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tag: video

Buddha Machine Variations No. 29 (Prescient Delay)

A series of focused experiments

At some point during the Buddha Machine Variations series of exercises, it occurred to me that many people who might come across these videos probably haven’t ever actually heard the Buddha Machines themselves. As a result, I began, on occasion, to include the unadulterated sound of the source audio at some stage of a given piece, generally at the start of a recording, so that the contrast between, dare I say, raw and cooked would be more evident.

This piece, “Prescient Delay,” is built around three delays set at different rates. It opens with the unaltered sound of the Chan Fang model of the Buddha Machine (first released in 2010). Or at least what appears to be unaltered sound. In fact, the audio is being delayed a few seconds. This delay doesn’t affect the sound itself. What it does do is allow for other sounds to insert themselves as premonitions of the main line. The main line here is the second channel of the mixer (the yellow cable). The delays all occur in the ER-301 module, the one three in from the bottom left.

A copy of that unaltered source audio is being sent, separately, through a filter bank, one of my favorite tools, which siphons off distinct bands of the audio spectrum. One of those bands, the white cable, goes into the first channel of the mixer. It’s heard for the first time just shy of 40 seconds into the recording. The quality of this line is quieter, softer, than the main track, and because the main track is set on a delay, this little element is heard before it, giving it a kind of prescience. This line is the only one in the piece occurring in sync with the Buddha Machine itself.

Another band of the filter bank, the orange one, channel three in the mixer, is also being delayed a tad, a bit less so than the main line, so when it is potted up, around the 1:20 mark, it contributes a second premonition of the main line.

Finally, a third band of the filter bank, the blue one (channel four in the mixer), is also set on a delay that’s shorter than the main line. It’s a third premonition, but it’s something else as well. While the delay of the yellow and orange lines are fixed, the delay of this blue band is shuddering, changing slightly, hence that warble quality it has. (The effect is a bit like that of the Instant Lo Fi Junky, a synthesizer module and guitar pedal that I like very much.) This is achieved thanks to a wave form that is ever so slightly altering the value of the delay (the number of milliseconds it is removed from the source audio). The wave is produced by a combination of two waves that come out of the Batumi (note the two short white cables) and go into the S.P.O., the white cable from which goes into the third gate jack of the ER-301. At 2:20, I push a button on the Ornament and Crime module (the black one three in from the bottom right), and you can see a little oscilloscope image. That image shows the wave form that is affecting the value of the delay for the blue line. In addition, if you look at the top screen of the ER-301, you might notice the value of the delay shifting up and down rapidly just above the fourth button in from the left.

And that covers it. If you have any questions, let me know. I’m very happy with how the premonition-like quality of these early apparitions function, and how they alter my sense of the utility of delays. I previously thought of delays as things that happen “after” the main line. No longer.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here’s a straight-on shot of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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Buddha Machine Variations No. 28 (Qin Whopper)

A series of focused experiments

So, to cut to the chase, there’s a big whopping error in the middle of this video. Actually, earlier than the middle. At 1:32 (the full length is 4:37), I connect a cable, and then proceed, over the following minute and a half, to 3:10, to first recognize something is off, and to then sort it out. I had the whole thing plotted, but it had been a long day and I was pretty tired, and I messed it up when I started recording. Still, that minute and a half sounds fine, and even as I was sleuthing what was wrong, I was thinking, “This actually sounds fine, so long as I can fix it soon.” As further evidence I was a bit rushed, the Buddha Machine that is the source of the sound is entirely off-screen. It’s the Chan Fang model, which is all samples of a performance on a qin, an ancient Chinese zither.

Three days/patches ago I mentioned parenthetically, of the big module in the lower left: “Of course, there’s a lot going on inside the ER-301 that’s not viewable.” If you watch that module from 1:32 to 3:10, you’ll get a sense of what moving around its interface is like.

Let’s break the recording down. There are four channels in the mixer, from left to right: one/lavender, two/black, three/yellow, and four/white. They are all variations on the incoming Buddha Machine loop.

Lavender is just the sound of the Buddha Machine loop, unaltered (putting aside the extent to which slight changes in the gain on the initial input do have an influence on the sound). Black and yellow are processed by the ER-301. Both are variations on bands of the incoming audio split off from the overall audio spectrum. Black is on a short delay, so it echoes a bit of the main signal (listen at 1:04 to how it repeats what just preceded it, as if a full register lower).

Yellow is the problematic channel. It is on a two-second loop that is constantly writing over itself when triggered. The signal that triggers the loop is itself fairly long, so the yellow signal doesn’t change that much. The problem was, it’s set in the ER-301 to be triggered by the gate on the top row, and I had it set on the second row. Eventually I figure this out, which is why at 3:10 I change the location of that cable, and at 3:16 the looping kicks in.

As for white, the fourth and final channel in the mixer, it is another band of the audio spectrum, sent through a granular synthesizer. And that covers it.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here’s a straight-on shot of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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Buddha Machine Variations No. 27 (Fracture Delay)

A series of focused experiments

One loop, three strands, many rhythms. A single loop comes out of the second-generation Buddha Machine. It’s split into two. One cable goes straight into the mixer. That’s what’s heard when the first pot is turned up. The second cable goes into a filter bank, two cables from which go into the ER-301. Each carries a different band of the audio spectrum of the source loop. Each of those goes through a different delay in the ER-301, and then the volume of each of those fluctuates (using the ER-301’s Linear Unipolar VCA unit) due to waves coming from the Batumi. The ADDAC mixer has three options for each channel: solo, off, and mute. At the end, each of the three mixer channels is turned off one at a time.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here’s a straight-on shot of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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Buddha Machine Variations No. 26 (Chamber Buffer)

A series of focused experiments

This reworking of a Buddha Machine loop is based on small, slowly accruing sub-loops (subsets of the source audio), much as was yesterday’s. There are some differences. The samples going into the buffers are more likely to cancel out the audio that preceded them, rather than build to an orchestral density (the change suits the source loop, from the fifth-generation Buddha Machine, which has a genteel, chamber-music quality). The sub-loops also each fade in and out, rather than cutting at the seam of each new sample. (Also, yesterday’s experiment used a different generation of Buddha Machine.)

When the video starts, all that’s heard is the loop itself, a combination of stately, simple piano and strings. At 26 seconds or so, a new element enters, not fully heard until about 38 seconds: it’s the source audio sliced and reworked courtesy of the Muxlicer. What’s going on is that as the audio comes through, there are eight potential ways we’ll hear it. Half of those are the audio, with the relative volume adjusted a bit (note the red faders above each of the eight jacks). Two are bands of audio extracted from the spectrum, courtesy of the FXDf module. And two are the left and right channels of the source audio going through a granular synthesizer. The pace of that Muxlicer is set by the pulse going through the lavender patch cable. The resulting Muxlicer activity goes into the first channel of the mixer (white cable).

At 1:13, a new element enters, the buffer looping. This is all happening in the ER-301 module (the Feedback Looper unit). What happens is that the source audio is being fed into a five-second loop, which itself is overwritten with small bits based on the pace set by a square wave from the Batumi (this goes into mixer channel two, yellow cable) . At 1:36, a second buffer loop enters, this one on a six-second loop (mixer channel three, blue cable). Eventually, around 3:18, the Muxlicer is turned down fully, so we only hear the contrasting buffered loops, until it all fades out.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here’s a straight-on shot of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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Buddha Machine Variations No. 25 (Choir Gates)

A series of focused experiments

A lot of these Buddha Machine Variations have been static/semi-generative things that just proceed under their own power. This is, I think, only the second where I intrude and do something to initiate changes.

The source audio is a loop of a Philip Glass choral piece emanating from the edition of the Buddha Machine created by FM3 to commemorate the minimalist composer’s 80th birthday.

The first time through, the loop is heard on its own. The second time through, beginning at about 30 seconds in, what’s heard is two treatments of the loop together, along with the original loop. You see me, during the pause, turn up two of the pots on the mixer, and turn down slightly the one that had been playing. The simpler of these two treatments is simply a narrow band of the audio, extracted from the spectrum.

The other treatment is a little more complex. It’s the Muxlicer (black module with eight vertical sliders in the upper right) clicking through at a steady pace. The module has eight output stages. There’s a main line, and then you can slot in alternates for any of the eight stages. When it’s first heard here, two are playing additional bands of the audio spectrum, which is why those moments stand out.

If you keep an eye on the horizontal lights across the Muxlicer, you can see a little red one pop on to show which channel is playing. The pace at which the lights change is steady. What is random is the sequence, as regulated by a sine wave (from the Dixie II module). It was interesting trying to find a pace that contributes the desired amount of randomness, when I was preparing the patch.

That’s the second time through. The third time through, again during the pause (at 60 seconds), I turn down the original line entirely, leaving just the two treatments that appeared in the previous round. The step-by-step pace is more prominent as a result.

Then I do two more things: I plug first one and then, at about 1:37, a second cable into the ER-301. That’s the large module with two screens in the lower left. What’s happening in the ER-301 is that the full audio of the original loop is, itself, being cut up and looped. There are two channels out of the ER-301 (this is using the Feedback Looper module). One is recording a four-second loop over and over, and the other a two-second loop. The recording of the loops isn’t in sync with the playing, so the snatches overlap haphazardly, piling overtones. If you were to watch the segments accrue, it’s a little bit like a fast motion audio version of posters being layered on the wall of a construction site.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here’s a straight-on shot of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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