The Monocled Frown

If you've spent any time on the Zynthian forum, you will have come across the monocled frown. The peeps over there have devised a use for this emoji I've not seen anywhere else.

I'm a little slow on the uptake, and after encountering it for the first time, my too-brief-a-read of the associated wiki article had me thinking that recordings were only required when asking for help troubleshooting an issue. However, after sharing a version of my Tips and Tricks post, I was once again presented with the monocled frown. Cheeky!!

I had no intention of sharing anything musical for a very, very, long time. I've been out of the game a decade or so, and was hardly what you'd call accomplished when I hung up my headphones, so to speak.

Nevertheless, I have been on the other end of this equation before, whereby you spend thousands of hours on a labour of love, release it to the world asking nothing in return, but instead of thanks or praise or nothing, you're quickly overrun by thankless complaints about missing features that have nothing to do with intended use cases, or edge-case bugs that are impossible to pre-empt, and nearly as impossible to fix. Giving something away and supporting it after the fact can be frustrating, demotivating, and will likely be responsible for you losing all hope in humanity.

So of course, having posted some tips and tricks, learning from other Zynthian users who shared theirs, and waxing lyrically about a brainwave that occurred as a result, it shouldn't have been a surprise to see the monocled frown pop up, implying unsubtly that the Zynthian is a musical instrument, and as wonderful as those words about it may be, have you, perchance, made any music with it?

Fair call, but what am I to do? I'm new to the Zynthian, and very much still finding my sea legs again as far as music generally. There's nothing I'm particularly proud of. What could I share?

Starting with a new track I created a simple synth loop, a bass line, and added some drums. I then created five MIDI effect layers so I could demonstrate the pattern layering I was hoping they would make possible. Thankfully my inkling was correct, and before long I had five drum patterns I could layer, all using the same instrument.

And then finally, after getting something that sounded almost acceptable, and spending some time tweaking and experimenting, I recorded a few minutes of sound that might pass as musical, and posted my reply.

There's lots wrong with it. It's recorded in the Zynthian in stereo, but I had previously tracked everything out in mono, so the mixing leaves a lot to be desired. There's some intentionally distortion, and some unintentionally introduced as a result. There's much, much more I could and want to do, and if I get time I might track it out properly and polish it up. We'll see.

Despite not usually enjoying feeling obliged, I'm actually really pleased the Zynthian community works this way. Not only does it mean the developers and contributors get feedback from people when things are working and going well instead of just when things are going wrong, it also forced me into producing and finishing something very quickly, to the point of having something worthwhile in just one session, when I might have otherwise spent all evening endlessly tweaking encoders trying to get that illusive perfect sound.

Posted: 2021-02-05

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