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30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

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30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Feb 07, 2021 8:57 pm

My first modular 30-day challenge was very helpful in getting into the nitty gritty with my modular, and I even used the Subharmonicon on a few bits on the subsequent album (https://donmusicpresents.bandcamp.com/releases). I feel like there's a lot more digging I can, and should, do with the SubH, however.

So, another 30-day challenge, this time focusing solely on the Subharmonicon. Let's see if I can crack past it's intimidating exterior and, dig deep into it's soul, and see if there's music there. :D

Starting a thread to both document the process as well as keep myself on target.
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:53 am

Looks like I won't get to start this until Wednesday, as I have a work project I need to complete. :(
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:13 am

I'm looking forward to hearing what comes out of this project Ben :thumbup:
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Aled Hughes » Tue Feb 09, 2021 8:56 pm

Will be keeping an eye on this!

I'm quite tempted by the Subharmonicon.

PS listening to the album you linked to now. Sounding beautiful!
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby RichardT » Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:17 pm

Good luck Ben, Looking forward to the results!
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:59 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:I'm looking forward to hearing what comes out of this project Ben :thumbup:
Me, too; thanks, Eddy -- this has been long overdue!!
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:00 am

Aled Hughes wrote:Will be keeping an eye on this!
I'm quite tempted by the Subharmonicon.
It really is a very unique synth/system. I think it's one of the fastest selling -- and resold -- synths out there because it's notoriously hard to come to grips with.

PS listening to the album you linked to now. Sounding beautiful!
Thanks a lot! :)
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Feb 10, 2021 12:01 am

RichardT wrote:Good luck Ben, Looking forward to the results!
Thanks, Richard!
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Feb 11, 2021 2:09 pm

DAY 1. Better late than never! :)

For Day 1 I tackled the divide-down polyrhythm generator. There are four dividers, each one capable of playing 1:1 down to 16:1 divisions of the master clock tempo. The thing with the dividers, however, is that you need to set them in descending order; ie, the rhythms move from left to right, so if you are using more than one divider, the one to the right has to be further clockwise to the one on the left. If the dividers are on the same division, there is no change. If the divider to the right is on a higher division (ie, to the left) of the proceeding one, it will have no effect. Lastly, if the lowest divider is fully clockwise (1:1), it will override any dividers preceding it.

This makes the possible perumutations of possible rhythm combinations pretty vast! For most Euclidean style patterns, two dividers is usually more than enough; once you add a 3rd divider, the rhythm pattern gets quite long and can easily take several measures before it repeats. I find that 3 dividers starts getting into serious Reich/Adams/Glass territory (around the 2:35 mark on the SoundCloud clip).


https://soundcloud.com/user-329043613-5 ... enge-day-1
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:24 pm

Fascinating stuff - more educational than musical IMO until it's about halfway through, but the entire process helped me understand what was going on, so thanks for it all Ben! 8-)

I know it's asking a lot, but a video displaying the current positions of those four divider controls would be mighty useful for further understanding.


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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Feb 11, 2021 3:57 pm

Yes, I'm trying to think of how to visually accompany these experiments, since they're not patches. I haven't decided just yet...
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Feb 11, 2021 4:03 pm

Perhaps this will be helpful?

Image
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:15 pm

Yes, that certainly helps Ben (thanks!), but what would help me even further would be the point in the timeline at which those particular settings are being used.

I suspect the featured positions are at least half way through the track.

Am I right?


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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Feb 11, 2021 5:48 pm

They knobs were in the same position throughout, with one exception: I start with just the first divider going, and then keep adding one at a time working right to left. At about the 2 minute mark, with all 4 dividers going, I am just adjusting the last divider in the chain, since that must go downwards first. Once you've gone up a couple of divisions, you could in turn adjust the other dividers as well, so long as none of them are at 1:1.

That's one reason why it's particularly difficult to explain ... the number of combinations that you can get is 15x15x15x15 ... something like 5,000 possible positions!

Edit: actually, that's incorrect; the total number of combinations is 15x14x13x12 ... a mere 3,200 combinations. :P
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Re: 30-day writing challenge #2: Subharmonicon edition

Postby Eddy Deegan » Thu Feb 11, 2021 6:37 pm

Ben Asaro wrote: The thing with the dividers, however, is that you need to set them in descending order; ie, the rhythms move from left to right, so if you are using more than one divider, the one to the right has to be further clockwise to the one on the left. If the dividers are on the same division, there is no change. If the divider to the right is on a higher division (ie, to the left) of the proceeding one, it will have no effect. Lastly, if the lowest divider is fully clockwise (1:1), it will override any dividers preceding it.

Hey Ben, it doesn't work quite like this although you're pretty close!

Each divider is completely independent of the others - there is no cascading from left to right. What happens is that each divider ends up generating its own regular clock frequency which is indeed a division of the master clock. When the knob for any divider is fully clockwise, the clock it produces is the same as the master clock but you can of course divide by any integer up to 16 as you sweep the knob fully anticlockwise.

The individual, regular, clocks produced by the dividers are superimposed on one another based on their assignments to SEQ1, SEQ2 or both and it is the result of this combination of clocks that drives the sequencers. There are indeed 16x16x16x16 combinations of clocks. Some will mask others but of course each clock can be assigned to one, other or both of the sequencers (and of course the sequencers can be assigned to an oscillator, one, other, or both of its suboscillators, or all three) so the musical permutations are stupendous.

This does mean that some clock divisions appear not to have any effect, but only because they are generating a clock that synchronises on one or more beats with another clock. You can only step a sequencer one step at a time after all.

As a general observation (not specifically to you Ben, you'll know this already!) it's also worth nothing that there is only one VCA even though there are two sequencers, one for each oscillator-and-its-two-suboscillators). Thus although the sequencers can be stepped independently (and at each step, a sequencer may generate a different note value) if one is stepped and the other isn't then the note playing on the one that isn't stepped will be retriggered.

It's the best kind of crazy, in that it really works musically :D
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