Justin Bennet (Sonology teaching staff and Alumni)
One of the first SPG testers was Justin Bennet. Justin is a member of the Sonology teaching staff and as an audio-visual artist he is always interested in new developments. He is also an owner of an EMS Synthi synthesizer and he was really curious what the effect of the SPG would be when the two were combined. He shared some findings.
Justin Bennett: “Firstly I adapted the Max patch provided by Lex so that I could prepare patches that were visually identical to an analogue EMS patch. The EMS matrix has inputs on the vertical Y axis instead of the X axis. Once I had done this I was able to program some patches and make a short demo. I treated each patch as if it were a "note" in a sequence and used the SPG as a sequencer. This was interesting because it enabled me to have a quickly changing but repetitive sequence where I could play the controls of the synthesizer to change the timbre and tuning. Because the patch-pin matrix works parallel to the SPG, I was still able to patch the EMS joystick to control various aspects of the sound.
What was interesting to note in all of these examples was the effect that the non-buffered patching of the SPG had. As more connections are made from an input to various outputs, the signal spread over the outputs is reduced in amplitude. When I was adding layers of feedback, this had a useful effect, slowly reducing the overall amplitude so that the volume was kept under control. However, when the Difas was used to route voltages to change pitches for instance, adding more outputs reduced the control voltages and changed the resulting pitches. I think that when using a SPG in a control-voltage based studio (rather than just patching signal paths) buffering to keep the output voltages identical to the inputs will be essential. The "clicks" created by patching signals at an arbitrary moment I exploited as musical material, but I can see that for some applications a very short cross-fade would be more suitable!”
Ruben Brovida (Sonology Ba Alumni, graduated in 2016)
The first musician that shared his experience with the SPG was Ruben Brovida, a graduated Sonology student. He really wanted to join the workshop and provided me with very useful comments and interesting audio-examples. Ruben is the owner of a modular synthesizer setup and he was really eager to start experimenting with the SPG.
Ruben: “The use of the VC-SPG allows a different workflow both in the studio and in the live performances. The interface stores patches as drawings do, but you can very quickly recall them, allowing the user to keep developing and building up his/her own collection of patches, evolving them and saving them.
Aside from the recall features, the sequencing possibilities offered by the matrix, are interesting composition-tools, pointing at different directions in reference to the traditional patching. Working with a digital representation of the matrix also gives a different perspective on the possibilities offered by the modular system itself, showing new possible relationships between audio and control-voltages. Because of the hybrid approach, live performances (using modular synthesizers) can be prepared in a completely different way. Few modular artists change their patch on stage and for many different reasons usually sticking to only one pre-prepared patch for each set. The SPG allows to store 32 patches, so that user can even on stage quickly swap them and push the set in much less static directions.”
Max van der Wal (Sonology student Ba 3rd year)
Max shared some musical results of his experiments in analogue studio Bea-5 and he also documented his experience and workflow using the VC-SPG.
Max van de Wal: “The first thing that I noticed was that the workflow was very different. It takes longer to set up but once that has been taken care of there is more freedom. I made several patches that I would have never made simply because of the fact that it only took a push of a button, therefore less thinking in advance was required and more time was left for experimentation. This possibly was more useful to me than the actual sequencing through the patches.
The sequencing I did by receiving a trigger straight out of the sound that was put out. Every time the voltage crossed a certain threshold an impulse was created. This impulse went into a variable scaler. This is a device which takes in a certain amount of triggers and outputs a trigger when the chosen threshold is received. Due to this, I could more or less decide how fast the changes would be, but it would always be different because the decision making would depend completely on the sound itself. This trigger would go into a sample and hold device that would give a constant output. This output would go into the preset-input in the matrix and thus make a new preset active accordingly. It took me quite a while to get this to work perfectly to my liking because of the way the voltage was scaled in the analogue studio. In the end, I made it work by doubling the voltage of what would go into the sample and hold. “MatriLex 4” and “MatriLex 5” are two phrases that are taken from the moment that the whole system worked perfectly”.
Christos Loupis (Sonology 1st year master)
Christos his master-research deals with ‘coupled feedback systems as compositional tools’ and he applied the SPG as a routing-tool for his feedback system.