The Probability Switch (live improvisation along with self generating synthesizer patch)

Composing Uncommon Practice Music often involves making “patches” of sorts. I consider this a rather beautiful way of working. Much of my music explores structures, and I can connect musical structures directly to patch structures … which can relate easily to real World structures around me, or to accompanying visuals. This is very useful for improvisation, building installations and composing sound tracks.

There are actually two patches involved in this music: a probability algorithm, patched in my MAX Software, creates MIDI … which gets changed into control voltages and triggers … which I route into a patch on my synthesizer to create the “bass” and the “melody” lines and the very low wind effect in the background. Once set up, this can run forever, leaving me free to improvise along with it on my drum pad controller with some of the samples I collected in Cork City.

Recorded live on 11 tracks: 3 x Modular Synthesizer, 4 x my Cork City Gamelan Percussion samples (bins, gates and doors), and 4 x warped drones, which I derived from my percussion samples by stretching them extremely … and all of that mixed down to stereo.

The MAX Software can serve many purposes right across almost all the performing and many of the “fine” arts. I use it to control hardware and other software via my own custom MIDI code.  It looks like I won’t ever need (expensive!) step sequencers for my Modular Synthesizer development.

MAX patches are visual representations of actual programming code. This patch explores ways of weighting and shifting probabilities.

I posted the music to Soundcloud:

Oh, and before I forget: this is an excerpt. The original improvisation was over 20 minutes long.

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2 Responses to The Probability Switch (live improvisation along with self generating synthesizer patch)

  1. Robin Parmar says:

    Some good thoughts here. There is something wonderful about having a mess of cables and patch-bays. But there is also something elegant about having a software solution and leaving all the massive energy-hungry hardware behind. Not to mention it’s easier for those with physical constraints. Ten years ago I gave up hardware for NI Reaktor… though it could just as well have been Max/MSP. Combined with the simple controller of my choice, it’s been the ideal solution.

    • Berkus says:

      Robin, thanks for your comment.
      I find both approaches valid for myself. I learned operating the Hardware ca. 1971, and being able to use Software was a Big Thing when my mobility became restricted. Together, they amount to a formidable creative tool, allowing me to develop a way to perform within my limitations.