tiistai 31. maaliskuuta 2015

Electronic Music Box (Sigma Archives)

Electronic Music Box (or just EMB) is my Buchla-inspired performance synthesizer. This project started when I wanted to give a new life to my old trusted Oakley VCO's. They are a kind of MOOGish design so here MOOG shakes hand with Buchla. Here below is a diagram of EMB's sound-generation arrangement. VCO1's triangle output is routed to Ian Fritz's Double Pulse Generator (DPG). DPG gives the usual PW and PWM but also Pulse Timbre and Pulse Timbre Modulation. VCO1 triangle and square outputs are routed to Bergfotron's Complex VCO Waveshaper that creates SIN, TRI, 2F SAW, EVEN and SPIKE waveforms. Oakley VCO's sine-output was not so perfect (these are older versions). It was more like filtered triangle-wave. Complex VCO Waveshaper gives a perfect sine-wave. Electric Druid's Noise Source generates white and pink noise. Noise outputs are also on frontpanel jacks so it is possible to modulate something with noise. I bought Wisp648 PIC-programmer from VOTI so that I can program PIC-chips myself. Electric Druid has generously uploaded the assembled HEX-codes for his designs (you are a great Druid, I must compose a piece called Electric Druid !). All these waveforms and the noise are combined in Bergfotron's VC Waveform Selector (VCWS). I use only 8-inputs in VCWS and they are both identical. From VCO2 I use the original SIN, TRI, SAW and PULSE waveforms (one can be selected). I have arranged a switch so you can select if VCO1 or VCO2 is routed to Buchla's Timbre Generator (BTG). My first BTG version was based on Aaron Lantermans documents (generator + VCA) but this last version is built from Modular Synthesis version of BTG (my version has no pulser and no crossfader).

 Sequencer is Fonitronic VCP design. I build the first version on proto-board but it is quite a complex design so I begged Mr. Fonitronic Matthias Herrmann to sell me a PCB for VCP, and he did (thank's Matthias !). In my VCP design there is also Electric Druid's TAP Tempo Clock as an internal clock for VCP. There are also two Electric Druid's TAP Tempo LFO's. In EMB version 0.9 I had my Papareil's Dual ADSR because it has state LED's and I am using these Alpha LED Sliders. But these sliders are only linear and Papareil's design needed logarithmic pots for attack, decay and release. So I changed ADSR's to Electric Druid's VC ADSR's (now you understand why I bought the PIC-programmer). I like this design a lot. This ADSR is fast and it has TIME and LEVEL CV-controls that do a lot. You can also choose between LIN and LOG response. Also because it is a software design there is nothing to trim, it works right away.
The rest of EMB is Doepfer design that I have just fitted to my own frontpanel design (I use Front Panel Designer). Doepfer modules are: A149 (Buchla Source Of Uncertainty), 2 x A101 (Buchla LPG) and A134 (VC-PAN).
The frontpanel is version 3.0 or something. All the jacks are the lowest thing so the patch cables are not covering anything. I have also a color code on the knobs (Selco S151-006 and C151 blue/red), blue = manual control and red = CV-amount control. This design is dense but not too much.
All but the Doepfers are powered from my MOTM-900 power supply. Doepfer's have a separate +-12V supply.

SEKU sequencer (Sigma Archives)

I will publish here selected information from my old Sigma www-pages (www.studiomanus.com). Studiomanus-pages do not work anymore. All future Sigma-information will be published in this blog.
This SEKU-article is the first article from old Sigma-archives. SEKU is a two-channel DIY 16-step analog sequencer that I designed some 15 years ago.

Heart of SEKU is CMOS 4520 dual synchronous divide-by-16 counter. RESET-in-jack must be normalised to ground when not used (16-step mode). Length of the sequence can be set to N by patching PULSE OUT from N+1 step to RESET IN jack. When no clock is connected to CLK IN sequencer can be manually stepped from STEP button.
CMOS 4067 1-of-16 analog switch is used for GATE, CV and PULSE outputs. Inhibit-pin of GATE OUT 4067-switch is clocked at the same frequency as the 4520 with 4001 nor-gate turning each GATE OUT off before turning the next GATE on. You can mute any one of the 1-16 steps with the STEP MUTE switch.
I have used slider potentiometers for STEP CV adjusting so that it is easier to draw waveforms when SEKU is used as an oscillator. I haven't buffered the CV and GATE outputs with op amps in order to keep the power supply simple, just +5V to ground. I have also an adjustable power supply so I can adjust the octave range of SEKU by adjusting the supply voltage (+3 to +5 V or from 3 to 5 octaves in 1V/oct systems).

tiistai 24. maaliskuuta 2015

SalMar Construction

I am interested about logic, algorithmic techniques and human interaction in electronic music creation. Salvatore Martirano's SalMar Construction of 1972 is a pioneering instrument in these techniques. SalMar was a monster. It had 291 touch sensitive switches that gave a performer interaction with four parallel programs controlling a modular analogue synthesizer. A zoom feature enabled movement and change within micro and macro structures. The sound was output through a network of 24 satellite loudspeakers and four main speakers. Sequences are created by the use of shift registers. These sequences can then be coupled together to form a musical hierarchy. In describing his performances Martirano states : “Control was an illusion. But I was in the loop.”

SalMar is alive. The beast lives at the Center for American Music campus. Here is a Blog (http://kenbeck.blogspot.nl/search?q=salmar) where is little bit information how SalMar works and is played. And here is Martirano's progress report from 1971 (http://www.jaimeoliver.pe/courses/ci/pdf/martirano-1971.pdf) where he explains his instrument more detail (also with schematics !). Here you can find two sound examples of SalMar in action (www.subrosa.net/en/catalogue/early-electronic-music/salvatore-martirano--the-salmar-construction.html).

Enore Zaffiri "Musica Per Un Anno"

Here is an interesting old record (1968) from Italian composer Enore Zaffiri, "Musica Per Un Anno". In SIM Proceedings there is an interesting article where Andrea Valle analyses "Musica Per Un Anno" and reconstructs it in SuperCollider environment (www.aimi-musica.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/attiZaffiri.pdf).

Valle has also interviewed Zaffiri and got some interesting information about Zaffiris original analog implementation of MPUAN. Zaffiri had only 4 sine wave oscillators, two tape recorders, frequency meter, custom build impulse generator and a tape echo. He first hand calculated the algorithmic input data for each sine wave (at most there are 12 overlapping layers of sine waves), recorded it in pieces and constructed the composition with cut-and-splice operations ! In MPUAN there are 720 sequences grouped in 360 couples, each one being assigned to one day in the year of 360 days. The year is subdivided to 12 months of 30 days and a day programs granularity is based on 1 hour timespan.
That has been an enormous work to implement in analog way !

sunnuntai 22. maaliskuuta 2015

Qubit Nebulae Firmware update

I decided to update my Qubit Nebulaes firmware to version 1.1. Nebulae is an audio file player/granular oscillator in the Eurorack modular synthesizer format. It uses sound files as the source material for creating loops, melodies, granular clouds, drones, pads and otherworldy textures. Nebulae is constructed using Arduino Unos ATMega328 processor and Raspberry Pi. Raspberry runs either Csound or Pure Data code (in the back picture ATMega328 is in left and RaspPi on the right). I suppose the construction is quite similar as in this interesting CSound Journal article (www.csounds.com/journal/issue18/eurorack.html). In this article they build an FM oscillator in the Eurorack format using Csound, RaspPi and Arduino Uno. Arduino handles the interface (potentiometers, buttons) and converts this information to MIDI (CV to MIDI). This MIDI information is sent to RaspPi where the CSound code is executed. RaspPi converts this information to analog audio.

Qubit has made an excellent video how you can DIY update the firmware to version 1.1.

For this you need Arduino Uno and SD-card reader/writer. Update was easy to do with this instruction video. I am planning to create analog sounds and transfer these to Nebulae for further processing.

Nebulae front

Nebulae back

Arduino UNO

Charles Cohen in Belgium

Charles Cohen (CC) and Rabih Beaini (aka Morphosis) gig at Vooruit in Ghent/Belgium was great ! They both performed first as solo and then together. Music was all improvised. CC has a Zen master ability to create music that is creating space rather than occupying space. His performance had a flow that went on as naturally as a river flows. He told me after the gig that he likes the European music scene and audience a lot so I suppose and hope that we will hear more his playing here in Europe !