Sep 30, 2014 0
A large part of obtaining Eagle scout status is to do a project that benefits the community. Often these are things like park benches, drinking fountains, etc. Jacob Bruner had different ideas though. He wanted to bring 3D printing to his community. I especially loved the fact that this project […]
If you live in or around Atlanta, Georgia, or will be there on the weekend of October 4th and 5th, you should consider attending Maker Faire Atlanta. It will take place in downtown Decatur, and parking and other information on attending the event can be found here. If you’re wondering […]
Simple, lightweight, minimal.
No, not really.
This is a total monster, the grandest synth yet from plug-in maestro Urs Heckmann, aka u-he. ACE, aka “Any Cable Everywhere,” already introduced us to computer plug-ins with massive tangles of virtual cables – in a good way. Bazille, then, is the plug-in that ate the plug-in that ate Chicago.
And after first making an appearance in 2009, it’s finally here, like a beast foretold in legend.
Its oscillators are digital, with FM (frequency modulation) and phase distortion and the wild-sounding fractal resonance. And then it has analog-style filters. And then it has effects and processors up the wazoo. But, most importantly, it has insane parallel outputs all over the place and the ability to patch anything to anything without ever running out of cables.
It’s not just a bunch of connections and oscillators and effects, though. There are clever wave shapers called mapping generators with drawing tools and the like. There’s a 8x 16-step “morphing” sequencer. When you combine all those oscillators and filters and wave shapers and effects and sequencers, you really have a complete modular sound design environment. There’s not a whole lot of software I want to test at the moment – just being plenty busy with what I’ve got – but this just made the short list. You can test it, too; there’s a free demo download for Mac and Windows.
It’s also on sale for US$89 (before VAT, Europe), which I think is about a third of what users of physical modulars pay for their cabinet, if they’re lucky. (Or, perhaps the IKEA desk it sits on.) Yes, there are advantages to digital and software (ducks). After the intro, it rises to $129.
The specs alone will make your eyes bleed:
4 digital oscillators with simultaneous FM (frequency modulation), PD (phase distortion) and FR (fractal resonance)
4 multimode analogue type filters with up to 6 parallel outputs each
4 modelled effects: stereo delay, distortion, phaser, spring reverb
2 LFOs with 3 parallel outputs each
4 ADS(S)R type envelope generators
signal processors: Inverter, rectifier, sample & hold, lag generators and quantizer
2 mapping generators (waveshapers) with a variety of drawing tools and controls
8 x 16-step morphing sequencer
multiplex modules for signal mixing, RM (ring modulation), AM (amplitude modulation)
single-page alternative skin included
microtuning support (.tun files)
multichannel MIDI support
user interface zoom in 10% steps
over 1700 presets…
The post Meet Bazille, the Obscenely-Massive Monster Modular Synth Plug-in from u-he appeared first on Create Digital Music.
It was inspired by Nikolas Tesla’s radical ideas about energy in air – and site-specific opera. It breaks every notion you have of how to mix, how to set volume, and what “panning” or “stereo” means. It’s, specifically, the forest of metal columns filled with omni-directional speakers we’ve come to know as 4DSOUND. And it’s all coming to Amsterdam Dance Event in October in a big way.
But what’s most important about 4DSOUND isn’t just this particular, not-inexpensive and specific installation. It’s the fact that once you start imagining sound as virtually projected into three-dimensional space, you probably won’t really think about sound in the same way.
Taking something like a site-specific spatial audio system and putting it into an online video is a recipe for failure. But the team at Ableton have done a pretty bang-on job of doing just that in two films, one focused more on the system in general and its significance, and one on specifically how the technique works.
Various composers have worked on 4DSOUND; this film focuses on Stimming. That makes an interesting choice, because his set is so live. In his work, Ableton Live is mostly a control interface for the spatialization; its audio duties are limited to mixing in the system and adding some clips. Everything else is outboard, like the MFB Tanzbär drum machine, a Teenage Engineering OP-1, and an acoustic piano.
Just as important, 4DSOUND’s Paul Oomen, a classical composer, talks about the connections to Tesla and theater. See the deeper meaning introduced at top, then the technical – and thoughts for the future – below.
With that conceptual background, it’s likewise important to understand that this system is neither a surround setup like those in cinemas (most recently Dolby’s Atmos), nor Wave Field Synthesis.
Cinema sound is generally a different animal. Those systems, or crude systems like quad (or even stereo), are capable of spatializing sounds, but they’re dependent on listener position. Wave field synthesis is closer, in that it does produce virtual sonic locations, as if sounds are in specific places beyond the speakers, even as you move around. Wave field is also interesting in that it has been adopted by MPEG. But wave field synthesis, while very precise, works on a horizontal plane, and requires very specific settings and speakers. (Dolby Atmos is something of a hybrid, using both conventional multichannel and projected positioning via a proprietary system – but that’s a topic for another article, and because Atmos is still aimed at cinemas, 4DSOUND is worth considering on its own.)
4DSOUND takes a different approach, using something called vertical phantom imaging. By taking advantage of omni-directional speakers, they get the advantages of virtual projection – that illusion that sounds fill specific locations or volumes – without requiring so many speakers or particular environments. That makes a unique sound space in which artists can play, and while this isn’t cheap or yet ready for club environments, it is able to make it to festivals. 4DSOUND came to Berlin’s Atonal Festival last month, for instance, and in a series of events (including a lab co-hosted by CDM), will next head back to Amsterdam Dance Event.
I’ve been working with 4DSOUND now in my own music, in a collaboration with Robert Lippok, and it’s been a unique learning experience. I couldn’t agree more with Stimming that it can change how you listen to music and sonic environments. Stereo is artificial enough that it’s easy to lose sight of sounds in terms of how they exist in space. It’s simply too distant from how we hear. But when you can manipulate sounds in a virtual environment, you really begin to appreciate the spatial as a compositional element.
In our project, we’re working to use those elements to create our own virtual architectures. It’s a first opportunity to see how you might perceive architecture purely as sonic, non-physical form. We’re working with Berlin’s Arno Brandlhuber, who constructed a form in a proposal for housing that perfectly fits the grid of the 4DSOUND – real and virtual.
Above: Translating architecture into sound, in process on 4DSOUND. Photos by Robert Lippok.
As seen in the video, you’re not only positioning sounds: you can produce volumes, paths with motion, and create effects that are calculated around the space (for reflections, delays, and more). You can add Doppler effect and other filtering to enhance the illusion that sound sources are moving around you. You can create sonic perceptions that seem real, and others that would normally be impossible.
To implement this system, you’re granted per-voice controls of each sonic object. Ableton Live is a bit ill-equipped to work in this way; music software in general is built around mixers that assume stereo recordings are the end result. But those voices are represented by graphical controls added to an Ableton session, built in Max for Live. It in turn is a front-end, alongside a Lemur remote control communicating over OSC, for a back-end system that does the processing necessary to pipe 57 channels of audio out the RME audio interfaces to the amps. (The back end is built in Max/MSP, with apparently heavy use of gen~ DSP objects for performance.)
So many of our sonic habits have been constructed by the stereo mixdown and its crude virtual space that we may be unaware how much it impacts our composition and sound design. So it’s interesting to listen to a binaural recording of Stimming. You’ll want to not only listen to headphones, but be patient as the work builds up. Obviously, even binaural recordings don’t really capture the impact. But you will begin to hear panning that’s vertical, with a great deal of distance in the mix rather than the packed recordings common in dance music. This will be less evident if you haven’t heard the 4D in person, but a lot of the timbres you hear, the sense of these sonic objects in some real space and the way they reverberate, is also a feature of working in this way. It will no doubt transform habits producing and mixing even in stereo – once you’ve done this, you can’t ever go back to even mono and stereo in the same way.
Equipment used: MFB Tanzbär, Clavia Nordrack2, TeenageEngineering OP-1, Arturia Microbrute and AbletonLive as master clock, sampler and midi sequencer.
Everything on the 4D sound was tweaked by hand in real-time, as well as the whole arrangement. I preprogrammed some chords and grooves on my machines though.
The 4D System is an advanced spatial sound system and the set is binaural (also called dummy head) recorded – in order to get an idea of how it sounded you need to use your headphones.
For the full binaural experience, I made the lossless AIFF file available for download. Please note that the download is over 1 GB in size.
Imagine being INSIDE the music, and the sounds move around you in all three dimensions.
It really is thinking in four dimensions – the three spatial dimensions, plus time (and adding that fourth element truly feels like a fourth dimension).
And the 4DSOUND setup is complex enough to feel like an instrument, the combination of its spatial capabilities and various effects and live controls.
So, it’s significant that in Amsterdam, we’ll have a full program of new music for the 4DSOUND (including Stimming, a Raster Noton showcase including Robert and myself along Grischa Lichtenberger, Frank Bretschneider, and Senking), Max Cooper, and Vladislav Delay.
It’s just as important that we’ll have developers from Ableton joining a select lineup of artists and researchers of lots of backgrounds on Spatial Audio Hack Lab we’re co-hosting. We have everyone from doctoral experts in spatialization to singers.
This isn’t a gimmick or a fad or some cool new toy. There is a lot of work remaining to be done, on 4DSOUND and spatial audio in general. The 4DSOUND itself is a canvas for all kinds of work; it’s not obvious how to work with it or what it should do. Imagining how interfaces should look is a wide-open question. And on 4D and spatial audio in general, there’s a huge opening for people to suggest new ideas for sound, composition, performance, and control. That can relate to architecture, to data sonification, to simulation. In Paul’s case, sensors on singers can produce a new way of enhancing theatre with amplified and electronic sound, as audio follows performers.
And the whole field is about to blow wide open. New microphone and headphone technology could make 4DSOUND’s specific system still more relevant – a playground for challenging ideas that will become increasingly commonplace.
So, if you’re in Amsterdam, I hope you’ll join us. If not, we’ll keep piping these spatial possibilities to you.
Thinking in 3D – or 4D – will be a new challenge. Above, photos from our recent working sessions.
More of the latest from 4DSOUND:
The post Spatial Audio, Explained: How the 4DSOUND System Could Change How You Hear [Videos] appeared first on Create Digital Music.
I built this tiny broadcast room complete with live mics that broadcast to the local radio. The structure is made of scrap steel and scrap plywood with a faux stucco paint job (paint and bead styrofoam) . The walls on the inside are strung making the entire structure a musical instrument. The walls […]
Sep 29, 2014 0
Sep 29, 2014 0
Now that anything can become an instrument, musicianship can become the practice of finding the spirit in the unexpected. It’s what Matt Moldover championed in the notion of controllerism, what years of DIYers have made evident. It’s not just a matter of finding a novelty or two. It’s really taking those novelties and making them a creative force.
Adriano Clemente, the Italian-born, Brooklyn-based artist (aka Capcom), is a shining light of just that sort of imagination. Regular CDM readers will see some familiar techniques. There’s a laser harp, a circuit-bent toy, mic transducers making objects into triggers, a Numark Orbit controller, a LEAP Motion, a Kinect, an Ableton Push, and I’m fairly sure that’s fellow Italian Marco Donnarumma’s wonderful Xth Sense controller in VICE/Motherboard’s featurette on the artist. But it’s the way Adriano puts it all together that becomes the magic.
To put it simply, it’s hard not to get infected by his enthusiasm. He doesn’t just play these unusual objects – he really plays. He’s exploring the reality around him.
This is in fact the perfect companion to last week’s story by Matt Earp, with Spanish artist Ain TheMachine:
Music That’s All Human Body and Objects, No Instruments: Biotronica with Ain TheMachine [Interview]
The scene for this kind of work, once limited to isolated experiments and academia, is really heating up. It’s actually becoming a realm in which people are outdoing one another, as the world community of experimental performance grows.
I think readers here will also respond to what Adriano says about encountering conservatism – about the people who try to put these different approaches into boxes. (The “that isn’t real music” argument is something we’ve all certainly found.)
Watching the VICE video, you may miss out on Adriano’s musical versatility – and there’s a lot. So, here’s more to see. He isn’t just using odd DIY tools; he mixes familiar options like Ableton Live and conventional MIDI controllers with more experimental approaches, and teaches both, as well. (He’s on the faculty at New York’s Dubspot – and now runs their mysterious and intriguing Dubspot Labs.)
I find his music across genres to be really evocative. Here’s a quick experiment with custom Rutt Etra-style visuals and rather lovely music.
In Den Haag, NL, he turned Leap Motion into a triply gestural controller for light and sound – a kind of Theremin light and sound organ. Done before? Oh, indeed. But by mixing in clever, glitchy rhythmic element, he ramped up the expressive, fun quality of that interaction. Implementation is everything. Visuals here are produced by Resolume Arena with sound by Ableton Live.
But he’s just at home improvising on more conventional controllers. Here he is (for Dubspot) on Ableton Push and (for KORG) on the Korg Tra. I actually think this is a better demonstration of Push improvisation than the promo videos Ableton themselves produced – but, then, Adriano has done a lot of expert work with setup. Ahem – that is to say, he can make the rest of us look clumsy. (I’d better practice my Push routines.)
Adriano on the setup:
In this video, I’ve made an effort to concentrate on the major features and options that users have to perform with in Ableton Push. I want to clarify that I don’t necessarily define Push as a performance controller, nor do I use it Live as a only component of my rig, it’s more a studio buddy which helps me to transport the experience of making music into a more engaging dimension and let me escape the classic keyboard-mouse setting. – Adriano Clemente
This sure does look like a performance to me, though I understand that he’s choosing different tools in his main performance rig. But maybe that’s the point: this sort of live improvisation can invigorate studio work, too.
He goes into more detail on the Dubspot blog.
With KORG taktile, he blows a huge hole with my previous argument that you don’t necessarily want pads on a keyboard by showing just what you can do combining a keyboard with X/Y controller and pads all in one device. (This is part of what makes KORG taktile an interesting rival to Native Instruments’ Komplete Kontrol – the NI option is more minimal, which could be a factor depending on your tastes.)
None of this would be worthwhile if it was just flailing arms around. Fortunately, his music can send you into a state of glitches-out mental vacation. For instance, here he is going nuts in a trippy, game-inspired world:
And there’s a lot more on SoundCloud:
Previously, I covered his Kinect work.
Ableton has the best profile of his background and inspiration – as much about the nature of the interactions he explores as it is about their products:
Adriano Clemente: Human Interaction
You’ll find lots more via his official site (including links to social media):
Thanks, Adriano, for the latest inspiration!
The post Watch Adriano Make Surprising Objects, Laser Beams into Triggers for Wild Music appeared first on Create Digital Music.