MATRIXSYNTH: MAKEN0ISE: Complex Sequencing from Simple Patching

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

MAKEN0ISE: Complex Sequencing from Simple Patching

Published on Feb 20, 2019 MAKEN0ISE

"It’s typical for synthesizer architecture to be described in terms of so-called “voices” and “polyphony”… you have the monophonic synthesizer with one voice, like the Minimoog… or the polyphonic synthesizer with multiple voices, like the Roland Jupiter series. Any break from this architecture gets argued over seemingly endlessly. Take a look at the so-called “paraphonic” synth, like the Korg Poly-800, where there are multiple oscillators but they all a share a gate structure. Or the modular synth, which is typically polyphonic, but in a polytimbral fashion rather than the monotrimbral chords you hear from a keyboard polysynth. If you need a boost to your melatonin levels you can go to a synthesizer convention and listen to somebody give an hours-long presentation on how to define these various terms, and just what does and does not count as “polyphony.”

The dogma of the voice structure is encoded right into the MIDI standard, still the most recognized way to control synthesizers and other electronic instruments. A MIDI Note ALWAYS has a start point and end point that are tied to a particular pitch value or note number. You never have one without the other. To be sure, this is roughly the way it works in the so-called real world on acoustic keyboard instruments. When you press a key on a piano, you are starting that particular note, and when you release it, you are ending that particular note.

But synthesizers are not acoustic instruments. The gate structure that tells when a note starts and ends does not have any intrinsic relationship to that note’s pitch… yet if anyone ever showed you how to use a modular synth they probably started by showing you how to patch a monosynth. The VCO goes to the VCA, which is opened by a gate that comes at the same time as new note values. MIDI messages are so rigid in their form that for decades people have been using programs like Max and Pure Data to break them into component parts and put them back together in more interesting ways, because it can almost never be done using a MIDI controller and a synth alone. But a modular synthesizer has no such limitation. CV and Gate signals are independent by nature and design.

In this video we'll take a couple simple sequences from René and vastly increase their complexity by just swapping the destinations of their gate outputs."

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