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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Synth Learning: “In and Near C”

My first 2020 track for Weekly Beats

It’s a new year, and I’m giving weeklybeats.com a go again. I only posted a few tracks two years ago when I last joined in. Unlike many other weekly music communities online, Weekly Beats is quite open-ended: “The objective of Weeklybeats is to encourage musicians to be productive, creative, and have fun,” states its FAQ. By contrast, in the SB Beat Battles, everyone works with the same shared samples. In the Naviar Haiku, everyone works from the same short poem as inspiration. And in the Disquiet Junto, everyone follows the same instructions for a different project.

In my brief Weekly Beats writeup, this is how I described what’s going on: “A drone in and near C for the start of the new year. The source note is from my Arturia MicroBrute. It goes through a reverb pedal, the HardWire RV-7, which then goes into my Eurorack modular synthesizer. Several things happen then: three separate bands of the spectrum (via the MakeNoise FXDf module) are individually combined with snippets being frozen in the Clouds module (triggered by a square wave from an oscillator, the Dixie II), and I’m manually saving and playing loops using the Soundmachines UL1 (recording and playing as triggered by two foot pedals via the Monome Walk module). That’s a broad-strokes description.”

Here’s a photo of the patch in my modular synth:

Just a few more notes: Where it says Clouds above, it’s actually Smog, a smaller version of the Clouds module. There’s some low-level LFO activity going on, as well. Waves from my Batumi, squashed into something less wildly fluctuating by my WMD S.P.O., are influencing the volume of one of the FXDf, and the “position” and “texture” of the Smog audio. One thing I was trying to do throughout was ever so slightly alter the tuning of the audio being replayed by the UL1 looper, the idea being to have something close to C that would create moire/beading with the C itself. I was using a lot of the various options within the MicroBrute to make the C as complex as I could, and I slowly turned all of those knobs down at the very end, until the track was silent. That about covers it.

The track is on both weeklybeats.com and soundcloud.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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