Moog Music Thread

Posted: 8/6/2015 2:01:51 AM
rkram53

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

Not so "Aw" for people like me who bought a Slim Phatty last year only to have it discontinued. That's the synthesizer world. New models every year. The Etherwave is a dinosaur by comparison.

But you can play that Slim Phatty from your Etherwave Plus because it has CV inputs (the main reason I bought it). It was one of the few relatively inexpensive synths that took CV inputs.

I wonder - does anyone use a Moogerfooger analog delay with their theremins?

Posted: 8/6/2015 2:39:16 AM
rkram53

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

You certainly are a Moog fan. They should at least send you a T-Shirt.

I gotta get back to playing the Slim Phatty. Maybe I'll throw it through that Amazing Grace and see what comes out. I'm waiting to hear your rendition.

Posted: 8/7/2015 3:38:02 AM
rkram53

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

Amazing Grace - Etherwave+ playing Slim Phatty

OK. Interesting experiment. Never tried playing my Slim Phatty from my Etherwave Plus using the CV outs for any extended period before. Started by going through all the Slim Phatty patches to find one I wanted to use for Amazing Grace. Didn’t find one I liked. Either they were too harsh or they had too strong or fast envelopes that didn’t translate at all to the theremin gating - especially when that wonderful Moog filter opened up on a lot of them. So I decided to make a patch and try emulating a theremin-like sound. Started with a triangle wave (at the most sine-like setting) and synced the two oscillators two octaves apart. This created a sound with more harmonic complexity. Then I set volume and filter ADSR envelopes to slow settings that I thought would simulate a theremin well. Too fast an envelope would ruin the sound.

Then I connected the Etherwave Plus Volume, Pitch and Gate CVs. You need all three to transfer over the theremins expressive content and envelope shaping. This also is  where Theremini CV falls flat on its face with only one CV out. Didn’t care about tuning any 1/V per octave between the slim phatty and theremin – as the theremin has the totally dynamic pitch range so I just found my starting note and I was off to the races.

Then I set up Cubase to play my Amazing Grace stereo String track and played the Etherwave/Slim Phatty line on a Mono track. Put 2C Audio Breeze reverb on both and EW Spaces String Hall convolution reverb on the mix. One last thing was to add Antares Aspire vocal processing as a plug in on the Slim Phatty track. This creates a bit more harmonic complexity (though things get a little hot here and there).

The resulting sound is rather theremin-like to my ears (there is no etherwave line output connected at all here - just CV outs to Slim Phatty). You could never do this with MIDI. Even though CV is as old as the Moog synthesizer itself, it's still relevant – especially for theremin/gestural control.

This experiment also kind of reinforces my feeling that I could care less what creates the back end sound of a theremin - be it traditional heterodyning oscillators / subtractive synthesis, additive, FM, samples, Wavetable (which can create dynamically changing sounds) or virtual modeling, etc. Who cares as long as the sound is nice. It's the front end that really makes it a "theremin" to me and almost anyone who sees it played I would expect. There are those who will say I'm not really playing a theremin here because the back end is a Moog synth. I'm only playing a "gestural controller". But then a theremin is 99% gestural controller in my mind so it really doesn't matter. The future of the theremin is all in the back end as if the front end changes, that's when I start saying it's not a theremin anymore.

Have to try now moving more towards the sawtooth wave and increasing filter resonance with a different envelope. I should be able to get a more vocal/glottal sound.

Posted: 8/7/2015 10:01:39 PM
rkram53

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

That is one of the great things about control voltage - it's not quantized and can create a very fluid dynamic field, be it volume or more importantly pitch. In the old days, there was no MIDI, or digital synths for that matter. The Analog synths were controlled by CV and they had CV keyboards, etc. Then came MIDI and while it's great for traditional, equal tempered pitch sets (like on a piano), it has severe performance limitations being an 8 bit language. Basically there are only 128 values for any parameter you work with. Fine for some things (like maybe volume in many cases), not for others (like for a truly dynamic pitch field). And even though higher bit-based MIDI implementations have been developed, the industry is still stuck on 8 bits for the most part. You just can't get a great natural portamento with MIDI.

But then, these days most synths don't have CV inputs or outputs. Why bother when 99% of the world is using MIDI controllers of one sort or another. How many people are buying synths to play with their theremins? But Moog always maintained its analog foundations and for many products still thankfully support CV. That's why I got that Slim Phatty and after last night's experiment, I'm really glad I bought it. I'm going to use it a lot more now that I see how it can open up the sonic potential of the theremin.

Way back in school I used to work with a big old Moog synthesizer like the one you see on the Switched-on-Bach album. Not something anyone can afford, but the modular synthesizer market has really picked up in the past few years -  especially with the small form factor Eurorack Modules (typically $100-$500 a module - so still not cheap at all but you can buy a few things and add over time). Here, CV once again rules (though there are MIDI to CV converters you can add to these setups so you can also play using standard MIDI controllers). There's something very nice about patching up your sounds the old fashioned way - and it teaches you tons about analog synthesis.

 

Posted: 8/8/2015 5:04:17 PM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

If digital info doesn't have to go through a MIDI pipe it can be any resolution one likes internally, high enough not to "zipper".

I have a serious love/hate thing with MIDI - wish I'd been in on developing the original specification.

Posted: 8/8/2015 10:32:52 PM
rkram53

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

Yea - Who knew a watch today would have more digital horsepower than the thing we sent to the moon.

The problem with MIDI is all $ now and vendor unwillingness to change to create better and more innovative instruments and tools. There's no excuse for 8 bit MIDI in a 64 bit world - but that's what we have to live with. 

But I'm loving my prehistoric CV right now.

Posted: 8/9/2015 3:42:12 AM
Jason

From: Sammamish, Washington

Joined: 2/13/2005

The Ethervox MIDI theremin supported 14-bit MIDI signals, and if you could find a synth that would respond to them, it was great.  But back then, most synths only supported the 7-bit version of the standard.

Posted: 8/9/2015 5:10:27 AM
dewster

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 2/17/2012

"Yea - Who knew a watch today would have more digital horsepower than the thing we sent to the moon."  - rkram53

Those Apollo engineers were doing the best they could, but they would have pooped their pants if you handed them a ~$10 quad core >1GHz ARM processor of today.  The AGC is actually a home hackable project at this point:

http://www.geek.com/news/mega-project-build-a-working-apollo-landing-computer-1495169/

Love those "noun" and "verb" buttons!  I always have to laugh when people try to convince me that certain computing things which were done in the distant past would be impossible to do today.  "They put a man on the moon but they can't do X" is such a great line, more relevant with each passing day as the first moon landing was in '69, the computing stone ages.

Posted: 8/9/2015 1:04:00 PM
rkram53

From: Northern NJ, USA

Joined: 7/29/2014

Yea - you're right - it's only 7 bits. 0..127 parameters. I was giving it one more bit credit that it deserves! Even that one lousy bit would be welcome.

We can go to the moon but we can't create a theremin that plays itself?

 

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