The Wiccan Rede

Bide the Wiccan Laws we must In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust. Live and let live. Fairly take and fairly give. Cast the Circle thrice about To keep the evil spirits out. To bind the spell every time Let the spell be spake in rhyme. Soft of eye and light of touch, Speak little, listen much. Deosil go by the waxing moon, Chanting out the Witches' Rune. Widdershins go by the waning moon, Chanting out the baneful rune. When the Lady's moon is new, Kiss the hand to her, times two. When the moon rides at her peak, Then your heart's desire seek, Heed the North wind's mighty gale, Lock the door and drop the sail. When the wind comes from the South, Love will kiss thee on the mouth. When the wind blows from the West, Departed souls will have no rest. When the wind blows from the East, Expect the new and set the feast. Nine woods in the cauldron go, Burn them fast and burn them slow. Elder be the Lady's tree, Burn it not or cursed you'll be. When the Wheel begins to turn, Let the Beltane fires burn. When the Wheel has turned to Yule, Light the log and the Horned One rules. Heed ye Flower, Bush and Tree, By the Lady, blessed be. Where the rippling waters go, Cast a stone and truth you'll know. When ye have a true need, Hearken not to others' greed. With a fool no season spend, Lest ye be counted as his friend. Merry meet and merry part, Bright the cheeks and warm the heart. Mind the Threefold Law you should, Three times bad and three times good. When misfortune is enow, Wear the blue star on thy brow. True in Love ever be, Lest thy lover's false to thee. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill: An ye harm none, do what ye will.
- Blessed Be -
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Friday, October 15, 2010

More on "Q"

As I wait for my Q-Chord to come via the brown Santa, I am trying to find more Blogs and forums to join up with. So let me know !! 
I stumbled over a blog that was written by in 2000 by Jeff Obee. That link is here. Or you  can follow allow with my cut and paste routine. I certainly believe Jeff hit the nail on the head with this piece that he wrote.
Sophisticated instruments, such as keyboard workstations, can be wonderful, but sometimes you want to play an instrument that is simple, immediate, and fun. When I first saw the Suzuki Q Chord QC-1, I thought I had found such an instrument. The inclusion of MIDI and a playback-only GM synth gave me high hopes that it would serve as an alternative controller. However, the more I played the Q Chord, the more I realized that while it might be a nice songwriting tool or performing instrument, it is not the controller of my dreams.
Click for Lager Image
Although Suzuki calls the dark burgundy, pear-shaped Q Chord a "digital song-card guitar," it's more like an electronic Auto-harp, complete with chord buttons and a Strum-plate that lets you "strum" the chords. The "neck" has 36 rubber chord buttons that are laid out in three rows of 12. These trigger major, major 7, minor, minor 7, augmented, and dominant chords in all 12 keys but also have other functions. The front panel presents a 5-inch speaker with bass porting, a volume dial, and numerous plastic buttons for selecting modes of operation. The pitch-bend wheel is located on the upper right side of the instrument.
On the side of the unit are MIDI In and Out ports, a 11/44-inch audio output that doubles as a headphone jack, and an AC adapter jack. A Q-card cartridge port at the end of the neck allows you to play along with popular song sequences and rhythm patterns. Underneath is a compartment for eight C cells. Among the numerous optional accessories are an AC adapter ($12.50), a DC car adapter ($12.50), a strap ($19.95), and a case ($24.95).  Search for Q Chord

STRUMMIN' The main draw of the Q Chord was the Strum-plate, which spans four octaves and is played by stroking with the tip of the fingers. You can tap as well, but the response is poor: even the response to slow taps can be uneven unless you hit the small sweet spot.
The Strum-plate triggers the chord tones using one of ten sounds selected from the front panel: Guitar, Piano, Strings, Vibes, Organ, Voice, Flute, Harp, Synth, and Sound FX sounds. If these sounds won't do the job for you, you can select from 100 other GM sounds using the Strum-plate Select button and the Q Card Control window or MIDI Program Changes. You can also control relative volume and sustain.

THE SECTIONS The Q Chord is clearly intended to be a "home" instrument, not a professional-caliber musical instrument. The focus is on playing along with chord, bass, drum auto-accompaniment, and melodic fill. Q Chord sections control rhythm, Strum-plate voices, effects (vibrato and reverb), Chord mode, EZ Play (for quick auditioning of sounds), and Q-card. Except for the drums, unfortunately, each of the accompaniment sections can be switched off individually.
Chord mode has six buttons that let you set up your accompaniment. Auto Chord provides basic comping, Chord Hold sustains the chord, Chord Plus adds incidental auto-accompaniment parts, Manual Chord triggers a consistent chord without any other audible accompaniment (some accompaniment MIDI data is still sent), and Bass Control adds the appropriate patch and bass line. You can use various combinations to create a mix.
The Melody Keyboard feature in Chord mode lets you perform single notes with the chord buttons. The notes are identified using a plastic "keyboard" overlay on the lower two rows. In this mode, the top row of buttons provides Transposition (in semitones), Tuning, MIDI Ex (which lets you play the internal voices from an external controller), Octave, and Voice Ex (for selecting additional on-board GM voices).
There are ten on-board rhythm-section styles: bossa nova, country, jazz, dance, new age, march, waltz, ballad, rock, and blues shuffle. Most of them groove reasonably, despite the expected "cheese" factor. However, the new age rhythm is more akin to Latin, the ballad works better up-tempo, and blues shuffle is preferable at a slower tempo.
You can alter the tempo (from approximately 62 to 240 bpm) and control the relative volume of the rhythm track. You can trigger a 4-bar intro or ending, and a 1-bar or shorter fill that ends on the downbeat of the next bar regardless of where you start.
In addition to its on-board accompaniment features, the Q Chord lets you play along with popular tunes in the form of GM Standard MIDI Files on Suzuki's proprietary Q-cards ($19.95 each). As of this writing, there are at least nine cartridges and companion books, including Rhythm Styles (30 generic styles, including salsa, reggae, rap, folk, and R&B) and collections of Beatles, pop, country, religious, and children's songs. That's not a bad starting selection for a home sing-along. You can't create your own cards or load MIDI files via the MIDI input, though, so you can't take advantage of third-party song sequences.

MINOR DISCHORD Playing the Q Chord is uncomfortable no matter how you hold it. If you lay it flat on its back (it has rubber feet) and play the Strum-plate right-handed, the pitch wheel's location is very inconvenient, but you can reach the chord buttons with your left hand. This is the playing position shown in the manual. However, the chord buttons seem oriented toward being played upside down, as if holding a guitar neck. After all, this is a "digital song-card guitar."
Indeed, if you hold the instrument like a guitar (rested on your knee or with the optional strap), you can fairly easily strum and reach the pitch wheel with your right pinkie finger. The chord buttons are oriented correctly for left-handed playing. But an intrusive plastic "horn" and narrow "cutaway" (obviously intended to make the Q Chord appear guitar-like) prevent you from comfortably playing the chord buttons with your left hand. Laying the unit flat seems to be the better of two poor choices.

MIDI OVERBOARD The Q Chord receives and transmits MIDI in Omni mode only. It transmits its various parts on 12 separate channels. For instance, the Melody Keyboard is on channel 1, Chord Plus on channels 3 and 4, and the Strum-plate on channels 14, 15, and 16.
As noted previously, most Q Chord sections can be turned off, but not drums-so MIDI data is constantly output on channel 10. Strangely, the Q Chord regularly sends MSB, LSB, and Pitch Bend value 64 (the middle, "neutral" position on a pitch wheel) messages on all accompaniment channels, even those that are supposed to be turned off. Presumably this data is intended to reset synth voices on all channels, but when a part is off, it ought to send no data.
To top that off, when you change chords with the buttons, the Q Chord sends unexpected Pitch Bend messages in order to shift sustaining Strum-plate notes to the proper pitch. (Remember, the Strum-plate triggers chord tones determined by the buttons.) These Pitch Bend messages can make a non-GM synth sound drastically out of tune. Add the three channels for Strum-plate output, and you have enough extraneous data to annoy the average sequencer jockey.
I connected the Strum-plate with several GM-compatible modules (an EVS, Yamaha MU5, and Korg NS5R GM set) and found that the auto-accompaniment and Strum-plate triggered the GM modules correctly. But using it with a GM sound bank in my K2000 resulted in very off-pitch notes. In addition, the tails of ringing notes were often truncated on playback, even with GM modules.
With some effort, you can sequence Strum-plate parts, even in odd meters. To sequence the Strum-plate on its own, I had to turn down the drum part (turning down the Rhythm volume on the Q Chord sends CC 7 messages to the GM module) so I didn't have to listen to it. But I was still forced to remove the superfluous drum, Pitch Bend, and other data recorded to the sequencer.

THE LOST CHORD The Q Chord is a deeper product than I initially thought. It's fun when used as a stand-alone instrument, seems well built, and sounds good as low-end home instruments go. In conjunction with a GM module, it makes a viable songwriting tool for basic sketches.
However, the odd selection of MIDI data it sends, the fact that you can't disable the drums, and the ergonomic problems convinced me that the Q Chord is not the MIDI controller I had hoped for. Basically, it's a nice home-entertainment instrument with limited MIDI features.

Jeff Obee is a San Francisco Bay Area-based composer and producer who plays the synthesizer and fretless bass.
I found that you could contact Jeff  here through Facebook, of course. I look forward to hearing more great things from him.

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