Last wednesday i played live as codespira1, an alias i use when making more beat based stuff. Here’s a recording from this gig:
This was the first test with a new setup consisting of my small Buchla Skylab system controlled by a sequencer patch written in SuperCollider. I really like the idea of a hybrid instrument with digital and analog control of both digital and analog sound sources. Previously i’ve made some performances involving a eurorack modular system controlled from my soundcard by connecting an ADAT expansion that has DC coupled outputs (i.e. allows for sending control voltage). My first version used a Marian Adcon, modified with an op-amp circuit to get the correct voltages and an added mini jack patch panel for easy interaction within the modular. All fitted inside a Doepfer portable case together with a desecrated Nord Modular G2 Engine for massive modular power. You can check out some pictures of this case on my Flickr. Nowadays i use the fabulous Expert Sleepers modules ES-3 and ES-6 instead for the same things.
While this was (and still is) a very nice system it has some obvious drawbacks for live performance:
1. As any completely analog modular, it has no ability to save stuff. Of course this is often a very nice thing, and indeed one of the main reasons why i want to use modulars at all. But if you want to perform something that’s more or less composed and should be predictable, you usually need a really long soundcheck to get everything right. And that’s not always possible and causes a lot of stress.
2. The G2 Engine is a very nice virtual modular synth, but it has no visual indication at all on the front. You will always need your laptop to be able to check what’s going on, which patch resides in which slot etc. For me, that tends to limit the way i use it.
3. The case is also quite heavy dragging around.
The Buchla addresses some of those issues since all the 200e modules are digitally controlled and has the ability to store presets. It also weighs less and provides a lot of modular power on a small surface, since Buchla modules in general are very versatile and deep. My current system consist of the 225e MIDI/Preset manager, 266e Source of Uncertainty, 281e Quad Fnnction Generator, 292e Quad Lowpass Gate, 207e Mixer, 261e Complex Waveform Generator, 259e Twisted Waveform Generator, 291e Triple Morphing Filter, the 258v by Mark Verbos and an FS-1H Haible Frequency Shifter.
I’ve been working on my own take on The Ultimate Sequencing Solution (heh..) for several years, stubbornly refusing to use things like Numerology and Ableton Live for no apparent reason at all, besides i like to code things myself. First i worked in Max and later in SuperCollider. My current version is called Rasterfeld and has 8 channels of complex sequencing possibilities. Each channel can have an arbitrary number of steps and i can select from different reading modes like ‘forward’, ‘backward’, ‘pendulum’, ‘bounce’, ‘random’, ‘klee’ etc. Besides trigging a sample or a synth global to the channel, each step can also trig a local sample buffer, midi event, meta event (like resetting/offsetting another channel etc.) and/or synth. Every single trigger also has its own probability value that allows for constantly varying patterns. Each channel can also have up to 4 different effects, with individual sends per sequencer step. When performing i normally use a Monome 256 and an iPad running Lemur to control it.
For the live performance i also have a Korg Kaoss Pad 3, which i really like for its “directness”, i have an Eventide Space for adding different kinds of reverb to the Buchla, and a small Mackie 802VLZ mixer that everything passes through. So, this is what my rig looked like this time: