Creating an ambient music machine in Pure Data Vanilla with a “clamping VCA” that adds subtle distortion, imitating the envelopes in Roland TR-808.
I made a clamping VCA in Reaktor a few weeks back, and now here’s another example in Pd. Normally, amplitude envelopes in synths are 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 [clip~] in Pd 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.
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.
Brian Eno coined the term “ambient music” to describe music that is “intended to induce calm and a space to think,” and “as ignorable as it is interesting.” We can make a simple patch in Pd that recreates one of Eno’s techniques, creating a system that endlessly generates ambient music for us with the notes that we choose.
Give it a try and make your own interesting and ignorable music.