I have recently been trying out a Novation Bass Station II monophonic analogue synthesizer. I am quite impressed with this big sounding synth in a small package. While digitally controlled, Novation have focused on packing in proper synthesis features rather than trying to gloss over the sound with onboard effects. For example, as I have illustrated in the video, the filter self oscillates nicely with a clean sine wave that can be modulated in unique ways especially with distinct features like oscillator slew.
The video starts with the self oscillating filter getting modulated by LFO 2 using the triangle wave. After that I switch to using the sample and hold setting creating the well-known 60s computer sound of random notes. Here’s where it gets interesting though. Once I switch the LFO to sample and hold I start turning up the oscillator slew I mentioned earlier. What this does is variably smooth the wave shapes created by the LFO. You’ll hear this come in at 0:28. It sounds like portamento. At 0:35 I switch the LFO to the square wave, but with the slew on it sounds more like a sine. As I reduce the amount of slew the square wave regains its recognizable character. Next I switch it to the saw tooth wave. The nice thing here is that the LFO amount can go into negative values allowing the saw to be reversed.
Another distinctive feature is the oscillator filter mod setting. This modulates the filter with oscillator 2. Since the oscillators range from subsonic to almost supersonic this feature offers modulation effects that are not possible with the LFOs. At 1:29 you will start to hear the oscillator filter mod come in using a pulse waveform. What makes this interesting is that while oscillator 2 is modulating the filter it can also have the pulse width modulated by LFO 1. This can cause bit-reduction-like effects that can be heard between 1:49 and 2:19. At 2:20 I start tapping the octave and waveform buttons on oscillator 2 illustrating what happens when the modulation source is instantly shifted an octave at a time. After a bit more messing around I added a final, manual filter sweep at 3:20.
This little freakout on the Korg Volca Keys was played using the poly ring modulation mode. Modes include poly (up to three notes), unison, octave, fifth, unison ring, and poly ring. I also laid on several motion sequences that were tracking the cutoff, LFO rate, delay feedback, and EG decay.
Machine Machine (2013) is a 32″ touchscreen installation that functions as an electronic instrument. Granular synthesis is used to loop “grains” of sound and video at variable lengths and frequencies. These parameters are based on the y-axis of the touch point on the monitor. The x-axis determines the position of the grain within the timeline. The piece was exhibited last month at the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis during Art-a-Whirl and for Visual Storage; the MCAD MFA thesis exhibition. Continue reading →
Spectral Tablature is a series of collaborative installations that explore sound generated through visual processes. Sound is recorded or synthesized using common techniques then converted into images called spectral analysis. These forms are re-interpreted as a visual artifact then converted back into sound. For each pair, or “duet,” the similarities and differences in tone and texture can be heard as well as seen in the work. This series, along with two more of my installations, is currently on display for my thesis exhibition at the Northrup King Building in Minneapolis. Please read on for images and descriptions of each pair of prints along with the audio. Continue reading →
I must admit that I am curious about the Elektron Analog 4 (A4), but not in the market for new gear while I am still on my honeymoon with the DSI Tempest. So, I thought to myself that as complex and sophisticated as the Tempest is there must be some way to simulate something like the A4 parameter lock (a sequencer feature that allows for real-time manipulation of synthesizer parameters on a per-step basis). So, I tried a few experiments using an unorthodox method that requires adjusting the system settings while simultaneously playing in a sequence with a MIDI keyboard. Not an ideal alternative to the workflow of the A4, but useful for me none-the-less. Distraction Surplus Syndrome was produced using this technique. The bass and sustained melodies were played on the SCI Pro-One. Let me know what you think, share your experiences using parameter-lock-like techniques, or read on for recipe details. Continue reading →