JX-3P Tape Decoder, Decoded

A month or so ago I mentioned that I was working on a project to decode a Roland JX-3P patch tape dump into a spreadsheet so I could see the internal values of all of the patch parameters. I’m pleased to say I’ve finished that project. I’ve posted a full write-up with source code and a Windows-compatible binary at the Roland JX-3P Tape Dump Decoder page.

The code works fine on my systems, and that’s all I could ask for. If you have a need for the code, grab it and let me know if it works for you. I don’t have a tip jar because this project was a labor of love, but if you find it useful, just send me a word of thanks or something.

On a related note, I’ve added a Contact form so you can say Hello.

It’s a weird feeling finishing something. Progress!

Vintage Inspiration

It appears I’m developing a gear fetish. Been feeling the itch to make music again, and my recent acquisition of music equipment is apparently spurring that. It started years ago with a MIDI controller and a softsynth. Then, two years ago, a microphone, an audio interface and a drum machine. Then, in the past year, a mixer, a sound module, and a PC I built for audio work. That got me going for a while.

And then my latest conquests: a 1984-vintage analog synth and a 1992-vintage sampler. When I count those with my 1987-vintage non-MIDI keyboard (from high school) and my 1991 sound module, it becomes clear to me that most of my equipment was not made in this century. Meaning I can truly, without studio fakery, create the Vintage sound.

For the first time in a while, I have sonic and artistic freedom. I have outboard gear that I can tweak and explore. I’m not spending hours getting frustrated with software synths. You turn it on, turn it up, and play; it’s really exciting. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what is possible, and that freaks me out. Every time I punch buttons, I should be pressing “Record”. I started doing that, calling the recordings “Noodle Sessions”, since they essentially are that. But I need to do more. Real songs, complete songs.

And that’s the problem. It’s a Thing now. I need to record. I need to make new music. Glass Door has been rather dormant this past decade, and that’s a travesty. My friend Jared demands new music, and I’d rather like to oblige him. I’d love to get the project flowing again. But I’m having difficulty.

I think one of my problems with creativity is getting it going. It’s that standing friction. Getting it rolling reduces the problem down to rolling friction, which offers much, much less resistance. Having a friend, a cohort, a fellow musician working alongside would really help. It makes sense that some of the best electronic bands are composed of two guys; one bounces ideas off of the other, and the productivity flows.

But the nexus of my creativity problem, though, stems from the source of creativity itself. From which well does creativity flow, and how does it flow? Should it flow out freely of its own accord, like an artesian well, or do you have to draw it out yourself? How do you dip your bucket to draw it out? Once it’s out, should the water pool like a lake, or flow against its constraints like a stream?

Do you punch buttons and play melodies and overlay them until you feel like you’re done, and hope for the best? That seems rather random and subject to the environment surrounding the moment of creation. Do you wait until a good idea forms, and then try muddling your way through it until you get a shadowy facsimile of what you intended? I’m between these extremes, and like the hungry mule equally between two identical stacks of hay, my creativity is dying of starvation due to the indecision.

I can only hope that I make some motion soon before the current urge to create eats itself and dies.