In my mind, sound design is at its best when it is a process of discovery. At its worst it can be an unfortunate exercise in mimicry. I am fascinated by the process of discovering sound through happy accidents. One of the techniques I have exploited frequently in this regard is synthesizer patch randomization. For example, the Yamaha TX81Z sounds great when randomized, or better yet, “degraded” with shuffled parameter values interpolated based on a time unit or clock division. The PreenFM2 has patch randomization built directly into the instrument!
So, it wasn’t long after picking up a Novation Circuit that I had the urge to use a similar shortcut to mine fantastic and otherworldly sounds from the unit. Full MIDI specification for the Circuit is available so that development of a standalone randomizer is possible, but Isotonik Studios published a free Max for Live editor in partnership with Novation. Max for Live patches are inherently editable so I decided to start there.
It took me a couple of hours to get into the guts of the editor and setup a drop down menu for randomization. The drop down has choices to either “randomize all” (not quite all parameters), or randomize one of seven sets of grouped parameters like the oscillator section, mod matrix, or LFOs. At his stage I haven’t included the EQ section, voice controls, or macro controls. I probably won’t add the EQ, but the macro controls might offer some interesting possibilities. The image above shows a simple subpatch I made that takes a bang and outputs the random values for the oscillator section. Unfortunately, I can not legally share my mods based on Isotonik’s and Novation’s EULAs. However, you’ll need little more than a basic understanding of Max to do this yourself. Checkout the video and let me know what you think in the comments.
This teaser for my show tonight at Jazz Central Studios includes a handful of snippets from my rehearsals of the electroacoustic piano pieces I’ll be performing. It’s all acoustic piano with processing that includes delays, live looping, freezing reverb decay, and reverse. The last snippet also includes the use of a felt mute between the hammers and the strings. The tone is much darker, softer, and subdued.
Chris LeBlanc is a video artist who I have been collaborating with frequently for the last year and a half. The body of work that he has produced in this short period is remarkable. His improvised visuals for musical performances include mash-ups from rare VHS tapes of bizarre B-movies; usually of the sci-fi, horror, or fighting genres. He augments these mix tapes with circuit-bent Nintendos and a vast collection of other analog video devices to produce uncanny, audio-responsive, visual experiences that enhance musical performances and draw in listeners. Recently he added a modular video synthesis system to his rig and salvaged a nine-by-nine CRT video wall for display.
On Thursday, October 22nd Chris produced visuals for a solo performance of mine at a club with a projector and fifty-one flat screen monitors dispersed throughout the venue. Chris managed to display his video art on the projector and all of the flat screens during my performance. This lasted for about half the set until an irate bar manager found him and made him put the hockey game back on a few of the flatscreens. In addition to his performances he creates music videos and stills using the same equipment and similar techniques. After our most recent show I thought it would be great to share a discussion with Chris here on ACB. I interviewed him on what drives his decisions as an artist and how he makes his analog imagery so engaging while using content and technology from a bygone era.
Read on for the interview with Chris LeBlanc plus more videos and still photo examples of his work. Continue reading →
This analog-sourced audiovisual piece is a collaboration with video artist Chris LeBlanc. The visuals were performed with a Hi-8 camera running through Tachyons+ and LoFiFuture processors, and keyed with a Bleep Labs synth. On the music end I’m playing my Moog Sub 37 through my Minifooger Delay and synched up to an Elektron Analog Four. I sent Chris separate signals from the Sub 37 and the A4 that he used to make the visuals respond.
This snippet was made for an upcoming collaboration with Lister Rossel exploring frozen landscapes and environments. The rough mix was arranged using three layers produced with the Elektron Analog Four and audio recorded by the Cassini spacecraft.
The Cassini recording was time-stretched by a factor of three and then processed in various ways to achieve a stereo image. None of the tracks from the Analog Four were processed in post (the delay and reverb are onboard the A4).