Clamping VCA in Reaktor 6 Primary

Building a “clamping VCA” in Reaktor for subtle distortion, imitating the envelopes in Roland TR-808.

Normally, an amplitude envelope for your synths are just that: a control envelope on the amplitude of the signal. When we use a “clamping VCA”, though, instead of controlling the amplitude of the waveform, we clip it at the desired maximum envelope. This means, when the VCA is all the way up, it sounds the same, but during the attack and release, we’ll get the addition of subtle (or perhaps not-so-subtle) distortion to our waveform.

I use the “Mod. Clipper” in Reaktor 6 to achieve this effect, stealing the idea from Noise Engineering’s “Sinclastic Empulatrix” module, which, in turn, stole the idea from from the Roland TR-808 drum machine’s cymbal envelopes.

0:00 The “Mod. Clipper”
0:33 Clamping VCA
1:25 Simple Sine Oscillator
2:03 Mod-Clipping the Sine Wave
3:51 Standard VCA for comparison
4:58 Pulse Wave
5:41 Sawtooth Wave
6:34 Adding a Filter
7:35 Next Steps

More Reaktor 6 Intermediate Tutorials:

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Sample-Based Generative Melody in Kyma 7

Creating a 15-channel generative melody in Symbolic Sound’s Kyma 7.

I edited some pitches from the Schlappi Engineering Interstellar Radio into loops, and mushed some nature sounds together using Kyma’s SampleClouds. Now, by putting an amplitude generator on these two loops I can create a hybrid musical instrument of these two sounds. Take 15 pitches, 15 patterns of envelope, and send it to 15 speakers and we’ve got some Brian-Eno-style generative music with a constantly changing timbre.

This work was for my piece Perspectives of Place for Rolling Ryot’s “Ghost Line X Project”.

  • 0:00 What are we doing?
  • 0:37 Our looping samples
  • 2:32 Staring the Kyma Sound: Sample
  • 3:07 Adding an Envelope
  • 5:04 The Second Sample and Envelope
  • 5:54 Changing the Envelope
  • 6:48 Repeating Triggers with SoundToGlobalController
  • 8:12 Now do it 15 times (abridged)
  • 8:48 Listening to all 15
  • 10:36 Reducing the Density
  • 12:48 Checking the new version
  • 14:38 Closing, Next Steps.

More Kyma videos:

Elektrosluch and Stereo Microphones

Listening to electromagnetic radiation around the house using a homemade elektrosluch.

I was cleaning up, and found an “elektrosluch” that I made a few years back, and figured I’d dust it off and make sure that it still works. This is a device designed by LOM-Instruments that converts the vibration electromagnetic fields into sound (specifically vibrations of voltage that we can listen to through headphones, more info here ).

Make your own with this DIY article.

Thinking Beyond the ADSR, Other Envelope Generators in Reaktor 6 Primary

Adding envelopes to our synthesizer that aren‘t an ADSR.

ADSRs might be the envelope generators that we encounter most often, but they’re not the only way to shape our sound. There are a number of other musical ways to craft change in our synthesizer over time with these non-periodic TVCs.

Let’s check out what other options there are in Reaktor 6 primary.

More Reaktor 6 Beginner Tutorials here:

Pure Data Artificial Neural Network Patch from Scratch

Coding (well, “patching”) an artificial neural network in Pure Data Vanilla to create some generative ambient filter pings.

From zero to neural network in about ten minutes!

In audio terms, an artificial neuron is just a nonlinear mixer, and, to create a network of these neurons, all we need to do is run them into each other. So, in this video, I do just that: we make our neuron, duplicate it out until we have 20 of them, and then send some LFOs through that neural network. In the end, we use the output to trigger filter “pings” of five different notes.

There’s not really any kind of true artificial intelligence (or “deep learning”) in this neural network, because the output of the network, while it is fed back, doesn’t go back an affect the weights of the inputs in the individual neurons. That said, if we wanted machine learning, we would have to have some kind of desired goal (e.g. playing a Beethoven symphony or a major scale). Here, we just let the neural network provide us with some outputs for some Pure Data generative ambient pings. Add some delay, and you’re all set.

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

0:00 Demo
0:12 Building and artificial neuron
2:00 Networking our neurons
3:47 Feeding LFOs into the network
4:20 Checking the output of the network
5:00 Pinging filters with [threshold~]
8:55 Adding some feedback
10:18 Commenting our code
12:47 Playing with the network

Creating an artificial neuron in Pd:

Pinging Filters in Pd:

More no-talking Pure Data jams and patch-from-scratch videos:

Commodore 64 French House

Making some chiptune French house using the Commodore 64 and Alesis 3630.

C64 French House

Here, I’m using Paul Slocum’s CynthCart to turn my old C64 into a SID synthesizer. We run those licks into an Alesis 3630 compressor, side-chained to a kick drum (from an Alesis D-4), and then we have some pumping French house. Finally, we add some finishing touches with delay, reverb, and EQ in Logic Pro, as well as a cameo by an Electrix Warp Factory hardware vocoder.

Download the track here for free

More Commodore 64 sounds:

Patch from Scratch: Analog Feedback Loop in Eurorack

Patching up an analog feedback loop in Eurorack with some generic modules.

I don’t do a lot of videos talking about Eurorack for two main reasons:

(1) I’ve actually only been doing Eurorack for a couple years now, even though I’ve been doing digital synthesis and sound design for decades, and

(2) I don’t want my videos to be about any particular piece of hardware that you need to get (as always, I’m not sponsored by anyone).

But, the patch I put together in this video could be done by any number of modules, all I have is a sine wave, a ring modulator (multiplier), a reverb, a filter, and a limiter/compressor/saturator (anything to stop hard clipping). Put them together, feed them back, and you have some dynamic, analog generative soundscapes.

Previously, I’ve shown how to do the same thing in Pure Data, In Kyma, and in Reaktor.

Oh, and you can control it with an accelerometer too!

“Only for a Moment”

New music up on bandcamp!

A slow-evolving, minimalist piece for modular synthesizer.

“Hard Sync” Oscillators in Reaktor 6 Primary

Creating retro sounds with hard-synced oscillators in Reaktor 6 Primary.

“Hard sync” is synthesis technique that uses two oscillators: when one oscillator (the “leader”) finishes a cycle, it resets the period of the other oscillator (the “follower”), creating a period at the frequency of the leader, but a timbre from the incomplete cycles of the follower.

This is a really easy way to create original, complex sounds, using just two oscillators.

I say “1980s”, here but check out this sound in the Cars 1979 hit, “Let’s Go” (played on a Prophet-5 Synthesizer).

0:00 Defining “Hard Sync”
0:38 Building a Single Oscillator
1:35 Adding the “Follower”
3:03 Changing the Pitch Relationship
4:40 That Hard Sync Sound
4:57 How it Works
6:30 Follower Lower than Leader
7:25 Adding an Amplitude Envelope
8:10 Adding a Filter (for a bit)
9:28 Closing, Next Steps

Reaktor 6 Beginner Tutorials here: