Improvisation XVI – Toy Train From Sirius

In this piece, I try to find a balance between unexpected and expected, “ugly” and “beautiful”. It starts with a comparably “rough” part, until ca. 5:40. Then the music gets more rhythmic and less experimental (with a few “flashbacks”, of course). From 9:10 on, the party starts.

Let’s take a look at the technical aspects:

All modular synth voices are mor or less “percussion”, i.e. without defined pitch. Two oscillators (A-111-1, both sine waves) are put through an A-114 Ring Modulator and then into an A-106-5 SEM filter. After this, we go into an A-132-2 VCA. VCA and VCF are controlled by an A-140 ADSR. One of the A-111s is pitch controlled by an A-148 Sample and Hold, the second one has a static pitch. That’s the first sound you will hear (together with some hissing noise for sonic obscurity).

The most complex voice: A triangle wave (A-111-1, no pitch changes) is sent into an A-196 PLL. The PLL will try to follow the (static) pitch, but is adjusted in a way that this will fail somehow. The result is then sent into an A-126 VC Frequency Shifter to add tonal complexity. Then we go into an A-137-1 Wave Multiplier (being modulated by two LFOs from an A-143-3) and finally into an A-127 VC Resonance Filter and an A-132-3 VCA. You can hear this voice from 0:29 on (with VCA gain, later on, the VCA is modulated by an A-140).

Then we have another voice, being built by some noise (A-118, colored output) sent through an A-132-1 VCA and then into an A-188-2 Tapped BBD. To avoid the BBDs internal VCO noise, we go through an A-108 VCF (48 dB lowpass) before we go into the final A-132-3 VCA. The first VCA (the A-132-1) is controlled by an A-142 VC Decay.

Finally, there’s a bassdrum-alike sound created with an A-106-6 VCF (12dB lowpass out), fed by no input at all, but with self-resonance modulated by an A-140 and some white noise from an A-118.

Ah, and everything is triggered by two A-155 Sequencers, A-160 Clock DividerA-165 Trigger Modifier, A-163 Frequency Divider, etc. Triggers are synced to Ableton Live.

In addition to the A-100, I used a (heavily processed) EZ Drummer, NI Absynth and NI Massive. Everything was recorded without any overdubs, just some effects in Ableton Live and some mastering in Steinberg Cubase.

Here we go:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Track length is 20:54.

Have fun,