Synthwave from Scratch
The bass is a pulsating subtractive 3osc supersaw, which I've put through a chorus too. It's not my favorite sound, but it works well enough for the period. It also complies with the "wavetable synths only" rule for the LMC. For the blog series, I may replace this bass entirely with an FM bass, which has a more interesting timbre AND works well for the time period.
I'm using a bandlimited saw at the moment, which I'll need to replace with a real wavetable oscillator before submitting. I'm also planning on swapping out the lowpass filter too.
I'm ducking the bass out every time the kick triggers using an envelope generator (copy of kick trigger signal), which is an effect typically achieved with sidechain compression. This way is simpler and gives you better control.
btw, I'm not going for any specific hardware emulation. Just a particular feel and vibe. That seems to be what this genre is all about anyways. 80s feel and vibe, with some 21st century polish.
Synthwave from Scratch
Initially, I was just going to use drum samples. But I got frustrated trying to find one I liked, so I gave up and just ended up synthesizing them.
The kick is a sine with exponential frequency mapping. There's a tiny bit of phase distortion synthesis happening to add some grit but it's hardly doing anything. I also added a little click to try and better match the kick in the reference track I'm using.
The snare is enveloped white noise put through some tuned EQs for coloring. And yes, there is gated reverb on the snare. You can't not do that when it's 1986. I had to fiddle a lot with this one to get the tail and body to match the reference recording. I'm still not entirely happy, but I think it's close? The snare is without a doubt the most important part of this newwave/synthwave sound.
Hihats in these mixes are tiny! I ended up with another enveloped white noise instrument, but put through a high pass filter.
Synthwave from Scratch
Thanks to peer pressure from the internet from an idea I didn't fully think through, I will be making a synthwave track from "scratch". No DAW, using open source DSP aglorithms in C, with some embedded scripting languages on top. I'll be submitting a version of this for the #libremusicchallenge. I'll do a blog series about it after the fact. I will post the rambles here.
So, I wasn't actually sure what "synthwave" was, so I did some listening, found some reference tracks I liked, and started building some initial sounds. Featured here are some initial drum and bass sounds.
Everything is synthesized! More details on the instruments to follow...
This is like, something shot-for-shot Gus Johnson and his family would do.
I'm pretty sure this 1976 footage of Spielberg watching (and losing) the oscar nominations for best director in JAWs isn't a bit.
This is WILD
> Pumpkin is the name I have given to my port of PalmOS running on the x64 architecture.
> This is where Pumpkin is different from emulators: it can also run native applications at native speed. If you have the source code of a PalmOS application, you can compile it for Pumpkin OS with minimal modifications.
So, to date, there are now metanodes, metatargets, and metabehaviors. All structures that can be used to change looped gestures during a performance.
At the moment, these all just change stuff sequentially, but it would be trivial to make the choices be randomized instead. This would lend itself very well to generative music.
Slightly more non-trivial things I am thinking about are metaphrases (one level up from a metanode), and metavalues (mainly wanted to add randomization to values to do things like add humanization to pitch signals).
If you're listening to this, you may be hearing slides, slurs, and glissandos that aren't being accounted for in the lilypond notation.
In Gest, these articulations are all explicitly and precisely defined.
The actual gesture producing the notes here can be fully and unambiguously defined using the following notation (not pseudo-code, this actually works):
beg 3 3
t 0 sg
mn 1 2 t 7 sg pr 2 t 2 sg t 4 gl
t 14 mg
end loop fin
Metanodes implemented in my gesture synthesizer!
It's hard to explain what metanodes are out of context, but this little sequenced melody performed on an FM oscillator showcases a little bit of what is possible.
The sequenced melody can be represented in this pseudo-lilypond notation:
||: c4 g d' | c d8 e d'4 :||
Metanodes allow one to swap out chunks within a phrase. Here's some more pseudo-notation using s-expressions that represent how Gest is sequencing it:
||: c4 (@ (g4) (d8 e)) d'4 :||
The metanode (@) here cycles between the two melodic fragments here every time it repeats.
@paul for those following along at home (and possibly future-me), here are the links to those two texts, which are freely available online:
How does freaking January get a themed illustration but not October?
Something that gets obscured in the ongoing nft debates is the question of a culture of commodification. If we put all else aside (i.e. ecological impact etc) there's still a question of furthering/accelerating an economic culture of commodification, transactionalism, etc.
If part of art is shaping culture, which I believe it is, then what culture are we shaping? What systems do we participate in, reject, change, and create? It doesn't have to be either/or, if can be both.
But think about which systems you engage in because "we live in a society" and which ones you are actively working to produce and maintain. These things don't just exist by some divine right, they are made and need to be continually produced.
Where are you putting your active effort? What systems, institutions, and cultures does that aim to actively produce? Versus where you put your passive or necessary effort, for instance to earn enough to pay rent.
Hello, can I please ask a 5 minute favour of people with smart phones? Please attempt the following and make a note of what does and doesn't work:
1. Search your app store for the Smart Faust apps
2. Download one (they're free)
3. Run the app and while shaking your phone up and down.
4. Let me know:
A. What kind of phone/ operating system you have.
B. What version number
C. Could you find & download any of the apps?
D. Did the app make noise?
E. Do you know of any other free sound making apps that use the accelerometers that work on your type of phone?
How this knowledge may be useful to you: You can use these apps to jam with your mates and come up with litter performances. This is a fun and easy way to get into doing experimental music and is appropriate for adults and children. It can be really creative. I can post the whole outline of how to run this workshop if people are interested.
I teach computers how to sing.
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