As I go about planning a new project, I sometimes leverage a narrative, a genre, or an instrument as the inspiration, the anchor or central theme of the work. This past spring and summer, my work was inspired mostly by imagery; nature, photographs, paintings, and video art. I have included an image that inspired me as track art which you can see if you click through a track link.
All sounds used in these compositions are created using hardware synthesizers (see equipment list at close of these notes). At the center of each of these compositions is a generative modular synthesizer patch. The generative patch is recorded along with sequenced synths and live performance. Each part is recorded as an individual track through the Presonus StudioLive 32.4.2 AI console using Presonus Capture and then imported into Sonar Producer for overdubs, post-production, mixing and mastering. Izotope Neutron and Ozone plugins are used exclusively for mixing and mastering.
Shape of Things to Come
The genesis of this piece was a challenge posted in the Electronic Music Philosophy Facebook group to compose a track that leverages the left-right audio spectrum. This track does not have any part that is squarely in the center, leverages a left/right split between sound and reverb and automates the movement of the lead ring-modulated melody-forming chords across the left-right spectrum. It is best experienced with headphones.
The piece begins with a ring modulation patch from the Peak that gives way to the Moog bass and a soft undulating pad coming from the Prophet. Soon after the primordal drumming begins provided by the Arp, Peak and Moog. Bell tones and warped timbres appear in the left and right channels while the ring modulation snakes to the left and right.
This track opens with an undulating string patch on the Peak. Evolving out of those waves is the Make Noise Shared System modular synth providing a gentle guitar-like feedback tone. From there, the Moog Subsequent 37 Vangelis-ish lead enters which then ushers in the classic 4 on the floor drumbeat. As the piece evolves, the gentle feedback morphs into a soaring buzz-feedback playing off the lead. I am dedicating this track to the Leisure Suit I wore to my High School prom.
Nature is on display in this composition as random (chaos) influenced clocks and control voltages are used as the engine of a generative patch of overlapping melodies and rhythms. This piece uses Marbles and Stages modules from Mutable Instruments along with the MI Braids, Rings and Sheep. Marbles provides the clock driving multiple influenced triggers and melodies with Stages providing multiple looping envelopes. Braids, Rings and Sheep are the three primary cycling voices. A silky-smooth lead performed on a Moog Subsequent 37 enters about halfway through that completes the arrangement.
A most humble homage to the many film composers who inspire me. The drums provide a pedal drone as the melodies float above. The MatrixBrute supplies the fundemental chords and lead melody with the Arp Odyssey providing the bass. The Peak provides a subtle string ensemble and the Subsequent 37 is heard as the solo reed riffing over the orchestra. The Prophet enters at the height with soaring high horns.
Inspired by Bruce Gray's abstract painting Raindrops #4, this piece combines a generative patch on a Make Noise Black & Gold Shared System with a Novation Peak, Moog Subsequent 37, Sequential Prophet Rev 2 and an Arturia MatrixBrute. A Strymon Timeline and Big Sky provide delay and reverb artifacts.
The piece opens with a pulsating chord provided by the Prophet. The Shared System generative patch uses the Morphagene to continuously record and playback the input from the DPO, sequenced by Rene and sent through the Echophon and Erbe-Verb, creating sound on sound as well as double speed playback at an octave higher. This creates the wind swept ripple tones. The Pressure Points is used to sequence the Telharmonic for chord accompaniment. These parts provide the central triplet feel.
The Peak is sequenced by a Squarp Pyramid providing a simple bass pedal. The Subsequent 37 and MatrixBrute along with the Big Sky provide additional rhythmic and harmonic artifacts. Finally, the MatrixBrute and the Timeline add a melodic droplet element.
River of Unmindfulness
In Greek mythology, the Lethe was one of the five rivers of the underworld of Hades. Also known as the Ameles Potamos, translation 'River of Unmindfulness', the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. Small batch bourbon has the same effect on me.
The 2HP Euclid is used along with the 2HP Tune, 2HP Turing Machine (TM) and 2HP Pluck to create a generative melody based on an augmented whole tone scale. This is layered on a bass drone produced by the Studio Electronics Tonestar feed through the Xaoc Belgrad 2-pole Filter and Xaoc Kamieniec 6-pole Phaser. Xaoc Batumi LFO’s are used to further modulate the filter and phaser.
If listening on headphones at an intense, yet reasonable volume, you will feel the LFO and Phaser modulations in your brain matter. At this time, we believe there is no danger to the listener as a result of brain matter modulation, but further research is required. Your volunteer efforts are much appreciated.
This piece is composed in a very similar fashion as Winter’ end. The same set of modules are used but this time there are chords provided by the Prophet and the lead is a much richer tone on the Moog, not as silky smooth, yet more emotive and melancholy as summer comes to an end.
Behind the Veil
First performed live in the fall of 2018 at the Western MA Synth Fest, this piece is a generative composition using the Make Noise Shared System for classic Buchla Bongos, the Prophet Rev 2 for undulating pads and the Moog Subsequent 37 providing the harmonic filter sweep with deep resonant bass and the lead horn..