Synthesizer Sunday, a Union of Architecture and Sound
The city of Denver has invited me and four other local electronic music artists to perform Sunday April 30th. This is part of the larger Door Open Denver Event.
Like architecture, which starts from basic elements – glass, sand, and stone to create a building – synthesizers start from basic sine waves modulated to produce sound into music. Join us for this open-air concert at one of Denver’s most prominent cultural facilities where five musicians taking turns playing synthesizers will dedicate their performances to the distinctive glass roof of the Galleria.
When: Sunday April 39th 12 PM – 3 PM
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1866714256917847/
Where: Denver Performing Arts Complex, Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe St, Denver, Colorado 80204.Â We will be under the glass arch of the Galleria in front of the Buell Theater.
- Dane Terry 12:00 noon – 12.25
- Victoria Lundy 12:30 – 12:55
- Mark Mosher 1:00 – 1:25
- Chris Frain 1:30 – 1:55
- Kuxaan Sum 2:00 – 2: 25
Video from Preview Event
Story: This soundscape is the soundtrack to an imaginary experience where, using a special morphing environment suit, the wearer can instantly transition from a land to sea simply by walking into the surf. The piece begins with you observing a figure walking down the steps on to Chatham Lighthouse Beach late at night. The figure is silhouetted by the beam of the Chatham Light. As the figure walks past you and on to the beach you switch to the figure’s point of view. You then walk towards the ocean with the beam of the Chatham Light swinging out over your head and enter the surf. As you enter the surf, your environment suit extends and wraps you like a second skin. You hear the mechanics of the metamorphosis as the suit jacks in to your mind and adjusts your buoyancy allowing you to keep walking down on to the sea floor. Under the ocean the sensors isolate and amplify sounds from the environment. You close your eyes and listen – and return once again to the land. Artist Notes: Based on a field recording I made at night on Chatham Lighthouse Beach, MA. I recorded myself walking down the metal stairs to the beach and right up to the surf and back. I used digital effects such as comb filters and synths to make the more synthetic sounds. Date & Time of field recording: January 13th, 2012, 10pm Location: Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Cape Cod, MA Recorder: Zoom H2 Format: 44.1kHz/24bit 120 degree stereo Instruments and Instrumentalities: Ableton Live Ableton Sampler U-HE Zebra 2, Zebra HZ Izotope Iris Rob Papen Predator Keyboard Automation envelopes
Story: This song is an ambient sonic journey starting with natural sounds which morph into the hidden inner world of trees and back again. Artist Notes: The piece starts off with a 120 degree stereo field recording of wind blowing through aspen trees and surrounding trees in Louisville, Colorado just outside of Boulder.
Last week, Kuxaan Sum and I paid an early morning visit to the Galleria with our rigs for a preview performance for CBS 4 News. Afterworld, we had an opportunity to play short improvised set with an almost empty Galleria. The natural reverb was AMAZING. Check out this video.
Show Notes for My Set
For my set, I’ll be doing structure improvisation using real-time synthesis using my favorite two hardware instruments – the Nord Lead 4 Synthesizers and the Elektron Octatrack Dynamic Performance Sampler
Elektron Octatrack Performance Sampler
The Elektron Octatrack Dynamic Performance Sampler is an incredibly deep instrument from Sweden that allows me to do real-time sound design with effects and morph between different instrument “states”. Prior to the performance, I’ve prepared a series of samples derived or inspired by the Galleria architecture, materials, and space.
Source 1 – Converting Images of the Galleria into Complex Audio Waveforms
I converted images of the Galleria into audio waveforms by resynthesizing the pictures using an additive synthesizer. Each pixel in the photo is converted into image planes with audio gain and pitch.
I then manipulated a play head which travels across these panes. As this happens, this additive synthesizer uses 520 oscillators produce partials of frequency, amplitude and waveform phase in real time. I programmed a series of sounds using this technique and recorded 2-29 second audio samples which I then transfer into the Octatrack for use in live performance on Sunday.
As you can see form the above spectral analysis, this process creates amazingly complex harmonic content.
Here is a video I made of the process.
Source 2 – Ambient recordings of the sound of the Galleria
My second set of sources for the Octatrack are recordings of the ambience of the this massive space as theater goers start arriving for a shows one evening.
Source 3 – Field Recordings of the Materials
Lastly, I spent some time to record a session where I played the Galleria itself. I used a drum stick, felt mallet, and drum brushes to gently play metal beams, door handles, and other parts of the Galleria bones. I’ve built a custom drum kit for the Octatrack using these elements.
Nord Lead 4 Performance Synthesizer
Part of the show concept is “like architecture, which starts from basic elements – glass, sand, and stone to create a building – synthesizers start from basic sine waves modulated to produce sound into music.” To this end I’m using custom presets on the wonderful Nord Lead 4 Performance Synthesizer (also made in Sweden) inspired by the Galleria. I’ll be improvising and morphing these original sounds live.
I Hope To See You At the Show
As you can see this is going to be a truly amazing community event. I’m optimistic that this is the first of many such events where the city partners with local experimental music artists. If you live in the Denver or along the Front Range, I hope will be consider coming to the show to enjoy the music and sound in this wonderful space and support the concept.