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Student Projects

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Turn

Juan Manuel Escalante, PhD student.

Project Description

Turn is the final study for Special Topics in Electronic Music, Spring, 2017. Of all these studies, it is the only one that didn’t use any analog synthesizers.

The Patch:

The original sound material was recorded from a generative Euro Reakt patch. Several oscillators are triggered and automated from different arrays of LFOs and one Impulse Train. One set of oscillators are filtered through a driver. Its output is quantized and linked to the pitch input of a Harmonic Oscillator. The other set of oscillators are modulated through a Modern Paul Filter, its values are also automated by oscillators 3 and 4 of the previously mentioned Harmonic Oscillator. An automated compressor and a Freeverb are also included in the chain. A Vector Mix receives 4 different signals (A from the driver, B and C from the compressor, and D from the Freeverb). Two LFOs automate dynamically the Vector Mix values.

Turn

Reaktor Patch Front

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Reaktor Patch Back

The Graphic Score and Visual Aid:

The graphic score was used as a tool during the entire process. It provided a sense of sound transformation during the study. The video presents the evolving graphic score and additional information related to the sound: automation curves, track and buses levels for each MixDown, and a couple of Processing sound-reactive sketches coded specifically for this study’s visual aid. See the following image for an entire description.

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Turn Original Score

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Turn - Score Mqp

The Mutation:

Following the idea that “[…] from one sound, we can easily create a hundred mutations” (Roads, 2015), the Reaktor patch was recorded as a "starter sound" using different states (or knob placements). From this point on, the mutation began in 5 main stages:

MixDown #1 - The starter sound was trimmed and arranged into five sections and tracks. Heavy EQ was applied to remove some clipping from the original recording. All tracks are sent to 6 different buses. This sends are all automated. These buses apply reverb and compression (PuigChild 670, Waves H-Reverb, MannyM Reverb and Abbey Road Plates). Each one of them is panned differently. The output is saved and then imported into the next stage.

MixDown #2 - Certain portions of the file are extracted and exaggerated –using EQ and compression– in very specific points (11 new total tracks). A few of them are slightly looped to generate a continuos atmosphere. Two of these tracks used a Morphoder to provide a cohesive acoustic thread throughout the study. Sound is then exported.

MixDown #3 - A few more tracks were added to emphasize different moments of the piece, mostly during the first half. This mixdown now truly spatialized the piece using heavy automation along 11 new buses. Some of these buses added distortion and saturation (using FF Saturn), some others introduced new harmonics (Doubler4), some others used the Arturia MiniFilter V with different values.A final bus used SoundToys’ Tremolator.

MixDown #4 - This Mix is closer to the final result. I used a different set of plug-ins from the Waves OneKnob Series to enhance brightness, pressure or fatness. These knobs are manually automated.

MixDown #5 - Higher pitched sounds from the last two thirds of the study are emphasized during this stage. A high pass filtered white noise (not present in the original sound) was also included. Minor sound transformations were also applied.

The final MixDown was mastered using BandLab’s mastering service (preset: CD-Quality).