Patch from Scratch: Reaktor Feedback Loop

Building a dynamic feedback loop in Reaktor 6 Primary.

Here’s a simple patch based off the work of composer/engineer Jaap Vink from the Institute For Sonology, Utrecht. This ensemble is a feedback loop with a delay, a ring modulator, and a saturator (with a simple sine as a “trigger” to get things started).

Each pass through the loop, the signal is delayed, then ring-modulated, significantly changing the spectrum. This can devolve into noise rather quickly, but a soft touch can lead to some interesting evolving soundscapes.

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

More Audio Cybernetics and Feedback:

No-Input DAW (Logic Pro X Feedback Loops & Sound Design)

Tutorial on “no-input mixing” in a DAW (Logic Pro X, in this case) for wild feedback-based sound design.


With a little knowledge of digital signal flow, we can easily set up an aux track in our DAW as a feedback loop–sending the track back into itself. Once we start adding effects, we can achieve new and unexpected sounds. This technique could be a way to generate some new sonic material, add some interest to a drum loop, or even generate vast, evolving soundscapes.

0:00 Intro / Casio Beat
0:39 Output to Aux Track
1:06 Feeding Back with a Bus Send
2:20 Adding Effects to the Loop
4:14 More Subtle Effects
4:58 More Extreme (Pitch Shifter)
5:17 Removing the “Input”
6:47 Talking through the No-Input Mixer
8:18 Closing Thoughts

More Logic Pro X tutorials:

Pure Data Screaming Metal Feedback Loop

A simple digital feedback patch in Pure Data build from just delay, ring-modulation, and saturation.


Building on my digital feedback video from a few weeks ago, here’s a quick patch for setting up a dynamic controllable feedback loop in Pd Vanilla. I’ve set up a way to get things going with a little sine-wave beep, and you can hear that the feedback loop makes things pretty complex pretty quickly.

WATCH THOSE LEVELS!
It gets loud in the middle.

More no-talking Pd videos here.
More music and sound design with cybernetics and feedback.

Audio Feedback Loops in Digital: Cybernetic Music in Symbolic Sound Kyma 7

Building some feedback loops in the digital domain using Symbolic Sound’s Kyma 7.

In audio feedback loops, the output of the system is fed back into an input. We’re probably most familiar with this when we put a microphone in front of a speaker and we get the “howling” sound. Here, though, I’m intentionally building digital feedback loops in order to explore the sonic possibilities of these rather unpredictable systems.

In order to keep my feedback loop interesting, though, I need to keep it from dying away to silence, or blowing up into white noise. By considering the different processes we apply to the audio in the loop (are they adding spectral complexity or removing it?), we can try to make feedback patches that are dynamic and interesting over time.

0:00 The Continuum of Spectral Complexity
3:13 Staring with an Sine Wave in Kyma
4:45 Delay with Feedback
5:49 Building Feedback Loops Manually
8:40 Ring-Modulating the Feedback
11:20 Gain and Saturation
14:22 Exploring the Sound
16:16 Filter Bank
19:05 Jamming with the Patch
22:18 Thinking about Control
23:25 Performing the Sound
26:34 Feedback Loop with Reverb
28:10 Making it into IDM with the Chopper
29:22 So What? Next Steps

More Kyma Videos:

More audio cybernetics and feedback:

New Music: “Cybernetics & Feedback”

I’ve released a new collection of pieces, “Cybernetics & Feedback”, available on bandcamp:

Cybernetics & Feedback

Inspired by the cybernetic and feedback works of Roland Kayn, Éliane Radigue, Bebe Barron, and Jaap Vink, and embracing an anything-goes noise music aesthetic, this collection of works from early 2022 explores analog feedback loops and self-regulating patches in Eurorack modular.

In these pieces, audio signals are routed back into themselves, and used to control processes and trigger events. While these are performed improvisations, “performance” in this case does not mean strict control, since these systems influence themselves as much as the performer does.

One of my sketches. I think this is Track 6.

A quick acknowledgement that these noisy soundscapes might not be for everyone. Don’t worry. I won’t be offended.

I do have something a little more crowd-pleasing:

Ambient Chiptune (for Studying)

As a bonus, I’ve put up all the audio tracks from my “Ambient Chiptune” videos as a free/pay-what-you-want download.

(Definitely easier listening on these!)

Enjoy!

Eurorack Neural Network Jam: “An Explanation of the Universe”

A mess of Eurorack CV feedback that’s not random. It’s chaotic!

This instrument creates chaotic synthesized music that I interact with using four knobs. The music that this synthesizer creates is not random. It is determined by a set of “rules” created by the different components interacting with each other. However, because each of these modules influences and is influenced by several others, the interconnected network of interactions obfuscates the rules of the system. This leads to the instrument’s chaotic, incomprehensible behavior.

As with all chaotic systems, though, if it were possible to understand all of the different components and their relationships, and do complex enough calculations, we would be able to predict the outcome of all of our interactions.

Patch notes: ….Uh…. I just kept patching things back into each other, and this is where I ended up.

Synthesis, Cybernetics, and Feedback

In my recent explorations of analog synthesis (as a former dyed-in-the-wool digital synthesist), I’ve found that feedback loops are one of the things that particularly different to explore in analog.

Inspired by the YouTube channel, La Synthèse Humaine, I’ve been doing a lot of feedback patches in Eurorack, with no-input mixing, FX pedals, and even digitally in Pure Data.

Better explained on the La Synthèse Humaine channel, “cybernetics” here follows Norbert Wiener’s definition: “control and communication in the animal and the machine,” since these audio feedback systems are “self-regulating” (self-controling?) sonic ecosystems.

Anyway, I’ve put together a playlist of my improvisations, collaborations, and ramblings about feedback and cybernetic systems. Enjoy!

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)