Making sounds

This blog will be about a pretty important part of making music with a keyboard. Getting sounds out of them. As I mentioned before, the Casiotone MT-100 only has 20 different sounds, excluding accompaniment, which consists of another additional 4 chord sounds and 4 bass sounds. (Actually they are 2 sounds each, but just in different patterns when used as accompaniment)

To these 20 different sounds you can apply vibrato or delayed vibrato and sustain or reverb. Reverb is something I prefer to add afterwards, because the onboard reverb just doesn’t sound great, doesn’t have adjustable decay time and can’t be changed after recording, which is kind of a hassle. The sustain however can add a really nice touch to leads and basses.

Vibrato is something I use on nearly every sound, I like the way how subtle it can be, especially combined with sustain. The delayed vibrato is only useful on longer notes, since it takes quite some time for it to kick in.

Now on to the onboard graphic equalizer. It offers five bands, 350 Hz, 500 Hz, 1 KHz, 4 KHz and 10 KHz. The graphic equalizer can be on 3 modes. Off, only on melody and on for both melody and accompaniment. The EQ for both melody and accompaniment seems to remove a lot of high end compared to the melody EQ, which can be nice from time to time.

After making your sound, you record it and after that you start making the next layer of sound. There is a big problem though, once you start changing things you’re gonna have a hard time recreating the sound you originally had. There are simply too many parameters to remember. This is a common problem in the world of synthesizers without presets as well and it can be really frustrating to not be able to record another melody using the same lead sound.

Those are sort of the limitations I have to work with, some people circuit bend their MT-100s so the EQ can be used as a filter more or less, but I don’t plan on doing that, because it ruins the point of the ‘challenge’ of making this album.

The Start

Introduction

Hi! My name is 200mA and I make IDM and experimental electronic music. Recently I started a new project where I attempt to make a full length album with just a Casiotone MT-100 keyboard. I do allow things like resampling the sounds and adding audio effects. This blog is mainly about my adventures making this album, from start to finish. I’ll also try to talk about things like promotion, marketing and budget.

The star of the show

The Casiotone MT-100 is a fairly old Casio keyboard, it was sold in the mid 1980s. I picked mine up at a thrift store for around 10$. It has built-in drum patterns and 20 different sounds. You can use the onboard EQ to make a lot of other different sounds though. It is exactly what you expect from the cheap Casio keyboards: cheesy, but fun to play. The software I will use is Ableton Live. This will mostly be used to arrange and multi-track the sounds, but also to add some effects like chorus, delay and reverb.

The future

I plan to release this album around the beginning of next year. This may seem like a long time, but I still have to make all the songs, make a tracklist, promote and all that. From time to time I will release small teasers from songs, so you will know what to expect. I’ll try to update this blog every week so you guys have a clear view of my progress. Wanna be notified about new blogposts? You can like me on Facebook here!

-200mA