Topic Lords #90: That's My Glass Petard! ft. Jenni and Kole. We discuss whether to stop animals who are thieves, Americans finding out about Eurovision, the video game adaptation of the Blade Runner soundtrack, how to fix every plot hole, &c.
But all that's not why I'm not buying a TD-3-MO. I'm not buying one because it only does one thing, and after I make a couple songs in a genre, I get bored. Sure looks like a fun toy though!
That said, if they make one in Atomic Purple, my hands will be tied.
There's the sense here of a big company screwing over an individual. But also you could think of it as being like republishing an out-of-copyright book. Patent/copyright is a compromise -- the creator benefits from the work during its lifetime, and the world benefits afterwards.
I feel very strongly that IP should expire. Whittle didn't in fact patent the Devilfish mod, but if he had, it would've expired over a decade ago. (Under US law. He's in Australia. Not sure how that math works out.)
The Devilfish mod was designed by Robin Whittle in 1993. It's pricey, but when you're $4k in, what's an extra $2k? It takes what the 303 was accidentally good at and leans into it, re-tuning parameter ranges and adding controls.
He's still making/installing the mod today. Behringer tried to make a deal with him to make an official Devilfish TD-3. The deal fell through, but they went to manufacturing anyway. You can buy a "TD-3-MO" for $200, plus the moral cost. (That's what "MO" stands for.)
The TB-303 was a commercial failure, discontinued in 1984. Only 10,000 were made. Later, when it became the foundation of entire subgenres of techno, the rarity and desirability made it extremely expensive. You can easily spend $4000 on the secondhand market.
There are quite a few knockoffs trying to sell to that audience. What makes the Behringer TD-3 interesting is the extremely low price and *also* that for a little extra they're now selling a knockoff of the Devilfish mod.
When a bass player slides from one note to the next, they start sliding early, so they arrive at the new note on time. The 303 does this too, but this kind of slide is basically unheard of in synthesizers of the past few decades.
This is because synths are now built on the MIDI protocol. MIDI was originally designed for live performance, so it doesn't know/care about what notes are coming up, only what notes are playing right now. So slides can't end on a new note, they can only *begin* on it.
For context, in 1981 the TB-303 was meant to fill in as bass player when you didn't have one handy. It does an okay bass line, but the squelchy, shrieky sound that it also produces is what made it a beloved machine in the techno community.
Its unique sound comes from a combination of factors. It uses a three-pole lowpass filter rather than the more common two- or four-pole. Multiple accented notes in a row get progressively more intense. But the most interesting to me is predictive slides.
I think of myself as a pretty thrifty person. I lived on $30k/year in the Bay Area for years because I don't need much to be happy. But when I look at music gear, I rediscover what I have in common with people who are super into extremely fancy cars.
Especially nowadays when there is a glut of fun music toys in the $200 range. E.g. Behringer makes a TB-303 clone, the TD-3, which to my ears is indistinguishable from the original. You can get it for just over $100 new. Can I afford not to??
From the Topic Lords archives: the difficulty of keeping up your barista skills when you don't have an espresso machine in your home and coming back to it after years and discovering that all coffee is now made in Node.js
Listen to the full episode here: https://topiclords.com/more-real-than-tower-records
From Topic Lords #89: Columbo revealed the identity of the killer at the beginning of every episode, and in some ways that's more satisfying than a traditional mystery structure.
Listen to the full episode here: https://topiclords.com/pope-hat-guy-covers-you-with-a-towel
Like how much cooler would it be if the worst bakers stuck around and we got to see them grow under the advice of the best bakers? Their modest accomplishments and failures celebrated as much as the ambitious ones.
How much more fun would it be to watch them make interesting things without the stress of a deadline and threat of exile? How much more ambitious and interesting would the projects get if the cost of failure wasn't so high?
Topic Lords #89: Pope Hat Guy Covers You With A Towel, ft. Nathan and Chris. We discuss whether to start your whodunit with a spoiler, strange things that come with apartments, Monster Island, No Tengo Dinero, &c.
Great British Bake Off is held up as the ur-example of the wholesome hang-out show. Supportive friends with a shared interest, doing their best, joking around and making interesting projects, where THE WEAK ARE CULLED IN TESTS OF SKILL UNTIL ONLY THE STRONGEST SURVIVES
Once I saw coin-op hand game console in a dentist's office. I put in a quarter and played Alex Kidd in Miracle World for a couple minutes, then a timer ran out. Then I left because I didn't have a dentist appointment, I was just exploring the mall.
What do you think the chances are that child-Jim was correct in identifying this business establishment as a dentist's office? My thought process was probably like "Looks like a white room-- is that a video game??"
Sandwich Imagineer at Twinbeard. Made Frog Fractions. May or may not have already made Frog Fractions 2. He/him.
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