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Musitron, Clavoline, Univox

Discussion in 'Building With Reaktor' started by CellarDoor, Aug 29, 2008.

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  1. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    Allo Allo,

    I've been trying to come up with something akin to Max Crook's Musitron (Think Del Shannon's "Runaway" and "Telstar")... which apparently was a modified Clavoline... I was tinkering with the bumblebee oscillator... and drawbar organ emulations... but there's something I'm missing... I think if I could make a keyboard playable version of "21st century theremin" from the UL, I would be pretty close, but I'm not sure how to go about that! In the meantime, I have been tinkering with drawbar organs and saw/square waves.

    These are pretty simple instruments (I gather) but very distinctive. I would appreciate any advice on how to model these in Reaktor.

    There are 3 basic units I'm thinking about:

    "The univox" which one site says is much like a "clavoline" used a sawtooth oscillator and has these specs:

    The Univox (1940)
    Developed by the British 'Univox Company' the Univox was an instrument using a vacuum-tube sawtooth generator modulated by a diode waveform shaper circuit. The pitch range was extended to five octaves using a frequency division technique which also allowed the playing of multiple octaves of the same note from one key. The Univox keyboard had a unique a double contact system under the key allowed basic control over the note shape - striking the key harder caused a thyratron impulse generator make a shorter decay, creating a staccato effect, striking the key softly gave a long decay of up to two seconds. A vibrato oscillator was also provided to modulate the output and also to retrigger the thyratron tube to create 'mandolin' type repeated notes.

    The Univox had a front panel of fifteen switches to further control the timbre of the instrument, three vibrato controls, a thryratron modulation control and an overall knee operated volume control. The Univox had a an external amplifier and ten inch speaker unit.
    The Univox was noted for the realism in producing string and reed tones such as clarinet and saxaphone.

    More (plus pictures) of the univox here:
    http://go.zibycom.com/members/002222119/Site4/univox.html

    The "Univox" was built by JMI... before they became "Vox"...

    For the "whole story" you can check it out here:
    http://www.combo-organ.com/Vox/index.htm

    The clavoline used a square wave. The "Clavoline" has it's own "tribute" page (with musical/sound samples):

    http://go.zibycom.com/members/002222119/Site4/index.html

    ... since the clavoline used a square wave, I expect the musitron did too - you can find out more about the musitron here:

    http://www.delshannon.com/maxmusitron.htm

    Any suggestions on how to model one of these little beasts? Anyone want to take a crack at it?
  2. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
    So far my experiments have been interesting, but haven't improved much on "organic" from the UL (or BX-33 etc.) I found this description of a "Clavivox", a "keyboard theremin" on the "120 years of..." site - it's pretty intriguing... how to do this though?:

    http://120years.net/machines/clavivox/index.html

    In the 1950's Scott started to develop a commercial keyboard instrument the Clavivox or keyboard Theremin (completed circa 1956). The Clavivox was a vacuum tube oscillator instrument controlled by a three octave keyboard (with a subassembly circuit designed by a young Bob Moog). The instrument was designed to simulate the continuous gliding tone of the Theremin but be playable with a keyboard. The machine was fitted with three 'key' controls on the left of the keyboard that controlled the attack of the note or cut of the note completely, these keys could be played with the left hand to give the enevelope characteristics of the note. Other controls on the Clavivox's front panel were for fine and coarse tuning and vibrato speed and depth. Scott used the Clavivox in his cartoon scores for sound effects (similar to the 'eerie whine' of the Theremin) and stringand vocal sounds. The Clavivox was inteneded for mass production but the complexity and fragility of the instrument made this venture impractical.

    Here's what the clavivox sounds like:

    http://raymondscott.com/Clavivox.mp3

    ... and going back to the musitron/clavoline for a momnet - here's an example of what Max Crook's "Musitron" (A modded clavoline) sounds like:

    http://www.delshannon.com/audio/AutumnMood.wav

    (schmaltzy, I know)

    and here's more crazy musitron-ness:

    http://www.delshannon.com/audio/DontGildLily.wav

    and again:

    http://www.delshannon.com/audio/BreezeAndI.wav

    and one more:

    http://www.delshannon.com/audio/TheWanderer.wav

    ... so, the question is - what kind of oscillator? What kind of expression? Any ideas? Glide? Single oscillator? Square wave?
  3. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    So I'm hung up on this "keyboard" theremin idea... I had thought of sticking the fader from "T-men" in the UL on it's side, enlarging it, and finding and marking notes/pitches (like a mock keyboard)... and then I found this online:

    http://www.tompolk.com/Tannerin/Tannerin.html

    ... a modern version of the "electro-theremin" an off-shoot of a theremin employing a slide (ribbon) in place of aerial hand technique! It works this way, with a keyboard mock-up above the slider.
  4. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
    OK, so I'm miles away from the sound I'm after, but I've been messing about with 21st century theremin by Joel Kruse, and having been recently floored by the Trautonium synths by johann meier - I've tried (haphazardly) to incorporate Meier's Trautonium oscillators into the "theremin" structure. I'm probably not using the osc correctly, but I'm just starting out with this project, so patience patience patience.

    Ultimately I want an easily playable, expressive, theremin/clavoline/musitron-esque instrument. With this in mind, I've assigned the vibrato amp/freq to knobs, the volume to the modwheel, and the oscillator comes with a x/y pitch (?) tablet measured (I believe) in semitones - so there's the beginnings of a "playable" interface there. In addition, a post-oscillator filter modulated by an envelope, and a glide control, provide some "automatic" expression. Help would be appreciated, so please check out the attached work-in-progress file if you're curious. - Thanks!

    ... Found Donovan Stringer's remix of 21st century theremin this morning:

    http://www.native-instruments.com/in...hid =4324&L=1

    Amazing! He's used the oscillators from subharmonic for his remix, sounds great! I spent last night tinkering with the same ideas I find fully realized in Donovan's gorgeous remix this morning... hilarious!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 2, 2008
  5. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
  6. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    Ondes Martenot v1.0

    OK, so I spent sometime fiddling around with my "theremin" remix, discovered the half-step pitch calibrated x/y for the oscillators in the Trautorium oscillators, blew it up big, and tinkered a little. The result? A very playable "theremin"/ribbon controller-esque instrument - I'm pretty excited about this! There's work to be done "under-the-hood" with the filter/envelope and effects - but it's in the right ball park. An midi-keyboard friendly electro-theremin or ondes martenot emulation is perhaps achievable afterall - anyone want to lend a hand?

    Version one is attached:

    Attached Files:

  7. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
    Just a quick note for those who don't read the instrument notes: Modwheel controls volume.
  8. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
    Electro-Theremin v1.0

    Here's a new version: now frequency of the vibrato/tremolo is controlled by the (y) axis, and root pitch is fixed (for the "ribbon controller").

    "modeled" on the Electro-Theremin/Ondes Martenot:
    http://www.electrotheremin.com/PTE-TPage.html

    Any comments? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

    Attached Files:

  9. sw004g

    sw004g NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    522
    Hey,

    Just a quick note to say that I'm interested in this topic but alas have not had time to check out any of your ensembles so can't comment yet.

    I've seen that Ondium, but it apparently isn't available yet. Perhaps an email to Pierpaolo would be fruitful. Looks like he's made several very interesting ensembles.

    I'm actually working on building a physical controller loosely based on, or rather inspired by, the Ondes Martenot.
  10. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
    Hey - glad to hear someone's interested! I'm just getting going on this whole project, I'd love to have your feedback/input.

    Yeah, I saw that too - "coming soon" without a date - but the screenshot is very intriguing.

    The last thing I put together is closer to an "Electro theremin" then a Ondes Martenot - But I'm really interested in adding more "martenot" like features - I have to figure out a way to add the Martenot's control of attack and timbre (The wikipedia entry has an excellent section on the different "playing" features of the Martenot).

    Ondes Martenot (wikipedia)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ondes_Martenot

    Amazing! I've seen some DIY and boutique stuff online - I was curious about building a ribbon controller myself - I'm assuming it's pretty difficult. What we need is a modular controller building system to accompany Reaktor!
    ---
    For those who aren't familiar - the Ondes Martenot must be seen/heard to be believed:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yy9UBjrUjwo"]YouTube - Jean Laurendeau and the Ondes Martenot[/ame]
  11. sw004g

    sw004g NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    522
    Here's an involved thread on a DIY ribbon controller:

    http://electro-music.com/forum/topic-28138.html&postorder=asc

    My device doesn't worry so much about the sample and hold in the hardware -- all processing will be done in software (plus I'm not nearly advanced enough to do it in hardware!).

    For the right hand, I layer a linear membrane potentiometer with a force sensitive resistor, so you get position as well as force.

    For the left hand, among other sensors (joysticks, breath sensor, etc.) is another, much shorter layered linear membrane potentiometer and FSR. This can (ideally) be used somewhat like the left hand controller on the Ondes Martenot, downward force corresponding to amplitude. In addition, you can theoretically use the LH sensors to "bow" the right hand's virtual "string" by applying moving force to the strip.

    I'm currently using the CUI (Create USB Interface). My project is still in development, but I hope to have it up and running soon.
  12. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

    Messages:
    178
    Excellent!

    Sounds like a great project - I sniffed around the thread you sent (thank you) and was more than a little intimidated! I found mention of a Paia kit for a ribbon controller - but couldn't find a listing for the kit on the website - do you know of any other kits available, suitable for a novice? I'd love to see pictures of your project (and or sound samples/video), sounds inspiring.
  13. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

    Messages:
    178
    I've been fooling around with different oscillators, and stripped the formant oscillator out of the 21st Century Theremin remix by Sickle, and stuck it in my "electro-theremin" sketch. Interesting sound. (The FM eyecandy I borrowed from "Wintermute" just for kicks) Check it out (remember, modwheel controls volume, snaps may start silent)

    Attached Files:

  14. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

    Messages:
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    "Electro Theremin" variations (with filter fix)

    Here are a handful of work-in-progress "electro theremin" instruments with various oscillators from the UL:

    D-50-ElectroTheremin.ens
    DX-Saw-ElectroTheremin.ens
    Formant-ElectroTheremin.ens
    Subharmonic-ElectroTheremin.ens
    String-ElectroTheremin.ens

    I'm working on a "musitron/clavoline" model based on this work, still hoping to take a crack at the Ondes Martentot too.

    As always, Comments and help are welcome.

    Attached Files:

  15. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
    I'm trying to figure out how I could integrate midi control from a keyboard (say over a one or two octave range) and the x/y "ribbon" controller from the "Theremin"-esque experiments above. So far I'm getting quite confused in my attempts to do so. What would be nice is "soft takeover" of either the keyboard set pitch, or x/y set pitch, by either controller - so you can play with the keyboard, and then perform slides (with vibrato on the y axis) by mouse clicking on the "ribbon". So I need to build a structure that compares the keyboard input and x/y input and spits out the correct adjusted value based on the current value of each. I'm having trouble thinking my way through this. The x/y module currently has 24 steps, which is fine - my keyboard module can have the same limited range. A key issue here is that the display shows the current value, whether it's entered by mouse click or keyboard... hmm... am I making sense? If you take a gander at the last batch of ensembles, you'll see what I mean about the ribbon-X/Y controller. Any ideas?
  16. herw

    herw NI Product Owner

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    4,892
    Ribbon controller (12bit resolution!)
  17. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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    178
    I understand... the ribbon controller is very cool... http://www.native-instruments.com:80/forum/images/ni_smilies/wink.gif but my current challenge is how to make an "expressive" interface in Reaktor, using x/y or mouse over modules and standard midi keyboard interface controllers. At the moment I want to be able to send pitch data either from a "scaled" x/y module (ribbon) or the midi keyboard interchangeably - meaning I can play from the keyboard, but at any time I can select notes from the x/y (slide) module. I made one version like this with a bank of note selectors routing stepped values into the x-axis of my x/y module. It didn't work very well. I used relays, and what I got was a sound that jumped around on the note-off, I want either the keyboard OR the x/y module to be able to set the new constant pitch value, and then either the x/y module or keyboard can change that value. Gah! I think I'm making this sound more difficult than it is!
  18. herw

    herw NI Product Owner

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    4,892
    yes
  19. CellarDoor

    CellarDoor Forum Member

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