MATRIXSYNTH: Search results for ParadisoModular

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Showing posts sorted by date for query ParadisoModular. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Demo & Detail of a Switched Formant Synth Module Made From a 1960s Bell Labs Speech Synthesis Kit

video upload by ParadisoModular

"This video describes and demonstrates a novel synthesizer module I recently designed and built out of a "Speech Synthesis" Kit that was distributed to schools by Bell Labs in the 1960s. After walking through some basic background on the kit and how I adapted it, I demo the kinds of sounds this module makes."

You can find a handful of posts featuring Bell Labs Speech Synthesis here, and all Bell Labs posts here. Don't miss the Alles Machine.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Synth Rig Live at 'TimeShift - Ars Electronica Festival 2004'

video upload by ParadisoModular

"In 2004, I was invited to ship my entire synth rig to the Ars Electronica Festival happening that September (the festival theme that year was 'Timeshift' as it was their 25-year anniversary and they were excited of having a big modular system return - I was modestly stepping into the shadow of my heros Tomita and Klaus Schulze, who both did large concerts there).

Accordingly, I installed my rig in the Bruckner Haus, and built a new autonomous piece from scratch there every day during the festival. This video compiles a selection of moments as I was evolving the patches - starting from the early 'sound art' pieces and evolving to the later ones that were more organized around a tonal or rhythmic core. Here you see the patches evolving in progress, starting more rough and simple, and ending in their balanced space towards the end of the day.

My stint at Ars Electronica that year caused me to view my rig in a different light, as I found new possibilities and deeper ways of engaging with it - a process that's continued since. In the Bruckner Haus, I produced all of these pieces in a 4-channel mix, which really opens up the dense sound environment the synth produces with these big patches. Here however, you hear audio coming from the camera microphone, limiting the quality. That said, you can hear extended direct/digitally-recorded excerpts from these (and more) final patches on my Bandcamp site -"

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

'The High Road' Patch Video From 1994-95

video upload by ParadisoModular

"This is the earliest synth patch video that I've made. The piece was inspired by thinking about Fripp & Eno style drones - this is where that went. This video shows this actual patch running the the basement studio I had in my townhouse condo at the time - most of it features line-recorded audio, shifting to an actual live camera microphone when I shut everything down at the end. I shot it on a Hi-8 camera that I brought home from the Media Lab for the occasion - it has authentic grain of age here. Several years later, I named this piece 'The High Road' - it has that vibe."

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Four overlaid improvs with classic synth pads

video upload by ParadisoModular

"In March 2021, I decided to surround myself with keyboards (7 of them!) mostly playing classic-sounding vintage pads. These included my Nord Stage (mainly playing sounds I made - e.g., from a sampled Mantovani song - heavily processed, of course), a Korg TR-Rack and N1R (mainly stringish sounds), a Mellotron from my Emu Classic Keys, that famous 'Soundtrack' sound from my Roland MT-32, and a sawtoothy swell from my Alesis Micron (thanks NanWei for that one - it was well debuted here!). Adding to these polyphonic voices from synths I've long loved, are a couple of mono-voices, namely an echoy arpeggiating sound from my Korg Prophecy and a complex lead I patched up on my modular (controlled by the keyboard to the right of the Prophecy up top) that leverages a few PLLs, where I can adjust their tracking properties with the mod wheel and if I hold a key down longer it starts a crossfading chord from my PLL octave tracker.

Unlike most of my other posts, there is no autonomous synth patch running here - everything is directly played by me on the keyboards. I recorded several takes of this - I had no real plan, as I was just improvising and having fun, but most of the takes followed a similar contour and lasted a similar amount of time. Listening to them one at a time, they sounded a bit thin. But some months later I got the idea of just layering them atop one another - here you have four of these improve sessions mixed down to a stereo track. This worked better than I thought it would - again as the sessions had some similarity and centered somewhat around the same chord structures - it can get a little big and unwieldy in the places where I depart, but this adds variety/tension and always seems to resolve the right way. There's no dynamic mixing here - they takes are just flat added.

Of course, I shot video of these sessions too, so I figured why not overlay a bunch of them to give the feeling for how this big mix happened. Hence that's what we've got here. The video isn't necessarily aligned with the audio, but the eyes often find the correlations they are looking for nonetheless.

This sits in kind of a JoeP version of a NewAge-ish visit to space - again, a quite different from my usual autonomous patch, but I hope you find something enjoyable on this particular voyage..."

Sunday, June 12, 2022

ReSynthesizer (Autonomous Synthesizer Installation at MIT's PSFC, Spring/Summer 2018)

video upload by ParadisoModular

"In December of 2017, as part of the 50’th anniversary celebration for MIT’s CAVS (Center for Advanced Visual Studies), I was invited to install my large, custom built-and-designed modular synthesizer system into the experimental hall where Alcator C-Mod was residing, MIT’s most recent tokamak reactor used in plasma fusion research. Known as being a pioneering melting pot for art and technology during the 60s, 70s and 80s, the CAVS was a place where scientific fields like physics would commune with performance and music. Modular synthesizers, as used there by early adopters like Paul Earls, were part of the Center’s original vernacular, and after many decades they are being enthusiastically re-discovered, re-embraced, and in many way re-invented by the current young generation of electronic musicians. Such reflected synergy into the present led to my invitation (as well as this installation’s name), as did the match between the aesthetic and technical grandeur of a large heavily-patched modular synthesizer and the huge mélange of custom, elegantly-kludged electro-mechanical systems that surrounded the tokamak. Similarly, the researchers’ quest to manage the chaotic nature of an energetic plasma (as expressed inside the tokamak’s torus during the peak of plasma confinement) resonated with my efforts to ‘sculpt’ my autonomous and likewise chaotic huge synthesizer patch into a definable aesthetic.

As I have my PhD in high-energy physics (having worked at CERN at various times between the late 70s and early 90s) in addition to having designed, built, and used electronic music systems of various sorts over the last 45 years, I was anticipating having access to actual Alcator data and using it in the patch that I would compose when the installation would go live in late March of 2018. My plasma physics colleagues resonated with this idea, and I was provided with several waveforms coming from various sensors on the tokamak acquired during its record-breaking run from a few years ago, when Alcator C-Mod had attained the largest recorded plasma pressure. Listening to this data as audio, I was immediately transfixed. This didn’t sound like bland digital noise, but instead felt alive – some strange kind of muted rattlesnake here, burbling life forms on a weird water planet there, perhaps other samples evoked the barely scrutable control room of an alien spaceship. These sounds, played at various rates and filtered into audible bands, were strongly otherworldly. This dictated the flavor that I’d strive for in my patched composition. Accordingly, I loaded banks of Alcator’s waveforms into an array of Eurorack samplers that I could control from processes running in my synthesizer. While most of these signals were used as direct audio, some were adopted for modulation envelopes and slow control – the tokamak cycle exhibited a variably noisy build-and-release structure as the magnetic fields were ramped up to concentrate the plasma before it went terminally unstable, which worked well here.

My patch evolved considerably during the installation, which ran from late April through late August of 2018. I worked on it weekly, and it achieved its ultimate balance between form and complexity by the beginning of July. At the end, I used every patch cord that I owned (on the order of 700) and nearly all modules in the synth, in addition to an assortment of outboard effects and commercial Eurorack modules that I coaxed to work with my system. Towards the end, when I was starting to run out of cords and hardware capacity, I resorted to kludging in simple wires and electrical components hanging in the air between modules to attain effects and sounds that I still wanted but didn’t have the modules available to make. This was the most extensive and ambitious synthesizer patch that I’ve yet composed – it pushed me to extremes of being simultaneously a composer, synthesizer musician, engineer, and scientist. Having designed, built or custom-modified nearly everything in my setup creates a special rapport for me that goes deeper than interaction with commercial synthesizer equipment – my system has its own unique capabilities and quirks that reflect my personal audio nuances and what I want to achieve with them.

At various stages during the 4-month run of this installation, I digitally recorded the patch’s stereo mix – in all, I have archived probably on the order of 60 hours of audio. The excerpts provided in this video all came from different sections of this long set of recordings. Aside from cross-fading between different excerpts, there was no manual intervention or overdubbing in these clips – the sound was made entirely from the patch running on its own after I set it on its way, with updates and augmentations I made every week or two based on ideas I got while listening to it stream online. The video also features a brief example of some of the raw plasma data sounds that I used."

And in the studio:

Synth Patch For Chaos Unit, Sitar Pedal, and NightSky'ed Keyboard (August 2021)

video upload by ParadisoModular

"In the summer of 2021, I put in a synth patch to test out my newly-arrived Sitar Pedal as well commemorate the tweaking/repair of my voltage-controlled chaos module. This was a very simple patch compared to my usual - nothing too deep or thought out, and the master sequence is a bit shallow - but it has its vibe. Plus, at 2:30 in, I added a keyboard line over what the patch was doing. This was all live - the synth patch ran autonomously and I just recorded as I played - no preparation, overdubbing, or refinement here - hence it's raw and not even close to what I'd term finished or a 'demo' - but I kinda like its intrinsic 'hopeful' feel.

The basic sequence is running through the sitar pedal, which locks on fine (it can separate the drone sounds and re-synthesized lead into separate channels). I'm running a fixed tone also through my chaos generator, which I move in a complex way into and out of stability - it locks onto subharmonics or devolves totally/partially into noise as it sweeps. This sound goes through several signal processing paths that periodically fade in, involving filters, unstable phase-locked loops, and a Boss guitar synthesizer pedal (which does wonderfully noisy gyrations as it tries to lock onto the chaos signal between stable moments).

At that time, as opposed to collecting Eurorack modules, I was slowly accumulating and modifying pedals - pedals are all about modifying an input sound in interesting ways, and which generally appeals to me (I hack them, of course, to accept voltage control in different ways).

The only keyboard sound here (aside from one chord and arpeggio at the end) is from the little cheezebox Casio 'toy' that the Minskys gave me at a Media Lab event some years ago - I abandoned my more sophisticated synths for this one in this piece, as it fits easily on your lap (that's how I played it in the excerpt here) and it sounds amazing if you feed it through one of the new complex reverb/echo/delay pedals like the NightSky or Micropitch (those pedals can put any sound into an evocative space).

The video is indeed of this patch and me playing atop it (shot while I was holding the phone in my other hand), but it's not the live segment that you hear in the piece, so pardon if things don't line up entirely, but you get the vibe.

OK - I figured I'd let this one get a bit of air in case it hits some resonance... It radiates a bit of melancholic positivity, which is something we all relate to these days."

Patch n Tweak
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