(Modulate This) Blofeld Preformance Sound Design

Waldorf Blofeld Keyboard Tip: Droning with the Free Button

This article describes the general function of the “Free” button as well as how to lock sustain for drone work.

Extra Buttons on Keyboard Edition of Blofeld

The keyboard version of the Waldorf Blofeld has 3 extra buttons on the front panel – 1) Octave Down 2) Octave Up 3) Free.

P. 17 of the Manual  describes the Free button

Free Button Just for fun we added an additional button with assignable function. The functions are accessible from Global Menu.

Set the Function of the Free Button


  1. Press and hold “Shift” + “Global” button to enter Global Menu
  2. Rotate “Display” knob to find the “Free Button / Pedal” page. On the current OS, it’s the last page – so just crank the knob get their quickly.
  3. Use the left-most “Display Dial” to rotate through the possible options for the “Free” button. The button can be assigned to 6 different functional states as shown below. For the purposes of this article – select “Sust. toggle“.
    1. off – nothing happens when you press the Free button.
    2. Sustain – The button acts like a sustain pedal. But please use your fingers!
    3. Sust. toggle – Also sustain, but it acts like an on/off switch. 
    4. Control W, X, Y, Z – the corresponding controller is sent to internal sound engine and MIDI out.
    5. C. W, X, Y, Z toggle – Emits the assigned controller but acts like an on/off switch.
    6. mute – mutes Blofeld while pressed.
  4. Press the “Play” button to return to patch selection and play mode

Drone Machine Usage

The “Free” button can now be used as a toggle to latch sustain thereby turning your Blofled keyboard into a “West Coast” style drone machine.

Presets with No Arpeggiator

On presets without the Arp enabled, toggling the “Free” button simply gives you infinite sustain without having to hold a pedal down. This is perfect for both sound design work and real-time drone performances. Hit “Free” and start working the matrix!

Presets with Arpeggiator

The arpeggiator has the following modes:

  1. Off
  2. On
  3. One Shot
  4. Hold

If the mode is set to #3  “Hold” – the Arp is already latched and will hold by default. If you would like instead to toggle holds without menu diving to get this parameter (which is burred pretty deep) – set the value to  option #2 – “On”. Now if you toggle the “Free” button, the arp will hold. Press the “Free” button again to toggle the Arp off.

More Articles on the Waldorf Blofeld

Check out some of the many articles I’ve written on the Waldorf Blofeld here

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(Modulate This) Mixers Musique concrète Preformance

Mackie 802VLZ4 – Perfect Mixer for Live Sampling and Experimental Music Performance

I’m doing final preps for the Denver Noise Fest for the Carbon Dioxide Ensemble set tonight (Dec 22nd, 2016) at Globe Hall. This work includes testing my signal flows and getting the mixer set. There will be lots of acts so a fast setup time is important. I’ve really been enjoying the Mackie 802VLZ4 for shows like this one so in this post I’ll pass along some notes on this versatile workhorse mixer.

802VLZ4  vs 402VLZ4

I see tons of 402VLZ4’s at shows so let’s first look at the what the 802 has that makes it worth lugging a bigger mixer. And don’t get me wrong, at $99 the 402VLZ4 is a great little mixer. The 802 has a few features though that make it well worth the $199 street price tag if you do anything other than basic sub-mixing to the house.


Extra, Extra

In addition to the extra inputs, the 802 has some super handy features.

  1. 2 x XLR Main Outs. Yes in addition to the 1/4″ outs, there are XLR outs for the mains. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been setting up for a live performance and the house runs out of DI’s. Having XLR out saves the day and you can plug right into the snake.
  2. Aux sends and returns
  3. EQ’s on every channel
  4. Panning on every channel. Super handy for taking a mono signal and getting into stereo on channels 1 & 2.
  5. Channel mutes
  6. Pre-fader solo
  7. A more robust control room source mix matrix. Essential for our ensemble.
  8. And most important of all the mighty Alt 3-4 stereo bus.

Note the 802 is small enough to fit in a Pelican 1510.

Alt 3-4 Bus is Crucial for Live Sampling Applications

Any channel on the board can be routed to the 3-4 bus which has it’s own balanced ALT OUT.  In the case of the Carbon Dioxide Ensemble, I take input from a copper heart being articulated with dry ice as a mono signal into channel 1. I can adjust the gain and EQ it, then press the 3/4 button to route it to the ALT OUT which I send to the Octatrack in as a stereo pair allowing me to both resample it, plus route the channel to the master out.

Signal Routing

  1. Take a mono signal into channel 1. Adjust the gain
  2. Set the panning to stereo center which converts the mono signal to stereo
  3. Press the Alt 3-4 button to route this to the 3-4 bus
  4. In the Control Room Source section – press the “Alt 3-4” button and “ASSIGN TO MAIN MIX” button which routes this signal to both buses. Turning up CR/SUBMIX increases gain for both outputs. I route CR OUT to the Octatrack in.
  5. Send signal to the house via XLR outs

Planning, Tape, and a Sharpie

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. – Dwight D. Eisenhower

3M plastic tape (which you can grab from Target) is great for mixer annotation in that it leaves not residue on the board. Sharpie up your notes in prep – not the night of the show. This will help you setup quickly plus reduce stress during a show. Click on the pics to see closeups. As I said, setup will be fast paced, so I’ve setup channels 7/8 as inputs Victoria’s rig in case the house runs out of channels on the snake. The entire ensemble can submix through my board to the house in stereo – bam.


I always set this sort of thing up and test it with inputs from my phone. This helps me get muscle memory for the mixer before the show and test my assumptions about how the routing will work out.

Huge Value – Cheapest Mixer in the Mackie Line with These Features

Simply put – I use the hell out of this mixer. I use it for live shows, for the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer meetup, improv sessions. It’s the least expensive mixer in the line with XLR outs and the 3-4 bus. Highly recommended if you can stretch a little further dollar-wise.

(Modulate This) Musique concrète Noise Octatrack Preformance Sampling Sound Design

Notes on Octatrack’s Role in Carbon Dioxide Ensemble’s Upcoming Set for Denver Noise Fest 2016

I’ll be performing with the Carbon Dioxide Ensemble (Co2E) at Denver Noise Fest. The fest starts today on Dec 21st and our set is on the second night on the 22nd.

See my recent article Spread the Word – Denver Noise Fest VII 2016 is On!!! December 21-22 Globe Hall.

The Carbon Dioxide Ensemble is a collaboration with myself, Thomas Lundy, and Victoria Lundy, and . In this ensemble we focus  on live improvisational performance of Musique concrète. In this unique act I use the Elektron Octatrack dynamic performance sampler to live sample Thomas Lundy as he manipulates a Copper Heart and other objects which with dry ice. Victoria Lundy accompanies on Theremin and Reaktor.

Octatrack Is Essential for Live Sampling and Improvisational Real-Time Sound Design

The Octatrack is aptly named as a “Dynamic Performance Sampler” and is perfect for this sort of gig. The Copper Heart has a contact mic on the bottom. When Tom articulates the heart with dry ice, the metal start shearing at a microscopic level causing the heart to resonate. He can also bang and scrape the ice on the heart. I capture this in real-time and then build instruments on the fly to compliment what both he and victoria are playing. I have some percussion samples in the wings and some other fun oddities that I can quickly can pull into the equation if the improv demands it.

I find it more fun, challenging, and interesting to perform without a safety net in this regard and forego a cue mix and just program the Octatrack “tracks” live in the PA – mostly performing in real-time in chromatic or slots mode. I use scene morphing to do things like pull the harmonic content of the heart into bass territory so I can “light up” the sub-woofers in the room. One fun “move” is to use the crossfader mapped to sample playback rate to tune the sub-harmonics to achieve sympathetic vibration with the room. It’s pretty epic to hear in person :^)


It’s all pretty unusual and fun. Below is a video of a past performance. Audio is from GoPro mic so doesn’t really do the audio justice – but will give you a sense of the act.

Safety First

Oh, and if you working with dry ice, don’t forget to wear your safety goggles.



Carbon Dioxide Ensemble.

Denver Noise Fest on Facebook

Denver Noise Fest Web Site

(Modulate This) Artist News Preformance

Videos from The Chemical Brothers Live Show 2011

I was surfing around and found some of these videos shot by fans at shows for the current Chemical Brothers tour. The lighting and visual effects are pretty fantastic.

This first three clips are via thorstendiel. First is “Galvanize” in Esch-sur-Alzette (Luxemburg) 13.01.11. It doesn’t get going till around 2:20.

Next is “Do it Again”.

Next “Hey Boy Hey Girl”.

Here is another video of “Hey Boy Hey Girl” from Mexico this time shot from higher up and from the right by salinasayala. This angle gives you a real sense of the depth used for the visual effects.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer
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(Modulate This) Preformance

Band vs Promoter Video

Guitarist Kevin from my old band HFOZ found this awesome video "Band vs Promoter". It's a video generated by text-to-video system If you've ever been a gigging musician, this might resonate.

Watch embedded movie.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO

(Modulate This) Ableton Live AudioCubes ONE PATCH PERFORMANCE Preformance Synth: Synlpant

“Enumerating” – One Patch Performance Video Series

Watch embedded video

“Enumerating’ is another installment in my “ONE PATCH PERFORMANCE SERIES.” Videos in this series are intended to show what's possible when you constrain your tool set to one synth and one preset with many modulation routings mapped for performance.

I created a 4 bar pattern with a MIDI clip in Ableton Live. The clip sends notes to SonicCharge Synplant. All modulation is performed in real-time with two Percussa AudioCubes in “Sensor” mode.

The cubes are sending MIDI data to Ableton Live via the Percussa MIDI Bridge app through MIDI Yoke virtual ports. I used MIDI mapping in Ableton Live to map the  continuous controller data being sent from each cube face to device parameters within Synplant and also to the Ableton Transpose MIDI device.

For example, one cube face cause the branches of Synplant to spin. Branch length changes timbre. By rotating the branches I'm changing modulate per note as I rotate the branches.

Probably one of the best things about AudioCubes is that you can modulate 4 parameters at the same time with one cube in a way that isn’t possible with knobs on a controller. When used with a synth like Synplant, the changes in timbre can be quite radical. This video also illustrates how sensitive the cubes are. As you can see, I'm using finger movement to control modulation. I also have the cubes set to give visual feedback. As my hand or finger gets closer to the cube the color intensifies. I have different colors mapped to each cube face.

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Composer, Sound Designer

Download/Buy my album REBOOT on Bandcamp
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