My first piano lesson was the day before my fifth birthday. I often combined computers and music, like in my live performance software PatchMaster and SeaMaster. Both stem from an older program I wrote called KeyMaster I originally wrote on the Commodore 64 and used on stage for years. I later ported it to the Atari ST and rewrote for the now-defunct BeOS.
My MIDI reference has moved here. It’s not a tutorial. Rather, it is intended as a quick overview and a reference guide.
Currently, I play keyboards in Ellis Island.
I performed in bands from 1980 to 1993, and started playing out with a band again in 2013. Everything from progressive rock to dance pop to electric jazz; covers and originals. Here’s a video of Miles at Connelly’s in Times Square, New York City in 2013. I’m the guy with the beard and glasses stuck to the side of the stage. There’s also another group of us that gets together every week or two to jam and learn songs from the ‘70’s - today that we like and can put our own spin on.
I write different kinds of stuff. Most of it is funk/dance/pop, but I also dabble in orchestral, Sondheim-esque pieces, game show themes, thirty-second newsroom background music, and whatever else tickles my fancy.
Perhaps some day I’ll post some snippets of my music. Aside from the typeset pieces below and the sequencer and MIDI files of the music I’ve done on my own, I only have one crappy cassette of a bunch of works-in-progress from the late ’80s. It’s dated but good stuff. The sound quality is horrendous. Also, the tape broke so I’ll need to repair it one day.
Here are three pieces I composed that I’ve typeset using LilyPond.
- Equal Rites Main Theme
- Equal Rites Number 3
- Recording is called At Sea on Soundcloud
- Mosquito Bite Rag
Here are a few others on SoundCloud:
Here’s a tech-head’s view of the tools I use to create my music.
- Korg Kronos X 88
- Studiologic Sledge 2.0
- A big honking seven-foot rack, affectionately called the “Think Tank”.
Most of the equipment in it was originally mounted in a homemade, rolling,
chest-high rack along with a Commodore 64 running my own real time MIDI
- Kurzweil K2000RS (R = rackmount, S = sampling), the rackmount version of this
- Kurzweil 1000PX
- Mackie LM-3204 mixer
- Yamaha MV802 mixer
- Emagic AMT8 MIDI interface
- Korg DRV-2000 digital reverb
- Crest Audio FA901 power amp
- Two rack-mount power strips
- Custom patch bay with 12 1/2”, 6 MIDI, 4 XLR, 2 1/2” TRS
- Akai ME10D MIDI “digital delay” (echoes MIDI data, optionally transposing it up/down one octave)
- On-Stage KS7365EJ Pro Heavy-Duty Folding-Z Keyboard
- Fender Stratocaster
- Ibanez SR505 5-string bass
- Chapman Stick, 12-string Grand Stick with 5 bass, 7 treble strings; classic tuning
- Moog Etherwave Theremin
- Akai MPD32 USB/MIDI pad controller
- Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD audio interface
- M-Audio MIDISPORT 4x4 Anniversary Edition 4-in/4-out USB MIDI Interface
- Yamaha U3 upright piano
- Apple MacBook Pro laptop
- A pair of M-Audio AV 40 monitors
- JBL EON 515XT powered speaker
- OAP T-122B wedge (70 lbs, a pain to carry around)
- Home-made (by someone else) piece of crap
- Guitar/Bass Amps:
- Line 6 LowDown LD400 Pro (2x10”)
- Fender Frontman 15R practice amp that I found at the town dump in full working condition
- Kurzweil Midiboard (in storage)
- Korg Wavestation (in storage)
- Various Ultimate keyboard stands
- An Ultimate speaker stand
- Three empty six-space racks from the olden days of live performance
- Also hanging around
- Yamaha FG830 Acoustic Guitar
REAPER Digital Audio Workstation.
I wrote my own real-time performance program called KeyMaster that I used live from 1986–1993. Its first incarnation was on a Commodore 64, later ported to the Atari ST. I half-heartedly started a Macintosh version. The next was the BeOS version. For the latest instantiations see the cross-platform PatchMaster and KeyMaster, a Mac OS X-only simpler version that is more responsive. There’s also the newest incarnation, SeaMaster, a version of PatchMaster written in C and using the PortMidi library. That’s the one I’m using when I need to break out software that does complex MIDI manipulation.
Apple’s MainStage 3 is useful when I play with friends. We rent a rehearsal room once a week or so, and though the keyboards are the same in the different rooms we rent it is nice to have the same sounds, splits, transposes, etc. with me on my laptop.
MidiPipe MIDI munger.
Korg KRONOS Editor (link is to the KRONOS support/downloads page).
LilyPond for music notation typesetting.
Sonic Pi, a code-based music creation and performance tool.
Just for fun, here’s a list of my old gear. I started playing in bands in the late ‘70’s, but here’s what I remember:
- Alesis D4 drum synth
- Commodore SX-64 running first Moog’s Song Producer software, then my KeyMaster software
- Conn trumpet
- Ensoniq Mirage rack-mount software (load sounds from 3.5" floppies!)
- Farfisa organ
- Fender Rhodes
- Hohner International “electronic piano” (I think it was the International) from the late 1960’s — my first keyboard after my parents’ piano
- Korg CX3 organ
- Moog Memorymoog
- Moog Song Producer
- Moog Source
- Opcode Studio 5 MIDI interface
- Roland Axis strap-on MIDI keyboard
- Roland Juno 106
- Roland MKS-80 SuperJupiter
- Yamaha CP 70 electric grand (it was the singer’s, but I got to use it)
- Yamaha CS-5 mono analog synth
- Yamaha DX7
- Yamaha RX5 drum machine
- Yamaha TX81Z (two of ‘em)
Here are the bands and orchestras I’ve played in over the years. Believe me, you’ve never heard of any of them.
- Ellis Island (keyboards, occasional bass)
- Miles… (keyboards)
- Uncommon Ground (keyboards)
- Optional Stop (keyboards)
- Boys With Toys (keyboards)
- Shy264 (keyboards)
- Perfect Stranger (keyboards)
- Artisan (keyboards)
- Sinequanon (keyboards)
- Guys and Dolls (conductor and music director, college)
- Camelot (conductor and music director, high school)
- King Lizard Revival Jass Band (trumpet, high school) (“Jass” is an early spelling of “Jazz”)
- Once Again (electric piano, trumpet, high school)
- Just Once (electric piano, trumpet, high school)
- All-State band, orchestra, jazz band in high school; One year, both orchestra (contrabass) and jazz band (electric piano)
- RI Youth Orchestra (contrabass, junior high, high school)
- Central Jr. High and East Providence High School marching bands
- Starfire (electronic piano, junior high)