Drone Trick with Arturia KeyStep and Novation Circuit

Look, ma! No capo!

Lately I’ve been using a capo (yes the kind for guitar) to hold down a note on the KeyStep in order to drone a note on the Novation Circuit’s Synth 1 while playing notes on Synth 2. It’s awkward but works. Today while prepping for ISSTA.ie I stumbled on a way to drone a note on the Circuit with the KeyStep and no capo necessary! Here are the steps to drone Synth 1 and then play new notes/sequences/arps on Synth 2:

1. Make sure the KeyStep is setup in Keyboard Play mode by pressing Shift and Oct+.
2. Enable hold by pressing the Hold button.
3. Put the KeyStep in pause mode so that the pause/play button is flashing.
4. Hold Shift and press the low F to set the KeyStep to MIDI channel 1.
5. Play and hold the note(s) you’d like to drone (anything but the low Gb because you’ll need that key to switch channels)
6. Keep holding the note(s) and switch to MIDI channel 2 (Shift + the low Gb).
7. Un-pause play/pause and release the note(s)

Once you’ve lifted the note(s) you can re-pause or play arps or seqs on Synth 2 because essentially you have a stuck note on Synth 1 (just double tap stop to unstick the note). If you don’t want to hear Synth 2 when un-pausing, just make sure it’s down in the mix. This trick works while the Circuit is stopped or playing and will continue until double tapping stop on the KeyStep. It’s even possible to change the existing stuck note(s) by following the same steps. It’s easier than it reads, as you will see in the video below:

New Spectral Tablature Collaboration

Spectral Tablature 2015

Part music, part visual art, and part sound design, the collaborative series Spectral Tablature is something I’ve been doing in various forms since 2013. Recently I have been working on a new piece in collaboration with Jasio Stefanski for an upcoming exhibition of his work. I’ll share more information about the exhibit in a future post. For now I’d like to present some of the content that I generated in the process of working on the project.

The image above is spectral analysis of a piece of music that I composed deliberately to produce interesting sonic and visual forms. The piece includes three layers of sequences that slowly speed up and vary in pitch and then slow down again. The speed of the sequence was based on an LFO with a variable rate rather than BPM. This process, along with other techniques, resulted in a form that starts simple, approaches entropy, and then returns to its original simplicity.

Example with Portamento

The final piece will be reprocessed visually through a set of design criteria determined by Jasio. Once the new design has been printed I will digitize the image and reprocess it as sound. The new audio will retain the original frequencies and temporal information but the textural and timbral qualities will be completely transformed.

Rule Based Electronic Music: Whistle While You Work

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My rules for this piece were to compose, arrange, and produce music in real-time (edited for length, but no overdubbing) using only the three instruments discussed. The track starts with a sequence I programmed into the Moog Sub 37. Next an arpeggio is introduced from the Elektron Analog Four (A4). Soon afterward we hear the high hats from the DSI Tempest and a long sustained melodic chord progression also from the A4. Finally the rest of the percussion is supplied by the Tempest along with a bass line. From there on out it’s a matter arranging the existing parts (muting and un-muting) with a little real-time knob tweaking.

What makes this piece different for me was sending the output of the Tempest into the A4’s external inputs. This allows for processing external signals through the reverb and delay built into the A4. So when performing a roll on the Tempest, for example, I can turn up the reverb or delay on the A4 external input to add some additional character to the sound. This is going to be really nice for upcoming performances. Since the A4 has two inputs I may just run sends into each then apply reverb to one and the delay (perhaps with a touch of chorus) to the other. This would give me a reverb and delay send for everything plugged into the mixer. Expect to hear more experiments exploiting these and other techniques in upcoming posts.

Hi-8, Bleep Labs, Moog Sub 37, Minifooger, Elektron Analog 4

Sub37+A4

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.

AVGM: Rheology

Here’s another movement from my composition Vocalise Sintetica that I performed at Echofluxx in Prague and later during Northern Spark 2014. I named the movement Rheology after the study of the flow of matter in the liquid state. The audiovisual content was created with a Max patch I developed called AVGM (AV Grain Machine). The instruments that I used to create the accompaniment include: DSI Tempest, Bass Station II, Korg Volca Keys, and Memory Man Delay.