Euro/Any: Blue notes

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Arneb
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Euro/Any: Blue notes

Post by Arneb » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:25 pm

Hi all,

apologies if I'm in the wrong subforum as I don't really have a ready solution to offer, but it is a discussion on modular synthesis techniques (and I figured this subforum deserves more activity).

I've been wondering how to do something like the blues and jazz genres' blue notes. With your average East Coast desktop synth, it's straightforward - you're in a piano paradigm, so you play the "blue" fifth as a lower fifth (tritonus) and be done with it.

But in modular? Granted, lower fifths are still lower fifths, and indeed quantizers' "blues scales" often do that. But we're not locked in a piano paradigm anymore, we're in a spaghetti paradigm. Maybe we can do better?

One obvious approach would be to make use of the microtonal capabilities of some quantizers and define the "blue fifth" as a quarter-note below a pure fifth or something. Not too complex - hell, Erica's Pico Quant can do that, and that's a 3HP Euro module.

Still I'm interested in another approach. The blues and jazz musicians of old would play blue notes on guitars, saxophones, harmonicas etc as technical variations like glissando or trill. In modular synth terms, this means pitch modulation (EG or LFO) contingent to a couple of very specific pitch CVs. I could even imagine a similar approach but with modulation that can't be done on classic jazz instruments - how about a subtle tweak of the filter or wavefolder?
Now, how would you patch this? Pitch CV into a very fine-tuned comparator - is this practicable? Is there something that triggers an event if pitch CV minus a fine-tuned constant CV value (or two or three of them) is close to an integer voltage? Or should I intervene earlier, at the sequencing level? (Feels like cheating)

What do you think?

cg_funk
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Re: Euro/Any: Blue notes

Post by cg_funk » Mon Sep 30, 2019 12:52 pm

Arneb wrote:Hi all,

apologies if I'm in the wrong subforum as I don't really have a ready solution to offer, but it is a discussion on modular synthesis techniques (and I figured this subforum deserves more activity).

I've been wondering how to do something like the blues and jazz genres' blue notes. With your average East Coast desktop synth, it's straightforward - you're in a piano paradigm, so you play the "blue" fifth as a lower fifth (tritonus) and be done with it.

But in modular? Granted, lower fifths are still lower fifths, and indeed quantizers' "blues scales" often do that. But we're not locked in a piano paradigm anymore, we're in a spaghetti paradigm. Maybe we can do better?

One obvious approach would be to make use of the microtonal capabilities of some quantizers and define the "blue fifth" as a quarter-note below a pure fifth or something. Not too complex - hell, Erica's Pico Quant can do that, and that's a 3HP Euro module.

Still I'm interested in another approach. The blues and jazz musicians of old would play blue notes on guitars, saxophones, harmonicas etc as technical variations like glissando or trill. In modular synth terms, this means pitch modulation (EG or LFO) contingent to a couple of very specific pitch CVs. I could even imagine a similar approach but with modulation that can't be done on classic jazz instruments - how about a subtle tweak of the filter or wavefolder?
Now, how would you patch this? Pitch CV into a very fine-tuned comparator - is this practicable? Is there something that triggers an event if pitch CV minus a fine-tuned constant CV value (or two or three of them) is close to an integer voltage? Or should I intervene earlier, at the sequencing level? (Feels like cheating)

What do you think?
If you want to 'bend' notes and get a little bit of de-tune, just send an attenuated envelope to your FM input for only those specific notes.

You could, for example, set a window comparitor to a specific pitch you want to turn 'blue', and then set the window very small so it's just over one semi-tone, and then send that gate to your envelope generator->FM. You'll get just that little bend only on the specific note. (I literally read about this patch just yesterday on the forum, and I think it'll do here too. mdouderoff tested that out on a Compare2. ).

Yeah, you can also go with a deeper sequencer like ER101 that let's you set custom microtonal scales... but I think that's less intuitive than just trying to directly patch little variations into my FM inputs.

Arneb
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Post by Arneb » Mon Sep 30, 2019 1:49 pm

Actually I was the one who asked mdouduroff about feasibility of that patch idea in the Contour2 thread ;) I tend to agree with you; another advantage of that approach is that the signal path doesn't absolutely have to be Gate->EG->FM, we have room for experimenting with other forms of subtle "note bending" modulation.

The drawback is that my sequencer would have to play relative pitch CV since I'd want my patch to stay stable under root change - i.e. I'd play root, third, fifth instead of C, E, G. I'd have to get constant key CV from somewhere to feed into a separate precision adder as a transpose value... come to think of it, VPME t43 with switches set to the key sounds like a reasonable solution.

cg_funk
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Post by cg_funk » Mon Sep 30, 2019 3:20 pm

Arneb wrote:Actually I was the one who asked mdouduroff about feasibility of that patch idea in the Contour2 thread ;) I tend to agree with you; another advantage of that approach is that the signal path doesn't absolutely have to be Gate->EG->FM, we have room for experimenting with other forms of subtle "note bending" modulation.

The drawback is that my sequencer would have to play relative pitch CV since I'd want my patch to stay stable under root change - i.e. I'd play root, third, fifth instead of C, E, G. I'd have to get constant key CV from somewhere to feed into a separate precision adder as a transpose value... come to think of it, VPME t43 with switches set to the key sounds like a reasonable solution.
Ha ha. Fun stuff, I guess that was a little bit too much of a coincidence, well it all makes sense now.

I have a transpose input on my quantizer (Quantimator). So, the way I would use this patch is to to the pitch-detection step before I quantize. That way you do the transposition in the quantizer and it's separate.

I love sending attenuated gates to my transpose input, it's a very easy way to do a simple key change with clock divider.

Arneb
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Post by Arneb » Wed Oct 02, 2019 1:29 pm

For the sake of completeness, this is what a minimal patch might look like (without trigger/gate sequencing, VCO and the actual modulation):

Image

Patch clock/triggers/gates -> VD -> Links' 1:3 -> Compare2 IN1 and t43 A, both Compare OUTs -> Links' 2:2 -> VCO modulation (attenuated FM in your idea), t43 OUT -> VCO Pitch.
Take your notes, transpose them to a suitable C key (keep the mode, transpose a couple octaves down if it's for a treble voice), and program that into VD.
Tune Compare2's two Shift knobs to 0.5V (lowered fifth) and 0.25V (lowered third) respectively, or maybe 0.5V and 0.83V (lowered seventh), plus 1V/oct for whatever octave you programmed VD in (it's a 0V=C0 module). Tune Compare2's Size knobs to something like 0.03V both. The Compare2's LEDs should help you with getting the knobs right.
Use the t43's switches to transpose the pitch CV from VD back to whatever key your composition was originally in.

Of course, this being modular there are infinitely many variations of that patch - do it like cg_funk and work with pitch CV sequencing separate from quantization and with voltage controlled key changing, for instance :) out of curiosity, does Quantimotor quantize before or after applying transpose?

cg_funk
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Post by cg_funk » Wed Oct 02, 2019 2:12 pm

Arneb wrote:out of curiosity, does Quantimotor quantize before or after applying transpose?
I think that the Quantimator is first quantizing the transpose input into semitones, to determine how much to transpose. Also I believe it's quantizing to a scale, and then transposing to a new key - you get key changes when using the transpose input, not chord inversions. The Quantimator has separate modes for chord inversions, and inverted chord scales.

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oberdada
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Post by oberdada » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:33 am

Some ideas:

Use an oscillator that doesn't track perfectly - my favourite would be Chaotica, which can approach 1V/oct over a smallish range.

Using a ribbon controler, split its cv output, quantize and mix with the raw output.

Split the pitch cv, feed it to the 1V/oct input and also through an inverter, slew limiter, and into an exponential FM input, preferably with attenuator.

Arneb
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Post by Arneb » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:00 pm

Those solutions wouldn't allow me to single out specific notes though, or am I misunderstanding you?

...hang on there... are you the oberdada from AH.com? If yes, hi, I'm Lautréamont :mrgreen:

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oberdada
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Post by oberdada » Sun Oct 06, 2019 8:58 am

Arneb wrote:Those solutions wouldn't allow me to single out specific notes though, or am I misunderstanding you?
Correct, you'd have to somehow single out notes to be affected in a separate step.
Arneb wrote:...hang on there... are you the oberdada from AH.com? If yes, hi, I'm Lautréamont :mrgreen:
No... so I have yet another namesake! (And my real name is not Johannes Baader.)

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