Remember the old cliché in movies, tv shows, and skits where someone asks a robot some irrational or illogical question and the robot starts to freak out exclaiming, “does not compute! does not compute!”? Here’s the sound I imagine that makes programmed on the Roland MKS-80.
While reviewing my set for last night’s Ostraka performance, I noticed that using filtering followed by down-sampling produced a robotic vowel like sound applied to synth bass. It’s got a nice vintage vocoder or Speak & Spell graininess to it.
Finding this effect was really an accident, because I had been using this particular effect chain on my master track in this set for a while, but hadn’t stumbled across the settings that produced this sound until last night. Placing the filter before doing the the down-sampling is the key. It does not work the other way around.
Here’s a couple of minutes to illustrate how to apply the effect. I was making real-time adjustments to the frequency of the low pass filter, and the amount of down-sampling. Toward the end I upped the reverb to give it some tail.
I produced this sound by playing one note in a virtual instrument called “Harmonic Dreamz” which is part of Pluggo by Cycling74. After that I automated random patch changes so that all of the twenty eight parameters included in the Harmonic Dreamz instrument were flying all over the place creating a frenetic passage of electronic mayhem. Then I arpeggiated the note with some slight randomness to the pattern and ended up with this.
To me it sounds as if it could be speech or perhaps singing in a robot language. I recorded several examples of it. Some of the other examples have slight variations and others have significant variations, so I may post some other versions at some point. This recording is in mono with no processing. The output is exactly what the virtual instrument produced given the parameters sent to the device.
How much processing can a voice recording take? I guess it depends on how badly you want to fuck it up. When it’s a recording of Donald Rumsfeld justifying the war on Iraq, I want to fuck it up as much as possible. That said, the recording is pitched and time expanded, run through a noise gate followed by a compressor, automated erosion, stereo delay (feedback at 80%, left at 5ms, right at 12.5ms, mix at 50%), and finally a reverb that creeps in with automated mix and decay. Enjoy!
A while ago I was sampling audio from a late night Tony Robbins infomercial. Today’s sound is the announcer during that broadcast saying, “Get the Edge”. All I’ve done to it is some time expansion and a bit of pitch shifting to give it a robotic sound. Nothing new, but fun nevertheless.