David Eisinger

Journal > Dispatch #8 (October 2023)

Posted 2023-10-06 under #dispatch

Italy was grand, what an adventure. We spent a little over a week in Tuscany, mostly on Elba Island, with quick visits to Siena and Florence on our way out. Our accomodations on Elba were awesome, and other highlights included Spiaggia di Sansone, Cavo, and revisiting a few favorite spots in Siena and Florence (the pizza at Il Pomodorino was as good as we remembered).

It wasn’t all perfectly smooth – Nev had a tough time with jet lag, and driving through Italy was stressful, but a week later, that stuff’s all faded away and what remains are the great memories.

I downloaded the Airalo app before I left, which offers cheap international data plans using e-SIM cards. The app works great, no complaints there, but mixed feelings about having a working phone while on vacation – it was cool to be able to send photos + make video calls, but my company’s going through some tough times and I couldn’t pull myself away from Slack and email.

I had a birthday right before we left, and I decided to gift myself a Novation Circuit Tracks, a portable synthesizer and drum machine. This thing is neat! Four drum tracks, two synths, and the ability to control other gear with MIDI. I’ve only had it about a week and I’m already feeling relatively proficient. Here are a couple demos:

On that second one, the Circuit is using MIDI signals to play my digital piano, which is then sending audio back into the Circuit. I’m just using the voice memos app (of all things) to record the output; I’ll probably need to get a proper DAW set up if I’m going to get more ambitious, but for now, it’s pretty fun to create tracks with just a hardware device.

Making music, especially digitally, appeals equally to my mathematical and creative brains; it’s so cool to punch a rhythm into a grid and hear something pretty good come out. And it’s cool that music hardware is pretty much all MIDI + audio signals, and you can combine devices in unlimited ways (the flipside being that my gear wishlist is growing by the day).

I was anticipating a longer learning curve with the Circuit, and was kind of surprised that I was making tracks basically as good as I’ve ever done within a few days; maybe it’s just an intuitively-designed tool, but more realistically, I’m just not a very sophisticated musician. I feel that way about a lot of hobbies – I gain a level of basic competence and just kind of stay there. Someone recently asked how long I’d been playing guitar, and I said, well, I guess 25 years, but I’m like 1.5 years good. Maybe I’ll always be a dabbler, and maybe that’s OK! I certainly get a lot of joy out of these activities. But I can’t help but compare myself to, like, Bonobo and feel like that’s what I should be striving for.

This month: