Korg Kaossilator 2 – Nine things to know, do, or try

For Christmas I got a Kork Kaossilator 2 dynamic phrase synthesizer. I’d seen them online before, and while I don’t really ‘do’ electronic music like that, it looked like fun. It is.

In the first couple of weeks, I’ve figured out a few things, so here are some pointers.

1. Rubber band markers
The interface does, in theory, let you play tunes, but depending on how you’ve set up the scale settings, the x axis might contain dozens of notes, so just shifting your finger along the slightest amount will create different notes. Many of the scales present you with only eight notes if you set it to just one octave, in which case, a marked up rubber band as shown here can really help you see the intervals.

2. Shortcut 1 – jumping to types of sounds
With 150 built in sounds, it can be a hassle navigating through them all, but they’re arranged into groups e.g. Lead, Bass, Acoustic. You can quickly jump between these groups by holding down the SND button and using the slider interface.

3. Shortcut 2 – changing loop length instantly, THAT drill sound
Another shortcut, is to change the loop length without having to go through the unweildy function menu (FNC button). To do this, simply hold down the | or || loop buttons, and run your finger up and down the slider. If you’ve got something in that loop, it can create some cool, interesting faster beats and drilling type sounds.

4. Mic recording with headphones on
You can record sound loops directly into the built in mic e.g. by singing into it. However, if you don’t have headphones plugged in, the output becomes silent while you’re trying to do this – not very helpful if you’re trying to record something in time with what what you’ve already got looping. I’m assuming the reason for this is to stop feedback, sound from the speaker leaking back into the mic loop. But if you plug in headphones, you still hear your loops, and can then record on top of them.

5. Didgerido, Dist Bass, Wobble Bass (Dubstep sounds)
You start realising what voices are going to be used most often for what you want to. For dubstep ‘wob wob wob’ type sounds, try the above voices.

6. Looping acoustic instruments
Looping acoustic instruments can be fun, but I’ve yet to find a way of freeing both hands to play them – you need one hand to hold down the record buttons, and one to actually play the instrument. I can just about manage a banjo roll or simple harmonica tune while recording like this.

7. Using the bassline scale (just 4 notes)
There is a simple way of dealing with the problem I talked about in the first tip, having so many notes in the x axis: choose a scale type that has less notes and set it to one octave. One of the scale types is just called Bass Line, and only has 4 notes. That means the x axis is just divided into quarters, perfect for the rubber band divisions shown above!

8. Timing in handmade drum loops
There are whole drum pattern voices, but also various drum pad type ones, where different parts of the kaos interface represent different singular drums. This means you can play it like a drum machine. However, the Kaossilator doesn’t normalise or tidy up your timing. Whatever you record into the loop, that’s exactly how it plays it, so timing needs to be perfect. One way to help with this is to record a simple pattern voice into loop one, and use that as a metronome track to help time your hand crafted beats into loop 2. Then delete the first loop, and carry on.

9. Understand the limitations
This is all fun, but there are limitations. There’s no undo, so if you’ve layered up lots of sounds successfully on one of the loop tracks, and then add something where the timing’s out, you can’t just remove that, you’d need to delete the whole loop with all your previous work. As I mentioned, it doesn’t normalise or tidy up your timing. Also, some sounds are very loud (the bass ones for example) and will obscure more subtle sounds, like the acoustic ones.

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The Plough pub fires head chef before Christmas. Twitter chaos ensues, as he runs the account.

Last night I noted one of THOSE social media moments. I pub apparently fired their head chef just before Christmas. Only he was the one controlling their Twitter account, and so this happened:

When it first happened last night, I came across the account and it had 250ish followers. Twenty minutes later it had more than doubled. And this morning, well at 8:07am, it’s at over 2,000. I guess by the time the Metro pick it up for their page 3 story, it will have grown again, or  the pub will somehow have got the account closed down. I wonder what the legal precedent is for this? Unless of course, it’s a terribly contrived PR stunt for the pub. After all, all press is good press, right? If nothing else, Asda will be picking up the tab as “supplier of gastro pubs”.

On a personal note, I knew this was a big story when one of my passing (and inaccurate tweets, sorry) got 8 retweets, very rare for me.

Anyway, I’m guessing the lesson here is: learn social media yourself, rather than entirely delegating it to your employees.



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I’m a soft southerner, but I like the fact my kids speak like yam yams (my response to the Black Country primary school dialect ban)

I’m torn over this story about Colley Lane Primary Schoolin Halesown ‘banning’ Black Country dialect in their schools. First of all, let’s look at the list:

  1. ‘They was’ instead of ‘they were.’
  2. ‘I cor do that’ instead of ‘I can’t do that.’
  3. Ya’ instead of ‘you.’
  4. ‘Gonna’ instead of ‘going to.’
  5. ‘Woz’ instead of ‘was.’
  6. ‘I day’ instead of ‘I didn’t.’
  7. ‘I ain’t’ instead of ‘I haven’t.’
  8. ‘Somefink’ instead of ‘something.’
  9. ‘It wor me’ instead of ‘it wasn’t me.’
  10. ‘Ay?’ instead of ‘pardon?’

Well, 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8 in there I don’t think are specific to the Black Country, you’d hear those pronunciations in kids (and adults) in other parts of the country. While I’ve lived in the Black Country since 2003 (Coseley briefly, then Wednesbury, now Wednesfield), prior to that I was brought up in Bedfordshire, went to uni in Exeter, then lived in Dorset. These were all places I didn’t really perceive as having ‘an accent’, which probably means they were all quite similar.

I suppose ‘accent’ is different to dialect anyway. But some of the above listed – ‘they was’, ‘gonna’, etc – when I hear those spoken very heavily, then it grates with me. Call me a snob, but because I don’t talk like that, it jars. My son’s just started at school locally and when I hear him making those kinds of mistakes, I will correct him. 


…I love the fact that both our kids, from going to nursery and school, are developing Black Country accents. Hopefully that doesn’t sound too patronising, but I’m happy because it means we know they’re communicating with people in school, making friends, and it makes them part of where they live. And really, we can’t take that away from them.

In fairness, the people that hear their accent most are friends and family from softer, more southern climes. We notice it when they ask to go ‘dow-en’ stairs, or when they ask for ‘Mommy’. I’m not sure how much our local friends would pick it up, and would probably say they’re not doing it right until they talk about getting the ‘buzz’ into ‘tow-en’. They definitely haven’t started doing the classic ‘are’ / ‘am’ replacement, and I’m not even sure that’s local to Wednesfield anyway. 

Anyway, unhelpfully, it looks like I may be stuck up here on the fence for now. 

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Wolves book swapping – first moves, playing with maps


At Wolverhampton’s Makeshift event yesterday, I pitched a book swapping idea for the city, a kind of stripped down bookcrossing.com. There’s a video here that explains it briefly:


Anyway, it was useful to air with people, and those in the session seemed interested in helping find locations. Lorna Prescott helpfully blogged the summary notes here, so I won’t go through it in too much detail. Thanks to all who attended that suggestion, with some very useful discussion and additions. 

Anyway, today I’ve been playing with the Google Maps Engine, which lets you make slightly more powerful maps than usual. Click on the link below:


On one layer I’ve mapped Wolves libraries, and then in the second layer, I was interested in seeing if book swapping locations could be set up that addressed areas that might not be well covered by a library, thinking of those who might be walking. I know this wasn’t an initial concern aired in the session, but given the massive range of places that could potentially be book swapping locations, I thought it might help narrow the field. As a result I’ve ended up with some pubs, churches, a surgery I think. Click on the blue marker points to see what each one is. 

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Names of the four bikers of the apocalypse from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens

Sometimes I blog things just because I’ve googled the information, not found it, and think others might find it useful. It’s like I’m cementing up all the tiny holes in the internet.

Today I was looking for the names of the four bikers of the apocalypse from Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s novel Good Omens. It’s a great book, very funny.

Anyway, if you’ve got here via google – here’s the reveal. They were called:

Grievous Bodily Harm, Cruelty to Animals, Really Cool People, and Treading In Dogshit (formerly All Foreigners Especially The French, formerly Things Not Working Properly Even After You’ve Given Them A Good Thumping, never actually No Alcohol Lager, briefly Embarrassing Personal Problems, and finally People Covered in Fish

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Budget ear defenders for kids from Screwfix – great for gigs, motorsports, and other noisy stuff.

Just in case you’re wondering where you can get budget ear defenders to protect the ears of your children, don’t necessarily go for child designed versions like the Edz Kidz versions. Screwfix do a perfectly serviceable pair for less than £3. They go small enough for small heads, are simple to put on and take off, and seem to be comfortable . My youngest (nearly three) wore them for four hours solid and only took them off when I showed him the cars had stopped racing.


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Ambridge Extra, The Archers’ spin-off, now broadcasting at 1am?!

So, I see the BBC are broadcasting the entire current series of Ambridge Extra in it’s entirety at 1am tonight (or Tuesday morning, if you will). I’m wondering what the thinking is here? I’m assuming there must be an element of playing catchup for all those people who complained about [SPOILER COMING] a certain breakup happening outside of The Archers itself. The complaint being that it looked like a cynical attempt to get people listening to DAB-only Radio 4Extra, and excluded those who either only use FM radios or simply didn’t expect the storyline to appear in Ambridge Extra, so hadn’t bothered listening. In case you’re interested, that particular breakup scene only occupies the first couple of episodes and then is weirdly forgotten or at least not discussed in much detail afterwards.

But I’m not sure replaying this at 1am pacifies those people. For a start, who will actually be listening live from 1am to 6am? So is it only been broadcast to ‘allow’ the BBC to put it back up on Listen Again / iPlayer as a massive omnibus? So now, people don’t use the internet will be excluded as well, or I at least predict this will be the direction of more complaints.

To be fair, I’ve listened to the whole current series of Ambridge Extra and it’s been a little sensationalist, cliched and hard to follow, when we don’t expect these things of these characters and their lives. Previous series have done ‘experimental’ and added something far more interesting, like series two, which used character inner monologues as well as the usual dialogue. Then again if you’re up at 1am listening to the radio anyway, you could do worse. Who knows, The Archers may find a whole new audience in truckers.

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