Using the latency from videoconferencing software as a delay for feedback loops, this time with Kyma 7 processing the signal at both ends, creating (noisy) evolving sonic textures.
During the pandemic, conferencing software quickly became a required part of work and education culture.
Of course, this technology’s ability to keep us connected has been and important part of keeping people safe, but we’ve also discovered the quirks of this mode of communication. Being bound to this remote interaction inspires curiosity about its potential for collaborative creativity. Musicians have know for a while about the issues of internet latency in coordinating remote ensembles, but what if, instead of attempting to recreate the conditions of a traditional performance in this new medium, we embraced the “space” created by this conferencing software?
In this performance, the audio signal is sent between the two Kyma systems, creating a feedback loop.
Feedback loops, such as when we put a microphone close to a speaker, emphasize the resonant frequencies—the imperfections—of a system. As we know, the audio of conferencing software is an imperfect connection, with latency, filtering, and audio compression artifacts.
This conferencing-software feedback loop, then, emphasizes these imperfections, bringing out the character of this communication medium as an emergent soundscape.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
A quick acknowledgement that these noisy soundscapes might not be for everyone. Don’t worry. I won’t be offended.
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.
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!
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.