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west coast synthesis kind of boring?

Discussion in 'REAKTOR' started by ANDREW221231, Mar 16, 2020.

  1. ANDREW221231

    ANDREW221231 NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    356
    after seeing a neat video for the volca modular which uses west coast synthesis I figured I would give the approach a shot since I knew there are blocks that covered that ground.

    so after arriving at a basic setup of triangle wave carrier/modulator through a wavefolder and low pass gate, I must admit I am a little underwhelmed. the complexity seems to come from modulating the carrier at different ratios of the carrier frequency, but there seems to be a wide chasm between being sort of boring on one end and sort of unpleasant and unlistenable on the other (depending on whether the modulation is harmonic relative to the carrier frequency). also the wavefolder is nice enough but nowhere near as satisfying as playing around with a good ol fashioned low pass filter.

    using a sequencer seems to be a bit of help, but still I am left wondering what element I must be missing out on to make this setup really sing, or conversely get wild and wacky with the modulation without the whole thing kinda falling apart.

    does anyone have any insight regarding this or maybe just some general tips to get one off and running?
     
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  2. colB

    colB NI Product Owner

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    3,229
    The results vary dramatically depending on the particular oscillator(s) and waveshaper you are using.
     
  3. ANDREW221231

    ANDREW221231 NI Product Owner

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    356
    would it be facile to conclude that most of the modulation potential is in audio rate fm of the carrier oscillator?

    I guess I'll try effram le bivics wavefolder next, as it seems to have more options
     
  4. gentleclockdivider

    gentleclockdivider NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    655
    Absolutely NOT boring , the dwg block is my favourite block of all .
    Just start by outputting the carrier which can be fm by the modulator .( and vice versa ) , in the case of the dwg block the modulator ( blue ) can also be just outputed as a carrier and use the other one as modulator .
    The really nice part is the actual timbre output which acts upon the carrier ( wavefolding etc..) and the beauty is that these parameters can also be ( audio rate ) modulated by the modulator directly , but I find slow modulation of the timbre parameters perfect for textures .
    Or you can do some really nice stuff like on the prophet 5 where the synced (slave ) oscillator can also be fm'd , in the case of the dwg block the sync slave is the blue one and the master and fm modulator is the red ( some companies get it all wrong and the synced slave is the actual fm modulator , which h makes absolutl no sense ..looking at you clavia nord lead )
    For bass duties the dwg bl0ck + LPG is just awesome
    It's one the most powerfull synthesis methods but it needs some dedication , I would love to have a complete verbos or make noise modular system :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
  5. colB

    colB NI Product Owner

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    3,229
    Yes, Efflam's fold is significantly different from the one in the DWG oscillator. I've made a few different folders based on his approach, and it's definitely the way to go.
    I think as far as modulation goes, subtlety is the key. You can get big changes in timbre with small adjustments, whereas, if you sweep through a large range, it just gets cyclical and messy.
    I had a bash this evening with the DWG and fold - haven't played with them for a while. I tend to think(agree?) that DWG is not that great. Aliasing and other unmusical artefacts often get nasty just as the sound seems like it will bloom. Takes some tweaking.

    Here's a link to an example track: https://soundcloud.com/colray/west-coast-example-001

    I've got a project in long term development that has a similar goal, but the sound is very different - much cleaner and more precise, and I find it easier to get musical results from that, but maybe it's not so 'authentic'.
    FWIW, I've attached the blocks ensemble that I was jamming with this evening.
     

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  6. Catman Dude

    Catman Dude NI Product Owner

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    476
    Exactly what I have found with DWG. Not at all what I find with Kodiak Duality Osc, by the way.

    Funk 'authentic'! Musical results is what matter.
    If you put this out, some of us will happily purchase it. :)
     
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  7. ANDREW221231

    ANDREW221231 NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    356
    that is the very block I have been also using. what sort of control system do you use for modulating the fm? that's what I've been having the most trouble with
     
  8. ANDREW221231

    ANDREW221231 NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    356
    I like those tones in the SoundCloud link. definitely something I would shoot for, the problem is, so far I am lacking the frame of reference of what to shoot for. it's a whole different wheelhouse that I haven't quite got the ear for yet.

    got to admit the DWG is pretty good architecture wise but yes the sound does seem to be lacking. I guess crazy fm and then a wavefolder really does a number, so when it should sing it turns sort of harsh and flat. I would imagine it would need some pretty substantial anti aliasing. it looked like DWG has at least 2x oversampling tho...
     
  9. colB

    colB NI Product Owner

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    3,229
    Thanks, it's a whole different approach that I'm really only starting to understand. You can't just transfer your east coast ideas and expect good results. Although I've found that I get best results when I combine the two. Folded overtones into a nice resonant filter can be awesome :)
    Yes again. Fold has ILO aliasing reduction, and 4x oversampling on top of that. The ILO approach really works well - much better than the level of standard oversampling that is practical in Reaktor.
     
  10. Jan Ola @ NI

    Jan Ola @ NI NI Team NI Team

    Messages:
    107
    There is so much more to what people call "west coast synthesis" than dual oscillators with wave shaping and low-pass gates! :)
    To get started, it is worth looking at the basic paradigms that inform the designs of the two protagonists, Don Buchla and Serge Tcherepnin.

    If you look at Buchla's 200 and 200e systems, you will notice that jack cables are used for audio connections, however banana cables are used for modulation. This has strong implications for the way you patch these systems. Often the modulation scheme will be much more elaborate than the audio signal flow. For this reason, the 281 Quad Function Generator and the 266 Source of Uncertainty are absolutely key to exploring the Buchla sound.

    Check out the Rack 'Altair IV' in Blocks Primes. It is my take on the patch Todd Barton used in 'Krell Muzak 1'. You can watch Todd's video tutorial to learn all about it. The audio signal flow is extremely basic: a dual oscillator with wave shaping through low-pass gates, with the addition of a filter. The patch really comes alive once he sets it all in motion with cross-modulation of the envelopes and the Source of Uncertainty. The latter is not available in Blocks, but I've emulated the Fluctuating Random Voltages using Bento Box Blocks in this patch. You can use the Turing Machine in Michael Hetrick's Euro Reakt – Free Edition to substitute the Stored Random Voltages. 'Altair IV' uses internal MIDI to overcome the limitations of the A/B modulation inputs on the West Coast CFG Block. A useful technique to easily (self-)modulate more than two parameters on a Block.

    If you look at Serge's systems, there are banana cables everywhere. All connections are interchangeable. The same goes for the modules. They are quite low-level compared to the highly integrated Buchla modules. For this reason, some people call patching with Serge systems "patch-programming"—functions are assigned to modules by the way you patch them, not by the way they are designed. This open-ended approach can be best explored with the quintessential Serge module, the Dual Universal Slope Generator. It is essentially two slew generators with variable rise and fall times under voltage control, with the addition of logic outputs that reflect the state of the function.There are countless clones and adaptations of this concept, the most prominent one being the Make Noise Maths.

    The beauty of the design lies in its flexibility. Depending on how you patch it, the module can be used as a a slew generator (portamento), envelope follower, AD or AR envelope, VCO/LFO with various wave shapes (including triangle, ramp, saw, square), quadrature function generator, non-resonant filter, pseudo-VCA, comparator, gate <> trigger converter, gate delay, flip-flop logic.. the list goes on. I don't think this module exists in Blocks. If you want to nail the concept and optimize it for use at audio rate, it is quite challenging to implement. This is true for many Serge modules.

    For example, the primary Serge filter, the VCFQ, can not only be used as a multi-mode filter, but also a VCO or LFO with quadrature outputs and different waveforms (through feedback patching) or a slew generator. It is also one of the best filters to generate damped sine waves ("filter pings") with a dedicated trigger input to excite the filter. Recreating this in Blocks would result in unusual control ranges and workflows that can be disruptive to the overall UX. The same goes for the basic patching paradigm: while modulation and audio signals in Blocks are technically the same and therefore interchangeable, "patch-programming" also relies on a maximum number of (modulation) inputs and outputs per module, as well as unlimited feedback connections. While not impossible to implement, this would get a little bit messy in Blocks.

    You can still use the Serge approach for inspiration and look at interesting applications of some of the low-level Blocks available in the Bento Box line, for example. Use the Crossfader as an audio rate wave shaper like in the Tutorial Rack "Waveform Scanning" included in Blocks Base. Use an envelope as part of the sound generation to mimic filter resonances like in the Bass Rack 'Without Filter' included in Blocks Base. Use 4 Mods and Crossfaders as an interpolating multiplexer like in the Soundscape Rack 'Cadavre Exquis' in Blocks Primes. Or use the Morph filter to generate damped sine waves like in the Soundscape Rack 'Glasshouse' in Blocks Primes. These are all patching techniques inspired by "west coast synthesis", and there are countless more.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
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  11. Jan Ola @ NI

    Jan Ola @ NI NI Team NI Team

    Messages:
    107
    There is also a patch directly related to your initial question in Blocks Primes. Its structure mimics the Buchla Music Easel. In this patch, I've used the DWG and two LPGs to create two interlocking voices. It would be really hard to get this sort of wonkyness and texture with other modules.

     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
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  12. colB

    colB NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    3,229
    You're not wrong, "quite challenging" is something of an understatement!
     
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  13. Paule

    Paule NI Product Owner

    Messages:
    6,097
    Colin, your patch with my PidL and snapshots. Thanks for yours.
     

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