Decibel Conference


Decibel Conference


Lesson Info

Workshop 8 - Modular Synthesis with James Patrick and Richard Devine

Wait here to provide some entertainment for you college on my my goal for today is to help you guys feel a little closer to what really is going on behind the scenes with the richard devine production and performance techniques which are full of intrigue to say the least so I'm james patrick this is richard devine and I think the secret special element that nate mars was mentioning is I think that richard has some special new or unheard pieces of music that he's going to be playing for us today in addition to our academic investigation of his rig so those are those are our two men projects for today and we've got about thirty minutes so I think we should get started hi richard how you get him in because some terrible that you made back there just like looking back but you go to the bathroom tio you've got a tough I mean really it's like you can't be all like guys that would be weird eso richard you're we've got your live right here this is the exact same system used last night everybod...

y the gig last night was beautiful amazing I've had the opportunity of seeing you perform with this or a similar a lot of this system recently a few times and it's nothing short of mind blowing on uh big ups to decibel for having the insight to book you on but we're so glad to have you so one of things I want to do before we get started on talking as I always like to start workshops off with music when people can get into their happy place before the nurturing begins. So, do you have anything that's fresh you have in mind? You were here, you know, it's. Just gonna well, play. Do you think so? For the first one I'm gonna play is, uh, it's a patch called harmonic symmetry that released on video about a month ago. And this is just showing an example from people live. May not be so familiar with, uh, making music with ma jewelers and stuff. This is kind of what I do at night after I worked doing sound design stuff during the day, and, uh, I think, yeah, pulled up there. So this is trucks about four and a half minutes, but it's just me. It was this patch basically just came totally by accident. It was just me kind of playing around with one function on one of my modules. It's actually, in this case that we hear the shape shifter intelligence moved. Intelligence. Yeah. Um, and it's, a super deep module that can do multiple different things and can function in many different ways, and it was something that just just this one function inspired this whole idea to make a song and that's basically where this came from so that further ado we'll just go ahead play this's the patch this is something that richard does a lot where he late at night after working his butt off probably gets into his happy place like we're talking and then somehow at the moment of when the muse really strikes the ipod camera or whatever it has happens and just record if you're not following richard on video please get on that because it's instant inspiration I think the only two people I follow on google plus our richard devine in the dalai lama and it's actually for those of you have facebook and have fought off that nonsense this this is you are constant you are really inspiration too well that's the people so thanks for that underground for you it's a deli loathe tryto um that that patch just came about totally like I said by accident it was just something fun and three together and then patch just for every video that I put upon on video always put patch notes on how I put the patch together and what modules I used um and for a lot of people that may read that it's helpful for just getting ideas because I was I loved reading other people's passion it's because it inspires me to be like oh that's cool elements part of what's so cool about this format is that um everybody has such a different approach there everybody systems completely different um and you could get you know, the same for everyone in this room like a specific model everyone leaves that module completely differently everyone's approach will be something entirely um you know coming from a different standpoint what they musically want to do so it's it's so cool just to kind of um get ideas in this that patch was just uh it was a direct inspiration from a tutorial video that I saw on the shape shifter I knew a lot of the functions of this module but when I actually saw this one function of how to generate really melodic chords with it I was like oh that's cool I never really thought to use that module this way and had that module for two years so it just kind of just inspired this idea and by just watching someone else's video that having coffee that morning I was like, I'll turn that after its right you know, so that's what's up it's just so fun and amusing show off that shape shifter technique we get into the modules as long as we have time quickly you know that tune kind of brought me back to some old kind of scam recordings kind of bull lot never bollocks yeah, I love that sound that's just such a nice those election dreamy pads yes that's intelligible shape shifters making most courts yes, but I sent some physical modeling member and stuff going on in there too many. Yes, there was, um tell harmonic, which is a new additive oscillator from make noise. And then I was also using another it's a wave guide oscillator by make noise called the mr iran, which was doing sort of it almost sounds like a guitar pluck metallic kind of guitar pluck sound yeah, it's just, uh it's such a fun. Um, I think this is the most fun I've ever had working with any instrument by far you know, I've had many, many keyboards have had tons of work stations, you know, missed every single software plug in on the planet. I'm not really worked with an instrument that gives you so much feedback where you kind of create this environment and then that environment, like instantly sort of communicates to you in a way and you khun constantly um you just get inspired by these things that just sometimes happened sporadically and randomly where you just don't have any control you're like, wow, I wasn't expecting that and, um, I'm not really I'm not really had that sort of relationship with any musical instrument I've ever, ever had in my life so the system or in general even if you're starting with a small your rag system that leads you inevitably to having a deeper sense of intimacy with the signal you know you're literally in such a it unlocks a lot of secrets and solves a lot of problems for the modern electronic musician when you could be eliminated all the clutter and break it down to like one simple control voltage signal and do something with that message you know? So I think there's a two sided coin to your iraq upper altitudes sit modular sentences in general it's like there's pros and constituting maybe back me up on this where it seems like the learning curve is so massive but at the same time breaking down things to it really elemental level can also just unlock all sorts of creative opportunities opportunities to break the rules you know which obviously you're doing and endless opportunities here so let's talk a little bit about some of the magic als and your rig and maybe um get into some of the tech you know, a big question for me and for a lot of people since you know he's the computers the sequence content I mean obviously there's some pretty linear sequence ideas that are happening especially in this kind of music we just heard uh can you explain kind of where the let's follow some of the signal flow through the system that you're using and get an idea. Obviously, this isn't the exact same thing that you used to create the peace we just heard, but there may be some similar techniques. There was, as you could see in that video, there was a next er six u case that I had on the floor. Um, that I was using a conjunction with this, this rig that you see here, so there's three case is all together. Um, and I don't think I approach a patch over the same way. I'm always changing things out. Um, this system that I've set up here, I've actually even changed some things even coming to play this show, uh, decibel added some new modules in some new stuff that I just got recently, um, about a week ago, and I just tried him out for the first time last night. Um, which worked out really well, but in general, a cz james is talking about like, my sequencing, uh, structure basically has not changed. It's pretty much stayed the same for the last six months, I guess, but it's always there's, always a new module that I'm always wanting to try out, but it generally have one, uh, module that handles the drum sequencing, and then I have another one that does more melodic gates tv stuff as well to kind of play the melodies and that sort of thing and I guess I could probably point to it and have it looks kind of blurry but um so what I'm mainly using here in my revis the mocking sequence here put a finger on it's the far lower left this one hear stories it's pretty blurry but if I go onto modular grid he could probably use a little more clear view of that module. Um when I designed this system I wanted to be ableto have at least uh four part harmony something where I could do like a baseline like a lead sound will be more like maybe a pluck sort of like sign tone um to baby basically create meets musical stuff with modular that's been a real challenge and even for me in the beginning and it's something I should also mention is that this stuff isn't really a new concept for me. One of the seventeen years old with my first synthesizer was a modular sent that was in our twenty six hundred that I got and so for people to think I just jumped into this I haven't really been doing it the whole time and uh and jumped on to your ex about nine years ago on dh then sort of used theater dough for stuff beginning and then this whole explosion I never even saw it coming of it's just it was just something I was it was always part of my work flow and it just sort of happened. Turn into this. Um but yes, it going back to the the sequencing set of the tech sequencer handles all the musical stuff and what's great about that sequences it's small um and I'm able to do I'm able to set gate time so aiken, you know, said how long and what specific notes to play within the patch eyes to consider kwan ties values so I can spit set up semi tones or whatever scale and I have these undefinable scales too, so I can go in and edit and then say, hey, I want only to be able to play this this track to play these instead of nets the second track to play this thief set the nets and so on can the interface in fact, if we could switch the projector to richard, scream to his video, you don't get a more clear vision of right here. This is the system that's right here about the lower the lower left unit is the mob can touch correct that we're referring to that handles all the harmonic and melodic sequencing data. Exactly. You got a touch screen right on time you could touch it. Yeah, it came with a little nintendo stylist spends some people don't like to program that way, but I actually haven't found a seek a smaller sequence er that's able to do as much as they could do in a small set a pin for me? I'm actually trying to go back and be more limited. I'm not trying to go out, and I mean, I have a lot of modules most people have seen my studio see that I have I have a lot of I've got about addiction, but but what I've been doing performances, I'm actually trying to limit myself force limitations and work with only a smaller system to perform with and to make music with, because I think it's much more impressive to kind of do more with less, and also I think you get you for more of a closer relationship when you, uh, limit yourself to using only specific set of modules, because I know a lot of people that have getting into this, they're thinking they have to buy every single day module there is out, but I'm I'm still easing stuff that's, you know, four, five years old in my case, it's just stuff that you find that you get comfortable with, and then you build some technique with this's a deep sentiment, for sure reflect on for a moment for anyone, who's ever touched or considered getting into the euro rag or modular world? This is something that you have successfully transcended, which many people struggle with is once you open up this can of worms, so to speak, you end up slipping kind of backwards into a really deep world, but that is there's a lot of clutter in the path on it keeps you a lot of people from generating content, you know? And it it becomes more of a hobby thing for a lot of folks on dh I personally really trying to stay true to the artistry thing and also loving the content you've created in your life that has made me really happy. I think it's really aspirational too. I want to have a work flow that has an escape route, you know, so you don't get too stuck on dh you've obviously I want to channel some of that magic that you've harnessed to not get too stuck in the abyss, you know, but to actually be able to say, now I'm going to seek when something and even maybe even a mod or something that's, linear and actually make music that feels, you know, you this is a this is a trick, so any insight you have on that certainly having a single sequencing element for all melodic and harmonic stuff seems like a good a good solution for people who are maybe afraid of getting lost in the abyss and just making for me like I started out simple I didn't buy like really complicated modules in the beginning I bought very simple based uh like oscillators and bc aids and filters and emblem generators and just basically kind of reassembled stuff that I already knew, like I was like when I first built my doper system I was kind of emulating what my aarp in my am l'm I am a simply had it was, you know, like three oscillators and it's like, ok, we see if I can just build like a traditional sense and slowed the patching capabilities that I have but those earlier designs and then I started to experiment a little more and started to pick other modules from dopers catalog and then started to kind of really get into what I call like a frankenstein system where you're just making up some something completely you know, that caters to your needs on dh that's basically what this system is so I defined or it kind of came up with this idea of like, well, I kind of want to do this for my new live pat show, so in order to do that, what modules will I need? So I made a, um basically a collection of wait table oscillators digital left them oscillators in three of the mutable instant spreads on slater's, which have you can you point to? Yes way got I want to see the audio signal flow. You possible? Sure do it. I know it's a little blurry, but I think they'll get the idea. So these these two models here in the center, the displays with the green one of them's kind of wildly changing different modes. It's a meta mode. I have three these these oscillators what's, so great about them on the big mutable instruments fan, they offer about thirty six different synthesis types in one and basically one module, so you could do like fn classic base synthesis additive there's a new harmer mode there's germs synthesis in there it could be many different things, which makes it a really great office later toe having a small system because it's multifunctional it's got built in kuantan, it's got a built in kwon tizer, so you could. And now, with the new one point a firm where that a libya from mutable incidents released he's got different quantum scales and a built in visa. So what's nice about it is that it saves you space in a smaller system where you don't have to farm out having toe install a envelope or, you know, a visa so it's all built in digitally he's able to code all that and just making enough days so that modules handling a decent amount of value signals generations eastern a lot of the harmony stuff for my show. What about the plucky percussive stuff that's that's also from break also because because of the new, they want one point uh, one point eight update I was previously using the oct, the octu make noise ophthalmic ce, which is kind of you can't really say it's covered with cables, but it's a low pass gate like a classic west coast style buchel a low pass k, which is a very sort of familiar sound if you've known me the early morton subotnick records, which I'm a huge fan of, I grew up listening to that sort of would pluck sound, then he was getting is kind of what that module doesn't have a long way to really get that timber with earlier system. Maybe the little cascade thing I don't know I was thinking with with signal generation insurers came a long way having one module that's capable of all those synthesis languages. That's the immutable breeds were referring to the brain's yeah breaks off really, really, really powerful module just people looking to have a single, smaller system that can do a lot exactly, yeah, I, um a really big fan of of everything that beatable puts out mainly for that reason. Because you khun, you can download different firmware so we can add extra functionality to the module and there's people he's released all the code of source. So there's. Other people now, like ten churches, has done the bees in the trees farm where for braids and then stuff for peaks, which is another multi utility module that I have here that works it works. Is a dual lfo generator. Yeah. Multifunction generator. Drum synthesis modulates it for making kick drums and snares. And it's it's just great. I really tried to carefully pick this system to where it would get a lot of functionality so that I could get, you know, like eight or nine full songs out of one patch. So he also then, in addition to the oscillator functions, I know you have a little granular. The cuban nebulae is also a signal generator in the beginning. Part of the signal flow path. That's. True. Yeah. I use a lot of the cubit, which is two friends of mine that graduated from berkeley. College of music. Started a iraq company, and now they're in portland. But they make great stuff. He's in the man iran amusing to the rt sixties which is their effects units on their silver there also there's one in each case in which tonight's about him is that offers um you know I think it's six different effects are guarantees these processes mostly right river course delay a pit shifter but it was nice having such a small modules for that much flexibility and have c b control over this parameters and also uh another thing I like is the ability to have c b control over the effect types you can send like a gate to trigger a step to the switch modes nice which comes in really handy for if you're switching to a different part of the track to kind of change the the effect specialness like they're the nebulae mme munich is where you take a flash drive being put your own samples on it plug it in and then your cd modulating the green size on the pitch and stuff with the files right off your flash drive the system like future rama business going on of this kind of fusion of digital analog it's pretty it's totally it's the wild west now because when I first started it was all analog now we're seeing these entities like the pga microprocessor form which is thie what the shape shifter runs and now you're starting to see this hybrid technology where these got these micro computers that will handle cv uh, data and real times. You're getting you could be able to use a very complex things that actually, last night. During my performance, I was running different. See sound score files into the nebula, so we pull out different usb drives with different, pure data. Patches on dh. See sound patches that could float in and actually use them. Live that's, like a dream to me a seat. Sam was the first sure, computational like environment that I used on a computer and now, like control of seizing it. Cz crazy where things kind of started around. They like, come full circle.

Class Description

The Decibel Conference is three days of panels, workshops and other events that runs in parallel to the Decibel Festival. Now on its 12th year, Decibel is one of the nation's longest-running and most respected electronic music festivals, and CreativeLive is proud to partner with Decibel to produce the 2015 Conference. For details on the schedule and content, please visit the official Conference page.