The solo synthesist often straddles a gulf between the relative comfort of prepared clip triggering and improvised anxiety of unstable electronic systems. While the urge to be in the moment is strong there are only so many appendages a musician can rely on to generate intricate musical depth in real time. The radio or club DJ rarely has this worry. They know they have 3 minutes to expertly cue the next track and have all this time to prepare the perfect transition and check their fashionable chin in the nearest mirror. This work is an experiment in applying this approach to live synthesiser improvisation. Using a Nord Modular, a custom iPad/Lemur interface, a number of loop recorders/players and a pair of headphones the performer builds and mixes complex loop based material staying 3 minutes ahead of audience expectation.
The first performance is on a bill with Matt Hitchcock – Friday
May March 21st at Griffith Conservatorium from 6pm. Matt will be performing “Sonic Tectonics” with surround sound spatialisation. Should be yummy! Will cost $5
The other performance is at the awesome Vision Gallery with Yvan Volochine, Browning Mummery and Wonderfuls. Friday April 4 from 8pm. Not sure how much it will be – guessing around $10. It’s a really nice venue in West End’s Absoe Building.
After the jump – review and commentary on some recent software acquisitions…
When I was a student at the Queensland Conservatorium I was tasked with using ProTools. I did some recordings for The Ducks and the Trash Video Lesbo A Go Go film. Nothing approaching commercial at all as the fussiness of the interface darkened my mood at every turn. I spat in its general direction for the last decade.
Now in 2014 I have ProTools 11 installed on my underpowered (but still killer) Macs and… well it’s not bad. Still very fussy but much zippier than Logic X. MIDI is no better than it is in Reaper but tracking and mixing are at least on par – if not marginally superior. I’ve got a tracking setup (with the Samson Graphite 49 controller running as a Mackie HUI) and a mixing setup using the AC Core 7 HD on the iPad.
The only real annoyance has been finding ways of using my old VST and AU plugins. Plogue Bidule in theory should do it but I have to say it’s been flaky as hell and really hard to bug check of late – mainly on my Mac Mini. DDMF Metaplugin seems to be the day saver – a no frills modular host that seems to work well with any 64 bit plugins (including JBridge conversions) DDMF also make the awesome IIEQPro which is the best value EQ out there (Butterworth filters are da bomb!)
Something else i’ve been getting into is Izotope Insight… which serves at least two immediately important functions.
1) Spectral imaging to analyse harmonics when teaching synthesis;
2) Future proofing compatibility with BS.1770-3, and EBU R128 metering standards including LUFS Loudness Units display.
But the major excitements comes with the Meter Taps which can be placed on up to 8 different tracks – each with a different source colour. Below is what you get:
Yes each track’s amplitude and bandwidth is identifiable across the spectrum – in colours representative of the tracks! I know the curmudgeonly opinion is that you should mix with your ears but I like using more than one sensory organ to make a decision and this assists while being compelling eye-candy at the same time. Any obvious peaks and the IIEQPro Butterworth bandstop makes short work of them! Here is a full complement of analysis tools in one window:
I certainly don’t think ProTools 11 warrants the fuss and the expense but for what it is – the Native version works really well now without requiring overpriced shitty IOs. Here is my first PT session – a demo using Madrona Labs recently released Kaivo which is a physical modelling synth from that makers of the Buchlaesque Aalto that looks to expand on the template only really explored in software via Tassman 4 and Harm Visser.
It’s a universe of potential but such a CPU hog!
Another interesting synth that came out recently is the iVCS3 for iPad from APESOFT who also make the very decent Density and Pulsaret granular synths.
I’ve always wanted a Synthi because I love the idea of the Pin Matrix for modulation. Clinton Green used one on this noisy jam that I was a part of.
About the original VCS3 Wendy Carlos snobbily blurted:
The PUTNEY is a real toy. Its components are highly unstable/unpredictable and the selection made is highly gimmick orientated and does not by any stretch of the mind permit any subtle sounds & exp. to be constructed.
I’ve always like the idea of music making as play so the idea of an unstable toy to craft noise is super compelling. I have to say though in the brief time I’ve had to play with this I haven’t really found anything remotely usable and I’m really not liking the boxy scrolling to fit on the iPad screen.
I’ve had slightly more success with Rrarrow – an off-beat modular feedback system that seems capable of some wicked noise!
Finally I have two tracks on the
huge pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the ultraworld second compilation for Ambient Online [dot] org. Track 10 is a version of Folding Time by Cosmic Amanuensis (w/Scott Baker who also just released Stelae which is highly recommended.) Track 35 is the oddly gorgeous Lullaby for Goo – featuring my cute but troublesome offspring rapping and slapping. Check it below and catch you later!