MATRIXSYNTH: This Drummer Messed with the Wrong Synthesizer (OFFICIAL)

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

This Drummer Messed with the Wrong Synthesizer (OFFICIAL)

Published on Dec 4, 2018 Sheldon Kreger

"This arrangement was structured by sequencing groups of 2, 3, 4, and 5 in unison on the drums and Buchla synthesizer. Using Ableton Live, and starting at a modest tempo of 55 BPM, I created MIDI tracks of eighth notes and used a MIDI to control voltage converter to send these pulses to the Buchla. On the Buchla, the pulses served as a heartbeat to push through the step sequencer. I then programmed one tone at a time and modulated several parameters on the tone using the step sequencer.

The step sequencer was programmed in 2, 3, 4, and 5 steps to align with the rhythmic concept. A clear example are several bass lines where the step sequencer modulates the pitch, moving up or down with each step, and each step pushed forward by the MIDI/CV input. This modulation was used in parallel on several patches, simultaneously modulating several parameters by utilizing stacked banana cables. The raw output audio of each sequence was recorded back into Live for an arbitrary period of time (perhaps 60 seconds).

After amassing several sequences in each grouping, they were sliced into reasonable lengths and arranged into a composition. The structure was determined by the number of steps in the sequence, and clips of the same sequence length were often stacked and faded in and out. For example, there were several raw audio recordings featuring four steps. These were used all in the same section of the composition – after the threes and before the fives.

The advantage to maintaining the order of these groupings was to simplify the difficult drum performance. In fact, the entire concept was spawned from the idea of using ostinatos of 2, 3, 4, and 5 on either the hands or feet on the drums, and then superimposing a recorded Buchla performance atop. For example, during the group of three, the feet play RLL, with right foot on kick drum and left foot alternating between a pedal slamming into two tone-paired wood blocks. The hands were then free to play a groove or various improvisations. In other cases, the hands would perform the ostinato while the feet improvised.

After tracking drums, I ran the master drum track through a gate and recorded the output. This created yet another rhythmic sequence which captured only the loudest hits on the drums. Returning to the synthesizer studio, I used this (awful sounding) gated drum sequence to again trigger the step sequencer on the Buchla. This time, however, I used the raw audio via a ¼ jack on a Eurorack, and a converter for this signal to pulses for the Buchla. Another difference for this second lap was utilizing a 16 step sequence with knobs turned at random, rather than overlapping the previous ostinatos. The end result was that the sequence moved when I hit crash cymbals, the kick drum, or the snare drum. This created another layer of unification between the organic drum performance and the Buchla, but this time commanded by the drum performance itself. It often sounds like the drums are actually triggering a sample, but this is not the case. I recorded a few clips like this and arranged them in Live to build tension within and between the ostinato groups."

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