Pavane by Thoinot Arbeau

March 3, 2017 7:05 PM

Renaissance music on synthesizer. I think Wendy Carlos would be offended if I called this an homage.

This is a pavane from Thoinot Arbeau's Orchesographie, published in 1589.

This was all done on my Vermona Mono Lancet 15 with a TC Hall of Fame for reverb. I recorded the whole thing on my phone in Garage Band, because that's all I've got.

The sounds in the first part are primarily the filter self-oscillating over white noise. The second part is me trying to sound like Wendy Carlos and falling a little short. It's a little, er, rubato.

posted by shapes that haunt the dusk (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

posted by ageispolis at 7:20 PM on March 3, 2017

good sharing.
posted by gigstask at 7:31 AM on March 4, 2017


And yeah, I'm still figuring out subtractive synthesis, so I'm happy to talk about that with people.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:57 PM on March 8, 2017

The tones you got out of your synth suit the music perfectly. Great keyboard playing, too - this post is a treat all around. Bravo!
posted by CarrotAdventure at 7:54 AM on March 9, 2017

Hey, thank you, I really appreciate it! I'm still learning the ins and outs of getting tones that fit together, so I appreciate hearing that they worked.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:46 PM on March 9, 2017

Very nice! How did you get the Carlos-esque timbres? Please feel free to geek out about waveforms, filters, and envelopes. I'd be very interested.
posted by mpark at 8:50 PM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thanks! You know, I normally take pictures of my patches, and I would have been happy to share them, but I didn't think to take any at the time. I'm kicking myself, because it took me a while to find a patch for the soprano part that I liked. That said, I'm happy to share what I know, although I can warn you that I'm not sure how best to describe any of it, especially since my only frame of reference is my Vermona.

I can say that for the bass, I went for the closest approximation I could come up with of the bass notes in the opening theme to the Shining. It's this really huge, brassy sound that doesn't have a particularly sharp attack, and keeps the buzzing of the oscillators pretty low. I basically kept playing the Dies Irae theme until it sounded pretty close, although it'll never sound as good or as massive as Wendy Carlos' Moog (she probably had half a dozen oscillators on that patch).

I've more or less recreated it just now, and I have both oscillators producing saw waves an octave apart (on the Vermona they're at 32' and 16'). I don't know what the range of the filter and everything on the Vermona is, but I have the filter knob just under the halfway mark with resonance very low. So it's a pretty soft sound. But then I have the envelope modifying the VCF slightly, with maybe a quarter second or less for the attack, and about the same for decay (on the Vermona the knobs are both about a quarter of the way up, but again, I don't know how the Vermona's range compares to other synths). Sustain is at about half, and release is pretty low, probably about a quarter second as well. It's only modifying the VCF slightly, but it's enough to give it this slightly brassy push right at the start, without having a sharp attack.

So it's basically two fairly fuzzy saw waves an octave apart, with sort of a quick bloom on the filter when you press the key, and the release is basically set so that it doesn't cut the note off too sharply.

Oh, there's also some modulation from the reverb pedal, which adds a little bit of a chorus-y effect under everything.

I'll try to figure out what I did for the lead (the soprano part) when I have a little more time -- I'm, er, supposed to be writing a paper at the moment.

Anyway, hope that made sense!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:52 PM on March 9, 2017

Also, since I am admittedly pretty new to synths, please feel free to ask any questions or offer any advice as desired! Like, I am still figuring out the best way to set the ADSR for things to blend together well. And I still have only sort of a fuzzy understanding of how filter resonance works, aside from getting it to self-resonate, which is pretty fun.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:56 PM on March 9, 2017

Thanks for the info. I assume you recorded each part separately and mixed them together? Was there a point in the process when the bleeps and bloops suddenly began to sound like music? In my limited synth experimentation I've only made bleeps and bloops, but I'm wondering if I put them together into an actual piece will the whole be more than the sum of its parts?
posted by mpark at 8:28 AM on March 10, 2017

Yeah, the Vermona is monophonic, so I recorded four separate tracks. I think I know what you mean about beeps and bloops adding up to a greater whole -- are you talking about doing classical music like this, or about making original songs?

I think in this case, because I was going off sheet music, and because I was being fairly conservative with the individual tones, there was never a time when it didn't sound too musical. I'd like to start branching out and making more experimental timbres, but pretty much anything counts as experimental when you're as inexperienced as I am. I did end up going back and redoing a bunch of parts once I'd put everything together, because while each part was sounding great on its own, they weren't all working together as a whole (too muddy, or too dense to pick up on the harmonies). If I learned anything from doing this, it's that the nature of stuff definitely changes when you're stacking up all your parts.

All this is to say, you probably can't know how well stuff will work together until you hear it. I'm sure there's books on orchestration that would help with this, but I haven't looked into that yet. If you want to play around with stacking beeps and bloops on top of each other, I'd be happy to be a second set of ears!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:11 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Part one sounded like it should have been broadcast on a shortwave numbers station. Great sound. Reminded me of the first part of the Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 song, "Cup of Dreams."

Part two sounded totally like Wendy Carlos to my untrained ears. If you put that on a mix and told me that it was her, I'd've said, "OK!" (I saw A Clockwork Orange when I was maybe 11 and came away with two thoughts: (a) WOW THAT WAS A LOT FOR ME TO TAKE IN AT ONCE and (b) THAT MUSIC WAS AWESOME.)
posted by not_on_display at 8:58 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Woah, thanks! Being compared to a number station is the best compliment ever. I should have followed this with "0-2-5-8-8."

Also, I've never heard of that band before, so thanks for tipping me off to them! I've been looking for new music to listen to.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:57 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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