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Equipping Your Home Recording Studio - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Equalization - A free download from Audio Masterclass

An Introduction to Compression: Basic Compression - A free download from Audio Masterclass

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Moving onto Dynamics, Pitch and Rhythm we come across a wide range of phrase-bending techniques. Each module has a low frequency oscillator, or LFO as those involved in synth editing will understand.

Moving onto Dynamics, Pitch and Rhythm we come across a wide range of phrase-bending techniques. Each module has a low frequency oscillator, or LFO as those involved in synth editing will understand. Figure 2 shows the choice of LFO waveforms which may look just a little odd at first, but we have to remember that the LFO is going to modulate sequenced MIDI data, not the output of an oscillator. Let’s see how this works in the Dynamics section: Assume that the phrase consists of eight notes with MIDI velocities of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80, a smooth crescendo in other words. The dynamics section will play out the sequence of notes in that phrase, which may have had their pitches and rhythm changed by other processing, with their velocities modulated by the LFO. For instance, if the Ramp Up waveform is chosen with a frequency of 100 then the velocities will come out cyclically in the same order as they went in. If the Ramp Down waveform is chosen then the order of the velocities will be reversed. If the frequency is increased then values will be repeated, if lower, then values will be skipped. Think of it as one pattern of values being altered according to another pattern which created by the LFO. Since LFOs are used for pitch and rhythm too perhaps I should explain the waveforms in left-to-right, top-to-bottom order.

  • Off: No modulation
  • Ramp Up: Scans the values in the phrase from start to end
  • Triangle: Scans the values in the phrase from start to end, then end to start
  • Square: Values are read and held until the next half cycle of the LFO
  • Ramp Down: Scans the values from end to start
  • Random:Random selection from the values present in the phrase
  • Mirror: Plays from start to middle then end to middle
  • Ramp Up: Continuous Ramp up, but doesn’t reset at the start of the phrase
  • Pendulum: Starts at the middle of the phrase, then one step forward, two steps back, three steps forward etc.
  • Note Ramp Up: Like Ramp Up but takes the number of notes in the phrase into account making it possible to achieve precise note orders
  • Note Ramp Down: Similar to above
  • Note Triangle: Similar to above

Whether you’ll be able to hear significant differences in all of these depends on the source material of the phrase. You need to have a reasonably clear idea of what you are trying to achieve otherwise you may find that nothing is changing and you don’t know why. Stick at it and don’t be discouraged though!

The Pitch and Rhythm modules are similar but are capable of rather more interesting results. The pitch module will, for example, transpose your phrase into major or minor scales, blues, pentatonic, Arabian, Balinese or Persian, to name but a small selection, and the rhythm module is great for producing fast and complex note sequences from very simple phrase inputs.

Once you have mastered these features - and don’t forget that you really will have to read the manual to get the best out of IPS - then you can move on to the modulators. This is where things start to get really hairy. Let me give you an example: Suppose you have set a fixed transposition interval in the pitch section. You could set a ramp waveform on the LFO of one of the modulators and have it alter the transposition interval in real time. Or it could change the note lengths, scale type or LFO waveform on the dynamics section, or in fact anything out of a list of thirty parameters. You can achieve some pretty weird results pretty quickly with one modulator, and then start up Modulator 2 as well! When you can get the modulators to modulate each other then you can consider yourself an IPS power user. And by the way, I didn’t mention this earlier, but there are two Interactive Phrase Synthesisers, which can run simultaneously for total madness!

By David Mellor Thursday January 1, 2004