Experiments With a New Toy… OP-1

I have some music I’ve been making with a new toy, the OP-1 by Teenage Engineering.  Basically, it is a small portable synthesizer, with a few twists.  It has 8 different types of synthesizers that can be mangled from one edge of the earth to the other, a sampler that lets you get sound from the OP-1′s built in mic, your own audio files, an external input (anything from iPods, Guitars, Super Nintendos), and an FM radio that is also built into the OP-1.  More on the radio in a moment… There’s also a four track “tape recorder” inside.  No, there’s not actual tape in there, but it functions exactly like tape does; when  you slow down the speed the pitch decreases, it can be played in reverse, tape can be “spliced”…   It’s a really fun device with lots of knobs and buttons, that encourages you to tweak and experiment with sound.

Teenage Engineering OP-1

I love using the FM radio to sample random songs.  The OP-1′s sampler can only record 12 seconds, but it has been fun seeing what 12 seconds I am going to get.  It’s nice to have a bit a randomness to your work, often it really inspires and helps you “go with the flow.”

“One Day”  by AfroDJMac  (Side A OP-1)

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/18567051" params="show_comments=true&auto_play=false&color=3ce5ff" width="100%" height="81" ]

So, the four track “tape recorder” has 6 minutes of record time at normal speed.  After you lay down your tracks you can then mix and record it to “vinyl.”  The “Vinyl” feature is just a metaphor for the mix down you create from the four track; I am unaware of any other functionality.  The “vinyl” you record to has two sides (A and B, of course) of six minutes each.  Above, is the first “A-Side” I’ve made with it.  Much of the music on here was inspired by the 12 seconds of Salt n Pepa’s “What a Man” I was lucky enough to capture.  The best part, in my opinion, comes in around 4:15.  I recorded this part sitting outside by a stream (so I sampled the stream :) )

I’ve also been incorporating this little workstation into my live sets, using it for synth melodies and samples.  Yesterday I made a weird song that sparked out of sampling 12 seconds of “Head to Toe” by Lisa Lisa (another lucky break), lucky for me there was a drum breakdown that I was able to cut up and use for the drums sounds.  Next, I came across some classical piano playing and grabbed 12 seconds of that, whatever it was.  I filmed it all and stayed up late editing it together, which is what you see at the top of this page.

Has anyone out there been experimenting with the OP-1?  I just starting to wrap my head around it, and still have a long way to go.  If you have, I’d love to hear what you’ve been doing, send it along!