn The Page, Whisky In The Jar and Astronomy.

Metallica, Orion.

Metallica, The Call Of Ktulu.

Metallica, Master Of Puppets.

Metallica, Harvester Of Sorrow.

Metallica, Hardwired.

Metallica, I Disappear.

Megadeth, Peace Sells.

Megadeth, Angry Again.

Megadeth, Hook In Mouth.

Iron Maiden, Wrathchild. My childhood and teenage years encapsulated in one song.

Accept, Princess Of The Dawn.

Accept, No Shelter.

Accept, Bloodbath Mastermind.

Accept, Teutonic Terror.

AC/DC, Who Made Who.

AC/DC, Thunderstruck.

Arch Enemy, The World Is Yours.

Arch Enemy, The Eagle Flies Alone.

Arch Enemy, In The Eye Of The Storm.

Bruce Dickinson, Rain On The Graves.

Beyond The Black, Free Me.

Disturbed, The Vengeful One.

Disturbed, The Light.

Disturbed, You’re Mine.

Disturbed, Save Our Last Goodbye.

Disturbed, Unstoppable.

Rage Against The Machine, Bullet In The Head.

Rage Against The Machine, Killing In The Name.

Unleash The Archers, Awakening.

Unleash The Archers, Tonight We Ride.

Unleash The Archers, Northwest Passage.

Drea, Justified.

Grimes, Shinigami Eyes.

Kiss, Detroit Rock City.

Kamelot, Forever.

Kamelot, Desert Reign / Nights Of Arabia.

Kamelot, Silent Goddess.

Kamelot, We Three Kings.

Armstrong, The Terminator (Main Theme) (Rock Cover).

Armstrong, Cycles.

Alice Cooper, Poison.

Judas Priest, Love Bites.

Warlock, I Rule The Ruins.

Metalite, Blazing Skies.

Florence Black, Zulu.

Frozen Crown, Call Of The North.

Frozen Crown, Embrace The Night.

Motörhead, Brotherhood Of Man.

The Rolling Stones, Paint It Black.

Motörhead’s cover version of Sympathy For The Devil.

Judas Priest, Breaking The Law.

Exciter, Long Live The Loud. The full album, actually.

Slayer’s cover versions of Born To Be Wild, In-a-gadda-da-vida and Now I’m Gonna be your God (“Dog” in the original song).

Manowar, Battle Hymn.

Iron Maiden, The Prisoner.

Iron Maiden, Aces High.

Iron Maiden, Powerslave.

Iron Maiden, Where Eagles Dare.

Iron Maiden, Killers.

Don Henley, The Boys Of Summer.

The Moody Blues, Nights In White Satin.

Kim Wilde, Cambodia.

Queen, Innuendo.

Queen, Ride The Wild Wind.

Queen, The Show Must Go On.

ZZ Top, Stages.

Vixen, Edge Of A Broken Heart.

Within Temptation, Faster.

Old Gods Of Asgard, Take Control. This one helped me make it through the nightmare that my last managerial position had become.

Gerard McMann, Cry Little Sister.

Goblin, L’alba dei morti viventi. From “Dawn Of The Dead”.

Goblin, Zaratozom. From “Dawn Of The Dead”.

John Harrison, The Dead Suite. From “Day Of The Dead”.

John Harrison, The World Inside Your Eyes. From “Day Of The Dead”.

The Bates, It’s Getting Dark Again.

Heart, Barracuda.

Blondie, Under The Gun. Fond memories of my time in Colorado.

Blondie, Night Wind Sent. Yes, Colorado again. Driving Cindy’s TransAm on the I70 in the night.

Red Rock Roosters, Circuit Rider. More fond memories of Colorado. I even met the band at the “Cahoots”, which back then was my weekend hangout in Grand Junction.

Alice Cooper, I Am The Future.

Fire Inc, Nowhere Fast.

Fire Inc, Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young.

Diana Navarro, El Perdón. If this doesn’t hit you, your soul must be dead. This song also is the perfect embodiment of the Spanish language. I highly recommend that you watch the official video for this song; it was shot in one unedited sequence and Diana Navarro’s performance is unbelievable.

Christopher Tin, Baba Yetu. Pure goosebumps.

Dimash Kudaybergen & Igor Krutoy, Stranger.

The Doors, Riders On The Storm. The first time I heard this I was not even a teenager, yet, but I remember that it was around 5am in the early morning, on the Autobahn, in heavy rain.

Leonard Cohen, You Want It Darker.

Slayer, Seasons In The Abyss.

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