MATRIXSYNTH: Radio Frequencies

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Radio Frequencies

Published on Jan 3, 2018 JeffreyPlaide

"Radio Frequencies is a free-form experimental electronic music composition using the free control of individual audio oscillators to create modulating and FM tone sources as the basis for wild and free tonal expression not unlike the early electronic music pioneers who used discrete signal generators for the creation of complex sonics. The Eurorack modular synthesizer system was used as the most flexible form to build up complex sounds. The Eurorack modular system afforded the most complete platform for pulse and modulation free expression of frequencies and pulse-sequenced sonic textures. No sequencers or other memory devices were used to create the cascading rising and falling textures. Four Pittsburgh oscillators were used. Oscillator one frequency-modulated oscillator two, then oscillator three frequency-modulated oscillator four. The triangle wave outputs of the oscillators two and four were mixed and fed into a MakeNoise Echophon module for a mild delay effect applied. The output of the Echophon was then patched into an Audio Damage frequency shifter for a mild phasing effect. Five tracks were recorded while manually manipulating all of the four oscillator frequency controls in real-time. The oscillators were 'played' in this manual form for instant free-form electronic interactions. Where certain combinations of sounds clashed, "drop-in" new recordings erased the old, replacing them with something more complementary. The total mix of the composition owes much to the performance of the manipulation of the oscillators in real-time rather than to any carefully structured arrangement. The result is a wild and stimulating cascade of waveform modulations taking the listener into a 1950s science fiction realm. The composition is therefore largely atonal, untempered and loosely non-structured, but conforming to interesting sets of combinations. The visuals attempt to reflect the rapid-fire pace of the audio oscillators by rapid cutting, editing and pattern development. Background logically-constructed visual textile-weave patterns were created emulating the possibilities of the vintage EMS Spectron video synthesizer. Different texture weaves were intercut in real-time to follow the tempo of the music. To this rapidly-edited background of visual textures, various sinusoidal waveforms were superimposed, representing the idea of frequency energy to convey information. Several different kinds of sinusoidal waveshapes were added, pulsating to create complementary strobing to the already strobing background textures. Imagery was used to convey signals, frequency, modulations, and waveforms - even in abstracted form. Towards the end of the composition, the visual pace slows, and a single black modulating circle concludes the rapid-fire editing with a calming role. I call the composition "Radio Frequencies" because I wanted to express the fundamental role radio technology has played from the beginning of the 20th century in all forms of wireless communication. The electromagnetic spectrum is an incredible phenomenon in the Universe and for electronics and communication. It helps to celebrate sometimes technology we may take for granted because it is so commonplace in all our lives."

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