Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Means of Production (Part 2)

Sorry I didn't post Monday or Tuesday - cluster headaches got in the way. Nevertheless...

Featured above is a picture I took of the performance rig during setup. You can see the metal plates that were used for reproduction, and the "back to the audience" setting of the environment.

Today's post is all about the front end of the performance system - the modular synthesizer. Since this performance featured the modular (and me patching the modular), it was an important part of both the sound and the performance experience.

My modular is a two cabinet system, featuring a mix of modules and other modular (by Moon, Encore and MegaOhmAudio). I started with a blank slate (no patch cords inserted, no settings in place); from there, I created patches for each of the five movements in the piece. My modular is built in two "voices", with each voice filling a cabinet. Here is a closer view of the modular:

You'll notice a "Kentucky spitting gap" in the cabinet on the left - this is the place where the Grove Audio VCLFO will eventually go, as well as an Instrument interface that wasn't in the house at the time of the performance. In any case, the flow of the concert went as follows:

Movement 1: Set up a noise-based sound on the right-hand cabinet, start patching a melodic sound on the left.

Movement 2: Play the melodic sound on the left-hand cabinet, start patching a dual-oscillator feedback sound on the right.

Movement 3: Play the feedback sound on the right-hand cabinet, start patching a dueling counter-melody on the left.

Movement 4: Play the counter-melody on the left-hand cabinet, set up the noise-based finale on the right.

Movement 5: Play the noise sound on the right-hand cabinet.

Since I was jacking and knob-twisting the whole time, it gave the audience something to key into. There were a lot of questions afterward about the use of the modular, the differentiation of the sound from the effects, and how much was pre-recorded (! - NONE OF IT!!!). I got to introduce a lot of people to a new sort of music-making machine, and give them a little glimpse into the efforts required for some people - mad people like me - to make some noise.

It really did go great, even through Movement 4 sort of failed (it had gotten dark, and I think I mis-plugged the quantizer outputs somehow). In any case, success was felt, and I got to do a fairly heavy-duty modular gig for an art crowd that seemed intrigued.

More tomorrow (or so) on the output section and effects.


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