Thursday, August 16, 2018
I don't always need the biggest voice possible - sometimes I just need a thing to follow along with the Teletype's burblings, or a third voice for squeaky noises, or just a simple melody line. I recently got an ALM MUM M8 filter, and ran across a good deal on a Braids - and was trying to wedge them into my system. I was mapping things out on Modular Grid when, low and behold, I realized that (with the built-in VCA) I had the better part of a synth voice with these two modules.
Given that I could situate them near a Maths, it was a no-brainer to give it a try - and what success! The MUM is based off the digital filters of Akai samplers, and it's a really appropriate match for the digital voicing of the Braids. This is especially true when I use some of the weirder voices of the MI oscillator (like the RING, FOLD or VOSM voicings) as well as with the FM implementations. The bright and raw sound of the M8 matches perfectly, and I'm finding myself using it as more than my 'third leg' - instead, it's becoming a peculiar (but useful) primary voicing choice.
So there you go - sorta the opposite of the analog purity of a modular, and more like the digital inevitability that I was going to succumb to! Yet another sweet+sour corner of my system. Whee!
Saturday, July 28, 2018
My friend/colleague Ben Casey asked a question on Facebook about getting a little swing out of his Maths. At first, I thought that it would need some external switching and stuff, then I realized that it could all be done internal to one Maths.
We will be doing a little wiring:
We'll be using both envelopes of the Maths to pull this off, with the EOC output of the channel 4 (the second envelope) providing the swinging clock source we need. Here's the walk-through (starting off un-wired):
1. Turn on the Cycle mode of channel 4 to ON (cycling), and use the EOC output to trigger something that you can hear.
2. Set the Rise time of channel 4 to zero, and use the fall time to set the interval for your trigger output. Find something that ticks along at a speed that you like.
3. Turn off the Cycle mode of channel 1 (if it happened to be on...).
4. Take the unity output of the channel 4 envelope and run it to the trigger input of channel 1. Channel 1 should now be ticking along in parallel with channel 4.
4. Set channel 1's fall time to zero, and set the rise time to be longer than one of the channel 4 cycles. You should see the channel 1 output LED blinking at half the rate of channel 4 (i.e., every other cycle).
5. Patch the channel 1's EOR output into the channel 4 fall CV input. You shouldn't hear much difference.
6. Now slowly bring up the channel 1 fall time control until you start hearing some swing. You might need to play around with channel 1's rise time to get things just right - but if you've got it together, you should here it start loping along...
Here you can hear me go from straight time, to swung time - to something even odder...
How does this work? We are using the fact that a Maths won't recycle during the rise period to act as a clock divider, so we treat every other cycle differently. We then take advantage of the pulse-wave-like output of the EOR output of channel one to make one of the clock ticks have a long fall time, and the other have a shorter fall time. With a little tweaking, it can give us all kinds of different timing functions (for example, in the audio above, I start extending the channel 1 rise time until it is dividing the clock by 3, 4 and more - then tweaking the channel 1 fall time until I get something interesting).
Hope you find this useful!
Sunday, July 22, 2018
Popped a regulator in the ol' Tiptop Station 252 again last weekend, and was really depressed. Jumped on Modular Grid and put my system up, turns out I was trying to power 1.5A of modules with a 1.2A power system. The 252 was obviously designed for a different era of modules, and my digital bombers, scopes, multi-envelopes and noise makers seemed to be too much for it.
So I had to make a different move than just fixing it, and I've really liked the mini Pittsburgh case I have for the work-modular, so I popped for the Structure EP-270 case. It was a little bigger than the 252, but had this Arp 2600 vibe that looked good, and it had plenty of juice to power the pile-o-modules.
Got it in last week, made up a new layout and loaded it up. Loving it so far: everything works perfectly, it's attractive and fits easily into my smallish studio space. But I'm surprised at how well the upright/tilted layout is working for me. First of all, it makes for a good work environment for dealing with the Monome Teletype; I can set the keyboard in front of it, and it make programming super-simple. But the whole layout also seems to put everything in front of my face, and I'm finding that I'm patching differently from what I was doing with the 252.
I didn't expect that, but maybe I should have. Layout matters, as does accessibility. Not nearly as portable as the 252 (I'm not even gonna thing about airlifting this anywhere...), but certainly a great fit for me, and I couldn't be happier!
Friday, July 20, 2018
I'd gone through and eliminated all of the Adobe from my life - or so I thought. Alas, on the Mac, there is simply nothing as good as Adobe Audition for the kind of dialog editing that is a major part of my life. The cut-crossfades are impeccable, the hard limiter is brutally perfect, and the editing tools work exactly the way my hand wants to work.
On Windows, Sound Forge does this for me. But on the Mac, it's got to be Audition. But I really wish I could just buy it.
Anyway - I'm back to it after playing around with Sound Forge/Mac, WaveEdit, Acoustica and almost anything else I could try out. But here you also get to see my everyday tools for audio work. Do those icons look familiar? Can you name the "Big Nine" that get the most attention from me?
Friday, July 13, 2018
Not sure if I mentioned this before, so I'll yap-it-up. I've been diving into waveshaping lately, using the shapers in the Make Noise DPO, and also using this new module: the Origami waveshaper by Delta Sound Labs. Ricky Graham turned me onto this, and apparently it is based off the kind of waveshaping that Easel people would understand.
I've been having a great time CV controlling the single control: the simplicity of the module belies its the complexity of sound. I've been pounding attenuated S&H randoms into the control, and it brings everything alive in a beautiful way (and is especially useful with the Pittsburgh oscillator sitting beside it).
It's reasonably priced at a buck-twenty ($120), and is probably the easiest way to enter the waveshaping game that I can imagine. Cheers!
Tuesday, July 10, 2018
This week's AMT podcast is with Guy Ben-Ary, a dude that is working at SymbioticA (at the University of Western Australia) - an art-research lab that is focused on biological art. In Guy's case, this means working with biology to create sonic art pieces, his most recent being the cellF project.
One of the things that I found fascinating during our discussion was that he is using a custom-built modular synth system that is created by Perth-based Andrew Fitch, creator of the Nonlinear Circuits modular devices. His work has always been fascinating to me (and to others - there is a long thread about it on the Lines community board right now), and it seems like he put together some wicked tools for Guy's cellF project.
But the other thing that I took away from my interview was that - against all expectations - this system is not 'computer-managed'. I assumed that a computer would gather cellular data and massage it into some sort of artistic result. Rather, through some basic electrical amplification, the cellular activity is directly influencing the modular synth, without any kind of digital manipulation. As Guy described in the podcast: cell systems work similar to modular synths, so why not directly interface the two?!?
This was a fascinating talk, and I came away with an education. Thanks to Guy for opening such an incredible door for us all!
Sunday, June 17, 2018
Those who know me know my rule of three: before something becomes embedded in my rig - or gets tossed away forever - it gets bought and sold three times. My modular is almost completely that way, and I've done that with the MPC. Well, this is Elektron Octatrack #3 (this time in the new Mk II outfit), and it is so-far going well.
What's different? Maybe it's that I'm still using the MPC (daily), so I'm not trying to shoehorn the OT into the MPC territory. Maybe because I don't have a gig staring me in the face, so I can work with it at my leisure. Certainly it's that the highly-illuminated trigger buttons, much-improved labeling and nicer graphics make it easier to approach.
Right now, it's the mixer and effects processor for my modular (in-studio), although this week is "more work on flex machines" week. I'm hoping that I'll be gig-ready by the end of the summer, and that I won't have freaked out on it like I have in the past.