Joined: Feb 21, 2012
Audio files: 2
G2 patch files: 1
|Posted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 8:00 am Post subject:
Free jazz instruments!!!
|Right when I got my Micro Modular I started patching for a Micro Modular concert, where the instruments are only controlled with the knobs and buttons on the front. Being obsessed with feedback, I tried a patch with a patch cord going from the output of the MM and back into the input (usually in these concerts, each instrument has its own speaker and thus only needs mono). Using various objects I got...
A saxophone sound..?* Although a sort of multiphonics-only Mats Gustafsson kind of Sax. Fine by me!
Apart from giving a bit more Analog Dirt And Warmth™** to the sound, it also adds one knob to the otherwise three-knob interface as the volume knob heavily influences the sound (or silences it). The other knobs change various parameters (look in the patch) which interact in complex ways.
I think it's a really great sounding little patch. It's great for drones of all kinds. I haven't even tried it with pedals, a mixer or other effects in the loop but obviously there are a lot of possibilities here. I do want to try running two of these into each other. That would be a truly weird instrument, but it needs another player which I don't have right now (I do have two Micro Modulars. Still less than three <3<3<3).
This made me think about creating some more jazz instruments, in particular about creating them using the three-knob (none of the others rely on external feedback) control interface. In particular particular, it made me think about how interfaces influence the possible music (blablabla) and how fitting normally very flexible instruments into a three-knob interface (with no visual feedback apart from the knobs) leads to restrictions. But, restrictions are just openings seen from the other side (er...) and this restriction prohibited the normal, pitch-rhythm-and-harmony kind of music. Good riddance!
An interesting parallel re: simulating acoustic insturments are the workstation/rompler type of simulation/sample, where an instrument may have similar sounds, but tend to be played on a keyboard (entirely different idiomatics) and without all the extra "unwanted" sounds, and also without access to microtonality, proper intonation and bends, and of course (so called) extended techniques. This approach turned out to be the opposite.
So, after this accidental saxophone I boldly set out to create a trumpet. It went fairly quickly, actually, I finished it the same day as far as I remember. Rather than being just a straight trumpet it turned out as more like a trombone-trumpet hybrid, (trumponet?) but hey, it's digital so why not. It has harmonics jumps, lots of sliding, a mute, and of course lots of brassy rumbly sounds.
The control scheme for this module is simple, when any knob is turned (they all change different parameters in an unintuitive way (meaning: they interact)) an envelope follower turns up the volume (come to think of it, I should've put this within the feedback system, so the timbre changes while the note attacks and decays. I will add this later.).
The third instrument I created, if I remember correctly, is the guitar. It has a soft Karplus sound, not as authentic as the sax and trumponet, but it's still fun. I guess it might be more like a jazz lute, or something. Jazz guitar is supposed to be soft, right? Perhaps not nylon-soft, but soft? I digress.
There are four virtual strings on this guitar. I didn't bother with proper tuning (no processor left) so it's by nature a very free instrument. There is a quantise module, but it quantises to some odd scale. It's mostly so you get the impression of frets. (the pitch is sampled at plucks, so no glides or hammer ons are possible. I might make a different version...)
The control is like this: one knob is the plucking knob. Comparators check where it is, and at four points there "are" "strings" and when these are passed (up or down) the pick plucks the string. The other two knobs change the pitches of all strings (up and down by different amounts: unintuitively) and also the timbre of the sound.
This is the most controllable instrument rhythmically and dynamically, but it's still very difficult to play normal music on it.
After this, the need for drums was obvious. Jazz needs drums!!
For this, I created a small drumkit of all you need: bass drum, snare and a hi-hat. They're triggered by one knob each, with the different positions of the knob determining different timbres/playing techniques. For the bass and snare drum I've just used the DrumSynth module, the hihat is a bit more complicated. It goes from open to closed, like a real hihat.
I see that there are no dynamics in this instrument, although I remember it as such. Perhaps I have another version lying somewhere.
To finish it off, I made a simple double bass. It's based on additive synthesis and is not a real instrument like these others, really. It just plays a random pitch (just like proper walking bass!) every time you turn a knob. The sound is actually alright, I think. I made it in a hurry and just used it for a kind of off-putting intro to the concert, with six double basses humming along.
It has three modes, the first mode is in between plucked and bowed, and is only available initially. As soon as you change it you get to choose between full-on bowed or plucked. Plucked is still very soft.
This instrument could use a lot of work, and there's still plenty of processing power for some extra bells&whistles (I just noticed the patch has a filter with nothing going out of it). Like I said, I made it in a hurry.
These are some of my first Micro Modular patches, so they can probably be optimised some. I had been patching the G2 for a year or so but the G1 (especially Micro, I guess) is a very different experience. I really like the challenge and I know I would never have made these on the G2.
Attached is a recording of me and three other people having a little jam. It starts out with drums, guitar, bass and trumpet, and ends up with a four saxophone drone.
* Why do so very many feedback systems sound like saxophone multiphonics (or, why do saxophone multiphonics sound like so many feedback systems? I mean, apart from the acoustics / systems theory bit, there must be some other meaning to this fact... Case in point: https://vimeo.com/89848811)
** Where's that