Analogue Heaven Day 3

Nye came back today and even he couldn’t fix the tape machine. But we had a solution. Unfortunately it meant breaking our analogue-only rule and we had to use a computer to record all our sounds. However we only used it to do things that could have been done if the tape machine had been working – so: recording, splicing, reversing…

As we had now covered the basic tape editing techniques of the ’50s it was now time to learn more about the possibilities that came with the development of the voltage controlled synthesiser. Nye showed us the Doepfer A-100 analogue modular synth which consists of several units which control different parameters. Unlike the Korg MS20, this synth doesn’t have a keyboard but instead is controlled entirely by input audio signals and dials. You can create pitched sounds using the two VCOs, mix these together, modulate them with an LFO, build envelopes that control the shape of these modulations and patch the different units together using patch chords. You really have to think about what you want to create and how you’re going to go about creating these sounds and when you start trying to build complex waveforms the number of patch cables going all over the place can look pretty confusing!

I used the Doepfer to make a drone. I used a VCO to create a low triangle wave then sent this through a Low Pass Filter which was connected to an LFO which produced a very slow sine wave. The result was a low note that slowly swept up and down its harmonic spectrum with a regular shape. I sent this signal into Logic on the computer and recorded about 17 minutes of drone, controlling the gain live so that I could fade the sound in and out. I also modulated the frequency of the LFO at the end so that the speed of the sweep seems to stretch out.

I also connected the Korg into the Doepfer so that instead of using the VCO of the Doepfer, the input audio signal was being produced on the Korg. This allowed me to build a big bassy sound by mixing the two VCOS, slightly detuning them to create beats and then put them through the LFO on the Doepfer to generate an envelope. This time the sound simply gets louder and quieter. Again, I recorded this into the computer for 17 minutes and layered the two tracks on top of each other. The different frequencies of the LFOs means that the two sounds go in and out of phase meaning that the combined sound is fluid and ever changing.

Tomorrow I’m going to use this long drone texture together with the tape loop I’ve already made to build a piece.


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