First off, I’d like to take a different approach with my blog, starting today. Normally, I do app reviews and post when a new app comes out or an app I own gets a major update. Whilst I still intend to do as such, I have decided to do some journaling as well.
As many of you may know, I also have a YouTube channel and am an active musician, both locally and electronically(as in digital releases of original music). I tend to get many plates spinning at a time, which means I end up focusing on one particular project, while letting another go some time without attention. I have been trying to find balance among my many endeavors and see if I can be consistent with each project.
One of the items on my list is to find a way to talk about an app or project on this blog. The benefits of this would allow me to spotlight some apps, be they new or not, and show off some of the things they can do. Most of what I do is experimentation, rather than a tutorial, and will talk about my steps and the results. Another benefit is that I will possibly make videos based on these writings, so there will be both written and visual chronicles.
On to the nonsense!
In dealing with the title of today’s blog post, I am reporting on the results of an experiment I performed with DRC Polyphonic Synthesizer, AUM and Fieldscaper. For the uninitiated, AUM is a utility app that allows you to use and mix several apps and effects. I have previously covered AUM in another post. Likewise, Fieldscaper is a field recording/audio-mangling app, also covered by a previous post(feel free to look through the archives). New to the table is DRC polyphonic Synthesizer. DRC is a free app that models an analog polyphonic synth, utilizing two oscillators, a sub oscillator, ring modulation and noise. It has all the usual accoutrements(filter, envelope generator, et al) and an effects section. What’s interesting to note is that the delay and reverb on board can be modulated by an LFO. Because of this feature, I began my sonic brew.
First thing I did was open AUM and then opened DRC in channel 1.
I started to edit a rather standard sound, setting OSC 1 to a square wave, OSC 2 to a square wave pitched one octave higher and slightly detuned, and then mixed OSC 2’s level to the point of just being audible. A rather corpulent and rich tone if I do say so myself. I left the filter wide open and turned up the decay, sustain and release on the envelope generator to get a long-sustaining sound. I also set the attack a bit long to prevent an audible click to the sound.
Next up, I turned my attention to the effects. Starting with the delay, I cranked up the delay time to maximum(one second, I believe), set the feedback control to a smidge shy of 100%, then adjusted the cutoff so that the repeats would smear into an unintelligible din. If you know about how a delay works on these settings, you’ll know that it doesn’t take much for the echoes to get away from you. This effect was heard a lot in psychedelic music of the 60’s. It was called the spaceship sound. DRC’s delay has a control that allows you to use an LFO to control the delay time. Basically, the LFO “moves” the delay time fader to create fluctuations in the delay time. I slowed down the rate of the LFO and added just enough of that control to make a mild undulation of the delay time.
I then moved on to the reverb. I turned the decay up to full on, turned down the damping, then added just enough to make it noticeable. I actually had to turn down the decay time because the sound began to clip and make a loud noise.
Finally, I played with the chorus effect. What’s nice about this effect is that it has a feedback control, thus making the chorus act as a flange effect, if desired. I set a slow sweep, with a rather shallow depth and then cranked up the feedback until it howled, then eased off of it just a little bit.
Once I hit a note, the effects whooshed off, like a UFO launching from the ground, right directly to warp speed. Of course, the sound was starting to get too loud and clip harshly, so I backed out of DRC and went to the effects slot of AUM.
AUM has some various effects to help with your sound. Stereo imaging, dynamics and routing utilities are the order of the day. Because my UFO was taking off without me, I decided to use a limiter in the first slot. I dialed back the volume quite aggressively. Sure, it still sounded like clipping, but at least the signal was no longer in the red.
Here’s where it gets weird. I opened another effects slot, loaded up Fieldscaper, then played around in there. Once in the app, I set it so that the effects would sound in real time. I opened the oscillator on channel one, and set the speed to slow things down, which also lowers the pitch of the incoming signal. I thought that this was kind of dull, as the sound almost disappeared. I opened the LFO tab and used a slow rate LFO to modulate the pitch. The on to the mask selector. I also set the mask selector to modulate via LFO so that the incoming sound would be glitched up with artifacts and bit crushing.
The end result was a galaxy of sonic constellations and black hole-like vacuums of silence, cycling about like an orbit around the nearest star. Was it musical? Not in the least bit, but it sure was an amazing noise!
There it is, the first installment of my journals in audio exploration. I will soon make a video and try to stay on top of my findings.
If you would like to look into DRC, it is free, with what appears to be IAPs. Also, it’s worth looking into AUM and Fieldscaper as well, as I cannot sing enough praises about both of these apps. You can find them here:
There you have it, stay tuned for the next installment.