Paul Vo Previews The Future Of Acoustic Synthesis

Designer Paul Vo shared this preview of his EMpick – the latest incarnation of his ideas about Acoustic Synthesis.… Read More Paul Vo Previews The Future Of Acoustic Synthesis

Paul Vo Announces New Company To Create ‘Acoustic Synthesis’ Instruments

Inventor Paul Vo (right), designer of the Moog Guitar, Moog Lap Steel and the Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer, has announced the creation of a new company, Vo, LLC, designed to turn his ‘acoustic synthesis’ designs into products. Vo recently completed a successful … Continue reading

Pushing the Guitar, Sound Further, with Moog Minifooger, Eventide H9 Stompboxes [Videos]

Moog's latest are more portable and more affordable than ever. And with expression and CV inputs, they can also unlock a world of sound exploration entirely in a shoe-compatible interface.

Moog’s latest are more portable and more affordable than ever. And with expression and CV inputs, they can also unlock a world of sound exploration entirely in a shoe-compatible interface.

Yes, it’s a good time to be in love with synths and drum machines. But for all the hype around those instruments lately, adventurous guitar effects are also seeing a new renaissance. While guitarists have always had a lovely palette of oddball stompboxes and grungy distortion and effects, they’ve lately been seeing more affordable, more accessible tools for sound design that had been more associated with synths.

And, of course, wherever you see the word “guitarists,” any instrumentalists who need stomp form factor will also benefit – bass guitar, electric violin, experimental accordion, whatever.

Say the name “Moog,” and most people will see keyboards in their head. But Moog Music has become as much a maker for guitarists as keyboardists. That includes the brilliant if spendy Moog Guitar, but also the Minifoogers, a tasty lineup of compact stomp effects that make the sounds of the Moogerfooger line and Moog synths less expensive and more portable.

And there’s also Eventide, whose H9 harmonic processor is both one of the best of its breed in the harmony category and a platform for more Eventide stompbox effects. That is, you can load up any effects you like while still accessing the features with your feet – it’s like a computer you can use with shoes.

Chris Stack of Experimental Synth has been making videos for years showing off all the Moogerfoogers can do. Now, he’s gotten a loan of the Minifoogers and came away impressed. His nephew Vincent Crow shot a quick video to show off the sonic range of these boxes, neatly arrayed into a pedalboard full of Moog-ness:

Chris’ favorites? He tells CDM, “I found the Drive pedal to be surprisingly interesting. I’ve always loved the overdriven Moogerfooger sound, and this takes it to another level.”

The Minifooger’s smaller size and price made me a bit surprised at how useful I found them to be.

The variable wave shape on the MF Trem made it easy to sweep from standard tremolo to more outside effects. Using an expression pedal with the MF Boost turned it into a handy volume pedal. The tone control on the MF Ring made it a piece of cake to add everything from warm non harmonic overtones to a clangorous metallic edge and the MF Delay can take you everywhere from a quick slapback to spacey dub madness. The MF Drive is a great combo of warm overdrive and synthy filter resonance.

My favorite thing about them all is that the expression pedal inputs can be used as control voltage inputs. I was able to do some very wild things with them and a Moog CP-251 Control Voltage Processor or a MP-201 Multi-Pedal. It’s a great way to tie your stomp box setup into your mega-modular synth or other similar gear. Step-sequenced analog overdrive is a thing of beauty.

I think it’s a myth that guitar effects all have to fit in a narrow box. The whole, beautiful tradition of guitars over the last century has been rooted in experimental sound design, including the noises that found their way into popular music.

And if you do want to use this sort of approach to approach sound – without hovering your nose over your computer for still more hours – this gear can deliver. Chris has suggestions for those who want to journey deeper into outer space. And for that, we’ll bring in the Eventide H9, too.

Of course, if you’d like to venture farther from the traditional guitarist’s sound palette, or mix and match with other types of effects, the sky is the limit.”

Some of the possibilities when running an Epiphone “Chet Atkins” electric nylon string guitar through an Eventide H9, Moogerfoogers and other effects pedals.

Signal chain: iStomp compressor – Moog MF-102 Ring Modulator – Moog MF-101 Lowpass Filter – Moog MF-105M MIDI-MuRF – Eventide H9 – Line6 Echo Pro.

An exploration of some of the many textures possible when processing the Moog Guitar with an Eventide H9, Ableton Live Suite Effects and a Moog Ring Mod or MIDI-MuRF.

And, yes, even as a keyboardist, I’d love some of these, please.

More:

http://www.experimentalsynth.com/

In addition to its harmonizer capabilities, the H9 - seen here from the companion PC/Mac control app - can run a variety of stomp effects.

In addition to its harmonizer capabilities, the H9 – seen here from the companion PC/Mac control app – can run a variety of stomp effects.

The H9 is a bit like a stompbox crossed with HAL. Um, useful HAL, not evil HAL. Okay, it's like a stompbox that's an Eventide - that's what you need to know.

The H9 is a bit like a stompbox crossed with HAL. Um, useful HAL, not evil HAL. Okay, it’s like a stompbox that’s an Eventide – that’s what you need to know.

The post Pushing the Guitar, Sound Further, with Moog Minifooger, Eventide H9 Stompboxes [Videos] appeared first on Create Digital Music.

How an “Acoustic Synth” Wants to Change The Way You Think About Guitars [Videos]

Creator Paul Vo shows off his instrument. From a distance, it looks like a conventional guitar. But it does things a guitar definitely can't do. Image courtesy Chris Stack.

Creator Paul Vo shows off his instrument. From a distance, it looks like a conventional guitar. But it does things a guitar definitely can’t do. Image courtesy Chris Stack.

It’s been a long time since we had a new hit like the electric guitar. Amidst the wonderful explosion of innovations in electronic instruments – digital and analog – the sound possibilities of acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments seem to have gone largely dormant.

This is the guitar that hopes to change that. In fact, its creators don’t even call it a guitar, preferring instead “Acoustic Synthesizer.” Asheville, North Carolina’s Paul Vo, he of the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel, wants to give guitarists unprecedented control over the timbres they play, both experimental and traditional, vastly expanding the range of what a guitar can produce.

And with just days remaining in the crowd-funding for the project, it’s the perfect time to look at this instrument. The Vo-96, dubbed with a name that sounds more like a Russian rocket designation than a guitar, really does open new chances to shape the sound of the vibrating string. But it’s much easier to watch and see what that means than talk about it. So, the project backers have aided CDM with a massive set of documentation in video for you to ogle.

We could use a few words. Chris Stack of ExperimentalSynth.com, co-organizer of the crowd-funding campaign, sends us a description that gets to the meat of what the Vo-96 can do with sound:

There are 6 presets – two using all string harmonics, two using only the even harmonics, and two using only the odd harmonics. There are 5 different modulations you can apply: 3 harmonic arpeggios, acoustic tremolo, and an evolving random harmonic motion. Each preset, and each modulator within each preset, is adjustable for intensity, speed, rate or duration. and harmonic balance, which is a slider between low harmonics and high harmonics.

All of these sounds are shaped by what a physical guitar string can produce – because it’s the actual vibration of the string being changed by the Vo-96 that makes the different sounds. For this reason, all the sounds inherit the character of the guitar the Vo-96 is attached to. So it depends on your reference point: If you are comparing to any other acoustic guitar, there are reams of interesting and useful timbres.

The sounds are only one aspect of it, and are not meant to compete with keyboard synthesizers. The real reason for owning and playing a Vo-96 equipped guitar is in the realism of the experience. The synthesizer sounds are real – they are just as acoustic as any sounds the strings of a guitar have ever produced. What you feel at your fingertips and with the guitar against your body is the same sound you hear in your ears from the instrument.

That’s the key to it, the thing that makes it a completely unique experience compared to anything else really: The Vo-96 creates an acoustic instrument having definable and modulate-able timbres. You play it for the same reason you play an acoustic guitar instead of an acoustic guitar patch on a keyboard synth: It’s real.

Debuting first on CDM, here’s a video that looks at that power: “Andre Cholmondeley (performing artist [Project/Object, Delicious] and guitar tech Adrian Belew, Al Di Meola, Steve Howe, Greg Lake) explores modulating harmonics on the Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer.”

Futuristic instruments tend to be dependent on amplification and power sockets. Not so here. Vincent Crow busking in Asheville with the Vo-96, completely unplugged.

Futuristic instruments tend to be dependent on amplification and power sockets. Not so here. Vincent Crow busking in Asheville with the Vo-96, completely unplugged. Thank the optional battery.

But let’s go all out here. With Chris’ help, we’ve got a 360-degree look at all this thing can do. Starting at the beginning, here are the videos that launched the instrument and its Kickstarter crowd funding campaign:

Specs:

12 physical sensoriactuator channels, 2 per string
96 virtual channels of harmonic control, 16 per string
Capacitive touch interface with LED status indication and lock-out
Power, harmonic blend and note duration touch-sliders
Adjustable modulation effects with instant preset save/recall
6 quick-change presets in 3 sets of 2 using odd, even and all harmonics
3 harmonic arpeggios unique to six presets independently triggered on 6 strings
Hex random harmonic modulation with average rate and amplitude adjust
Hex Tremolo with separate triggers per string and rate touch-slider
Bluetooth Wireless connectivity for firmware updates and TBD advanced features
No moving parts – built to last as long as your guitar
Attaches and removes without marring your guitar
Designed to run on optional internal battery power or external power adaptor
Optional 4/hr advanced LiFePo4 battery with integral charging
Hardware platform has large uncommitted resources for firmware expansion

And videos answer still more questions.

Why does this matter, historically speaking?

What’s it like when you first pick it up? (Al Petteway, Richard Smith and Vincent Crow answer that with their first hands-on impressions.)

Tyler Ramsey, guitarist for Band Of Horses, also gives it a play:

How is it different from just playing a guitar – or a keyboard? Answer: it opens up new hybrid playing techniques, containing elements traditionally associated with either a keyboard instrument or string instrument, but not normally both at once. Here, Chris shows off an improvisation with a “musical setting with piano arpeggio, guitar recorded through its built-in piezo pickup and processed with a digital delay synced to piano arpeggio.”

There’s still time to get onboard the crowd funding campaign.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/38513516/the-vo-96-acoustic-synthesizer

Got questions for Paul you’d like answered – from the specific to deeper questions about instrument design? Let us know.

Analog-Digital Marriage: iPad Meets Guitar and Keys, MIDI Meets CV, Putting Music-Making Together

It’s good to get out of your studio now and then, as Chris Stack does here, hauling a few instruments (including the Minimoog) our for a live gig. Photo courtesy the artist.

It’s a collision between a twenty-first century tablet and some of the most iconic analog instruments ever produced. It’s MIDI and digital meeting up with control voltage and analog. It’s our friend Chris Stack, endeavoring to find the path that allows him to take the best pieces of his studio and put them together, pushing all that gear to its limits and finding a sum that exceeds the parts. In short, it’s music making, how a soloist can make an ensemble out of their tools. On ExperimentalSynth.com, Chris has been very interesting indeed. But it’s nice to pull together a few of these recent episodes to get a sense of the larger theme.

First, let’s have a look at Moog’s Animoog synth as it’s crossed with the Moog Voyager. Now, some will recall my original criticism of Animoog and iOS synths in general was the lack of tactile feedback on the iPad. But that makes Animoog’s support of MIDI significant. And put these instruments together with your hardware instruments, and something very different happens. (I find it interesting that the most active users of Animoog I’ve met all have it as an addition to a conventional hardware studio – it’s all pieces of the puzzle.)

Chris tells us this video has gotten an especially-enthusiastic response. The video demonstrates “some of the many possibilities when using the Moog Voyager as a MIDI controller for the Moog Animoog app and feeding the iPad audio back into the Voyager’s filter.”

What you may not have seen is the “extended,” “noir” version of that video:

But that’s just one direction to go with combinations of gear. Here’s a look at what happens when you augment a synth with outboard effects, also in this case from Moog Music. Chris writes:

These next two are a pair showing how to use the Env Out CV from the Moog MF-101 filter and MF-107 FreqBox to bring tempo-synced filter effects to the Voyager (which is somewhat limited in that regard compared to the LP and SP which have MIDI synced LFOs and arpeggiators). First the MF-101, then with a bit gnarlier and more complex setup with the FreqBox.

One thing you get out of computing platforms versus analog gear is worlds of sound that are impossible in the analog domain. That’s why it’s especially nice to see Chris combine csGrain, the out-there granular effect in Csound’s new incarnation on the iPad, with a Moog guitar:

But just as with desktop computers, a terrific role for mobile and tablets, particularly the MIDI-equipped iPad, is as a sequencer. The tablet interface becomes as natural an editing and composition tool as the gear is for tweaking and performance. Chris offers:

Here’s a really quick and dirty one I shot on my Droid while playing. It is on my other YouTube channel. Here I used the Koushion app to sequence the LP. The LP has the CV Out Upgrade so I sent the Pitch CV to the CP-251 which inverted it, then sent it to control the Voyager’s filter cutoff. As the LP note goes up, the Voyager Filter Cutoff goes down. This was all tied together through Ableton which was sending the same clock to a Line 6 Echo Pro so all the echos were synced to the same clock…

Of course, there’s a strong Moog Music emphasis in all these videos, but they all demonstrate more broadly where the productive overlaps of digital and analog can lie, adaptable to much humbler rigs and combinations.

If you find this sort of thing inspiring in your own music, you can follow Chris’ site directly:
http://experimentalsynth.com/

We’ll be watching.