Monday, June 26, 2017

Drummer from Another Mother -- Moog DFAM

Experience and Object

They say that it is better to buy experiences than objects, because they are more meaningful, and ultimately make you happier.  But what if you could buy an experience that granted you an object?  And what if that object in turn could enable you to create new experiences? How great would that be? This experience and object start with


it, which is done in two four hour workshops.  A MoogFest Engineering pass gets you a VIP pass to the festival, and also access to the workshops during which you are able to put together an unreleased synthesizer.  Last year it was the Brother From Another Mother, to accompany Moog's commercially available Mother32 syntheisizer.  This year it was a Drum synth/sequencer, called the Drummer From Another Mother, or DFAM.

When I say put together, I should be more clear.  If you have done other DIY projects that include putting in resistors and capacitors, trimming leads, mounting sockets for Opamps and so on, this is not that.  The board is already populated with all electronic components, which is just as well, as there are a lot of them, all surface mount.

The work you do is soldering the jacks, switches, pots, and headers.  Then mounting the panel to the board, and affixing the various nuts, washers, and knobs.  It is not a tremendous amount of work, especially if you are handy with a soldering iron.  Even if you are not, as a couple people in my group were not, the staff on hand will help you through it.  Speaking of which, the 


were excellent.  I think they were all Moog employees.  Steve, who also designed the DFAM, took the leading role, demonstrating the device, going over the various features of it, and even at the end giving us a bit of a tour of the schematic.  He also told us about how it began years ago as a Word doc, which did not completely describe what became the DFAM, but did include several important bits, including a feature I love, the bipolar EG amount knobs for the VCO and VCF.  There were other folks who helped out at different times also, from bringing more solder when it was needed, to giving advice on the easiest way to get things mounted.

At the end of the workshop we all wired our DFAMs together to make a giant 20 strong electronic drum orchestra.  Steve coordinated us into different groups, I think I was a snare or a tam.  Anyway, the result was pretty spectacular.

I did not record that, but I have used the DFAM for a couple of


including one created because my flight back from Durham was canceled.  I had the chance to work with it in an airport hotel a bit. since I had brought my laptop and an audio interface with me.  This is what I came up with: DFAM in NC.

Since adding it to my studio I have done a lot of recording with it, but I've only put one more thing online, this youtube video: DFAM and Vortex.  The Vortex by the way is a real thing, an effects box made by lexicon in the 90s.  I got mine super cheap from Music Go Round.  I think it was cheap in part because the previous owner had somehow managed to partially destroy the rack ears.  How is that even possible? Anyway, I have a sort of love for that device, it is so bizarre and the "morph" function is quite unusual.

I think between the two demos above, you can get some idea of what the machine is capable of, though I did not even scratch the surface of what you can do with some patch cables, and some other gear.  It definitely plays well with others. You can find a number of other videos online.

I could go on and on, I suppose but in 


I will just say that I booked an Engineer ticket for Moogfest 2018 within days of getting home.  Looking forward to another great festival, and another cool gadget.