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There are endless opinions around the 'net about gear essential to an electronic music setup, about how many choices a creative person should have to work with, and even about the sort of person who should be using these tools. As you'll see, my studio's eccentric, contrarian, and unfashionable, with features that "surprise" some people.

I use obsolete computers--G3 Macs running OS 9 and earlier that aren't connected to the internet. Several are always in use, and others are put away for parts and replacements. These timing-stable bit-crunchers of yesteryear are now dedicated MIDI sequencers. They run my self-authored MIDI composing environment maxWerk, which has taken shape slowly since the mid-90's thanks to the addictive Max programming language. Along with maxWerk, I keep handy favorite editing and composing programs of the 80's and 90's that have been largely forgotten.

I'm a devotee of software and MIDI interface hardware from the defunct company Opcode. The sequencer Studio Vision Pro, which I use for its MIDI features only, receives the output of maxWerk, and the old Galaxy patch editors and libraries serve my setup well.

The Mushrooms Studio is a fully working collection of hardware synths, effects, and MIDI control devices that complement my creative methods. I've had fun considering each acquisition carefully in the context of the rest of my studio gear. I haven't adopted soft-synths or effects plug-ins because I'm inspired by instruments that stand alone and are not dependent on other system elements. I don't use sample libraries and I haven't started a modular system, because both tend to feel forever incomplete.

Single-purpose hardware synths and recording machines have a certain "magic" for me, evoking memories of an old piano and a reel-to-reel I played with as a child. Softsynths, virtual modulars, do-it-all keyboard workstations, and newer synths that require a computer-based patch editor--no offense to anyone--simply do not. While I follow the software scene, I'd rather use a system I created from scratch. This purposely limited tool set lets me accomplish everything I want to do and things I haven't thought of yet.

There are no seriously "vintage" synths here because machines without MIDI aren't as useful to me. I'm not a tech, and I don't like to ship synths for repairs, so I've passed over some classics over the years. Instead I have some excellent modern analogs. There are multiples of some units for various reasons, not the least of which is future-proofing. Some are MIDI-chained for sound layering, note hocketing, or other Max-based experiments.

While the Macs do the job of MIDI processing, audio goes to Akai and Roland hard disk recorders at 24 bit/44.1 kHz. The master Akai drives Studio Vision, and sub-mixes come in from the Rolands. I temporarily patch up high-quality cables to bring in individual tracks, bypassing the network of line mixers that comprise my room listening system.

You won't find my music online, mostly because of the genre and gender-biased judgements I've seen about my studio and about other female artists. My efforts are based around melody and harmony more than most electronic music, but I favor the kinds of sounds that only machines can make. In recent years I've been turning to an unusual organic instrument, the Array Mbira, to refresh the senses (and defy power outages)!

I enjoy email-based discussions such as the SynthSights group and Mensa's Electronic Music SIG. I follow the major synth forums and blogs, though I don't often post, and you can always email me. Glad you stopped by!

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