Learning to cook with synths

This is something of an addendum to my recent post about learning modular synthesis. In reference to how presets can be used for learning… below is what I believe to be an effective way.

Welsh's Synthesizer Cookbook
Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook

Amongst other things i’ve been going through Welsh’s Synthesizer Cookbook, building the patches listed in the book on different synths as a way of discovering how the different elements work together.   The patches in Fred Welsh’s book are designed to work with a fairly basic 2 Oscillator setup but as no two synths are alike part of the fun is identifying the difference.  (He provides a basic synth covering all the basics made in Synthedit and therefore for Windows only.)

I thought I’d give you an example of the process using patch specifications from the book that I’ve recreated in Tassman 4, UltraAnalog, Vaz Modular 3 and an M-Audio Venom.  A discussion of the results and verdict on using each synth follows after the jump.
Continue reading “Learning to cook with synths”


I can’t hear the music for the presets.

Klaus Schulze of course!

But then appeared the green-eyed monster, and its name was the Factory Patch. Technological advances made it possible to store what had previously been patchcord connections in the instrument’s memory for immediate recall. This, of course, was a boon for the traditional forms of performance, and probably the most significant marketing advance in the history of the instrument. However, it did not encourage what these instruments were all about — the creation of new sounds- synthesis… As a teacher I observed that learning electronic music now meant mastering the latest hardware/software sequencer and tweaking the final mix. Now, don’t get me wrong — this is an essential part of every musician’s training in the 21st century. But synthesizers had their genesis in the desire, if not the need, to play with sound.  Allen Strange from his forward to Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming by Jim Aikin.

Continue reading “I can’t hear the music for the presets.”

Your Vision is Quartz

So, Quartz Composer, one of the many benefits of OSX that drew me away from the WinBoxes.  Free to use(*), widely modded and loudly trumpeted amongst the visualist community… yet so very difficult to get into.  Despite initially looking not much more complicated than Audiomulch or Bidule, I’ve never been able to quite grasp the signal flow and get past the strange parent / child metaphor that to me is expressed in a pretty unclear, unhelpful way.
Continue reading “Your Vision is Quartz”

Slow January update

New Narghile video

A new N4rgh1l3 video has been uploaded to Vimeo.  We needed something to submit to a Visual Music screening series curated by seensound.

It is something of a “Greatest Hits” of Narghile at least from a footage perspective.  Dense hypnogogia.  I feel like this might be a clearing out as we are starting to move in newer directions. On one hand i’m trying to put together The Ultimate Jitter patch for live performance (and have been for the last year or so) while Andrew has been quietly developing his obsession with surface textures.  I’m keen to see us move away from the hazy psychedelia towards a more textured collage approach to both sound and image.
Continue reading “Slow January update”

Acousmatic Videoscapes

Performative fail from Rosa Menkman on Vimeo.

The nomad of noise travels the acousmatic videoscape.

I am a voyager of videoscapes: I create conceptually synesthetic artworks, that use both visual and aural glitch (and other noise) artifacts at the same time. These artifacts shroud the black box, as a nebula of technology and its inner workings.What actually happens when a glitch occurs is unknown, I stare at the glitch as a void of knowledge; a strange dimension where the laws of technology are suddenly very different from what I expected and know. Here is the purgatory; an intermediate state between the death of the old technology and a judgement for a possible continuation into a new form, a new understanding, a landscape, a videoscape..Whenever I use a ‘normal’ transparent technology, I only see one aspect of the actual machine. I have learned to ignore the interface and all structural components, to be able to understand a message and to use the technology as easy and fast as possible.The glitches I trigger show the technology as the obfuscated box that it actually is (and not absent or transparent). They shroud its inner workings and the source of the output as a sublime black veil, while they confront me with a message that I cannot understand. I perceive the glitches and the machine without understanding where they originate from. This realization gives me the opportunity to concentrate better on their formal qualities – to interpret their structures and to learn more from what I can actually see. These glitching technologies create an acousmatic videoscape in which I can perceive an output outside of my goggles of immediacy, transparency, speed and usability. In the acousmatic videoscape, the critical trans-media aesthetics reflect on the perception of technology and its messages; they create an opportunity for self reflexivity, self critique and self expression. In the acousmatic videoscape synesthesia exists not just as a metaphor for transcoding one medium upon another (with a new algorithm), but as a conceptually driven meeting of the visual and the sonic within the newly uncovered quadrants of technology.

from the Glitch Studies Manifesto by Rosa Menkman available here

Can I please write my thesis like this?