Asymmetrical Clipping in Pure Data

Asymmetrical clipping is clipping (truncation of a waveform), where the positive and negative amplitude peaks of a waveform are clipped to different values. This means we could clip the negative at -1, and the positive at -0.8 for example, and create some interesting harmonics.

This asymmetrical clipping is common in guitar effect pedals, since it’s relatively cheap to accomplish in electronics (with a few diodes). Unsurprisingly, it’s pretty easy to accomplish in Pd too, just using the [clip~] object. The fun part comes in deciding how we can use it musically.

Pure Data Ring-Modulation Delay

A quick and easy Pure Data patch-from-scratch tutorial building a feedback loop with a delay and a ring modulator.

With just two sine waves, a delay, and some feedback, we can make some pretty complex and dynamic sounds! In this patch we take a sine wave, delay it, and then ring-modulate that delay before feeding it back on itself (feeding it back into the delay, that is).

There’s no talking on this one, just building the patch, and listening to it go.

More Pd Tutorials
More on modulation synthesis

Understanding Mid/Side Stereo in Synthesis (Pure Data, Reaktor, and Eurorack)

Mid/Side is a different way of working with stereo, where, rather than one channel for the left, and one for the right, you have one channel for the “mid” information, and one channel for the “side”. This format allows for different approaches to stereo processing, playing with the stereo image in new and interesting ways.

I’ve seen a lot of videos about mid/side for mixing or mastering but I thought I’d talk a bit about the potential for this approach in sound design, and how it can help us think about 3D audio and ambisonics too.

Modules in the Eurorack modular demonstration:
-Winterbloom Castor&Pollux dual oscillator
-Shakmat SumDif precision adder
-Hikari Instruments Ping Filter
-Instruo Tanh saturator

Feedback Loops with Cheap Stuff

Create dynamic feedback loops on a cheap mixer and pedals. With just a few pieces of equipment you can make wonderful, interactive, and unpredictable sound systems.

Over the summer, I’ve been thinking a lot about feedback and how simple devices can create complex sounds when fed back into themselves. Alongside checking out a lot of great music, I’ve been reading about 1950s “Cybernetics” and 1990s Japanese “Noise Music”, and considering the expressive possibilities of resonance and feedback. In this video I show a simple way to put together a noisy feedback loop setup with inexpensive equipment I had sitting in my drawer.

Further Study:

Sarah Belle Read’s Tutorial on No-Input Mixing


La Synthèse Humaine, Feedback Loops Explained and Demonstrated on Serge Synthesizers

Norbert Wiener, “The Human Use of Human Beings” (1950)


David Novak, “Japanoise: Music at the Edge of Circulation” (2013)

“Krell Muzak” Generator in Kyma 7

Using Kyma 7 to create some generative Sci Fi music inspired by Todd Barton’s “Krell Music” patch on the Buchla Synthesizer.

Once again, I’m back with more ancient music of the Krell. As I mentioned previous weeks, in my regular journeys across the internet, I came across the concept of a “Krell Music” patch–a self-generating patch created by Todd Barton, inspired by Bebe and Louis Barron’s soundtrack to the 1956 film “Forbidden Planet.” The Barrons’ soundtrack to the film is amazing, and a bit beyond what I can get into here (see links below). Barton’s Buchla patch tries to capture some of the dynamic timbres of that score.

My oversimplification of the idea is this: a note has an amplitude envelope–attack and release–and when that amplitude envelope ends it triggers the next envelope. At the same time, that trigger selects a new (likely different) attack and decay time, as well as a new pitch and timbre for the next note. So we create a continuous series of musical tones, each distinct from the one before it.

So, this time, let’s make it in Kyma.

Reaktor 6 Primary “Krell Music” Generator (Sci-Fi Ambient Music)

Using Reaktor 6 Primary to create some generative Sci Fi music inspired by Todd Barton’s “Krell Music” patch on the Buchla Synthesizer.

As I mentioned last week, in my regular journeys across the internet, I came across the concept of a “Krell Music” patch–a self-generating patch created by Todd Barton, inspired by Bebe and Louis Barron‘s soundtrack to the 1956 film “Forbidden Planet.” The Barrons’ soundtrack to the film is amazing, and a bit beyond what I can get into here (see links below). Barton’s Buchla patch tries to capture some of the dynamic timbres of that score.

My oversimplification of the idea is this: a note has an amplitude envelope–attack and release–and when that amplitude envelope ends it triggers the next envelope. At the same time, that trigger selects a new (likely different) attack and decay time, as well as a new pitch and timbre for the next note. So we create a continuous series of musical tones, each distinct from the one before it. So let’s make that in Reaktor 6 Primary.

Making a “Krell Music” Patch in Pure Data (Generative Sci-Fi Music)

Putting together a music (muzak?) generator in Pd inspired by Todd Barton’s self-generating patch on the Buchla Synthesizer.

In my regular journeys across the internet, I came across the concept of a “Krell Music” patch–a self-generating patch created by Todd Barton, inspired by Bebe and Louis Barron’s soundtrack to the 1956 film “Forbidden Planet.” The Barrons’ soundtrack to the film is amazing, and a bit beyond what I can get into here (see links below). Barton’s Buchla patch tries to capture some of the dynamic timbres of that score.

My oversimplification of the idea is this: a note has an amplitude envelope–attack and release–and when that amplitude envelope ends it triggers the next envelope. At the same time, that trigger selects a new (likely different) attack and decay time, as well as a new pitch and timbre for the next note. So we create a continuous series of musical tones, each distinct from the one before it.

Making a Wavefolder in Reaktor 6 Primary

In this week’s video, we make a wavefolder in Reaktor, slowly adding features, and testing out some different types of waveforms.

It’s not terribly effective to filter sine waves, since they only consist of a single frequency, but, using a wavefolder, we can add harmonics, and create a rich, customizable sound.

Wavefolding is distortion of a waveform where, when the input amplitude exceeds a threshold, it becomes inverted. This adds harmonics to the sound (specifically odd harmonics), and, by controlling the amount of fold, we can modulate these in real time.

Subaudio, DC Offset, and How they Affect Your Digital Sound

Subaudio are sounds below the range of human hearing–below about 20 Hz. While we can’t hear these sounds, they can make their way into our audio files in various ways and cause some issues for us. Understanding these issues can help us make decisions in tracking, mixing, and mastering to ensure clean bass sounds and the highest possible fidelity in our recordings.