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

tag: studio journal

Guitar Learning: Maybe (A minor on EBow)

A chord in individually held guitar lines

This is the first attempt I’ve made to record something with my newly obtained EBow. It’s also about ten minutes into my first attempt to even use the EBow. The electric bow employs a magnetic field to strum individual strings for you, which explains the gorgeous and limitlessly held tones it is capable of. Here I layered three notes, one by one, from a single chord, an A minor, and then put a separate note on top of that — the device was so new to me, I didn’t even pay attention to what the fourth note was; I just listened for something that sounded complementary. The accrual process isn’t evident in this recording. I didn’t hit record until the chord was accomplished.

I did this all in a Ditto Looper, recording directly from my amplifier into my cellphone. I used Adobe Audition to limit the higher frequencies in the audio, and to introduce a fade-in and a fade-out. The track’s title is “Maybe” (adapted from the first two letters each from “EBow” and “A minor — E, B, A, M — backward).

Track originally posted at

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Module Learning: Fixed Fourses

My most and least straightforward synthesizer modules

A fixed filter bank provides direct access to the spectrum components of a given signal, breaking it into narrow bands you can fiddle with individually. Just lending an LFO to contort the low end of a guitar phrase, or letting a square wave impose a rhythm by turning on and off some mid-range — it’s an approach I have come to love. In this patch, a fairly rich noise source is being sent through a fixed filter bank. Four spans of the filter bank are going into a voltage-controlled mixer, and those each are being modulated by a synchronized quad LFO. In addition, the bounds of the noise source are being affected slightly by a slow LFO, separate from the quad LFO.

The filter bank is the newest module for me: the FXDf from Make Noise. The noise source is the Fourses module from Peter Blasser’s Ieaskul F. Mobenthey. The mixer is the ADDAC 802. The quad LFO is the Batumi from Xaoc. The additional LFO is the Dixie II from Intellijel.

The audio was recorded on a Zoom H4n via a Mackie mixer. The track was then trimmed of some high end and given a fade-in and a fade-out in Adobe Audition.

Track originally posted at

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Module Learning: Spectral Swoop

Give and take as structure

It’s a little-known fact that the low-level drones experienced as much as heard in large office buildings aren’t the result of overlapping signal byproduct from various infrastructural activities — the off-sync relations between HVAC, electrical, and IT, for example — but, instead, are unattributed ambient sound-art installations funded by forward-thinking c-level thought leaders and artistically progressive boards of directors.

Well, no, not really. It is just noise whose happenstance subtle complexity can reward close attention, when it isn’t causing low-level discomfort.

In any case, this recording is a Saturday-morning attempt to combine the rough timbres of one module with the elegant spectrum analysis of another, all in the service of a certain HVAC je ne sais quoi. The main sound is a rich triangle coming from the Ieaskul F. Mobenthey Swoop, sent in turn through the 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonator, several bands of which are tweaked thanks to various low-frequency oscillations. The pace is set by the Delptronics Trigger Man, which, throughout, rotates the scale of the 4MS module two steps forward, one step back.

In addition, a bit of pink noise waves in and out, coming from an SSF Quantum Rainbow 2. The interwoven LFO patterns yield a song-like sequence of give and take, if not full on verse and chorus.

Track originally posted at

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Module Learning: Spectral (Rhythmic Bands)

An experiment with filterbank beats

An experiment with another recent module acquisition: a spectral filter. It’s like my previous filterbank, the one that this rainbow-colored module (from the 4MS Company) replaced, in that it divides the incoming audio signal across the spectrum and helps you focus in on one narrow band or sliver of that sound, but it has many additional superpowers I’m only just beginning to learn.

Heard here is a little melody produced by the sequencer, the Monome Grid in the foreground, which is directing the notes played by a triangle wave via a module called Ansible. A trigger module (the Trigger Man) is setting the pace of the Grid, and also correlating some short sharp square waves from an LFO (the Batumi module) that are, in turn, creating little blips in the triangle wave (emanating from a Dixie II oscillator).

This is sort of the third stage of this experiment. Earlier in this process I was using other devices to add more variables to the sound, but I whittled back some of that spaghetti to settle on what I posted a short video of to Instagram last night. And then this morning I built it back up again:

The three main things this has that the Instagram didn’t have are: (1) the rhythm from the Trigger Man is a little more complex now, giving the melody a bit more of a herky-jerky beat; (2) the melody itself has some randomization going on (more like probability: will a note play or will it not); and (3) there’s a heavily subdued version of the audio that plays at the open and close (it’s running through a low-pass filter). There’s a bit of noise in this recording, and I’m not sure why.

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“Module Learning: Swoop (Bounds Parameters)”

An experiment with triangle parameters and in-rack recording

I recently reworked about half my modular synthesizer, with some key priorities in mind, among them (1) introducing some modules with their own strong personalities, notably the 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonator and the Ieaskul F. Mobenthey Swoop, and (2) having a means to be always recording. I added an Expert Sleepers Disting MK4 between the mixer and the output to use as an always-on recorder. This track is a first attempt I made at using the IFM Swoop. Here the Swoop is producing a triangle wave, bounds of which are changing as the track proceeds (among other variables I’m just beginning to wrap my head around). It’s secondarily being sent through a low-pass filter, to take the upper edge off.

The attached photo shows the patch, though some of the knobs were fiddled with as it ran. (Perhaps the main thing I learned today was that it’s sort of a hassle to get the SD card in and out of the Disting. The always-on recording was nice, though. This is the end of a longer segment, the opening part of which was even lower on the learning curve. When I was done, I just edited off the opening half and introduced a fade-in. The fade-out was done manually with my in-rack mixer.)

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