Good Read: Ableton Interview “Jon Hassell: Possible Musics”

Ableton just released a fantastic interview with New York trumpeter and composer Jon Hassell.

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The interview covers among other things his studies with Stockhausen, his coining of the term “Fourth World”,  his early work with Fairlight CMI, work with Bob Moog on a sound sculpture, with lots of inspiring information on his practice and art.

There was this guy named Bob Moog who came around with his new idea of one Volt equals one octave, which became the Moog synthesizer. (We actually collaborated on a sound sculpture later; a tape loop within a box that had a double reflective mirror on the inside, and every time there was a “blip”, a colored light went off. It was like this little fairyland of blips going by and each one had an output to six speakers around the room.)

Check out the article here:
https://www.ableton.com/en/blog/jon-hassell-possible-musics

2018 then seems to be auspicious moment for Jon Hassell to release a new album. Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One) is his first collection of new music for nine years and represents an updated reconfiguration of all the signature elements of Hassell’s magical realists soundworld: the lush chords and fine-grained textures, the oddly intricate rhythm structures that propel forward while revolving around their own axis, and of course, the treated trumpet lines, sounding somewhere between an intimate whisper and a chorus of conch shells.

Listen to his latest album on bandcamp: Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume One).

 

Check out Jon’s bandcamp page here https://jonhassell.bandcamp.com/.

jon hassell bandcamp___

Mark Mosher
Synthesist & Multimedia Artist

Artist Site: NewEcho.com
Electronic Music Tech & Production Blog:  ModulateThis.com

#TBT Interview with Composer Reinhold Heil on His Work on The Helix TV Series on SyFy

helix-modulate-this

I’m enjoying watching season 1 of the SyFy series Helix on Netflix for a second time. Back in 2014 I interviewed the show’s composer Reinhold Heil on his amazing score for the show. I thought it would be fun to post a link to the interview here as a “throw back Thursday”. Since I interviewed Reinhold he’s gone on to compose for:

Read the original interview here

https://modulatethis.com/2014/05/02/modulate-this-interview-composer-reinhold-heil-helix-tv-series-syfy-music/

Enjoy,

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Producer
Boulder, CO
ModulateThis.com


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Elektron’s Fascinating Interview with Father of FM Synthesis John Chowning + Digitone Overview

John Chowning Digitone

Elektron’s Fascinating Interview with Father of FM Synthesis John Chowning

Elektron just posted a long, deep, and fascinating interview with John Chowning who originally discovered FM Synthesis.  The interview covers a lot of ground including his thoughts on:

  • Explaining FM synthesis to a child
  • The history of his work at Standford and how they helped productize his research
  • Yamaha’s development of the DX7 which took over 8 years with 100s of engineers
  • How limitations like constraints in computing power – as in not having the power for real time computing – aided in the discovery in FM
  • His time studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger
  • His advise for bold sound explorers
  • Some interesting math behind all FM
  • Some comments on Elektron’s new Digitone
  • And other topics and philosophical discussions

I recommend you take some time to read this if you even remotely interested in FM synthesis or music technology. You can read it here.

Do you think the time and environment was crucial to your discovery?

Yes I do. I’ll tell you why: Let’s say the computers I was working with had been powerful enough for me to do my experiments in real time. I’m not at all sure that I would have made the discovery! Because the condition under which I was working, on a time-share machine, a few seconds of sound might take me nearly two hours. So the time it took, perhaps specifically the time between experiments, I had to think. These were discrete times: I would generate a sample of a sound that was 20 Hz, with a modulating frequency of 20 Hz and a deviation of 100 Hz. Then I would wait. Then I would listen. Then I would increase to another. If I’d had continuous control, I think I probably would have missed it.

Elektron Digitone Overview

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Announcement

Digitone was announced this week for NAMM 2018. In a nutshell it’s a 4 operator FM synth plopped into a synth OS framework that is similar to the Analog Four but with the sequencer and hardware design aesthetic and build of a Digitakt. It supports multiple FM algorithms which can be automated per step in the sequencer!

Basic specs:

digitone algorithm

  • 4 Synth FM Synth tracks
  • 8 voice polyphony including dynamic allocation supporting multitimbral and per step trig patch changes
  • Multiple FM algorithms (which can be automated with trig conditions per step)
  • 1 × multimode filter per voice
  • 1 × base-width filter per voice
  • 1 × overdrive per voice
  • 2 × assignable LFO per voice
  • Trig conditions
  • Send & Master FX
    • Panoramic Chorus send effect
    • Saturator Delay send effect
    • Supervoid Reverb send effect
    • Overdrive master effect
  • Same form factor and build as Digitakt
  • Audio in for FX processing
  • Will support Overbridge

Pricing and Availability

US Price is $739 and unit is already shipping. Elektron web shop and has already sold out and Sweetwater has them on pre-order.

PDF of Manual Online

A PDF version of the manual is online here.

Overview Videos

Watch the official launch video.

Watch Sonic State’s visit to the Elektron Booth for a Digitone overview.

Update: Added awesome 30 minute interview with sound engine designer Simon from Elektron

Listen to Factory Presets and Patterns.

Bottom Line

After seeing Elektron’s Cenk talk about the Digitone in the videos above, it’s clear that Elektron’s goal was to make of FM synthesis more approachable, fun, and more performance and improv friendly.

Chowning’s take on the Digitone from the interview is:

What you’ve done (with the Digitone), from what I can tell, looks like a rich palette of possibilities. There are fine guided decisions that have to be made in FM synthesis, and this idea of letting the FM units be sound generators and then processed in normal ways that synths process sound sources seems perfectly reasonable. It eliminates the part where you have to know anything about the theory of FM.

That’s the idea, making FM real-time, hands-on and musically useful. That, I guess, was your intention when you made the discovery, too! Reading your original description makes me realize the sheer power of the method: what enormous musical potential and power of expression you can have with just eight parameters.

It seems to me that the metaphor for the instrument (Digitone) is to give the user kind of a ball of re-formable plastic that, with the FM, can be pulled and stretched in many different ways. Of all the hundreds of sub-sets of what FM can do, yours seems to be a very useful sub-set! It leaves out many of the sub-sets but lets the user intuitively explore this re-formable, shapeable ball of stuff, then put that through the normal processes of synthesis that we know and love, band-pass filters and low-pass filters and so on.

The Digitone in the smaller Digitakt form factor at a lower price point than the larger boxes seems like it’s right in the sweet spot for many artists – as evidenced by the fact that it’s already sold out on their web site.

I look forward to trying one out some day.

Thanks for reading,

Mark Mosher
Synthesist, Electronic Musician, Producer
Boulder, CO
ModulateThis.com


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Robert Henke – Interview + New Monolake Album “VLSI” + Video DEEP WEB Audiovisual Laser Installation and Performance

Interview

Image result for art music technology podcast

Check out this great interview with Robert Henke (aka Monolake, and founder of Ableton) on the Art + Music + Technology Podcast http://artmusictech.libsyn.com/podcast-146-robert-henke.

What can be said about Robert Henke that hasn’t already been said a thousand times? A tireless inventor, music producer, visual artist and programmer, Robert has been at the front of so much – and for me he’s been a constant inspiration. He’s also become a good friend over the years, and I can believe it’s taken me this long to interview him for the podcast. But I always want to be careful about his time; luckily, he’s at a good point for a chat, and you get to listen in!

In this talk, we go over Robert’s ideas about music gear, collaboration (he’s worked with some amazing people…), balancing different types of work, and choosing areas to explore. He also reveals himself to be an “obsessed pragmatic”: he’s has a love for detail, but he has to fight his inner voices to make sure that he produces work.

Who can’t understand that?

New Monolake Album

vlsi-frontcover

Robert has a new album as well – VLSI.

Video: DEEP WEB – kinetic audiovisual installation and performance

Robert’s work is discussed in the podcast. Here is a very cool video of one of his latest projects.

More Info

For more on Robert including info on upcoming tour dates see http://www.roberthenke.com/.