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Where is synthesis headed?
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next [all]
Author Where is synthesis headed?
Cata
Right now we are starting to get more and more granular synthesis modules which to me is awesome and opens up a whole new can of worms since I've never really delved into the subject until now. I'm curious, though, what are some of the more advanced things that are happening in the scene to look forward to in the relatively near future? Is there any sort of synthesis methods that could/are already bed considered "post granular"? hmmm.....
Joe.
Post post-Modern synthesis.
JohnLRice
I think it's already headed in the direction of ROMPLERs again. More and more new synth module designs are instant gratification tone/noise makers with some manual and CVable parameters. As modular become more popular, the individual module complexity will increase to lure in new buyers who want to make cool sounds with the least thought and effort and then people will start mentioning that they never change the basic settings and manufacturers will start eliminating controls to make things simpler for the end users and more profitable for them until . . . . . . everyone gets bored and then people will get back to the simplest elements again and it will cycle all over . . . . spinning
Hanz
New polyphonic (modular?) analog synths with full DAW integration and sample accurate timing. Coming soon... (But when?)
337is
I can imagine a path of real-time network connectivity which would allow patchers scattered far and wide to interact meaningfully with each other's synths. nanners
Dcramer
JohnLRice wrote:
I think it's already headed in the direction of ROMPLERs again. More and more new synth module designs are instant gratification tone/noise makers with some manual and CVable parameters. As modular become more popular, the individual module complexity will increase to lure in new buyers who want to make cool sounds with the least thought and effort and then people will start mentioning that they never change the basic settings and manufacturers will start eliminating controls to make things simpler for the end users and more profitable for them until . . . . . . everyone gets bored and then people will get back to the simplest elements again and it will cycle all over . . . . spinning

Noooooo.... very frustrating
Let's hope not thumbs up
psykx
I think we will see more physical modelling oscillators, and I think we will see more romplers as part of the same trend. I would like like to think we will see samplers like the octatrack with more low level sound alteration, rompler style.

I don't really see any growth in filters, although I wasn't expecting the koma elektronic filter to sound as good as it does in the videos.

I've been toying with ideas of how to control and create custom waveforms in software, but I've only rehashed old ideas so far.
Dcramer
I'm also thinking polyphony and maybe freq domain spectral modules of some type? hmmm.....
botstein
Only this song expresses how I feel about where synthesis is heading. I'm really looking forward to NAMM this year.
ignatius
who cares? where are _YOU_ headed?

edit: advanced things in the scene - control and memory modules.. i think we'll see more sequencers and fx in eurorack..

as for the world of synthesis.. check software.
strettara
I don't know about actual synthesis methods, which seem to have been largely explored (although maybe not in modular formats) but I imagine there will be increasing integration between the laptop and the modular/hardware synth. They are complementary, with complementary strengths and weaknesses, and it just seems natural that they will talk to each other more and more, each to do what it does best.

Some things could really hardly be implemented in a sensible way in a modular format, like concatenative synthesis, for instance. Granular synth modules may be fun, but if you want four granular voices with control over all parameters, a laptop running grout will kick any comparable modular system's ass for a fraction of the price. But - integrate the laptop with the modulation and sequencing power of a modular, and you'll have something that really goes beyond the capability of either of them taken alone.

Most people seem to think in terms of using CV generated by the laptop to control a modular which does the sound generation. For my money, I could see building a small rack of maths/Z8000/S&H and so on, combined with a monome and a midi box of knobs, to control max patches which would handle the actual sound generation via expert sleepers or some such. That would be interesting. To me, at least.
kindredlost
It's always hazardous to predict a trend, but I do like some of the design ideas involved in the Mysteron and ErbeVerb modules from Makenoise.

The idea of digital algorithms which are somewhat organic and random. They build upon themselves over time but still retain a user control to a degree.

I don't consider it a distinct method of synthesis as in granular or subtractive etc., but more like a shift in the philosophy of how to control parameters of the synthesizer.
It is predominately the digital domain which I see it working in right now (digital waveforms etc.).

I saw this unpredictable complexity with the FIZMO and it is one of the reasons that particular synthesizer is so unique.
It is not for everyone but it does add a layer which is hard to match unless you have quite a large system.
I still kick myself for ever selling my FIZMO. very frustrating

I will say I agree about the polyphony and preset wavetable "Rompler" style synthesis trend. I don't necessarily consider it a bad thing but like JLR says, more of a returning and cyclical trend.

I do see quite a good future for modular (or discrete module) synthesis.
Soundtracks for more and more top movies are trending toward things I like. "Gone Girl" and "Interstellar" (less so), are two examples of the more visible, high budget films containing music made utilizing modular synthesis.
I like this movement away from imitative synthesis (synthesizing classic instruments) and towards purely electronic music in soundtracks.
I believe it will boost the market demand for modular synthesizers as composers look to follow successful innovation.
Randy
When I first started thinking about getting into modular synthesis, the first thing I considered was polyphony. As I spend more time with my modular 'though, I find that interest has disappeared. There are so many other and better ways to get polyphony, I really believe a modular is just not the best way.

Besides, a polyphonic voice can only be complex in certain ways. I've noticed this with my seven Shruthis hooked to one controller. Some patches sound great as a monophonic voice but are just too complex when played in a group.

I would also rather have fewer functions per module and smaller modules. If I want something complex, I'll build it out of simple parts. At least in that way, it is my vision of complexity.

Disting is a bit of an odd one here because it has multiple functions and is small. I really only use a few of those functions, so I think I would rather have 4 or even 6 lower-cost versions of Disting that do one or two things, instead of 1 or two that do all sorts of things but only one at a time.

The one thing I'd like to get rid of is the cables but not the actual interface. I had a Nord G2X for a little while and just couldn't get into pulling virtual cables to virtual modules, but pulling virtual cables to real modules might be nice. Blue sky without a doubt but if I could touch a jack on one module, and then touch a jack on another module to connect the two, that might be cool. But then I'd need some sort of holographic projector to see the virtual cables.

Randy
Cata
Are there any new "methods" of synthesis then that are being explored in either the software/hardware realm then? I'm talking like something that goes beyond subtractive,additive,fm,granular synthesis and if so does it even have a name yet? hmmm.....
337is
Cata wrote:
Are there any new "methods" of synthesis then that are being explored in either the software/hardware realm then? I'm talking like something that goes beyond subtractive,additive,fm,granular synthesis and if so does it even have a name yet? hmmm.....


Bad joake alert:

Shhhhhynthesis ... so secret we can't even discuss it. Mr. Green
strettara
I suppose you can apply any mathematical function to a waveform or set of waveforms - but how useful is it? If it doesn't have its own unique and recognisable character, and do things that people want to be able to do...
Dcramer
^ yup, should be out by Easter:
Mutable Instruments Whispers
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Cata
337is wrote:
Cata wrote:
Are there any new "methods" of synthesis then that are being explored in either the software/hardware realm then? I'm talking like something that goes beyond subtractive,additive,fm,granular synthesis and if so does it even have a name yet? hmmm.....


Bad joake alert:

Shhhhhynthesis ... so secret we can't even discuss it. Mr. Green

Well we DO already have the shnth hihi
wavecircle
Real time finite difference algorithms are an interesting area, they can calculate some really interesting physical models but it takes a long time to calculate all the harmonics. Stefan Bilbao is a good person to look into in this field.
soundwave106
JohnLRice wrote:
I think it's already headed in the direction of ROMPLERs again. More and more new synth module designs are instant gratification tone/noise makers with some manual and CVable parameters. As modular become more popular, the individual module complexity will increase to lure in new buyers who want to make cool sounds with the least thought and effort and then people will start mentioning that they never change the basic settings and manufacturers will start eliminating controls to make things simpler for the end users and more profitable for them until . . . . . . everyone gets bored and then people will get back to the simplest elements again and it will cycle all over . . . . spinning


ROMplers are necessary for today's working musician (who has to spit out scores nearly instantaneously) but they're pretty much confined to the laptop IMHO. Why would they not be?

The big Big Electronics Business trend of the moment is the "Internet of things" and "wearables", and as electronics go, so might modular in benefiting from components devised for this purpose. These pushes are the big reasons why the microcontroller class of components has gotten much more powerful for instance.

The other push that may make it into module is the push for increasing amounts of sensors. This perhaps will make more *playable* electronics a possibility.

As far as synthesis methods go, I haven't really heard anything *spectacularly* new, but there's a wide variety of flavors that probably remain to be explored.
botstein
Cata wrote:
Are there any new "methods" of synthesis then that are being explored in either the software/hardware realm then? I'm talking like something that goes beyond subtractive,additive,fm,granular synthesis and if so does it even have a name yet? hmmm.....


wave front / wave field synthesis, vector synthesis, scanned synthesis, banded waveguide synthesis, phase distortion synthesis, ...photosynthesis?
Dave Kendall
Dunno about trends, but something I'd *like* to see...
A long time ago, Sound on Sound magazine postulated a "sample and synthesis" machine with a twist - samples mapped vertically (ie. velocity layers) and horizontally (ie. across the keyboard) would be analyzed by a RE-synthesis engine (additive), re-created, then mapped according to the pattern of the input samples. The changes between the tones would be interpolated in real time.
The Hartmann Neuron has come the closest to this, but according to what I've read, was simply not accurate enough, and fell short on the realism of the interpolation/re-creation.

With current day computing power, things could be much improved in this respect. If the machine followed the sample mapping with freely patchable filter, waveshaper and other modifier DSP blocks, along with FX, it would provide the missing links - relying on additive synthesis alone would likely not cut it. For many sounds, flexible serial/parallel routing using familiar blocks like filters, distortion, non-linear waveshaping and so on would turn it into a very powerful beast.

Much of the re-synthesis process could be hidden from the user, with minimal controls, themselves located in a separate (physical or virtual) area of the machine that didn't interfere with the performance aspect. Yes, it would be menu-driven, being a complex polyphonic machine, but so what?

What use would such a machine be, given that sample memory is now cheap, and things like the Korg Kronos use disk storage, permitting gigabytes of sample storage? Well, apart from "real instrument" models which would eliminate audible steps between samples in velocity cross-switch and across the keyboard, it could be an awesome platform for original sound design. Imagine inputting unrelated samples, and having real-time control over the morph or interpolate parameters between the recreated samples - running that through a bunch of filters, and possibly even through a modular via DA outputs would be a real blast .

Anyway, I do but dream. I reckon it'll simply be bigger romplers with "analogue" written on them for a while, but I'm cynical.

Happy festivities to all. Chill out and Synth! smile
cheers,
Dave
Cata
botstein wrote:
Cata wrote:
Are there any new "methods" of synthesis then that are being explored in either the software/hardware realm then? I'm talking like something that goes beyond subtractive,additive,fm,granular synthesis and if so does it even have a name yet? hmmm.....


wave front / wave field synthesis, vector synthesis, scanned synthesis, banded waveguide synthesis, phase distortion synthesis, ...photosynthesis?

Thats what I'm talkin about thumbs up
Dr. Sketch-n-Etch
Well, I think it's just about time for a controversial posting in this thread...

I think that I'm in agreement with Wendy Carlos on this one thing: Some things are best achieved with digital gear, and some things are best achieved with analog gear. My interest still lies with the analog side of things. When I hear synthesizers in music, I like all the swooshy pads and complexity of the digital arena. However, my ears don't really perk up until I hear the unmistakable sounds of sweeped filters and high-harmonics waveforms so central to analog subtractive synthesis. That basic sound is what thrilled me initially, and it still does. And generally (IMHO), digital gear just sucks at recreating it.

Now, the controversial part of my posting: I still wish that musicians simply did more with all of these wonderful tools at their disposal. The heyday was truly the late 60s and early 70s, I believe. Musicians were adventurous, and not too lazy. They worked hard to invent and develop new forms of their art, and the new technology was right at the centre of it all. I'm a huge King Crimson fan, and their early 80s incarnation was an excellent example of a rock group using and developing new forms around the latest technology. Listen to Wendy Carlos's "Secrets of Synthesis" and you'll realize just how much blood, sweat and tears went into the creation of something like "Switched-On Bach". Who has the patience to do something like "hocketing" today? Or to introduce subtle variations into the tempo by setting up the keyboard as a voltage controller for the speed of the piece and "playing" the tempo? This sort of mastery over the subtleties is what I believe is largely missing from today's synth music. I went to hear Morton Subotnick play live a couple of months ago. The dude is in his 80s, and he still blew everybody else off the stage (easily). Why? Form. Pure and simple.

So, I'd prefer to see less innovation in the hardware, and more innovation in the actual musical content. Let the flames and attacks begin.......
strettara
I totally agree, although Wendy Carlos... after all, Bach wrote the music.
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