I was inspired by the cruise to spend more time learning how to use synthesizers. That was one of my reasons for going on that cruise, to be inspired to make greater efforts in my creative endeavors. All of the bands on the cruise were in the Industrial or Synthpop genres. They all had their MacBooks on stage hooked up to synthesizers or something. I did not have an opportunity to examine their gear. It had never occurred to me to install any software synthesizers on my iBook. I now have Reason 4 installed on it. Propellerhead Reason is my favorite virtual music studio and I’ve studied it enough to at least be familiar with its basic functionality, although they changed a lot of things in this new version.
However I did not have a MIDI controller for my iBook. I do have a CyberSound MIDI Keyboard which is designed for the Mac but it is pretty old and only works with older Macs. I use it with my PC by connecting it to a MIDI to USB device but I don’t think I have the drivers for a Mac. So I bought a M-Audio Axiom 25 USB MIDI Controller.
This MIDI keyboard is a lot larger than it looks. It is twice as thick as my iBook and almost twice as wide. It really takes up a lot of desk space and isn’t as portable as I’d like. I should have bought the Korg Nano USB-MIDI controller which is very compact and a lot less expensive.
I had some trouble getting the M-Audio Axiom 25 USB MIDI Controller to work with Reason until I discovered on a newsgroup that I needed to go to Reason’s Preferences and set up the Keyboards and Control Surfaces for this device:
I now have it working with a Subtractor Polyphonic Synthesizer, one of the many instruments in the Reason stack. The Modulation and Pitch Band wheels on the Axiom 25 control the Modulation and Pitch Band wheels of the Subtractor. The programmable knobs control some of the envelope sliders but I probably need to learn how to program them or at least activate the Reason preset. The Axiom 25 does not come with a printed manual. It does have eight drum pads which just seem to act like extra keys right now.
As I’ve said before, if you are a music fan and a geek then you’ll love software synthesizers. Even if you don’t know anything about music they can be a lot of fun to play around with.