HMV Hybrid Analog / iOS Live rig

In the late summer of 2019, I joined an oldies band for a month which is another story, but for the first time since my severe health issues in 2016, I felt as if I had regained enough of my former cognitive, physical and musical talents to re-enter the performance marketplace in my community.

The previous year, I had restored my Korg X5 by replacing the internal battery and all 25 micro switches. A new battery was also installed into my Roland D50 LA synthesizer so that it could again hold it’s patches in memory.

While these old (1995 and 1987) analog pieces of gear are great at what they do, they do not have a realistic acoustic instrument soundset to them. It became quite obvious that I needed a drastic update to my live rig.

So I set out to learn as much as could about the various ways to accomplish this. There was only a hand full of people using iOS devices for this purpose at the time. And the audio iOS apps had only just become suitably adept enough to handle the job. The easiest and most cost effective direction I chose was to use a hybrid analog / iOS system.

On my keyboard stand, I had the Korg X5 on the top tier and my Nektar Impact LX61 MIDI controller keyboard on the bottom.

I use a powered USB hub and an Apple Camera Kit to connect the the iPhone SE / 64gig together. This allowed charging and connection at the same time. An iConnectivity MIDI-to-USB interface was used to connect the 5-din MIDI ports on the Korg to the USB hub. This is only a 1 MIDI channel interface and I should have gotten a 16 channel version instead like this or better for more flexibility.

On the iOS side, I chose the KORG Module Pro app for my bread and butter sounds. I purchased the in-app purchases for some expansion sound libraries as well including:

KORG Module Performance Expansion
KORG Organ & Clav Collection
KORG KApro Dreamy Synths
KORG TRITON Best Selection

The controller application was the iMIDIPatchbay by Johannes Dörr. This was where the true magic happened. Within this app a song list could be composed that held the patch change commands for both the Korg X5 and the iOS instrument in Module Pro. It could import a PDF document that could be attached for lyrics and chords. Audio files could also be added. MIDIPatchbay uses Dropbox to store the documents in the cloud.

These songs could then be organized into set lists. With the touch of one button, the app would populate both keyboards with the correct patches for that song and bring up the chord chart with the lyrics. No more searching through printed out lists of songs and then inputting the programs manually into each of the keyboards on a dark stage. A vast improvement from the “olden days” of hunt and peck while multi-tasking with the audience.

Within the Korg Module Pro, I set set up a list of 70 instruments that covered all of my instrument needs. Basic sounds, split/layers, volume and other continuous controller data could be programmed into it. From that list I chose the appropriate instrument for that song. By using the inter-app communication midi setup, they all could talk with each other.

Now with this whole setup then connected to the desktop MacMini, even MIDI and audio recordings could be accomplished into my DAW (Reaper) to further integrate iOS sounds and performance into my compositions.

In this way, all of the basic keyboard sounds, piano, electric pianos, organ, clavinet, acoustic / electric guitars, strings, horns, woodwinds, synthesizer, mellotron, FX were triggered by the bottom Nektar keyboard and the top analog Korg X5 keyboard triggered it’s own sounds.

After all of this work, I learned how to use my iPhone as a virtual instrument in an effective manner in a live setting. I programmed analog patches for the Korg X5 using CTRLR which is a MIDI Editor made for hardware synthesizers. Plus I learned 150 songs with all of the lyrics, background vocals and chord arrangements made into PDF documents. In one month.

The next step will be to archive the oldies set list and create a new one using my own original compositions.

Hopefully all of my experimentation can be useful in some way for the way that you like to work. Enjoy.

Microphone Locker

I am in the process of updating my sacred space in the studio. Organizing, downsizing and consolidating all gear, books, CDs, DVDs and memorabilia.

Here is a list of the microphones that I have in my mic locker:

ADK – Odin (S-7A) Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone (SN#0314)
Lewitt – LCT 240 Pro Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
TOA – K1 Fixed Charge Condenser Microphone (SN N0245)
TOA – K2 Fixed Charge Condenser Microphone (SN C5375)
TOA – K3 Fixed Charge Condenser Microphone (SN C5385)
Shure – SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Electro-Voice – RE-16 Dynamic Microphone
Electro-Voice – 631 Dynamic Microphone
Electro-Voice – 664 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone (The Buchanan Hammer)
Realistic – RS PZM Model 33-1090b PZM Microphone
Realistic – 33-999 / Aret DM 120 Ribbon Microphone
Turner Crystal – S33X Dynamic Microphone

HMV Favorite Free Audio Plugins 2018

I thought I would make my own list of favorite free audio plugins that I use in my main DAW which is Cockos Reaper v5.80 (Purchased).

They are all for Mac OS X (I run them 64bit on OS X 10.10.5 Mac Mini (Late 2014 [7,1]) 2.6 GHz Intel Core i5 / 16 GB RAM / 2 Core / 1 TB HD /)



Amp Simulators

Blue Cat – Free Amp

Brainworx – bx_rockrack V3 Player

Ignite Amps – Emissary and others

Le Pou Plugins – Impulse Responses

Mercuriall – Free Stuff (Stomp Boxes, Pre Amps & Cabinets)

Voxengo – Boogex

Voxengo – Tube Amp


Blue Cat Freeware II



Plugin Alliance

Sound Hack Freeware

TAL / Togu Audio Line



Acon – Digital Multiply

Blue Cat – Chorus


Klangheim – MJUC jr

Tokyo Dawn Records –  Kotelnikov  (Mastering Compressor)

Vladg/Sound – Molot (Compressor/Limiter)

DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)


Cockos – Reaper (Purchased / Main DAW) Free Demo available to try

Harrison Consoles – Mixbus (Purchased)

Propellerhead – Reason (Purchased / Secondary DAW)



GSI (Genuine Soundware and Instruments) – Wat Kat

Musical Entropy – Spaceship Delay

vacuumsound – ADT

Valhalla – Freq Echo


Mellowmuse – EQ1A

Plugin Alliance / Brainworx – bx_cleansweep

Sonimus – SonEQ

Tokyo Dawn Records – Nova (Dynamic EQ)

Tokyo Dawn Records – Slick EQ




Brainworx – bx_subfilter

Ohmforce – Frohmage


Blue Cat – Flanger


Blue Cat – Gain Suite


Alex Hilton – A1 TriggerGate


accSone – crusher-x

Ajax Sound Studio – Soundgrain

C. Rolfe – Macpod2

Michael Norris / Soundmagic Spectral

Michael Ourednik – Argotlunar 2

New Sonic Arts – Granite

Rajmil Fichman – Clouds

Sound Guru – The Mangler (Purchased)

Xenakios – PaulXStretch

Harmonic Saturation

iZotope – Vinyl

Klanghelm – IVGI

Softube – Saturation Knob

Tritik – Krush


Thomas Mundt – LoudMax

Vladg/Sound  – Limiter No6


Hotto Engineering – Mastering Suite and others


Blue Cat – FreqAnalyst

Sonalksis – FreeG

TB Pro Audio – dpMeter II

Youlean – Loudness Meter


Brainworx – bx_solo

Modular Synthesizer

VCV Rack



bigcat instruments- Keyboard Instruments

Sound Magic – Piano One

Noiseash – Sweetcase (Rhodes)


Blue Cat – Phaser

Pitch Shifting

Full Bucket Music – Frequency Shifter


Best Service – Halls of Fame 3 Free

Denis Tihanov – OrilRiver

Nu Space Audio – Riviera (Hyper Room reverb)

u-he – Protoverb

Voxengo – OldSkoolVerb


Sound Hack – Delay Kit

Ring Modulation

Physical Audio – PA2 Little Ringer



Magix – Independence Free

Plogue – sforzando (SFZ Player)

SampleScience Player (Rompler)


Stereo Image

Alex Hilton – A1 StereoControl

Flux – Stereo Tool

iZotope – Ozone Imager

Sub Harmonics

Metric Halo – Thump

Transient Shaper

Flux – BitterSweet


Adam Monroe – Tremolo/Panner

Tone Generators

Virtual Instruments

Alphakanal – Automat (Subtractive Synthesizer)

Ample Sound – Ample Percussion Cloud Drum,  AGM Lite II,  ABP Lite II

Applied Acoustic Systems – AAS Player

Alan ViSTa – Melodic Percussion

Brain Control – Tunefish Synth 4

Full Bucket Music – Various Analog Synthesizers

Futucraft – Kairatune (Synth)

Green Oak – Crystal

Matt Tytel – Helm (Synthesizer)

Native Instruments – Free Products (Kontakt Player 5, Reaktor 6 Player, Blocks Wired, Mikro Prism, Guitar Rig 5…)

Versilian Chamber Orchestra 2 or here

Samplesound – Guitar, Bass & Steel Tongue Drum

u-he – Zebralette

If you are interested in other resources for plugins, check out:


Don’t Crack

Granular Synthesis

KVR Audio

VST 4 Free

Other software of interest:

Captain Plugins

Orb Composer

Score Cloud 4


Updating The Harlan Mark Vale Catalog of Recorded Compositions

I have been working in the studio with a guitar player lately, Robert Wolf.  We have been recording and are considering playing some songs from my back catalog too. I quickly realized that I don’t have a concise song list of recorded compositions. I haven’t really done one since the cassette era. And all of those documents are no longer viable in the modern computer environment.

So over the last few weeks, I have started to make a new spread sheet document that itemizes my compositions by the Date Composed, Song Title,  Album Title the song is from, Album Release Date, Recording Format or Software, Pillars of Light Music Catalog # and Song #. It is not as completely searchable as I would like but it is a start in the right direction.

I have torn apart the studio using my Master CDs Archive, Master Cassettes, Journals, old song and patch lists from live gigs and anything else that has survived from antiquity to piece together my ancient past of recorded history.

This will help me know the different ways in which to address a certain song to bring it into a newer edition of itself. There are big chunks of time where the software that was used to record these songs are long gone. Mac Classic 9.1 environments. Logic 3.7, Pro Tools 4, OSC Metro, Jeremy Sagan’s Dr T/ Beyond. Even though there are stereo audio recordings of these songs, I can not access the original sequences or acoustic, analog or virtual instruments any longer. They will have to be completely recreated.

The same goes for material created on analog tape. Sound-On-Sound reel to reel tape, Stereo Cassettes with mixers or Y chords, Cassette to Cassette “Multi Track” bounces, Cassette 4 Tracks, Stereo Half Track, 2, 4, 8 Track Ampex Machines and 16Track Masters have been used over the years.

The songs that still have viable software platforms the original recording can be opened up and re-purposed. Propellerhead Reason being the most resilient of these.  A platform that I have used since 2005 with version 2.0. So any of those songs can be immediately accessed with the original sequences and instruments.

This list is based upon the CD versions of my albums. This spans from the 1994 ‘From Babylon To India” through “Gazing Into Infinity” 2017. Also included are compilation out takes and unreleased material as well. There are some CD versions of older analog recordings from 1970 – 1993 too.

Here is the document that I have so far:

HMV Master Composition List v2.0 (2017)



Pillars of Light Music Releases “Gazing Into Infinity”


December 3, 2016 – Pillars of Light Music Releases “Gazing Into Infinity” by Harlan Mark Vale.

This is a double album clocking in at over 104 minutes and 15 tracks of music. This audio journal tome documents the time from March 20 – May 26 of 2016 with track 1 being the first song I wrote after coming out the front door of the hospital 12 days later. It was produced using Pro Tools and an East/West Composer Cloud subscription. There are some powerful moments here that, like life, are not for the squeamish. But I feel there is also a profound beauty that resonates through this project that is unlike any other album I have ever done.

Pillars of Light Music is now on

Pillars of Light Music is now listed on SoundBetter.

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Musicians can find and securely hire the right pro based on specialty, budget, genre, credits, reviews and sound samples.

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Improvijazzation Nation review of Harlan Mark Vale – INVISIBLE INK FROM THE THINK BOTTLE

Harlan Mark Vale – INVISIBLE INK FROM THE THINK BOTTLE:  If that album title doesn’t capture your curiosity, you’re a dead cat already, to be sure.  As frequent readers here know, Mark is a very prolific artist and long-time playing friend of mine who gets reviewed here often for his drawings from the well of creativity – and in his case, as evidenced by tunes like the percussion-driven “Hunting Snakes“… the little “sneaky” vocal snippets will definitely remind you of your last encounter with the slimy ones (lol).  If you’re looking for something a bit more bright and inspiring to listen to, you’ll totally dig “Nostalgia Airport“… simple, yet beautiful.  The key thing about his new release, though, is that there are no “pigeonholes” to shove his creations into… you’ll hear on the slow-paced “Country” that he’s totally talented in a variety of styles.  My personal favorite of the fifteen “invisible” sonic creations is the 6:54 closer, “Emotional Algebra“… yes, there are moments when it’s complex, but if you keep your thinking cap (and your headphones) on as you listen to this, you’ll realize that you’re in the presence of true musical genius.  Mark gets a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from these old ears, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this fabulous music.  Get more information and purchase this CD at Mark’s Bandcamp page for this release.         Rotcod Zzaj

Pillars of Light Music