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 Forum index » Discussion » Composition
What is the means-purpose relation of a synth patch?
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seraph
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 2:05 pm    Post subject: What is the means-purpose relation of a synth patch? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

What is the means-purpose relation of a synth patch?

For me, being primarily a musician who grew up, musically, playing the piano, a synth patch is a mean to achieve some artistic goal beyond it, but I presume that for many of the more involved G2 programmers a synth patch is a purpose in itself.
When I think of music I still think, mostly, in terms of melody-harmony relationships and synths allow me to use different colors than those of acoustic instruments. I notice that my priority is working on building a nice musical structure, whatever that means and sounds come later. I guess that depends mostly on my musical education and my love of acoustic music (primarily jazz). I also notice that I relate more closely to digital replicas of acoustic instruments I studied like piano, vibraphone and percussions. I would like the read opinions of others about it.

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The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night and his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. - W. Shakespeare
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think this question comes down to wondering where the border between the sound and the music is. At first sight that border apears well defined for much music, but on closer inspection I think it´s quite hard to define, even in acoustical music.

For example, if I take the electrical guitar that´s standing over by the turntables at the moment, i might pick one string, to create a single note. I might also strum my whole hand past the whole set of strings. Four fingers times six strings means we would now have 24 notes, just like the last one, except loosely scatered over frequencies and time. Many people will preceive that second gesture as a single note too, just one that´s louder and more texturally rich then then first. Some could argue this second gesture was more like a chord. The same regularly happens in paino music where a whole string of high notes might be preceived as a single gesture that plays against much louder and longer single bass notes. It may not look like that on the score and it certainly won´t be preceived as such by the poor novice piano student, but this might still be something the composer and the listener agree on (asuming a more skilled musician then that student inbetween).

With synths it becomes more complex still, a chord on a very simple synth could be generated just like a tone on a more complex one. Arpegiators blur the line between the synth and the sequencer, and one simple call to a opcode might result in a scattering of grains indistinguishable from a extremely fast piece of exceptionally short and simple notes.

the exact same control a lfo has in a rich bass note could be used manually on a much longer "note" to turn that note into a "riff" or even a whole piece.

I think that this blurry devide between the note and the piece, the patch and the sequencer and even the composer and the instrument should be carefully regarded and used in a way that brings the most interesting musical results in the most satisfying way. Even for seemingly straightforward simple notes that would emulate, say, a bass guitar it might be usefull to have a complex structure inbetween the sequencer and the instrument in order to make the synth follow some of the limitations a bassguitar has that are absent from most synths. This will result in a more believable recording which might well result in a stronger emotional responce. Of cource this beleivability might well go out of the window halfway in the second movement where we might "break" the arteficial laws we previously convinced our listener we were constrained by; the algorithem in between the sequencer and the synth might well become a instrument in itself if we want it to be. Within this context the whole studio become a modular synth, the guitar (and perhaps even the turntables) modules. If he wants to be the composer too might become such a module.

Does that answer the question or does it make it harder?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

are you drawing a grey area between pitches in a chord and strong under/overtones (tamber/harmonics)? Amazing. I never thought of it that way. You just opened up worlds for me.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes, that is one element of what i´m saying. I´m also taking about a grey area between "realy fast notes" and "rough textures".

I am speciffically hinting at granular synthesis there but you can easily experience this if you take a short highhat sample, put a lot of those on the 32th notes and then slowly make your sequencer go from -say- 20 bpm to however fast it will go (but preferably over 200Bpm if possible). obviously that is merely a trivial example to demonstrate the principle. Listening to some Chopin might also do :¬).

This is a rabit hole that goes quite a bit deeper. If you are interested then I warmly recomend getting "microsound" by Curtis Roads (mit press). Not a cheap book, but one that will forever change the way you look at music.

Further more I am talking about a grey are between the instrument and "what´s playing it" (as oposed to, or in adition to *who*´s playing it). While i´m at it i´m bluring the devide between what is a gesture and what is a instrument, but that´s a train of thought I have not yet fully explored.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

THis is off topic, but what kassen says touches also upon the whole thing about audiotory stream formation.

Consider, when you listen to piece of music, how do the individual audio events relate to each other? Are chords and melodies forming that aren?t there? or are they but are they really relating to each other the way you perceive they are?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
THis is off topic, but what kassen says touches also upon the whole thing about audiotory stream formation.


I disagree, I feel that *is* the topic, Seraph merely has a different perspective on it then I do, we are talking about the exact same thing.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen, you mentioned Chopin once before, but I never got a chance to comment on it. I alway liked his music but never identified with him. Then for some reason I downloaded some MIDI files of his piano etudes and such. When viewed on a sequencer in piano roll mode I was shocked. Shocked Much of Chopins music is really made with very fancy arpegiators. It's very mechanical and algorithimic, you can't deny this when you see it, yet the music sounds so romantic, emotional, expressive and spontanious. I would never have suspected it.

This is pretty OT, but I couldn't resist. Confused

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

You were talking about gestures.. and that is not audiotory stream formation theory. On the other hand, your angle on it seems to touch it anyway.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
...but that?s a train of thought I have not yet fully explored.

gee..I thought you had already explored the explorable Cool

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Does that answer the question or does it make it harder?

my train of thoughts is slowed down by sleepiness. I am unable to answer even the simplest question Shocked

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Douglas Hoffstadter wrote at length on the relation between structure and emotion in the music of Chopin, amongst other places in his excelent and insanely stimulating "metamagical themas". He´s the one that got me started listening to Chopin.

I realy wonder why we suddenly have a invasion of admins in my little corner proclaiming all sorts of things I see as aspects the topic to be "OT" :¬p.

Realy, I don´t think this is off topic at all, it´s just one way of looking at a complex shape.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
You were talking about gestures.. and that is not audiotory stream formation theory. On the other hand, your angle on it seems to touch it anyway.


I was using "gestures" to include notes, rifs, phrases and dub delays running out of controll as well as meta information such as tempo changes. If those are not a part of "auditory stream formation" then I would apreaceate a link to a article on what is.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
invasion of admins

admins are omnipotent Shocked they can invade whatever they want Wink

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

read my post again. Very Happy

My throwing in audiotory stream formation is what might be offtopic.. you were off to a great start that actually do involve patching and the lot.
But.. boys.. we can just as well perform a far beating of all things related to audiotory stream formation right away Very Happy

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
read my post again. Very Happy

I have already read that sentence lately (quite a few times)

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The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motions of his spirit are dull as night and his affections dark as Erebus: Let no such man be trusted. - W. Shakespeare
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
Kassen wrote:
invasion of admins

admins are omnipotent Shocked they can invade whatever they want Wink


Yes, but I still get to makes jokes about them.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 01, 2005 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

When I create patches, I'm not interested in creating a particular sound to use in some higher level musical conception. I don't create aim at making pads, or trumpets, or chimes or whatever. I creat patches in order to come up with an instrument that inspires me to create music when I play it. So I aim at creating something that is very flexible with a lot of controls to change the scope and texture of the sound.

Often, my patches are pretty simple but capable of huge changes. I play them when I compose or improvise with other people. Most of my composing is really improvising with myself. I sometimes imagine sounds in my head before I start working, and even sometimes imagine structures and forms. But, when I actually start working I usually follow my instincts and go for a ride. This is pretty much the process I use when I go for a motorcycle ride. Maybe all things in life.

So, I guess when I build patches, I'm a musical engineer or instrument designer. I build things that I know I'll enjoy operating in the future when I'm a musician. When I'm playing these instruments, either by myself or in an ensemble, I often get great ideas for improved instrument design that I use later when I'm wearing that hat again.

I don't have a lot of patches. I sorta use one patch that is constantly changing. I don't try to play the same thing twice so that's not a problem for me.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I was hoping for more answers by G2 nutty professors but maybe I made a mistake not posting it on the G2 forum Crying or Very sad
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

YOu did post this one in the composition forum Very Happy
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
YOu did post this one in the composition forum Very Happy

so what Question nutty professors don't attend this fine forum Question

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Don't know if I qualify for nuty pro (sounds like sandwich spread), but I'm currently setting up my new laptop (so I'm excused I guess).

Meanwhile Kassen said very sensible things about blurs between notes and chords and textures and composers and synths.

I fully agree with him - it's a mess really, but a nice one :-)

Jan.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
I was hoping for more answers by G2 nutty professors but maybe I made a mistake not posting it on the G2 forum Crying or Very sad


Realy? I think these questions aren´t speciffic to the G2 at all. I beleive these can affect a DX7, a SK-1, a MS10 or Tassman or even the tuning of a guitar as much as they can a G2.

I´m getting the impression that you are somehow disapointed and asuming you want some link to the G2, I fon´t see where that´s coming from, unless you would like to see illustration in the form of .pch2 files. Could you please indicate what type of answers you were looking for? Almost everything mentioned could be implemented on the G2 to some degree and even if not every method of synthesis will work equally well there the musical effects achieved by those could be reached in some other, similar way.

You realy don´t have too listen to Chopin if you don´t want to, some snare-rush/time strech combinations in advanced d&b would do just as well ;¬)

Jan; thanks.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Yes Kassen, good thought provoking reply, but I read the question differently.
I think Carlo is thinking along the lines of, when I load a patch, I want a nice pad I can use in an arrangement I am working on. Instead I get some composition from the Radiophonic Workshop. What the hell are you guys doing?
Any other synthesiser, 99% of the patches are piano, pad, marimba etc with maybe 1% spaceship noises.

I like creating self playing mechanisms as they can come up with unexpected but sublime combinations. Things no human composer/improviser would ever dream of.
Improvisers tend to work at least, on some level, on a internal library based on experience of what works and what doesn’t. So perhaps human improvisation is randomly sequenced muscle memory macro phrases.
Not that that is a bad thing, just an observation.
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 4:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Kassen wrote:
I'm getting the impression that you are somehow disapointed...

not at all. I was just thinking that some G2 patches I downloaded show a lot of programming skills by their creators. So complex they look to a novice like myself that I wonder if that complexity is really needed for musical purposes or those patches are "stand alone" works of art. that's why I was asking. This thought could apply to any programmable hardware or software synth but it seems particularly evident on a powerful and modular machine like the G2 (or maybe it's just me).

Kassen wrote:
You realy don?t have too listen to Chopin if you don?t want to, some snare-rush/time strech combinations in advanced d&b would do just as well ;¬)

are you talking to me? Shocked

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

g2ian wrote:

I think Carlo is thinking along the lines of, when I load a patch, I want a nice pad I can use in an arrangement I am working on. Instead I get some composition from the Radiophonic Workshop. What the hell are you guys doing?

that's fine. I actually enjoy those noodles (at least some of them) that's the perfect example of "stand alone" synth patch. no performance needed. the machine generates its own music. not necessarily a bad thing Very Happy

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2005 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Patching a modular synth can be many differenbt things really.

The idea thta you set up a sound comes from how muscians learned to use the minimoog style synths, and later the memory/preset synths like the Promars and others. You patch.. and then you get a sound.. and if you have a synth with memory slots you can save it in a bank or something.

Consider that the Minimoog/Odyssey/SH5 style synths are preconfigured.. they are already patched.. If you remember the early Roland Juno synths, they were like this too. In fact, most consumer synths are like that.

A modular synth can of course be patched in order to get a sound of some sort. You can also consider that you are patching it and building an instrument at the same time. With the clavia Nord Modulars this is very evident. Many of the patches you can download here aren?t only about the actual sound you get when you pad the patch and hit a key, they are also instruments you are supposed to tweak.

Another matter is that if you want to build an extremey complex filter and a 3 voice synth with some strange sequencer stuff added.. you may get a patch that looks like it could take out Siberia.

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