Sonic Paint Brush

This piece evolved out of the work of three School of Music students. “Sonic Paint Brush” explores both the auditory and visual applications of synthesized sound. In a new take on incidental music, the work creates itself through the improvisation and collaboration of all 3 musicians who each have their own “instrument” to augment and utilize.

Alex Panos – Performer, “Waveform” painter
Tyler Harper – Live video, programming
Chung Wan Choi – Performer, percussion

The whole idea of what we were doing was composing visually, not sonically, thus the manipulation of the waveforms was a big aspect of this piece. Using a customizable XY Oscilloscope VST called “Wavecandy”, we were able to display audio signals in a very unique way. Alexander built various sounds in FL Studio using plugins such as NI Massive and IL Harmor that would respond visually more than sonically. Starting with a single sine wave and gradually introducing different frequencies and harmonics, he was able to start creating very beautiful shapes. What’s so interesting is that the images that were being displayed were not just random, they all respond accordingly to different laws of signal processing as well as how sound acts in nature. Using an assortment of effects such as phasers, filters of different types, bitcrushers and downsamplers, unison detune, frequency modulation, and frequency shifting, he was able to morph the sounds into different shapes to continue the progression of the piece.

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Using the environment of Max 8, Tyler created a piece of art that uses sound waves as a paint brush. This software allows a performer to play with the size, shape, and color of preordained objects. As the piece progresses, you can see the transforming shapes reflect the mood of the sound being created by the other two performers. While the piece is created with sound waves, it does not add to the sound of the piece. This allows the objects to become as wild as possible without deterring from the beauty of the rest of the piece.

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Screenshot 2015-05-11 13.29.51

Chung wanted to use her DIY drum. To incorporate it with Ableton Live, she added a piezo element under the drumhead. Signal is transformed into melodic chordal sounds through resonator plug-in which amplifies specific frequencies that will serve as root of a chord. Two audio tracks were setup, with one armed with gate, only sounding when being hit loudly. Hence, these setting provides two different chords selection, while the fundamental were being manipulated through Midi keyboard.


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