AES Section Meeting Reports

Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences - March 23, 2017

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Scott decided to pull all of the patches and redo his patch while introducing modular synthesis to the students. He explained that computers used to be a giant, room-sized equipment. As technology got better and better, the synths got smaller and more affordable. The modular synth is a very similar idea to the API 500 modular format. Although there are many virtual synths, physical modules, patches, and knobs help understand synthesis at a deeper level. Physical synths setups are individually unique, customizable, expandable, and a joy to work with.

The patch cables were very interesting because the plugs had jacks on the back. Scott explained that they were self-multing. That is, you can combine multiple signals simply by plugging one cable on top of another. Scott started with a MIDI module module going into the synth box. The MIDI signal voltage is able to trigger synth modules. The first step of any synthesizer is an oscillator. The oscillators can output different waveforms. He plugged the oscillator into a voltage controller, then into a line level. He tried out different waveforms—triangle, square, sawtooth, and sine. The oscillator can also add harmonics.

Instead of listening to continuous tone, the envelope can shape the waveform. In conjunction to a gate, he created rhythmic tones. Then, the volt-per-octave module allowed for melody creation. Then, a low-pass filter shaped the high end of the signal. A low-frequency-oscillator (LFO) allows for automated control different modular functions like, the low-pass filter frequency. The pulse width and frequency modulation can introduce interesting variations in the sound. The sequencer can run standalone or can be synced to an external clock. The sequencer has many scales it can conform to.

Then, Scott delved into more exploratory sounds, along with the drum machine. After developing interesting melodic, rhythmic sounds in conjunction with the drum machine, we moved on to Q&A. Scott got into synths first by exploring Reason and Reaktor virtual synths, but the more he got interested in the world of sound synthesis, he migrated to the physical gear.

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