Synthesizer Sunday, a Union of Architecture and Sound

The city of Denver has invited me and four other local electronic music artists to perform Sunday April 30th. This is part of the larger Door Open Denver Event.

Like architecture, which starts from basic elements – glass, sand, and stone to create a building – synthesizers start from basic sine waves modulated to produce sound into music. Join us for this open-air concert at one of Denver’s most prominent cultural facilities where five musicians taking turns playing synthesizers will dedicate their performances to the distinctive glass roof of the Galleria.

Particulars

When: Sunday April 39th 12 PM – 3 PM
Admission: Free
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1866714256917847/
Where: Denver Performing Arts Complex, Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe St, Denver, Colorado 80204.  We will be under the glass arch of the Galleria in front of the Buell Theater.

Performers

  1. Dane Terry 12:00 noon –  12.25
  2. Victoria Lundy  12:30 – 12:55
  3. Mark Mosher 1:00 – 1:25
  4. Chris Frain 1:30 – 1:55
  5. Kuxaan Sum 2:00 – 2: 25

Video from Preview Event

Last week, Kuxaan Sum and I paid an early morning visit to the Galleria with our rigs for a preview performance for CBS 4 News. Afterworld, we had an opportunity to play short improvised set with an almost empty Galleria. The natural reverb was AMAZING. Check out this video.

Show Notes for My Set

For my set, I’ll be doing structure improvisation using real-time synthesis using my favorite two hardware instruments – the Nord Lead 4 Synthesizers and the Elektron Octatrack Dynamic Performance Sampler

 

Elektron Octatrack Performance Sampler

The Elektron Octatrack Dynamic Performance Sampler is an incredibly deep instrument from Sweden that allows me to do real-time sound design with effects and morph between different instrument “states”. Prior to the performance, I’ve prepared a series of samples derived or inspired by the Galleria architecture, materials, and space.

Source 1 – Converting Images of the Galleria into Complex Audio Waveforms

I converted images of the Galleria into audio waveforms by resynthesizing the pictures using an additive synthesizer. Each pixel in the photo is converted into image planes with audio gain and pitch.

I then manipulated a play head which travels across these panes. As this happens, this additive synthesizer uses 520 oscillators produce partials of frequency, amplitude and waveform phase in real time. I programmed a series of sounds using this technique and recorded 2-29 second audio samples which I then transfer into the Octatrack for use in live performance on Sunday.

As you can see form the above spectral analysis, this process creates amazingly complex harmonic content.

Here is a video I made of the process.

Source 2 – Ambient recordings of the sound of the Galleria

My second set of sources for the Octatrack are recordings of the ambience of the this massive space as theater goers start arriving for a shows one evening.

Source 3 – Field Recordings of the Materials

Lastly, I spent some time to record a session where I played the Galleria itself. I used a drum stick, felt mallet, and drum brushes to gently play metal beams, door handles, and other parts of the Galleria bones. I’ve built a custom drum kit for the Octatrack using these elements.

Nord Lead 4 Performance Synthesizer

Part of the show concept is “like architecture, which starts from basic elements – glass, sand, and stone to create a building – synthesizers start from basic sine waves modulated to produce sound into music.” To this end I’m using custom presets on the wonderful Nord Lead 4 Performance Synthesizer (also made in Sweden) inspired by the Galleria.  I’ll be improvising and morphing these original sounds live.

I Hope To See You At the Show

As you can see this is going to be a truly amazing community event. I’m optimistic that this is the first of many such events where the city partners with local experimental music artists. If you live in the Denver or along the Front Range, I hope will be consider coming to the show to enjoy the music and sound in this wonderful space and support the concept.

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