NIME - Mixing Sounds and Synths

Oct 29, 2018 01:01 · 510 words · 3 minutes read

I was totally in awe after last weeks class with Todd Barton.

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Getting live demos of making improvised sounds and hearing them travel around the room on the #buchla easel and 200e by @synthtodd and #mortonsubotnick #synthesizer #modular #analog #modularsynth @nyusteinhardt

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“It’s being sent around” ~ @synthtodd

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Some of the most profound things I learned;

  • During live performances he is always following the sound
  • That the Buchla Easle is ideal for live performance, and the 200e is ideal for studio work.

One of the most interesting things I learned was that the 259e twisted waveform generator has been completely replicated to run on a computer, and that with the digital version, you can spin up as many of them as your CPU can handle. Both Morton and Todd agreed with this.

This is a profound thought for me because it makes the amazing sounds this oscillator makes accessable to me in the context of live performance; I realized then that with something like the digital modular system, I would no longer need to prepare samples in advance, but can synthesize everything live.

In the context of my live performance, which will be to mix liquids and have the changes in their form, density, and position modulate sounds, the element of randomness and spontaneity can truly be felt by having these changes tightly coupled to the knobs on the synthesizer.

In the last week I laser cut a mini podium with a white background to test out mixing liquids on. I added a frosted piece to the bottom that light could shine through to illuminate the liquid:

I’ve recorded a bunch of videos of me dropping food colorings into liquids, and am extracting their r, g, and b compositions into values.

I’ve also download the trial of Softube and the 259e and am playing midi notes through it in ableton. The sounds are incredible and I love the level of control you get with the knobs. I’ve also combined it with the free envelope generator to add some nice character to the notes.

I want to link the rgb values via OSC to eitherableton or max, and have those send midi signals to the modular system, controlling the knobs.

Regarding the arc of my performance - I want it to start with the sound being chaotic and noisy, and eventually bring it into a more tuned, musical composition in the second half. I still want to have some sort of sequencer, but start out playing a few sounds then transition to that sequence.

Lastly, I had originally planned to use NSynth, and pre-calculate mixtures of sounds ahead of time. However, now that I realize everything can be synthesized live, I do not want to use any pre-recorded samples, so I will abandon NSynth for now. The focus will be on the synthesis, visuals, and performance.