Synthesizing Distance

How to create the illusion of distance with sounds by altering their volume, harmonic spectrum, and dry/wet reverb balance.

Spatializaton is placing sounds in a spatial location or creating the illusion that sounds are in a spatial location. We can choose a sound’s direction, where it’s coming from; distance, how far away it sounds; and also the size and shape of the space where the sound is occurring. In this video, I focus on distance, and demonstrate the steps to move something forward and back from the listener.

I demonstrate this in Pro Tools, but this process can be applied to the digital audio workstation of your choice or any other audio programming environment.

Data Sonification: Another Way to Communicate with Sound

Generally, people aren’t terribly good at just looking at lists of numbers and finding meaning. That’s why we create charts, graphs, and infographics to help us see patterns and trends to help communicate this information to others. These graphs, etc., are visualizations, but we can also sonify data–convert into sound–in order to help understand it and make it meaningful to us or others.

Kyma & DAW Integration with Dante (Digital Audio to Pacarana with AoE)

My students getting started in Kyma often ask me how they can integrate it into music production in their DAW. Now, there are a lot of good reasons to get away from your DAW sometimes, and experiment with different workflows (including those built into Kyma), but let’s set those aside for the moment. With a Dante AVIO USB ($129) and the Dante Virtual Soundcard ($29), you can set up two channels of 48K digital audio in and out of your Paca(rana), enabling you to use it like a plug-in effect with low latency and without any conversion to and from analog.

I demonstrate this in Logic Pro X, but it should work in Pro Tools, Reaper, Ableton, or your other DAW of choice.

Analog. Audio Multiplication, Ring Modulation, & AM Synthesis (Snazzy FX Dual Multiplier)

I got a Snazzy FX “Dual Multiplier” the other day, and thought it might be a good opportunity to talk about audio multiplication and the difference between AM synthesis and ring modulation.

Both AM synthesis and RM can be accomplished by multiplying a waveform (the “carrier”) by another waveform in the audible range You don’t need an analog multiplier to do this! You can do this in whatever synthesis environment you’re working in–Pd, Max/MSP, Kyma, Reaktor. All you have to do is multiply your signals, being mindful of whether the signals are unipolar (0 to 1) or bipolar (-1 to 1).

More on modulation synthesis:

Pure Data Tutorials for Musicians

Over the last year, I’ve put together a collection of YouTube videos on Pure Data Vanilla for musicians with no previous programming experience required.

Originally, I was just making these videos for a class, but I quickly found there was an audience for Pd tutorials like this, and my videos expanded beyond the class materials to generative music patches, live databending glitch beats, and algorithmic 80s synthwave.

If any of that sounds like fun to you, check out the playlist and enjoy!

Listening to Videogames

I’m starting up a collection of videos to support my new “Listening to Videogames” class:

The goals of the class (and this video series) are to give an overview of the ideas and vocabulary in talking about sound for digital games, providing tools to listen critically to all aspects of videgames, contemporary and historical.

Chiptune Ambient (“Chip Ambient”)

Over the summer, I put together a video about time-stretching retro video game music in order to create ambient tracks:

I’ve not sure myself if I this is parody or not, but I now have a playlist where you can listen to 8 hours of time-stretched chiptunes that I call “Chip Ambient.”

Not guaranteed to improve your grades.

Generative Ambient Music with the Logic Pro X Scripter

I put together a short tutorial on a simple way to use the Logic Pro X “Scripter” MIDI FX to create ever-changing, generative music.

As a composer, I always want to have original background music for all of my videos, but this means that I have to keep churning out long ambient tracks. One way that I address this is to set up a system that will generate an infinite amount of music for me, “Generative Music”, created by a system of rules.

In this video, I show one strategy of how to do this, laying down a couple chords in Logic, and then randomizing different aspects of them with MIDI FX to create an extended generative track.