Thursday, 28 March 2013

Case 4 Noise

Draft setup 28th March
I've been thinking about packing Case 4 with (probably) four discrete noisy patches, each meriting the marat (arhythmic, atonal muck) seal of approval. This would be a winner for the next synth meet, wherever and whenever that might be. Candidates include:

1. My favourite pairing,  Trogotronic 676 and Strakal Brulu with a versatile VCO to poke the former. The Plan B worked well at Brighton.
2. Livewire Dual Cyclotron plus AFG.
3. Bubblesound uLFO plus a (yet to be acquired) delay, as here. The patch also uses a Doepfer A110
4. Flame talking synth (ytba nabbed one on ebay at a decent price later that day) with whatever it likes. Instruction manual here.
5. Synchrodyne and Maths (50% in stock) video here. In terms of HP, it's either #2 or #5.

v2 draft 1st April 
Perhaps a Pittsburgh LFO2 would fit in - excellent cost benefit case.

Run them through the Cwejman mixer to fiddle the levels and pans.

I'll work on the setup in modular grid. Case  4 will hold three rows of 65HP and includes the A199 spring reverb.

This thread on haiku patches is pertinent. It includes a post on the Maths Synchrodyne patch.
And a post on pairing the VILFO and Morphing Terrarium, there's a beautifully noisy sound file here.
There also links to two other threads - One Module and ultra-small patches.

There's a v2 with option 5 replacing option 2. I have also added my custom IO to modulargrid and a VILFO to the setup.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

SoS: Weird Science

Al James' extensive piece in the April 2013 Sound on Sound examines modules by category, giving brief appraisals of the most highly recommended products and listing additional honourable mentions. Discussed on Muffwiggler here.
And here's a run-down (I have the ones in bold):

Tiptop Z3000
Intellijel Dixie II (for size) and Rubicon (for flexibility)
Cyclonix Cyclebox
Makenoise DPO
Harvestman Piston Honda
Livewire AFG
HMs: Flame Talking Synth; Harvestman Hertz Donut; ASol and ASys; Bubblesound VCOb; Cwejman VCO6; Doepfer; Kilpatrick K3020, Metasonix R55; MFB Triple; Pittsburgh Generator; Malekko Anti.

Tiptop Z2040
Intellijel Korgasmotron
Harvestman Formanta Plovoks (worth a look from the description)
Livewire Frequensteiner
Doepfer Wasp
FoH Plague Bearer
HMs: AMSynth range; ASys RS500e; Cwejman range; Bubblesound SEM20; Doepfer range; Harvestman Bionic Lester; Intellijel Dr Octature; Metasonix R52; Pittsburgh; Toppobrillo; Malekko Borg & Boogie; WMD Synchrodyne and Hadron Collider.

Function Generators
MakeNoise Maths
MakeNoise Wogglebug
ADDAC Marble Physics
HMs 4MS PEG; ASys RS510e; Bubblesound uLFO;  Circuit Abbey ADSRjr; Flame C3 Knob Recorder; Harvestman Double ANdore; Intellijel Quadra and Planar; MFB Dual LFO; Pittsburgh ADSR; Synthesis Tech E355 Morphing Dual LFO; Malekko Envelator and NoiseRing.

Sequencers, Clock Dividers & Pitch Quantisation
Tiptop Z8000 Matrix Sequencer
MakeNoise Pressure Points and René
Intellijel uScale
Pitch - ADDAC 207; Flame Tame Machine and Chord Machine; Doepfer A156; Toppobrillo Quantimator
Sequence - Modcan Touch; Intellijel Metropolis and uStep; Doepfer A155
Clock - Flame Clockwork; Doepfer A160; 4MS PEG

Mixers, Low-pass Gates, Utilities & Logic
MakeNoise Optomix and ModDemix
Intellijel Mutamix
HMs Doepfer range; Fonitronik MH01; Intellijel Unity Mixer;  Manhatten Mix; STG .Mix; Synovatron CV Tools.

Tiptop Z5000 and ZDSP
Harvestman Malgorithm and Tyme Sefari
MakeNoise Echophon and Phonogene
Intellijel  uFold
Toppobrillo Triple Wavefolder
Doepfer Spring Reverb
ASol SR01
HMs: Flame FX6; Doepfer BBDs; Pittsburgh Delay; FoH Sound of Shadows; Snazzy FX Ardcore; Synthesis Tech Deflector Shield; WMD Geiger Counter

The second image is the author's current setup.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

They [nearly] fit

Schneider's parcel arrived today and so all the essential modules are now to hand.
And they fit in several important ways:

  • there's enough HP - and a little to spare for module juggling;
  • it's deep enough for the A113 sub; but
  • adding my luxurious velvet lining made the lid a rather tight fit which I dealt with by trimming the edges and applying some brute force;
  • it has also stiffened the lid and there is not quite enough space for the module knobs.
A few shavings off the side walls will take care of that tomorrow and I'll probably add the new handle at the same time as it's bound to be needed soon and disassembling the lot when the modules are screwed down will be a pain.

Here's a snap, and here's Kevin.

20th March
A delay in completing as the screws I ordered seem to have gone astray. More on the way.

There's a major article in the new Sound on Sound on boutique modules. I'll digest that and reconsider the wish list which currently comprises the Delptronics Little Drummer Boy, a delay, either f(h) or Pittsburgh and perhaps the rather expensive WMD Synchrodyne.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Case 5

Even before installing any modules, the plywood adds significantly to the weight of the case and I doubt whether the original handle will be up to the task for long. I have ordered a new (described as) heavy duty leather case from Stagebox Online. They only had black. This should bolt through to the new plywood sidewall.

On the rails question, the problem with installing the (superior in use) aluminium type is locating the bolt holes accurately: a problem which is solved by rack ears but only at the expense of lost HP. It occurred to me this morning that I can use the bolt holes in the rack ears as a template for drilling holes in the plywood. Certainly worth a try, especially as I will be using rail offcuts from Case 4. There's no loss in trying and if it doesn't work I can still revert to wooden rails.

Thursday 7th
Schneiders report the modules are now in stock, so they should be here by the end of next week.

I fiddled with the rack ears but decided in the end to go for wooden rails. I'm hoping to complete the case this weekend (though the rugby will interrupt), including a makeover for the inside of the lid with an extravagant fabric.

The remaining aluminium rails can upgrade cases 2 and 3. I have one more spare Doepfer power unit, so one more case can be made.

A nagging question is the size of the Heisenberg and the RS35 as these will jockey for position in the case to drive the noise. The Heisenberg is 14HP and the RS35 12HP, so no problem swapping.

Friday 8th
On with the wooden rails. The Doepfer Mechanical Details page (click Products - Mechanical) shows module height as 128.5mm with the distance between the centres of the mounting holes as 122.5.

Woodwork complete ahead of schedule. As hoped, there's a small storage space at the top for patch cables. I just need to stain it and reline the lid. I was hoping for a paisley design, but my local haberdasher was asking £67 per metre (most of which would go spare) and so I settled for an offcut of blue velvet for £1 from a nearby charity shop. Fedex have confirmed the modules are on their way from Berlin: it usually takes the best part of a week. The new case handle is here - just the right size and looks pretty sturdy.

Saturday 9th
All done but the lid lining. I'll leave the old handle on until it gives way.

The modules have reached Cologne.

There's an excellent Heisenberg demo here.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Case 5 (Trautonium)

The inside of the case is a bit of a mess (fig. 1) and so I have lined it with plywood (fig. 2).

I would still like the case to be self-contained, i.e. to carry the wall-wart and a small speaker and so have incorporated compartments for those (fig. 3), but not yet as a permanent fixture.

I'll still need to ensure that the essential modules will fit, bearing in mind the rather thick plywood I have available (left over from tiling the bathroom floor) and the inevitable loss of space if I use aluminium rails and rack-ears. Perhaps a rethink (all modules, no storage) will be necessary.

The Doepfer article on the Trautonium, which I have quoted at length here, states
Oskar Sala used for nearly all recordings a freeuncy shifter (made by the German company Telefunken). This is why we included the Frequency Shifter A-126.
Another module that could be included is the Spring Reverb A-199. Mr Sala used reverb or delay for almost all recordings.
And this is clearly demonstrated in this video of  a 1991 concert. This made me wonder whether I would regret not incorporating these (FS. delay and/or reverb) into a larger case, however
  1.  the FS is significantly deeper, requiring a much larger case;
  2. those units are separate in Sala's setup; and
  3. I had already bought a case
and so I'll steam ahead and see where it ends up. If necessary I can buy some thinner plywood, use space-saving wooden rails or aluminium rails without the rack-ears.

My probable minimum module set is shown in this Modular Grid  example. Most of the HPs are listed in this post and the Heisenberg is 14HP

Zeus - Heisenberg - 2 * VCOs - sub - noise = 4 + 14 + (2*10) + 26 + 8 = 72 HP
foot - ribbon - vclfo - mixer - filter - lfo - adsr - dvca = 4 + 8 + 8 + 8 + 20 + 8 + 8 + 8 = 72 HP

The space with compartments is about 14½ inches (72HP) without is 17½ inches (87HP). I'll calculate the loss for rack-ears later.

I might not need the second LFO.
The foot controller is included (only 4HP), but there is no space for foot controls.
Other VCOs might make the sound more interesting, but I think the Doepfer is the narrowest I have (ASys RS95E is 12HP).
I would quite like to have an ASys RS35 (see apples and pears) in addition to the Heisenberg, but that's not going to happen with Plan A.
If I accept a separate case of utility modules (FS (deep), delay reverb), I guess this could also house the Heisenberg and RS35 and others which could usefully serve any of the other cases.

I guess the easiest solution is to build v.1 of the case with wooden rails (no loss of HP) and then consider v.2 with aluminium.

Storage for the 60cm ribbon controller also needs consideration. I thought of a snooker cue case (these come up easily and cheaply on ebay). There are also those cylinder art holder things and perhaps plastic tubing could be employed.

Schneiders say two weeks for the out-of-stock modules (104 & 140).

Monday, 4 March 2013


The second ASys RS-35 has arrived (the converter cable has to be ordered separately, but there should be one on the ASys VCO I can commandeer in the short term.
I have ordered the  Trautonium bits (filter, sub-osc, footswitch, an extra ADSR) from Schneider, including rails and rack-ears for the case. The A103 filter is shown as out of stock (I expect there's been a run on them following the Trautoniks Trautonium publicity), so this could take some time.

Just the Delptronics Little Drummer Boy and a delay to go on the current list.

There's a quick burst of the RS-35 here on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Trautonium 2Mar13

The case arrived today. It's in reasonable condition. It looks as though the modules should fit, although the lid sits snugly over the main compartment and so the control surface will have to be recessed to close the lid over the knobs and patch leads will be right out.

I have transferred the Doepfer Trautonium module suggestions (shown here) to Modular Grid. A few changes - I removed the bus access and replaced the two separate VCAs with the dual unit. The Frequency Shifter, though it would be fun to have in the suitcase, will probably not fit with a depth of 105.

I'll make a start on the plywood inserts for the case. I will almost certainly go for aluminium rails rather than wood (the offcuts from Case 4 are just about the right size) and  intend to upgrade Case 2 and Case 3 to aluminium at some point. Wooden rails are easy to make, but not satisfactory when the intention is to move modules around.

I'll order the modules and alumongery from Schneiders as soon as the liberated funds arrive.

There are some terrific Ttm performances on YouTube by Oskar Sala: here's one and the rest are in the menu. There seems to be a lot of delay/echo used in the performance: perhaps that's another requirement for the Case.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Trautonium 1Mar13

Still waiting for the suitcase to arrive. In the meantime, here's another copy from the Doepfer Ttm page.

  • The system is controlled by the Trautonium Manual A-198 (manual and module left above). This manual/module generates the pitch control voltage for the oscillators and possibly the Gate signal for the "Schlagwerk" (envelope generator A-140 ) and a loudness control voltage for the first VCA A-131 if requested.
  • Right to the A-198 module a multiple A-180 is located. This can be used to distribute the CV of the A-198 to the VCOs (one A-110 as master VCO for the A-113, one A-110 as side oscillator) and the Quantizer A-156. The CV for the VCAs can be patched at the front panel (i.e. directly to the CV1 inputs) or via the Bus Access module A-185.
  • Next to it the Quantizer A-156 is arranged. This module is not available in the original Trautonium. It can be used to generate exact semitones from the control voltage coming from the A-198. From our point of view it is a useful extension for the system's possibilities. E.g. the envelope generator A-140 can be controlled by the trigger output of the A-156 to generate arpeggio-like tone sequences.
  • Next to the A-156 the system contains a voltage controlled switch A-150. It can be used to switch - e.g. with the foot - between quantized and not-quantized operation. The second switch of the A-150 can be used to switch the gate control for the envelope generator (e.g. between the Gate output of the A-198 or the trigger output of the A-156).
  • The following Bus Access module A-185 is suitable to connect the CV and Gate signal to the A-100 bus. In this case it is no longer necessary to patch the CV inputs of the VCOs A-110 and the Gate input of the envelope generator A-140 at the front panel of these modules.
  • The next modules are a VCO A-110 (master oscillator for the A-113), the Subharmonic Generator A-113 and another VCO A-110 ("Side Oscillator").
  • The Noise module A-118 is another sound source for the system.
  • The desired sound sources (Subharmonic Oscillator, Side Oscillator, Noise) are mixed in the A-138 and the output of the mixer is fed to the input of the Trautonium Filter A-104.
  • The output of the Trautonium Filter A-104 can be passed through another filter (e.g. the Wasp Filter A-124 controlled by the envelope generator A-140 or the A-145) and/or the Frequency Shifter A-126. Oskar Sala used for nearly all recordings a freeuncy shifter (made by the German company Telefunken). This is why we included the Frequency Shifter A-126. The additional Wasp Filter A-124 is not available in the original Trautonium but is a very useful extension for the system's possibilities. 
  • Finally the audio signal is processed by two VCAs (A-130 and A-131). One of the VCAs is controlled by a foot controller, the second by the pressure voltage of the Trautonium manual A-198, the envelope generator A-140 or the LFO A-145.
  • Module A-177 establishes the connection to the double foot switch (e.g. VFP2) and foot controller (e.g. FP5). The double foot switch can be used to switch between the mixtures of the Subharmonic Generator A-113. Alternatively one of the foot switches could be used to control the A-150 to switch between quantized and non-quantized mode (see Quantizer A-156 above). The foot controller is normally used to control the overall loudness with one of the two VCAs. But it could be used too to control the filter frequency of the Wasp Filter A-124.
  • Another module that could be included is the Spring Reverb A-199. Mr Sala used reverb or delay for almost all recordings.
  • If you prefer MIDI control instead of the A-198 the MIDI interface A-190 can be used.
  • These modules are not required for a replica of the original trautonium but are useful extension for the system's possibilities: A-156. A-150, A-185, A-124 and A-126 nicht benötigt.
I have the Wasp and Frequency Shifter, but the HP is expanding beyond my original calculations (and see my post earlier today about adding an AS RS35).

Apples and Pears

Appleton and Perera exercise
Jon Appleton and Ronald Perera's The Development of and Practice of Electronic Music (1975 Prentice-Hall) includes an exercise using voice and music as sources (p. 165, see right).
ASys RS35

I have toyed with this idea several times and have set it up again using the marvellous Anaolgue Systems RS35. It does a delightful job of turning Radio 4 into wurble-bleep and I have ordered another. I intend to run two parallel patches taking Radio3 and Radio 4 respectively each through an RS35 to provide the lead noises and each into separate ASRs to provide some sort of conflicting drone background.

That'll need eight oscillators, a 6-channel mixer (original, wurble and drone *2) and possibly two cases. I'll try to post an example of one channel processing this weekend.

Speech on both channels (e.g. an interview with clear stereo separation) might be interesting: perhaps an episode of Any Questions. And maybe well-known speeches. Or Copland's Lincoln Portrait, if I can separate voice and orchestra.

An RS35 into the Trautonium could be fun, too.