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Drifting Oscillators
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smackos



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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 7:57 am    Post subject: Drifting Oscillators Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

What is the best way to emulate drifting analog oscillators?

I always put some random modules on the Oscies that change the pitch gradually in a very subtile way.

But are there more 'natural/scientific' other insights on this?
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Kassen
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

What I like to do is take a clocked random number generator and trigger that module with every note pressed. then i add that value in some small amount (less then half a semitone) to the modulation of my oscilators. If you pull this signal through a envelope with a long decay your chords will drift towards being in tune. that´s a very pleasant effect but not at all scientiffic. I think it´s preferable to a more scientiffic aproach because it sounds way better.

You could emulate the effect of the patch needing to "warm up" before it´s in tune using a little counter but I sincerely wonder how usefull that would be in a real recording situation. I could build it for you if there is a real need.

For pure random driffting I´d just take a clocked random number generator, clock that realy slowly (once every 4 or so seconds), smooth it out completely, then add a little bit of that. For oscilator drift build this once per oscilator, if you are looking for a unstable powersulply it might be better to build it once, then use the same thing on all oscilators. In that last case it´d be wise to put this in the "fx" section, then get the signal to your oscilators over one of those busses because otherwise you´ll be emulating one powersuply per voice which would be -erm- exotic.

The relation between randomness and polyphony is a very, very tricky one because the ear will pick up subtile corelations. We can learn a lot from cryptography and cryptoanalysis there. Sadly very little is written (to my knowledge) on the relation between random cv signals and psychoacoustics. Proceed with care; in case of doubt *don´t* use a random signal for more then one thing.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:50 am    Post subject: Re: Drifting Oscillators Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

smackos wrote:

But are there more 'natural/scientific' other insights on this?


Don't know about that - but I do have some thoughts nevertheless about the subject.

It probably is a lot cheaper DSP wise to use LFO C set to triangle and into poly mode - this is not random at all but when you set 'm slow enough you probably won't hear the difference.

Anothe rthing to try is the status module, I don't have the editor installed here and so I'm not sure the name is correct, but it's that module that has a voice number output. Patch that output to an FM input and the oscs will have different tunings for different voices - static but not expensive and possibly a nice imperfection to add.

A bit late, but welcome to the forum Danny.

Jan.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 9:06 am    Post subject: Re: Drifting Oscillators Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:

Anothe rthing to try is the status module, I don't have the editor installed here and so I'm not sure the name is correct, but it's that module that has a voice number output. Patch that output to an FM input and the oscs will have different tunings for different voices - static but not expensive and possibly a nice imperfection to add.


That´s realy cheap indeed but one thing to considder is that this will only detune them upward since we only have positive numbers of voices. That might well affect the perception of the melodies played. I would guess that this will lead to a more energetic, agressive sound which might not be suitable for neutral or moody pieces. In that case I´d add a little negative offset to get the average value closer to zero.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:55 am    Post subject: Re: Drifting Oscillators Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
In that case I´d add a little negative offset to get the average value closer to zero.


That's where the pitch fine tune controls come in handy, but indeed you'd want some downwards offset here.

I was thinking that the LFO thingy I suggested can be modulated by the voice number as well, with just one mixer extra.

To you a late welcome as well Kassen.

I'll look into your more complicated mail later today, but in general I think it's worthwhile to be pragmatic and try cheap solutions before complex ones; although the latter probably are better in a theoretical way they tend to eat away quite some DSP.

Jan.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That´s a very healthy additude, Jan. I just thought the aparent demand for a "natural scientiffic" aproach was a nice excuse to go into some phylosophy on random numbers.

I do think my little trick in that first paragraph is well worth the dsp but that´s more of a overall aesthetic effect then a real detune.

I don´t care much for the dsp myself; I never ran out so far. It´s that accursed zero page I keep running into.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For an inexpensive, quick trick, try using the keyboard morph on the oscillator fine tune knobs. A small amount emulates imperfect tracking. I think that very slow and very slight modulation (usually only applied to one oscillator) works well enough. Real oscillators, even average quality ones, don’t drift that much under stable conditions. Synthesisers from the early 70's (pre micro controller scanning kbd) had a problem in the release stage due to leaky Sample and Hold's. This was one characteristic of early synthesisers that no one I know morns for.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My experience with real analog synths is that the oscillators don't usually drift randomly. Usually they drift in one direction, up or down. Usually all of the oscs in a system dirft together.

There are other effects. In some anlog gear, like the Moog Modulars, when you pressed a key and the envelope kicked on, there was a very tiny detuning of the oscs, down if I remember. This is probably because of some power supply sag, but I could never identify it. It was very slight, but once you discovered it - it would drive you crazy. Some gear tracked the line voltages - you know, the stuff that comes out of the wall. Many were very temperature sensitive - actually probably the most annoying aspect of them.

The first generation of Moog Modulars had photosensitive transistors! This was discovered in San Fransisco when the Different Fur Trading Company, a big recording studio in the early 70s, bought a large Moog IIIP, although nobody there knew how to play it. They had a special clear plexiglass case made for it, to make it look cool. When they turned it on, it started drifting all over the place. They called the Moog factory and after a lot of back and forth they figured out about the photosensitive transistors. They had to put the modules back in the original back wooden cases. Moogs made in subsequent years used opaque transistors and didn't care if the lights were on or not. Rolling Eyes

When we were playing Moogs, Buchlas and stuff, we dreamed of stable oscillators. Depending on the music you were playing, keeping them in tune was a big pain in the ass. We judged synths on how stable they were - how accurately they tracked.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 12:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

In my experience, the clocked random value idea works best when trying to emulate an analog polysynth. Tune one osc just slightly sharp and then use the keyboard gate to trigger new random values with each new note, and add a positive-going random signal to the slightly sharp osc.

This will assure that each new note will have at least a little detuning (the base setting of the fine tune knob) and some notes will have more noticeable detuning. When you play chords, this sounds like the kinds of analog polysynth that have separate analog voice circuits (Prophets, OBs, etc.) where some voice cards will be more detuned than others. I first tried this when I was working on emulations of the Chroma, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it works. Big difference.

Dave Peck

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

You made a Chroma G2? Is it in the patch archive? I would be curious how you did the "algorhtyhm" patches.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
If you pull this signal through a envelope with a long decay your chords will drift towards being in tune. that´s a very pleasant effect but not at all scientiffic. I think it´s preferable to a more scientiffic aproach because it sounds way better.


Interesting !
Quote:

The relation between randomness and polyphony is a very, very tricky one because the ear will pick up subtile corelations. We can learn a lot from cryptography and cryptoanalysis there.


Right, that was the remark that made me want to know more .. but I was supposed to be working at that earlier time. Could you spend some more words on this relation between encryption and the detection of subtle correlations ?

Are you refering here to the seemingly random outcomes of an encryption process ?

Jan.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Quote:
The first generation of Moog Modulars had photosensitive transistors! This was discovered in San Fransisco when the Different Fur Trading Company, a big recording studio in the early 70s, bought a large Moog IIIP, although nobody there knew how to play it. They had a special clear plexiglass case made for it, to make it look cool. When they turned it on, it started drifting all over the place. They called the Moog factory and after a lot of back and forth they figured out about the photosensitive transistors. They had to put the modules back in the original back wooden cases. Moogs made in subsequent years used opaque transistors and didn't care if the lights were on or not.


That is hilarious Very Happy
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

These are the kinds of memories I get when I read the analog vs. digital arguments. Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

smackos wrote:
You made a Chroma G2? Is it in the patch archive? I would be curious how you did the "algorhtyhm" patches.


Sorry, they were NM1 patches. This was before I had the G2.

I was getting tired of paying all that money to keep my Chroma maintained, so I decided to emulate it. At first I thought about making some kind of 'master Chroma patch' that included a way to switch between the different Chroma filter routing algorithms, but that didn't seem practical. It would have just eaten up DSP. Instead, I decided to make a set of 'template' patches that accurately replicated the SOUND of the Chroma's filters with the different algorithm settings and resonance settings, and then I could use those as starting points for making complete patches that may or may not emulate the Chroma voice architecture.

So I set up a series of simple filter sweep patches on the Chroma using the various filter algorithms (separate channel, mixed input parallel, series, etc.) and with different resonance settings and recorded all of these into Sonar so I could easily view the waveform while playing them back, and began experimenting with the NM to get as close as possible.

I was surprised at just how severely distorted the Chroma's filters were compared to the NM. For some templates it took quite a bit of mangling to get the NM to sound like the Chroma, and different resonance settings required completely different techniques. Some were simple to replicate, but some required using two NM filters with different types of distortion and a crossfader to change from one filter to the other as the filters opened and closed.

And back to the original topic, adding the detuning circuit to make some notes more detuned than others made a big difference in the finished patches.

I'm not sure why, but I don't think these ever ended up in the archives. So now that we have a NM1 forum here, I'll post them here. I'll send several basic templates and a few examples of finished patches.

The cool thing about these is that you can use these to start with a Chroma sound, and then add other stuff like more oscs, more filters, maybe a sequencer, phasers & chorus modules, or whatever.

I never did sell the Chroma, but now it's packed away in an airtight bag with dessicant packs inside the Anvil case.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For Dave's patches see :
http://electro-music.com/forum/post-28473.html

Jan.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Blue Hell wrote:
Interesting !


Yes, that´s a realy, realy nice trick that can be aplied to next to everything. I didn´t actually make it up myself, I borowed it from a article in the C-sound handbook. I did sorta add to the trick but this version might be straight from there. I´d need to look it up.

Quote:

Right, that was the remark that made me want to know more .. but I was supposed to be working at that earlier time. Could you spend some more words on this relation between encryption and the detection of subtle correlations ?


I´d be delighted to but not just now (see time stamp). I´ll try to explain my reasoning tomorow (it´s fairly vague and i´m not sure it´s all provable), please remind me should I forget.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 8:33 am    Post subject: encryption and the detection of correlations in synthesis. Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ok.

Encryption needs randomness, preferably high quality randomness. The more unpredictable and unrelated to anything else the better. This is very important because otherwise people (or at least the wrong people) die, banks go bankrupt and your partner may see your collection of photographs.

It needs this randomness because other individuals are doing their best to find the patern and use this to reading your secret message.

One simple, primitive, cumbersome but proven way of encrypting is the "one time pad", few actually use it but it serves us nicely as a example. The idea is that I make a sheet full of random numbers and give that to you. Later when I want to write you a secret message I encode it using this sheet (XOR is used here but the actuall operation does not matter to us now), send it over the internet or in a letter and you decode it again. If that sheet was realy random then nobody stands a chance to ever decode the message should they read it half way. It´s in fact mathematically impossible.

So far so good, we have a nice system for comunicating, we´ll just do that again, right? wrong. Once you reuse the same "one time pad" it´s not realy "one time" anymore and not secure anymore either. now there are three unknowns (the two plain text messages and the sheet) and two knowns (the two encoded messages). The hackers/government/compettitors that are trying to eve drop will be able to reconstruct all three (they are quite clever, you see). let´s keep this in mind and go on, we´ll get back to it later.

In another situation we might not have such a pad but perhaps we only need to send a single character each day for some reason. If we were naive we might simply add today´s date to it, then send it. After all the date is different each day, they´ll never cath us! Sadly crackers and their computers tend to be exceptionally good at recognising paterns. They *will* figure this one out sooner or later and put a end to -erm- whatever we were doing in secret. Let´s keep that in mind too.

Ok, back to synthesis. Suppose I don´t want my filter to have a clearly definded cutoff but I do want it to be in a certain area. I might set the frequency, then modulate it witha bit of noise. That works. Now I might also want the amount of resonance to be varying. Back when I was just starting out I´d thaink; AHA! I already have a source of noise in the patch, I´ll just use that one and modulate the amount of resonance with it! It´s cheap, efficient and horrible wrong. WHat happens now is that higher filter frequencies (caused by high values in the noise) will also have more resonance. This leads to a much brighter sound then using a second noise module.

This is only a simple example but humans in general are very good at picking up corelations. Touching the stove and hurting your hand will clearly be related, even with a small sample set. Especially in music we are looking for corelations between, say, volume and timbre, because those tell us something about the musician. The field of acoustic viability deals with corelations between parameters and how those can be used to make instruments more expressive. Something is going on there and even if we do not follow acoustic viability we should be carefull at least not to introduce unintended corelations through reusing randomness. After all to the secret police and the hackers our misused one time pad was a valuable piece of data that they were able to extract through corelations. Ears will extract reused randomness in the same way and attach meaning to it too (pure randomness has no meaning). It is for this reason better to treat data as random only once and not considder it random anymore after this or we´ll inadvertedly introduce meaning. This is a very important concept, particularly in how it relates to acoustic viability, since uncontroled "sources of meaning" will be competing for the listeners attention with our own expressions. It´s one of those things you can either use or get hurt by.

So, what is, from this perspective, the problem with using that voice number? safter all, we are not reusing it and it´s not realted to anything else int he patch so it certainly has no meaning there. Well, this question relates to that "date" example above. Suppose that Smackos who has a G2X is using 8 voices (reasonable, I think) and suppose he is using a 8 note loop, using polyphony to keep the decays instead of for chords (might happen, particularly in dance music which he produces). Now there is a real problem becuase now his loops intonation will go ever sharper untill it drops again. This drop will be somewhere in the loop and *will* get noticed as a element of the groove since our ears are at least as sneaky as the shadowgovernement were trying to hide our revolutionary plans from. Poor Smackos may like this effect, hit "stop" start his taperecorder, press "play" and gone is the groove! One solution might be to pick your voice number as relatively prime to the number of notes in the loop (that´s actually a solution that in some variations comes from cryptography, cryptographers like prime numbers), sadly German techno and experimental Jazz use this tacktic for musical expression and so we already know that you´ll pick up that patern sooner or later.

Is it all bad? Do we realy need a million noise modules? Well, no. In taking yet another cue from crypto; for short messages (phrases or pieces) it doesn´t matter that much. Good luck cracking your son´s four word message in his own substitution cypher, the candy is probably long eaten by the time you are done. We also need to take cpu cycles into account and on the G1 the randomness actually breaks down if you push this too far (I should know, I did it, one more noise source suddenly meant they all became audibly corelated at one point). However, wherever we can afford to I am opposed to recyceling randomness without some carefull thought.


------
I didn´t mean to insult your, Jan, intelligence by going over some of the simpler stuff explicidly, I´m sure you already knew most of it. My aim was to keep it readable for everybody. After all it was Smackos´s question.
-------

There are all kinds of wonderfull things that can be said about crypto, meaning and communication. If you have some time to spare I wholeheartedly recomend "Cryptonomicon" by Neil Stephenson. It´s a novel but deals with many sides of this relation. It´s also a fun if long read and american paperbacks are cheap.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Great post, Kassen. Facinating...
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks, Mosc, this is one of my pet facinations. I was thinking about rewriting it into a little article for my site but perhaps Rob needs to have a look at it first since he´s also into both crypto and synthesis. I might´ve missed something crucial.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
... I was thinking about rewriting it into a little article for my site ...


If you do, please let us know...

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 2:45 pm    Post subject: Re: encryption and the detection of correlations in synthesi Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:

I didn´t mean to insult your, Jan, intelligence


You didn't :-)

I think it's very interesting what you wrote Kassen, and for sure we humans are good at detecting patterns - sometimes even when they are not present we can see them, but that's another story.

This will have to resonate a while, thanks for sharing your thoughts about this.

Didn't know BTW Rob was into crypto, but he sure is in for throwing dice.

Jan.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, indeed, the world is like one big rosach(sp?) test! People don´t see mathematical equations on Mars, they see a face on mars. Of cource apart from "recognising" faces everywhere people tend to see a fairly limited set of other -erm- things, then giggle, which is realy saying alot about human pyschology. I wish somebody would research what kind of immaginary patern people tend to "pick up" in sound. I suppose voices?

Anyway, don´t pin me down on the Rob & crypto thing. I´m not sure how deeply into it he is but he´s at least aware of the general concerns involved. It´s not that important either way, I just think somebody should have a good look at this.

I would be very interested in your own thoughts after this resonance has decayed too.

At least with the G2 there is a lot more space for experimentation in these areas. Particularly now that we have simple lookup tables we can have coloured random numbers instead of just coloured noise.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 4:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
Anyway, don´t pin me down on the Rob & crypto thing. I´m not sure how deeply into it he is but he´s at least aware of the general concerns involved. It´s not that important either way, I just think somebody should have a good look at this.


Hihi, all I know is that there undoubtedly is some cleck somewhere recording Jan's noodles and playing them backwards at different speeds to figure out what the devil has to say today. Wink

Btw, welcome Kassen and Smackos, good to see you here.
And as discussions with Kassen in general tend to last till 6 o'clock in the morning I solemnly declare not to answer any of his posts. As in general we agree anyway. (Of course I will break this promise) Very Happy
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There´s a Dutch expression meaning "I get along with X" that litterally means "I can work quickly with X" or "X and me can hurry up" ("kunnen opschieten met"). I always thought this was wrong. Idealy one would take it easy with people one has affinity with.

Good to see you are back.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Rob wrote:

Hihi, all I know is that there undoubtedly is some cleck somewhere recording Jan's noodles and playing them backwards at different speeds to figure out what the devil has to say today. :wink:


While in fact they already do run backwards and so its useless to reverse play them, please don't tell Howard though - it's a secret trick :-)

Jan.
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