Introducing Gestural synthesis!
It is a big no no to take a whole week off from a crowdfunding campaign. one must maintain a constant momentum if one wants ones crowdfunding efforts to succeed. but i felt like i was having to split my time too much between blogging and programming so i decided to take a week to jump into the the project with both feet so as to have something to show you.
Demonstrantion of the gestural synthesis system
well kids, here it is as promised. it took a while to figure out the basics but i present to you, Gestural synthesis (more accurately, gesturally controlled modular synthesis). Gestural synthesis is a means of designing sound by moving the beatjazz controllers, spatially. this allows the artist (at this point myself and the two contributors that have already contributed to my crowdfunding campaign) to create the sound that is in his/her head.
Over the years, Beatjazz has evolved from merely a stylistic concept which i would consider when i would play wind midi controller live over my own pre-recorded beats or over a DJ set. by 2007, it had evolved to playing live over beats and arrangements that were also played live, using a technique called live looping. but i felt that the limitation was that i would need to preprogram every possible type of sound i would need to express myself, before hand. i had quite a large number of sounds but was restricted to altering those sounds rather than the ability to create wholly new textures. so at the beginning of this year, i created a new type of controller that allowed me to manipulate the sounds and effects more intimately and narratively and this has been very close to what I envisioned but i was still limited by my choice of sound genration; vst software synthesizers. these synths are amazing and sound great but creating a way to interface with up to 20 different synths, in a way that was cohesive. was a pain in the ass. i had to create a different gestural interface for each one and even then it didn't allow the freedom i needed, so in September, after giving my presentation at the World Maker Fair in NYC, I deleted my entire software synth based studio and switched to linux where my only musical means of expression is Pure Data, a data flow programmming language.
from here and from this psuedo-blank slate (my beatjazz controller was already based on pure data) i worked backward from the controller interface, inward toward the goal of using spatial hand positioning to control sound parameters in a way that wouldn't confuse me in my goto hypothetical situation (playing in a hot dark club, late night, possibly inebriated). my eventual solution was a gestural grid that allowed me to place data points at very specific places in the gesture "bubble" (the complete depth, width, length and height of the the ranges capable by each accelerometer). from this point, the synthesis aspects became a simple matter of mapping sound functions to spatial points and ranges that i felt i could remember. this is the result of the first stage. a simple monophonic subtractive synthesizer with full gestural control of all parameters.
i do this by placing the system into an edit mode where i can operate on the sound, then return to the default "play" mode to play it. in edit mode, all of the playing keys have a different function. new combinations of key and hand positions, "latch" functions on and off, like a 3d version of the mechanism inside a door lock. by inserting your key, the ridges on the key push up a series of tiny piston like pins that, when alligned, allow you to turn the key and open the door. its like that. by pressing a key, then a modifier key, then a specific spatial position for your hand, you are able to manipulate the function assigned to that postion and once any one of these criteria cease, you effectively exit the editing mode for that function. yaaaaay!!! long way of saying IT WORKS!!!!
NOW, the fun part begins ( who am i kidding...its all fun!) functionally, presets are no longer necessary. this is jazz baby!! don't need no stinking presets. i can keep them joints right here!!(points to head). now, the journey back to trying to find a sound that was made in a previous set, will be half the fun of playing. i have begun calling the method of moving from sound to sound "transforming" because unlike "morphing" there is not the same sort of smooth transitioning between sounds. each must go thru a series of steps to get to the next, hence the term. also, i discovered something last night as i added the first "buffers" (looping...more on that in a moment). in this context, “key”, the relative collective pitches of a series of notes, grouped by the pitch of the root note, no longer plays any significant role in the musical structure because one can create a harmonic structure that falls outside of westerm 12 tone tuning, but then create a "next" sonic element that adheres to THIS structure rather than an arbitrary, predefined one. THIS is the aspect i am most excited by. now that the system is "purely" pure data based, and sound generation and interfacing are completely integrated, looping has taken on a new significance. no longer is it strictly "loops" but more like "buffers" of sonic ideas to be parsed as a sort of sonic database. i realized this last night. the looping buffers i created with my simplistic looper, are much more part of the sound than a separate element.
This was a hard part of the project. taking this from concept to playable reality bodes well for the rest of the software aspect of this project. the next truly exciting parts are creating accelerometer based oscillators which means that i will finally have realized what "glowsticking" will “sound” like (anyone else feeling the P.L.U.R.!?) and a vocal oscillator that will make all of my sounds in to psuedo-vocoders. THEN, to make 6 copies of this monster so that i can play chords!! these wont take that long which will allow me to begin on the rhythm synthesizer which no one will ever mistake for a drum machine, believe! after which, i will have about a week to refine to looping/buffering system and FX before i debut the whole, gig worthy beta version of the system at the C.A.T. conference on Nov 5th at the new Theatre in the new Modulor art-plex at MoritzPlatz.
whew!! there is excitement in the air! I have no idea what this system will sound like and i cant wait to find out. but this literally just the beginning phase of SOFTWARE development, which also includes, diversifying the code so the controller can be used as a "beatbox" controller, a trumpet controller and I have been contemplating a "tabla-like" controller that's part beatjazz controller, part mpc drumpad. (I have the basic code but i need to see more interest in from the crowdfunding campaign before i will dedicate any time to developing them). in the hardware department, i plan to reduce the number of necessary wireless transmitters to 4 from 6, and if the campaign starts to pick up, acquire the the 3d printer i will use to build beatjazz controllers for my campaign contributors. (I must note at this point that after the campaign, and after i build the controllers for the contributors, i will be working on my beatjazz system project, not, taking order for further controllers. these controllers that i design will be for contributors only during this campaign. outside of this scope, you could always build your own from the newly release MAKE magazine (vol28) buildnotes article i wrote, describing how to build the version i use now for prototyping.)
THEN, after all the perks have been shipped, and i take a week off to party, I have 2-3 months of beatjazz system development including the helmet systems (augmented heads up display, transcrannial direct current stimulation system, and integrated computing system, to name but a few bits), the busking rig, controller refinement, performance clothing design, and reasearch into parameterizing gestures into narrative sonic constructs. so the next 6-8 months are pretty much etched in stone. this is just the start of what is to come.
I sincerely ask that if you are at all interested in this project that you do one of two things;
1. contribute. I am a very driven person, but drive is limited without resources. check out the perks i have on offer and see if one of them is something you would really dig, knowing, that by grabbing it, you are an integral part of birthing an entirely new artform. and/or...
2. SHARE THIS CAMPAIGN. If you really dig whats going on here, please take a moment, or a few even, and send this post directly and personally to those persons you feel would really be interested in this project. we all know a few cats that would really be up for investing in a new artform, or buying a new type of instrument, even if its just to buy it and put it on ebay in a few years, and have to resources to do it. share this link with those people. let them know that you believe in it.
like i have stated in previous posts, it is just "you" and "me". we are the only one that are going to make this happen. I want "us" to make something special together.
ok, back to work...