Buchla Performance at Synthplex 2019

July 11th, 2020

Many creatives seem to have adapted well to the unexpected conditions of 2020 and managed to be incredibly productive under these incredible circumstances. Other obligations occupy most of my time these days and have not had the time or energy to be creative, but I have been enjoying listening to some the great releases from friends and colleagues.

In the little spare time available, I’ve been taking care of some digital housekeeping and finally managed to post up audio from my performance at Synthplex 2019. This is a performance on a Buchla system presented in quadraphonic sound. The only recording from the event is a two channel capture from the A/V team controlling the visuals and sound.

The patch was structured in five parts that build through a range of tonal and atonal techniques. It was not a fully preprogrammed performance, and because the patch relies on the Buchla 272e FM tuner module, there’s a risk factor involved in trying to play off whatever signals are flowing through the ether. Frankly, this performance was not the best representation of what the patch can sound like. There was no soundcheck, and I didn’t have time to get all of the initial settings for the patch dialed in, and I struggled during the first two sections to get things together (and in tune). Finally about half way through during the third movement, things started flowing well and I was pretty happy with the last sections.


peff · Kurt Kurasaki - Live Buchla Performance - Synthplex 2019

Sequential Pro 3

January 18th, 2020

I recently completed a voicing assignment for the new Pro 3 synthesizer from Sequential. This is their new mono synth that carries on the tradition of the legendary Pro 1 and popular Pro 2, but the Pro 3 mixes things up a bit by incorporating a wavetable oscillator along with two analog oscillators. The filter section has three selectable types including popular low pass circuits and the Oberheim SEM filter circuit. Pictured above is the prototype unit used for developing factory programs for the instrument.

For several months now, I have had the opportunity to experiment with prototype and see the instrument become complete. Sequential asked if I could contribute some tables, and I was little reluctant. Other than generating basic mathematical functions as LUTs, I don’t have much experience developing wavetables, unlike the hardcore experts, Robert Rich and Drew Neumann. They created the real bread and butter wavetables included in the Pro 3. The Sequential Team and Dave gave me some room to just experiment a bit and see if I could come up with anything usable.

There are no commercial products available for the specific task of developing wavetables. While any decent editing application would work, I wanted something that would let me control windowing and audition at different playback rates to simulate oscillator scan rates. I ended up making a max/msp patch that allowed me to import and time compress audio files, make small edits and modulate harmonics, then export to WAV files for transfer to the Pro 3. While it was pretty easy to create some basic tables, the content from Drew and Robert was superior to what I was producing.

I ended up going back to my 808 sample library and flew in the bass drum, the snare drum, the clap, cowbell, hi hat, etc. After massaging the sounds a bit, we imported them as a 16 individual tables into the Pro 3 and what started coming out was completely different from anything we’ve heard before. It was like a weird revelation that a crude 1024 sample file could still capture the vibe of an iconic sound which could then become a voice in synthesizer patch.

The “Sequential” wavetable is a sample of my voice. This was another experiment to see if it would be possible to create a set of speech based wavetables that could be modulated to say something … and still be somewhat musically useful in timbre generation. I don’t know about the latter objective, but it was an interesting challenge to pick out the right sections of a sample that would intelligibly reproduce consonants and vowels when scrolling through the 16 wavetable sections.

On the surface, the Pro 3 seems like “just another subtractive monosynth,” but it’s pretty surprising the range of sounds you can create with this combination of nice analog oscillators and the wavetables. All of the classic monosynth type sounds are easily available, but with the flexible mod sources and routings, the sequencer, and effects, the results seem like this is more than just one voice.


peff · Sequential Pro 3 Programs Demo

TR-808 with Rossum Filters

August 8th, 2019

Happy 808 Day!

I’ve been testing the Rossum Electro Music Linnaeus multimode filter module which is going into production this week. Since it’s 808 day, i figured it would be interesting to see how it treats some classic electronic drum sounds. Linnaeus is a stereo module and you can invert the modulation of the two channels to create stereo imaging effects. There’s also a linear FM feature, including a modulation oscillator (with selectable waveforms). When the filter is in self oscillation, you can create “Chowning” style ringing tones, or absolutely destroy a tone being processed through the filter.

The 808 Bass Drum is isolated and running through the Rossum Evolution, and the 808 Accent trigger is pulsing Control Forge which has a random stepped voltage sequence which is patched to both Evolution and Linnaeus.

Synthplex

March 14th, 2019

Synthplex begins in two weeks! This is new synthesizer event in Burbank, CA that features exhibitors, panels, DIY builder sessions, and electronic music performances. I’m scheduled to do a set on Friday, March 29th and will be using the Buchla with a nice quadraphonic sound system!

Tickets and more information are available on the website:

Synthplex.com

Open Source Magazine

March 6th, 2019

Danny Kim, known for organizing the Binary Society art and electronic music events around Silicon Valley, has created a new print publication called Open Source. I’ve contributed a rather technical article on decibels and voltage levels as they relate to synthesizers and control voltages, along with tips and approaches to interfacing different types of audio equipment.

Open Source

Open Source is a journal of synthesizer culture, visual art and technology. It was conceived and meticulously crafted for the synth community by passionate musicians and artists in Silicon Valley with collaborators spanning the globe. This limited run of 200 issues will only be available in physical print at select boutique synth shops. Each issue includes a 4GB microSD card loaded with audio visual goodies including two full-length albums. The ad-free publication retails at $30 USD / 28 Euros.

Issue 01 Features:

  • an in-depth interview about the virtual vs. sensual artistic process with ambient maestro, Robert Rich showcasing his personal paintings
  • a year-long development journal on the Endorphin.es BLCK_NOIR written by designer Andreas Zhukovsky
  • Interview with visual artist, Bill Wiatroski discussing “Manifestation”, his analog video installation in Alameda, CA
  • Creating electroacoustic instruments using contact mics by Nathan Moody
  • Guide to Granular Modular Synthesis by Austin Cairns
  • Decibel levels in Eurorack Synthesis by Kurt Kurasaki
  • And James Cigler’s perspectives on moving beyond East Coast vs. West Coast synthesis.
  • The included audio visual program on a 4GB microSD card contains:

  • Open Source Records presents “Rituals:in:Time”, an exclusive album by m.0 aka Maurice Jackson including the “Passage” music video directed by Danny Kim.
  • “Blck Noir”, an album from Principal Uno (Julia Bondar and Andreas from Endorphin.es) including a bonus track named,
  • “Le Fleur du Mal” and a behind-the-scenes video from the photoshoot.

  • An exclusive preview of r bene’s untitled album.
  • Five original patches from James Cigler, m.0, r beny, Distco and Qorser demoing the Endorphin.es BLCK_NOIR.
  • Darkwaves effects firmware for the BLCK_NOIR
  • You can find Open Source starting today at:

    Analogue Haven (Los Angeles)
    Control Voltage (Portland)
    Robotspeak (SF)
    Control (NYC)
    Modular8 (Portland) Schneidersladen (Berlin)
    Endorphin.es (España)

    Quadraphonic

    January 6th, 2019

    I’ve started reconfiguring some Buchla patches for quadraphonic playback. My living room isn’t the most ideal studio space for a quad speaker setup, but i have these old Meyer Sound Lark speakers on stands to act as rear channel monitors. With the power and audio cables running all over, the place is kind of a mess, but the Larks seem to work pretty well with the Amies.

    Complex-1 Modular Synth for Reason

    December 20th, 2018

    The props have developed a new modular synthesizer rack extension for Reason! The most significant feature is the ability to make patch connections on the front panel of the device, and like any good modular you can create some interesting self-generating patches through a variety of randomization techniques. The principle synthesis approach is based around a Buchla style complex oscillator. There is also a lopass gate emulation to round out the “West Coast” sound.

    The video above is a little demonstration of some of the patches I created for the factory presets in the rack extension.

    Eventide H9000

    December 8th, 2018

    After months of waiting, the Eventide H9000 studio effects processor has landed in my studio. Since I’ve committed to a quadraphonic performance using the Buchla system, I’ve been assessing the options of dedicated multichannel reverb processors and contemplated the H8000 as a solution. When I checked out the H9000 at NAMM, this seemed like a better solution going forward.

    My old H3000 has been a trusty workhorse since I first acquired it in the late 1980s, and it’s my hope that the H9000 will last at least as long.

    Studio.h

    November 29th, 2018

    I’ve been troubleshooting some issues with the large Buchla system where the 225e MIDI decoder and Preset Manager lock up unexpectedly. Fortunately Doug at Studio.h has a solution available. I’ve installed his bus repeater modules on the power/data bus boards, and the problem seems to have been solved. I did have to adjust the wiring harness on the main powered boat… Note to Self: double check that wiring harness before collapsing the case!

    I’ve also installed Doug’s Dual Precision Oscillator module which is inspired by the Buchla 258 oscillator and responds to MIDI information over the internal data bus. The Studio.h ‘DPO’ replaces Mark Verbos’ 258v module that I was in operation previously.

    Performance Configuration

    September 14th, 2018

    Every once in awhile it becomes necessary to shuffle the modular deck. I recently picked up a Polyend Seq, pattern sequencer and instantly found it useful for coming up with new ideas. I’ve reconfigured my Buchla rig with a 225e midi decoder module to interface the Seq with the 200e modules that respond to incoming midi messages. I removed to the 206e, since I didn’t really need two preset managers in the system, and now rely on the 210e for mixing multiple sources. I’m committed to a couple of performances in the next 6 months, and this will be the configuration for these performances.

    Sequential Prophet X

    March 29th, 2018

    I just finished up another voicing project for Dave Smith / Sequential for the upcoming Prophet X keyboard. This is something different that uses a multisampler engine, digital oscillators, and analog filters! The primary sample content comes from the 8DIO libraries and includes an abundance of acoustic instrument sets. The fun really begins when you can modulate the sampler engine with LFOs and envelopes to create granular-ish textures and morphing tones. I particularly like all the PPG wavetable samples, and being able to FM these with acoustic piano samples.

    Rossum Assimil8or testing

    February 27th, 2018

    More testing of the Rossum Assimil8or module in combination with the Strymon Magneto delay module.