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diy & experimental electronic music


analoq
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Analoq,

I really enjoyed this thread, I found myself quite interested in the video you posted to youtube showing your custom workspace. I've got a lot of interest in music and in programming, and your thread has inspired me to want to combine the two of them, much like you did. Could you post some kind of tutorial, or at the very least, a rough description of the whole process of creating that application? I imagine there might be some other people interested in how to set this kind of thing up. I'm not looking to build my own advanced suite of editing tools (there are plenty of software packages out there already), but I think it would be really satisfying to code something basic like what you did to gain a deeper understanding of how this all is done.

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I wouldn't really know where to start with a tutorial, but I can go over the general steps that brought me to where I currently am:

  • My conceptual knowledge comes from a music technology program I went thru in college. The important thing was understanding how digital audio works: Pulse-Code Modulation, Nyquist sampling theorem, etc.. wikipedia has some articles on digital audio.

  • Knowledge of synthesis came about from this program as well. Important topics include waveforms (phase, frequency, amplitude, overtones, duty cycle), filters (lopass, bandpass, highpass) and control signals (envelopes, LFOs). SOS has a great collection of synthesis tutorials (part 1 is on page 3).

  • I used modular synths and software like Reaktor to help me understand how all these components work together (signal path) to make different sounds. If you're on PC a good free program along these lines is SynthEdit.

  • After being comfortable with a variety of modular software synth engines, I began checking out sound programming environments like ChucK

  • Then I started playing with a set of C++ classes for synthesis, Synthesis ToolKit. This gave me an idea of how to organize code in a software synthesizer.

  • Now I was ready to try making my own software synthesizer. I set up my classes in a manner similar to STK and adapted code from musicdsp.org for my oscillators and filters. I used the cross-platform RtAudio library to interface with the sound device and RtMidi to interface with MIDI.

  • After I got everything working I dropped the Rt libraries and wrote my own Audio/MIDI interface code using the APIs provided by the OS (Leopard, in my case)

So yeah, pretty much a top-down approach. All that may be too general to help you at all, but hopefully I've given enough background so that you can direct me towards more specific topics you're interested in. Last thing I have to mention is inspiration: what keeps me motivated and interested in this stuff? ...

- http://matrixsynth.com

- http://synthtopia.com

- http://createdigitalmusic.com

Keeping up with the blogs and watching all the cool things other people are doing, I can't help but want to contribute.

cheers.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I don't know if this is interesting at all, but a professor at my University works on a lot of music technology and music information retrieval.

There's a bit of a synthesis and audio analysis project that he's worked on that apparently helps support the creation of synths as well.

http://marsyas.sness.net/about/overview

I don't know much about this overall but if you're touching on programming your own synths there might be something interesting here for you guys.

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He works on the floor above me, so if there's any specific questions or research you're interested in I can get you connected. I wish I took his music information retrieval course but I finished all of my courses by the time he got around to offering it again.

You do some interesting work Analoq, I'm starting to pass along the vids to my friends. I personally have an interest in HCI (human-computer interaction) but no experience with performing music - it's cool to see people using these kinds of devices to "play music better" so to speak.

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I personally have an interest in HCI (human-computer interaction)

Do you think you might go to grad school for that? I myself am taking at least two years off before I even consider the possibility, but at present that sounds like something I might want to do. However, I admit I know little about it other than "make UIs simpler."

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Would *I* personally go into grad school for that? Well, at this point it's too late for me, I'm in graduate school for something else (human factors and communicatino in software engineering, specifically).

But it is possible for someone to go into graduate school in human-computer interaction, yes. A lot of it is basic elements such as testing new styles and paradigms of UIs for computers (maybe new "styles" of certain applications we all use), but more radical branches deal with different hardware peripherals and their usefuless (ex: interfaces that support two mice, chord keyboarding, information visualizations). I don't know who the "big names" are but I know of some research done by William Cohen (University of Waterloo) and Peggy Storey (University of Victoria) that deals with HCI issues. George Tzanetakis (the guy doing the music stuff) might be involved in that as well from the music playing and production standpoint (one of his postdocs programmed a WACOM tablet to play back samples, for example).

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  • 2 months later...

I hate to bump old threads but I know at least 2 people were lurking this thread, so I might as well give an update:

I made a tracker-style sequencer with simple synths. It's a meagre app but a notable milestone for me as it does provide the bare minimum of features in order to make (chippy) music. Plus, there's some awkward visualizations.

Next stop: the piano roll.

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Thanks Zephyr, it was a lot of work even for something that basic. I have a heightened appreciation for companies like Native Instruments that really make art out of software. Not to soapbox on piracy, but music software really is worth the money...

Anyway, one of the blogs I follow is a guy who's been developing live coding software using Haskell. He just posted a new screencast demonstrating it:

http://yaxu.org/more-hackery/

I was working on a similar polyrhythmic sequencer for Python's interactive interpreter but I never got near that level of sophistication. Interesting stuff.

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very cool synth you got there analoq :) a bit less than a week ago I made a VERY simple midi drumpad out of a broken headphone. it works pretty well actually. if i ever get a decent camera i'll make a video to show it off but until then.. you guys can just guess how it looks and functions.

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^^^ Looks nerdy enough. Where are the videos of it in action?

midi drumpad out of a broken headphone
Yeah get a camera, I have to see that.

As for content, I saw this interview with Curtis Roads who has been doing work with granular synthesis since the 70s. Insight on "microsound" composition, interesting landscaping analogy and you get to see the innards of a Hammond organ. Something for everybody:

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Ah, I guess the thread is more about "cool music stuffs" and less about "what I made with Synthedit." Still neat. Analoq, your stuff is great.

Here are my synths:

1. "Eat A Bag of Dicks" (SynthEdit--VST only, sorry)

http://neutronstar.org/tmp/dicks.dll

2. "PadMe" (Synth Maker, VST again, very old version but the new one is on a drive at home)

http://neutronstar.org/tmp/padme.zip

EDIT: looks like the version of PadMe on my site is standalone (exe) only.

EDIT2: PadMe evolved into a regular synth when I unhid some of the effects. Here's its current state, which I've been calling "4osc" in a fit of originality:

http://neutronstar.org/tmp/4osc.exe

-steve

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm wondering if anyone here has had the opportunity to really play with the Tenori-on.

http://www.global.yamaha.com/design/tenori-on/

I saw one at the store and played with it (for not long, maybe only about 10 minutes) but it seems like it would be extremely fun to experiment with. I've put it on the list of things that I am actually consider buying.

However, it's quite a steep purchase at $999 and there are apparently a few issues with it such as having a bad MIDI Clock, and terrible samples (which you can replace). But, it seems extremely fun and something that I could learn to work with to create some really cool patterns on the fly when hooked up to a computer.

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