Merry Christmas! In honor of the 200th anniversary of the writing of the much beloved Christmas carol “Silent Night” I have created an arrangement of the song on the Buchla Synthesizer. To accomplish this I used Logic Pro X to record each individual part in a multi-track project. The noise at the beginning was synthesized using the 266 Source of Uncertainty’s noise generator filtered in sequence using both of the 291’s filter. The arpeggios were made using the 259e Twisted Waveform Generator and the 250 sequencer. The bass part was made using the 259 Complex Waveform Generator’s modulation oscillator filtered at the 291e Triple Morphing Filter using the all input. The melodic and harmonic voices were synthesized using the 259 principal oscillator and the 216 voltage controlled keyboard. The vibrato like effect was made by using the 259’s modulation oscillator as an LFO in the sub-audio range. Its signal output was patched to the FM input on the principal oscillator and only enough voltage was added to the principal oscillator to create a subtle vibrato. The major scale used in the song was tuned using fzero~ in Max/MSP to achieve (rather consonant) just-intonation intervals. Reverb and delays were all processed in Logic. Because this was a multi-track project which used many different variations of one patch I have not provided a picture as on many of my other Buchla pieces.
The ratios used for the scale are as follows: 1/1, 9/8, 5/4, 4/3, 5/3, 15/8, 2/1.
This piece is a meditative drone based composition which features the Buchla analog synthesizer processed in Max/MSP. Individual sounds were layered on top of one another using the record~ object to store sounds in a buffer~. These musical objects were then looped using groove~ to form a psychedelic texture which envelops the listener. Below I will describe the process through which each sound was developed.
The first drone to enter on the note G was created using the principal oscillator on the Buchla’s 259 module. This sound was panned hard left and includes timbre modulation on the buchla itself as well as further filtering using the cascade~ object in Max/MSP.
The second drone to enter on the note C was created with the modulation oscillator on the Buchla 259. This sound had minimal processing in Max, and instead it’s interest was generated using the Buchla’s 291E triple morphing filter.
The third and fourth sounds to enter are sequences that were created using the Buchla 259E modules principal and modulation oscillators respectively and tuned to specific intervals from the C harmonic series using the 250 sequencer. Each step in the sequence was triggered using the 216 keyboard pulse function. The two sequences were then delayed in Max using the tapin~ and tapout~ objects, with the random object changing the set delay time so that each iteration of the sequence is different.
The fifth and final sound to be recorded into Max was made using the 259’s principal oscillator tuned to the same pitch as the very first drone. However, the sound was modulated using the the 259 modulation oscillator via the hard-wired modulation switches for pitch and timbre and turning the modulation pot gradually over a period of time fixed by the buffer~ object in Max. Unlike the first sound, this sound was panned hard to both the left and right channels.
List of Intervals for 259E sequences:
Principal Oscillator – 2/1, 6/5, 11/8, 3/2, 6/5, 17/16
The first patch, originally conceived as an attempt at Krell Patching which fell short, became a sort of blanket or foundation for the rest of the piece. It consists of three sound sources: one from the principal oscillator on the 259 and 259e respectively, run into the 292C, as well as a noise source from the 266. The two sounds of the 259 and 259e are somewhat randomized by the 281 as their attack and decay settings are being voltage controlled by various random voltages coming from the 266, as well as pitch and timbre. The noise source is being sent through the filter to produce a pitch approximate to that coming from the two oscillators (when not effected by pitch modulation).
The second patch is a sound source from the 259e which is run through the 250 sequencer. It begins with a loop to stage four, then to five, six, seven, and 8, before returning to only 4 stages of looping at the end of the piece. It is tuned to a series of notes which doesn’t change do-mi-so-te-do-me-fa-fi (in movable do). This provides a rhythmic driving feel for the composition as well as shifts in metric feel. The 291e filter was used to mitigate some of the amplitude issues, by using the adder to reduce the voltage amount as the notes ascend in pitch (wherein they would become too loud relative to the lower notes of the sequence).
The third patch was easiest to produce, and consisted of a single low frequency which is filtered by the 291e using the morphing stages to sweep up and down a fixed range of harmonics using the frequency controls. The 281 and 292 were used to produce its envelope shape.
The fourth and final patch focuses on the 216, used to effect the pitch of a sound-source from the 259’s principal oscillator. The first row of CV’s was used to tune the keyboard to the “blues” scale. Notes of the scale are introduced gradually throughout the piece as they are heard in the sequence generated by the 250 in the second patch. The 281 was used to generate an envelope for the timbre modulation effecting the 259’s principal oscillator. The modulation oscillator is amplitude modulating the principal and a random voltage from the 266 is used to modulate the pitch of the modulation oscillator. A few times in the piece, while I was performing this track (which took many attempts, mind) I turned the pitch modulation pot on the modulation oscillator to produce dissonant and chaotic sounds, usually timed loosely with the low droning pitch of the third patch.
The title is a sort of play on words, as this groovy piece is performed on an instrument designed by the one and only Don Buchla.
Regarding the use of the 250e module in this composition, I used only one simple patch to produce about 10 different sounds. The very first sound, which is heard three times throughout the duration of the piece, is the only one which is not manipulated in some way by the 250e. Basically my process was to set the 250e to loop from 1 to 5 always. Then using the controls for the voltage output I used the CV output 1 in order to modulate the pitch, morph and warp of the 259e in various way, both in combination and independently. I also used the 250e to send CV and pulses out to the 292C with the sound source from the 259e being filtered by the 291e, and run into the 292C.