Saturday, 1 August 2020

Radio Music - build pics

Some build pics of the radio music module by Music Thing Modular

These aren't official and I'm in no way affiliated with Music Thing M.
These are just my notes to help trouble shoot, should I run into any probs.
As you can see, I purchased this as a kit from Thonk.

When I first built this, initially it didn't work as I hadn't installed the firmware correctly.

But it's actually a really easy module to build, and I recommend it for a beginner.
There are 2 PCBs

 I usually start with the lowest profile components first.

 When soldering the jacks, button etc, use the faceplate to align everything correctly.

These are headers to connect the two PCBs

It uses a teensy 3.1 0r 3.2

Installing LEDs

You can solder the teensy directly to the pcb, however, using headers makes it easy to remove & test the teensy, away from the module.

The physical build is done.
Next install some audio files to a SD card (32GB).
FAT 16 or 32 is OK
The file structure is this:
16 folders numbered 0 to 15.
They can contain RAW and WAV files (up to 48 in each folder)
No more than 330 files in total.
download this: Empty SD Card File Format

 I use audacity
Audacity - (Windows, Mac, Linux) -
Format: Mono, 44100
Encoding: "Signed 16-bit PCM"

Github details

This is where I initially made a mistake.
You can either install the firmware onto the teensy with it plugged into the module
or seperate from the module.

On the underside of the module you need to cut between the two gold tabs when you finally plug the teensy in.
However, don't do this if you plan to first install the firmware with the teensy unplugged.
It's easiest to do it this way.

Once you cut between the tabs, then you will have to make all future firmware updates/ changes
with the teensy connected to the module, and the module receiving power from your modular synth.

Actually installing the firmware is easy.
You can download the software here:

The program is just a simple excutable file

 Go to:
File ---> Open Hex file
The file is:

Go to
Operation, then Program

+ Firmware
+ Teensy
+ Music Thing

This is a Buchla 272e
I've added this pic as it's probably the inspiration for the Radio Music module.
Don was so forward thinking.
Imagine sampling a radio and using it in a live performance.
As you have probably worked out, the Radio Thing module isn't a radio. But it instead can use radio samples.

The 272e is actually a radio
In fact, there are 4 stereo radios.
Tuning is voltage controlable.
Each radio has a ASR envelope generator and a Sample & Hold.

Also google John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen for more info.

Ecludian sequencers

In electronic music, you may come across Ecludian Rhythms.
They mostly are associated with patterns and beats.

They were only discovered in 2005 by the Canadian mathematian Godfried Toussaint.
His Book, "The Geometry of Musical Rhythm" discusses this in detail.
And this paper from McGill Uni, Montreal is a good read too.

In practical terms, ecludian sequencers are thus usually trigger sequencers (not melodic).
Patterns are derived from algorithms which come down to us from Euclid's Elements.

Eulcid was a Greek Mathematician who lived in Alexandria in 300BC.
In Ancient Greek, the word Elements is Στοιχεῖα Stoicheia.
This is a name of a very cool trigger sequencer (Eurorack)

The algorithms compute the greatest common divider of 2 numbers.
Ie, the highest number by which both can be divided.
GCD -  Greatest Common Dividers.
For example, the gcd of 8 and 12 is 4

They are interesting as they illustrate a close relationship between Maths & Music.
In a earlier post I discussed the mathematical idea of Lowest Common Multiples (LCM) and how one can also use them in music.

Euclidean Rhythms have the property that their onset patterns and numbers are distributed as evenly as possible.

This idea of distributing numbers evenly is found in many world music patterns from Cuba to Africa.

Ecludian rhythms are calculated from two numbers a larger value & a smaller value.
Larger = length of pattern
Smaller = the number of beats... these need to be distributed evenly across the pattern.
(A third consideration when making a pattern is the offset & rotation of the beats)

Examples: (where x=beat and 0=rest)
2,8 =  x000x000
2,5 = x0x00 (Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 & Brubeck’s Take Five)
3,4 = x0xx (Trinidad)
5, 16 =  x000x00x00x00x00
5, 8 = x0xx0xx0 (common Cuban cinquillo rhythm)
Here is a variation of the 5, 8 = 0x0xx0xx (Spanish Tango?)

5,16 = 00x00x00x00x00x0 (Brazillian Bosanova)
7,12 = x0xx0x0xx0x0 (West African)
4,9 = x0x0x0x00 (Turkish)
9,16 = x0xx0x0x0xx0x0x0 (central Africa)

If you overlay rhythms of different lengths you can create polyrhythms
By rotating and offsetting the beats and rests you can create new patterns.

Though the Standard use for a Euclidean sequencer is to trigger beats and melodies you can use them to
trigger an envelope. If you then run the envelope through a quantiser you can create melodic sequences.
 The Στοιχεῖα Stoicheia. module also has a companion tonic module which can create melodies from gates.

List of my Fav Ecludian Sequencers
+ Buchla 252e

 The Euclidian Library.
There is a built in Euclidian pattern library... to help generate rhythmic patterns.
 To generate pulse patterns using the Euclidian algorithm, select a ring using the “beats/cycl”
encoder, and press the “RHYTHM SELECT” button so that the Euclidian LED lights up.
Any pulse data in the selected ring will be erased and replaced by the Euclidian solution

rendered in red pulses (however, other pulses can be added).
Turn the “pattern #” encoder to generate each of the Euclidian pulse patterns for the number of
beats in the selected ring. The number of pulses in the current solution will be shown on the
segmented display to the left of the encoder.
To exit Euclidian mode, press the “RHYTHM SELECT” button, or turn the “beats/cycl” encoder
to select a different ring.

+ Pittsburgh Modular Game System
+ Στοιχεῖα Stoicheia.
+ Klasmata - single channel of stocheia but with cv control.
+ ALM Pamelas Workout
+ Pulsar  - Qu-Bit Electronix
+ MI - Grids & Yarns
+ Euclidean Circles v2 from Vladimir Pantelic Musikelektronik (6 tracks)
+ Addac heuristic
+ Snazzy Ardcore
+ 2HP Euclid

+ LCMs - combining two Korg SQ-10s
+ Steve Reich - Clapping Music (Scrolling)

A memory called Empire - Arkady Martine

The Hugo winners were announced yesterday.

This was the best novel winner:

By Arkady Martine
2019 Science Fiction Novel
It was awarded the 2020 Hugo Award for Best Novel

Publisher Tor Books
Publication date 26 March 2019
Media type    Print, ebook
Pages    462 (Hardcover)
ISBN    978-1250186430

This is the first installment in the Teixcalaan series.

The sequel is titled "A Desolation Called Peace!"


Favourite Sci Fi novels for the last decade

I don't usually write much about Sci fi & Fantasy on this blog, however they have been a major part of my life since I was a kid watching Dr Who, Blade Runner & Star Wars and reading HG Wells, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert & Jules Verne. For me, there is symbiosis between this and electronic music.

I think watching these early TV shows subliminally implanted my love for synthesizers & technology .
Dr Who = EMS VCS 3 & the BBC Radiophonic workshop.
Star Wars = Arp 2600
Close Encounters = ARP 2500
Blade Runner = Yamaha CS 80
..... the list goes on, and on.
So if you are into synths, I think there is also a high probability, that you have an interest in Sci-Fi

The genre is huge, so where does one find the best books?
I think the Hugo & the Nebula awards are great places to look.

The finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards, Lodestar Award For Best Young Adult Book, and Astounding Award for Best New Writer were announced by CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, on the convention’s YouTube Channel on April 8, 2020 (NZST).

The winner will be announced on the 1st August, 2020.

The Hugo was first awarded in 1953 and is considered the premier award in Science Fiction.
Here is a list of the best novel category for the last decade (2019 to 2010).
I think if you only read just a few books per year, you can't go far wrong if you read any these titles.
I've also added a few of my personal favorites from the last decade (and before)


The Calculating Stars

Novel by Mary Robinette Kowal

Originally published: 3 July 2018
 This also won the Nebula Award.


The Stone Sky

Novel by N. K. Jemisin
Originally published: 15 August 2017

This book also won the Nebula Award. 



The Obelisk Gate

Novel by N. K. Jemisin
Originally published: 16 August 2016


The Fifth Season

Novel by N. K. Jemisin
Originally published: 4 August 2015

2015 The Three Body Problem.

The Three-Body Problem was originally published in Chinese in 2008. 
The 2014 publication by Tor was the first English-language version.
It is the first novel of the Remembrance of Earth's Past (Chinese: 地球往事) trilogy.
The second and third novels in the trilogy are titled The Dark Forest and Death's End
 Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)

Ancillary Justice

 Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
Originally published: 1 October 2013 (paperback)

Ancillary Justice is part of the Imperial Radch space opera trilogy.
It is followed by Ancillary Sword (2014) and Ancillary Mercy (2015). (see below)
Apart from the hugo, this book has won a string of awards including
Nebula Award for Best Novel (2014)
BSFA Award for Best Novel (2013)
Arthur C. Clarke Award (2014)
Locus Award for Best First Novel (2014)


 John Scalzi

Originally published: 5 June 2012
(Tor Books)

Awards    Hugo Award for Best Novel (2013)
Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2013)
ISBN    978-0-7653-1699-8

Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)

Originally published: 18 January 2011 (Hardcover)

This book also won the Nebula Award.

Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)
This book also won the Nebula Award.
Originally published: 2 February 2010

This years awayd was held in Melbourne, Australia.
It was a tie between two books:
  • The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK) (tie)
  • The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade) (tie)

 The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)

It's a crime novel.
 This was made into a TV series.
Originally published: 29 April 2009 (Hardcover)

 The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
This book also won the Nebula Award. 

Originally published: 1 September 2009 (Hardcover)

Personal Favourites:

The Left Hand of Darkness


Novel by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ok, this wasn't written in the last 10 years, but if you haven't read any
books by Ursula, this is a great place to begin.
It also won the Nebula 
Her career spans 60 years. 
Also read "A wizard of Earthsea" (1968)
Sadly, Ursula passed away in 2018.

The Martian by Andy Weir
  (Broadway Books, 2014)



The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

(Sarah Monette)

(Tor Books, 1st April, 2014)






Novel by Frank Herbert
OK, another one that's more than 10 years old  but it's a classic.
There are another 5 more books in the series.
Originally published: 1 August 1965
Chilton Book Company 
First Edition : blue cloth boards, the rear panel has a map.
The price on the jacket flap should be $5.95 and the rear flap should have the Chilton address across four lines.

Prior to its publication in book form, parts of Dune were published in Analog Magazine as a three part serial called Dune World in 1963-1964 and later as a five part serial called Prophet of Dune in 1965. 
 This book also won the Nebula Award. 

The Dune Universe is huge. 
For more info:
+ Dune - The Chronological order of the novels
+ Dune Universe Timeline

I don't think any discussion of Sci Fi is complete without Isaac Asimov.
Foundation & I, Robot are classics that still influence us today

+ Foundation - Isaac Asimov's
+ I, Robot - Isaac Asimov - novels & Magazines

 NeuroMancer (1984)
  by William Gibson 

First published: July1, 1984 

Ancillary Sword (2014) 

Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
Publication date
7 October 2014 (paperback)

This is part two of the
Imperial Radch space opera trilogy.

Ancillary Mercy (2015)

Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
Publication date
6 October 2015 (paperback)

The stunning conclusion to the Imperial Radch trilogy

Saigon Central Post Office

This post office is situated in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, near Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica,
the city's cathedral.

The building was constructed between 1836 & 1891 when Vietnam was part of French Indochina.

It's often said this was designed by Gustav Eiffel ... which is incorrect.
I guess, this is due to it's steel frame construction.
It was designed by Alfred Foulhou.

In Vietnamese: Bưu điện Trung tâm Sài Gòn, French: Poste centrale de Saïgon)

tHERE are two painted maps that were created just after the post office was built, The first one located on the left side of the building is a map of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia titled Lignes telegraphiques du Sud Vietnam et Cambodge 1892 which translates to "Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892". The second map of greater Saigon is titled Saigon et ses environs 1892 that translates as "Saigon and its surroundings 1892". (Wikipedia)

The ceiling of the Post Office

tHIS man is the official translator for the post office.
His other jod is as s a "letter writer" to help those who cannot write and read fill out forms.

 He has been translating letters and writing for over half a century.

 Notre-Dame Basilica, 
the city's cathedral. 

Lunch with two of my mates.

For more travel postcards click here: