I use vocoders quite often. Mostly I vocode, mirror and pan hard a few last words of a verse to add tension. Although cliche the technique used subtly is one of those tricks that keeps the listeners ear interested. I prefer the sound of my Digitech Talker to any software vocoder (it’s really a pseudo talk box) but having one built-in to Ableton Live 8 is a treat. It’s all about workflow people…
“A vocoder, IPA: [?vo?ko?d?r] (a portmanteau of the words voice and encoder), is an analysis / synthesis system, mostly used for speech in which the input is passed through a multiband filter, each filter is passed through an envelope follower, the control signals from the envelope followers are communicated, and the decoder applies these (amplitude) control signals to corresponding filters in the (re)synthesizer.
It was originally developed as a speech coder for telecommunications applications in the 1930s, the idea being to code speech for transmission. Its primary use in this fashion is for secure radio communication, where voice has to be encrypted and then transmitted. The advantage of this method of “encryption” is that no ‘signal’ is sent, but rather envelopes of the bandpass filters. The receiving unit needs to be set up in the same channel configuration to resynthesize a version of the original signal spectrum. The vocoder as both hardware and software has also been used extensively as an electronic musical instrument.” – Wikipedia
There are many great hardware vocoders. One is the Roland SVC-350. Check it out over at Vintage Synth Explorer: click here
Do you have a favorite vocoder or vocoding technique?
If you have an iPhone and don’t already own iTM Pad this video will probably make you jump to the iTunes store to grab it. I wish I didn’t sweat so much on stage (see: here) otherwise I would be using this live.
“I was on the iTunes App Store looking at iTouchMidi Pad by Silicon Studios, and reading the few-but-strong reviews, I bought it. It was mere moments afterward that I was firing up drum loops in Ableton Live, having a lot of fun mapping iTM Pad to various settings and mangling sounds. The logical conclusion, since clear demos of things like this can be hard to come by, was to make a video review.” – Torley
Torley’s blog is filled with the kind of tech geek content I like (WordPress, social media, Ableton) so if that’s your thing check him out: torley.com
Motu’s Volta is a software that turns an ordinary Motu audio interface into a CV controller. I’ve been watching a few videos here and there of people using Volta and this thing has got my interest. I have a good bunch of old analog synths in my studio and more control is always a good thing (except if you’re a teenager).
“Using ableton live and a handful of LFO type wav files to modulate external analog gear. fun stuff. (if you’re not interested in the “how” and just want to see the frostwave spaz out, jump to 3:30 or so.) this stuff *only* works with MOTU audio interfaces (see: volta). this is an easy and free way to send beat-synced LFOs to your outboard modular gear; moogerfoogers, sherman filterbank, little phatty… anything with a CV input… i recommend setting the warp method to “Re-Pitch” to keep LFOs smooth at extreme BPMs. or don’t… and get cool glitches.” – Dan Kirkhus
Thanks to Dan for posting this video. I think you also made me drop some coin on Frostwave Resonator. I always forget how great the MS20 filter sounds! See Dan’s Resonator video: click here
It’s rare I do a post about a PC only plug-in because I own a Mac. I do however own VMWare Fusion and XP to run Excel and Songsmith. This morning I installed a demo version of Ableton Live inside Fusion solely to check out Keywriter. I know it’s a novelty plug-in but I couldn’t resist. Basically its a VST simulating an old German typewriter called “Erika”. It’s a freebie and you can find audio samples, screenshots and the download: here
Keywriter is a rompler that reproduce the sounds of a German typewriter «Erika». Can be used as a unusual rhythm machine, and as a tool for special effects. Main features: Full range of typewriter sounds, Stereo control; Drive contol; Low CPU usage. – http://knobster.org/
I’ve learned almost every life lesson the hard way. The “hard way” usual means you don’t listen to what anyone tells you and therefore you experience life’s pains first hand. I do admit when I am wrong and today I’ll make a minor confession. Basically, I thought if I took a full time job I would make music just as easily and with the same fluency and frequency. So yeah I was pretty much wrong.
However, it’s not actually time management that’s the issue. It’s more that well, I love my new day job! It seems after almost 40 years on this planet the left (analytical) side of my brain grew as large as my right brain (creative side). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been freaking out waiting to get dirty with Ableton Live 8 but I’m finding organizing my audits also tantalizing. My official job title is “Field Energy Auditor”. I enter commercial buildings in a certain section of Manhattan that ConEd is having problems delivering power to. I help stores and buildings reduce their current demand by recommending various conservation (lighting retrofits, new HVAC systems, etc..) and generation (solar, geo-thermal, hydro, wind) methods. Often I meet with building managers and companies with more money than the entire music industry (just sitting in the top drawer of their desks!). You would be amazed how open they are to the green revolution. Then again, they save tons of money by implementing the plans we offer. Did you know an underwater turbine now sits in the east river and powers a Gristedes supermarket? Amazing.
I wanted to post this to put my feelings on the record. It should be interesting in a year or two to read this again (for me anyway). So to those of you who work full time how does your music making life fit in? Whenever you get the urge? Weekends only? What’s your stradgey? One thing I am sure of is I put 20+ years into the music business, learning the craft of song-writing and I am finally good at it… so expect many more albums to come. The best thing is I can afford more toys with keys and knobs on them! Here’s where I work: Energy Management Solutions
photo: They found my secret life as The Horrorist.
The next two days in New York be sunny and warm. My wife’s been pointing out all the holes in my favorite T-shirts. Therefore this post is for her and her wallet. Most of these prints are available on American Apparel shirts which means they fit well and are nice and soft. The classic and now fully hipsterized green Moog T? Could I be in full “Hawtin, bald, those black geek eyeglasses” Ableton T mode? Do I want to date myself with the Fairlight T? I love AD and Ohm Force but no one other than readers of this blog would have a clue what the prints mean (which is ok by me!).
James Bernard from Propellerhead Software sent me an email yesterday recommending a new iPhone (and VST) application called Jasuto. James said, “It’s like a reactable for Iphone… and it sounds KILLER.. plus if you go to his website he has a vst plug in version which is free. You can thank me later…”. Over at Jasuto.com under the demo videos someone wrote, “Impressive!! This is REALLY the future!!”. I have to say after watching the video above in full futuristic definitely comes to mind. Things go awesome at 1:25 in!
“There are several main design goals that I wanted to achieve with this.
The first goal was to make synth building fun and easy all while adding some unpredictability to the process. I’ve come up with some amazing sounds almost by accident in a lot cases that I would have never even thought of doing in a conventional synth.
The 2nd was to blur the line between patch and synth, so creating a synth should be no different (or any more difficult) than creating a patch.
The 3rd was to unify control and audio rate signals allowing everything to be a modulation or be modulated.
And finally I wanted to make sure that it was simple and efficient to add motion to a sound. So every node on the screen can record its own motion. For instance if you wanted to create a simple LFO for a chorus effect just grab the delays time constant click the record button and wiggle away. After you are done recording hit stop and it will auto-magically blend the loop points for you. All motion including the step sequencer are sync-able via triggers, more on this in the “Basics” section.
And that’s really what this is all about, it lets you explore soundscapes and make synths without even knowing it.”
Needless to say this app is sitting on my iPhone’s home screen and I’ve been glued to it. I’ll make a few videos of my own creations and post them this weekend. More importantly, I already have pieces of audio created with Jasuto I will definitely use in full songs.
Here’s a great module from Make Noise Music based on a “military radio communications technology… reclaimed for artistic purposes”. If I were at war I could see that blasting this audio toward the enemy would definitely confuse the hell out of them. I’ve been planning to build my own modular for years and whenever I find a module I know has to be included it goes into a special bookmarked folder. This baby is in!
A Moog museum. A program to bring electronic instruments into schools. Ton of archives, schematics written by Bob on display for the public. These are a few of the things the Moog Foundation is working on and they need your help. This is not a “mini” project! The Moog brand is a true American success story and it’s story deserves great respect and preservation.
“Michelle Moog-Koussa of The Bob Moog Foundation discusses the first Bob Moog museum or MOOGSEUM.” – Steve White