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 Forum index » DIY Hardware and Software » Lunettas - circuits inspired by Stanley Lunetta
PLLs, digital pattern generators, etc
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sdcurtin



Joined: Dec 15, 2007
Posts: 16
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2008 3:43 pm    Post subject: PLLs, digital pattern generators, etc
Subject description: about my own implementations
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Hi All,

Here comes another core dump, sorry for the long post...

It's great to see this discussion. Being on the synthDIY list for a couple of years generated a ton of ideas I'm still chasing. My synth building started 20 years go, and had a lapse like many during the MIDI craze but restarted in '95. in '04 I needed a bunch more oscillators and took a board had by Romeo Fahl which is a clone of Grant Richter's Wooglebug (a Lunetta by any definition). This is mainly to get at the PLLs, which are great VCOs all by themselves, although they have a very slow voltage response.

The digital stuff is inspired by my mentor, the late great Salvatore Martirano, who I studied with at Illinois in the mid 80s. His Sal-Mar Construction is a bunch of shift register random generators that can be constrained by gates and is controlled by a large touch-switch panel. For more information check this out:
http://ems.music.uiuc.edu/~martiran/HTdocs/salmar.html

I do like the small circuits approach advocated by Lunetta, and this is how I've worked, adding little circuits to the modular, these days without benefit from front panel, just "hot rod" on a breadboard which then goes out to banana patch points. My myspace site has some pics and sounds.

One circuit I keep making over and over again, in software and hardware, is variations on the "digital pattern generator" by John Blacet, as described in an article in Synapse magazine in the 80's- there's a PDF of the article at blacet.com. The idea is very simple- attach the outputs of a counter to pots, add them up and then twiddle the pots as the counter counts up. I added XORs to this so each bit can be inverted. It's essentially a DAC with variable weights for each bits. This is very simple and works very well for me. Adding decoders to this for sequencer type functions adds to the fun.

One more little idea I saw for a cheap "binary VCA" was on the synthDIY list from a Japanese synthesizer. All you do is have your square wave oscillator gating on and off a 4066 or similar analog switch. Feed a varying voltage into the switch and take the output to your favorite filter or processor. The result is a square wave whose height follows this varying voltage. So now for VCAs with the PLLS I just use 4066s.

Steve C
myspace/stevencurtin
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loss1234



Joined: Jul 24, 2007
Posts: 1536
Location: nyc
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

wow

lots of good ideas here

id love some elaboration on how to use PLLS in a modular context and also on the decoder added to the end of blacets circuit for sequencing use...

i am going to build that blacet circuit today.

are there any schematics from the Salvatore Martirano machine??

thanks

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loss1234



Joined: Jul 24, 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2008 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

checked out your myspace page and i was wondering what are all the circuits on breadboard? and whats that cool box with the fractal looking artwork and banana jacks called "work in progress"?

i'd love to hear more about the circuits you use in your setup.

thanks

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sdcurtin



Joined: Dec 15, 2007
Posts: 16
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:52 am    Post subject: More info Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for checking out the site. I have some schematics somewhere for the SalMar, but will check with Sal's widow about getting some more. It was recently restored, so the person who did that will have some information. Here is a video on YouTube with the restored SalMar in 2004, by my teacher at Mills and Martirano student David Rosenboom, now dean of Music at Cal Arts:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1vkotuORWE

The box with the fractal on the panel etc is a microcontroller based synthesizer sequencer/pattern generator. There's some more details about it on one of the blogs. It's based on a version of the Motorola 68HC12 running Max-Forth. The four sets of eight banana jacks will be analog and digital input and output. It is patiently waiting to me to be done with my papers in grad school and get some attention, maybe over the upcoming break between trimesters. I'll be at Analog Heaven Midwest on April 12 in Indiana, that's some motivation to get something working to show...
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CJ Miller



Joined: Jan 07, 2007
Posts: 368
Location: 127.0.0.1

PostPosted: Sun Mar 23, 2008 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for the links to these and the SalMar video. Rosenboom has a good ear, I would like to have been there for the performance. What needed restoring in The Construction?

The "fractal box" finally persuaded me to register a MySpace account so I could see it. Reminds me of some forks off of my projects which I've never persued. Like the 68HC12 evaluation board which is in an envelope around here somewhere, which I've never done anything with. I've always wondered about Forth, it seems like a really versatile, elegant language. Microcontroller stack machines? But like a lot of things which are really general and open, I don't know where to start. I met Larry Polansky briefly in Boston years ago, he was playing with Richard Boulanger and the Dr. Nerve quartet. They were very encouraging with regards to my wide-eyed haplessness, showing that it can be done. Also I obtained HMSL about a year ago, but have no idea where to start with it. I am gradually putting together a "new" old mac for ancient software and a solid RS422 MIDI interface, so maybe I can explore it sometime. When I'm not trying to finish dozens of PCBs and kits!
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23isgood



Joined: Nov 18, 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I built the, "digital pattern generator". It is very cool. At the moment it needs a panel so its kinda messy but you can get some cool little sequences out of it. It is kinda wacky and unusual. Each pot sets a "range", so the next pot after the first step covers another range of pitches. The patterns seem random but not quite random. Its great for wacky fills, where you trigger it every once in a while, with another sequencer like the MFB drum sequencer. I will try to get an audio demo on here when I get a min.

pete

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sdcurtin



Joined: Dec 15, 2007
Posts: 16
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:51 am    Post subject: digital pattern generator Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cool, it will be interesting to see/hear how someone else uses it. Warren Burt also used the algorithm for a series of pieces in the late 90s, inspired by my use of it. Don't forget to throw in invert switches on the outputs, it multiplies the possibilities. There is a new version put out by Blacet called Binary Zone.

Steve C
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Stream Operator


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:45 am    Post subject: Re: PLLs, digital pattern generators, etc
Subject description: about my own implementations
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sdcurtin wrote:

One circuit I keep making over and over again, in software and hardware, is variations on the "digital pattern generator" by John Blacet, as described in an article in Synapse magazine in the 80's- there's a PDF of the article at blacet.com. The idea is very simple- attach the outputs of a counter to pots, add them up and then twiddle the pots as the counter counts up. I added XORs to this so each bit can be inverted. It's essentially a DAC with variable weights for each bits. This is very simple and works very well for me. Adding decoders to this for sequencer type functions adds to the fun.


Steve, this may be sightly off-topic, but here goes...

Your circuits are very similar to the "Boolean Sequencing" technique that I've been working with in software. You take the counter outputs and apply them to a collection of logic expressions, multiply each logic output by an integer, then add up the integers to get a MIDI note number. Then you OR or XOR the logic output to obtain a single bit and play the notes only when that bit is one. It's a constrained state machine with an integer algebraic frequency output and a binary note sequencer.

Although I created it myself, I have been certain that it's nothing new, just maybe a modern twist on an old technique. What's fun about it is that the logic expressions very easily form pleasing rhythms as there seems to be some binary-themed harmony of some sort going on. To explain that last weird statement, consider the following implementation in software:

I set up a matrix of buttons with each row being the AND of selected bits, and each column being a counter output. You click on a button to AND that bit in with others clicked on the same row, then all of those ANDed terms are ORed or XORed together to form the note sequence. I found that drawing geometric patterns on the matrix tends to produce really good sequences if you do it right, and better yet you can make similar but different patterns for each instrument which often causes the instruments to sound as if they are working together somehow. This is because they have many shared note events and also some separate/unique note events. So each instrument struggles to express itself differently yet falls in a chaotic digital harmony. Or at least that's how I think of it with my untrained and limited six-month musical background.

Just recently Acoustic Interloper posted a comment that caused me to realize that we can generalize Boolean Sequencing to be any arbitrary state machine with a math block attached to its output bits for the note frequencies. So in a complicated, round-about way we ended up with a rather obvious solution for a great sequencer: Use a state machine.

You can read up on our conversation and hear some music samples by visiting the Discussion/Composition/Boolean Sequencing thread on electro-music.com. In that thread mosc brings up the theme of retrograde sequences which is a nice compliment to the topic and expanded my understanding of sequencer use.

I also have a ChucK application called Guitar Lab that is based on such a sequencer. It's freeware but currently only runs on the Mac (they're porting it to PC and Linux). The web page I wrote about Guitar Lab is a quick read and there are some songs to listen to on it. The page is here:

http://www.freedomodds.com/music/guitar_lab.html

There are also some threads in the DIY/ChucK forum about Guitar Lab. I have since written a companion application, Synth Lab which is a software modular synthesizer, and now the two applications are linked together so that we can generate Boolean Sequenced music in Guitar Lab and then apply effects to it in Synth Lab. It is also possible to create Boolean sequencers in Synth Lab, but in a more hardware-styled way like what you're doing. I'm currently optimizing both programs to reduce CPU burden, and then I will be able to continue adding everything I can except the kitchen sink to make them more useful music creation tools.

All of this talk on the forum about these sequencers and the way that different people keep implementing variations on the theme just goes to show that a good idea gets reinvented many times over by creative people. I've been having a great time coding and running software models of music hardware, and its fun to share the discoveries and results with others. Keep up the good work, I look forward to reading about your progress.

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loss1234



Joined: Jul 24, 2007
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Location: nyc
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

wow
that sounds really neat. you said its up on your site for download? is chuck a free enviroment or is it something like pluggo that you have to buy?

thanks
i love this site!

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-------------------------------------------- check out various dan music at: http://www.myspace.com/lossnyc
http://www.myspace.com/snazelle
http://www.soundclick.com/lossnyc.htm http://www.indie911.com/dan-snazelle
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Stream Operator


Joined: Oct 13, 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

ChucK is freeware under the GNU General Public License, so anyone with Mac, PC, or Linux can download it and use it with no issues. It's from Princeton University and those folks really did a thoughtful and thorough job of making everything work together very effectively. I've probably learned and forgotten about 20 programming languages in my years and ChucK has got to be the easiest and most fun to use one of them all. You can link to ChucK from my ChucK music page which is here (there's a link in the introductory paragraph):

http://www.freedomodds.com/music/

That link takes you to the command-line version of ChucK which does not support graphics. The other link which is on the Synth Lab page is for the miniAudicle, which is the graphic-ready version of ChucK. I repeat, however, graphics only work on the Mac for now. They are porting to PC/Linux currently. We all grumble at that limitation.

You can reach the Guitar Lab page and the Synth Lab page from the above link, you 'll see the sections describing them just below the introductory paragraph. But remember: ChucK is very powerful so you must use it for good, not evil or we'll all be in trouble!

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23isgood



Joined: Nov 18, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here is a demo of the "digital pattern generator". I recorded it the other day. I used an Oakley VCO, and I just played with the pot settings while it was playing. The audio is kinda irritating, but keep in mind that you can get some nice melodies if you have patience and dial them in just right, though it is kinda tricky.

pete


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loss1234



Joined: Jul 24, 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

so you just built that on a bread/perfboard from the synapse schematic? man i wish someone would do a press n peel layout. maybe i will try this on perfboard tonight.

where do you get that nice wire?

thanks

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-------------------------------------------- check out various dan music at: http://www.myspace.com/lossnyc
http://www.myspace.com/snazelle
http://www.soundclick.com/lossnyc.htm http://www.indie911.com/dan-snazelle

Last edited by loss1234 on Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:53 am; edited 1 time in total
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loss1234



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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 9:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

btw,those build instructions for the pattern gen, they look different!! never seen those before. where did you get em?

thanks for the sample!

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-------------------------------------------- check out various dan music at: http://www.myspace.com/lossnyc
http://www.myspace.com/snazelle
http://www.soundclick.com/lossnyc.htm http://www.indie911.com/dan-snazelle
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23isgood



Joined: Nov 18, 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2008 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The docs you see underneath are for the JH kraut rock phaser. I think thats the pcb you can see in the upper right. I built this on to a protoboard from the synapse schematics. It wasn't too difficult. Though I was pleasantly surprised that it worked right away after plugging everything up. I got the wire from Halted. Its from a 1000 foot spool, that I paid only $15.00! Frikin excellent deal on that fer sure! I should have wire to last me for a while. I have used a ton of it already.

pete

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Coriolis



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hey Dan, there's a Chuck subforum right here in the diy hardware & software forum! Exclamation

C
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