In 2010 my Video Shredder dies. I start looking for a new instrument.
In 2014 I find it at Signal Culture in Owego NY. Well, I find the missing piece, the Jones MVIP. I have a Doepfer audio synthesizer but what I don’t have is a video module. For the week of my artists residency, I play with Signal Culture’s Serge and Doepfer modules, and the MVIP. I’m sold. I can put together an audio visual synthesizer for live performance.
I lay out a single rack system using some my Doepfer modules, a Snazzy FX Ardcore microprocessor module, and a Jones MVIP, see my blog post.
Before the holidays I purchase an Ardcore and install it and the Doepfer modules in the top rack of my old case. Mary Ann and I drop the unused modules off at Signal Culture and pick up my new MVIP at Dave’s. Over the holidays, I check out the video and experiment with the analog portion of the system.
After the holidays we return to Lowell. Immediately I apply for a toolmakers residency at Signal Culture. I get it and, here I am!
With the time and space that a residency affords, I’m able to focus on developing the system. As you can see from the picture above, it’s no longer a single rack system. The top rack contains video and control modules. From left to right, a new module, the Jones Sync Separator, the Ardcore, 2 Doepfer LFOs, and the MVIP. The lower rack contains Doepfer audio modules, some also function as control modules. Left to right, 2 VCOs, Dual Ring Modulator, VCFS, and Mixer. The two rack layout provides ‘breathing room’ for the modules. Space for cables and for ‘knob twiddling.’ The modules are grouped by function, inputs on the left side, outputs on the right. Video and control modules on the top rack and audio on the lower rack. The 2 LFOs sit on top of the 2 VCOs. Multiples to the right of the VCOs allow its output to be patched to multiple inputs. All the output control knobs are stacked vertically on the right edge, easily accessible.
The fish is for Mary Ann, without her support there wouldn’t be an AVSynth 8^)
How does it work? Here’s a basic patch –
I use the USB serial port to upload a program to the Ardcore. I connect a USB cable from my computer to the port. Serial communication is 2-way, the computer talks to the Arduino microprocessor inside the Ardcore, the microprocessor talks back. I can watch the Ardcore control knobs, clock, digital outputs and DAC in a window on my computer screen.
The complete patch
On Monday May 25, Memorial Day, I pack up the AVSynth, drive to the Firehouse in Worcester for a holiday cookout, Stephanie’s new home. I have a new sketch for the Ardcore, a random number CV on the DAC out. I’m still using the divided-down, vertical drive pulse, on D1, as percussion.
I arrive at 2pm, Steph shows me around. We set up the AVSynth in the main space, and play with system for an hour or so. Guests arrive, Steph starts the BBQ. Around dusk everyone comes inside, Stephanie sets up her electronics and we play.
After the set, people stick around, ask questions. Joe Bastardo arrives with his modular. We patch the two systems together. Joe’s system includes a number of interesting modules, including a 4ms Pingable Envelope Generator. I add the 4msPEG to my list of potential modules. I consider the current system a prototype. I’m thinking about several options going forward. There’s a house meeting, I pack up, head back to Lowell.
As a first outing for the AVSynth, quite successful. Coming up in two days, a gig at the Aviary Gallery in Jamaica Plain. I start work on a new patch.
On Wednesday May 27 Egregoros plays at the Aviary Gallery in Jamaica Plain. I have new patch, a bassy, sine wave drone I have an updated sketch for the Ardcore, a fractal CV on the DAC out and two divided-down, vertical drive pulses on D0, and D1.
Mary Ann, Christos and I ride together in Christos’ car. Stephanie works a couple of blocks from the gallery, she arrives shortly after us. We set up. The projector is out in front of us, against the wall, and projects back, diagonally into the opposite corner, behind Steph, stage left, and up onto the ceiling, behind Christos. I’m sitting on the floor, stage right. Matt Dill plays first, we play second.
Stephanie is playing electronics, Christos his modular synth, and I plan to create a slowly changing drone over a pulse. The video is “Leaves,” the loop from Signal Culture. As we play I realize that my patch, left alone, is too slow for Steph and Christos. I begin to manipulate the patch directly. I also realize that the sine waves are getting lost in the clamor. However the leaves are quite effective, and the set quite unexpected.
There’s some potential here 8^)
The Aviary patch:
I rework the Aviary patch, square waves not sine waves, used multiples to build the sound, send control voltage to every MVIP input, here’s the patch –
I update and upload a new sketch to the Ardcore. Video in, I try two different sources, the Mac video output adapter, and a mini color cam. The computer adapter sends a blank, black image to the Jones’ Sync Separator. That is, there’s no input image. However all the sync signals are there, the Jones’ SS passes VD vertical drive to the Ardcore CLK in. The Ardcore DAC outs control the frequency of the two VCOs. VCO1 sine wave output is sent to Brightness on the Jones’ MVIP. The two LFO triangle outs are sent, through multiples, to both the VCOs and to Hue1 and Hue2 on the MVIP. Finally, the two VCO square wave outs control, through multiples, Bitswap and Mode on the MVIP. Returning to the Ardcore, the VD is divided down, determined by A2 and A3, and output on D0 and D1 directly to Mixer 3 and 4 in. My rhythm section. The VCO square wave outputs go to a Ring Mod, the output of the Ring Mod goes to the VCFS and to Mixer 1 in, the frequency shifted signal goes to Mixer 2 in. The MVIP video out goes to the video monitor, and the Mixer out to an audio amp.
That’s the patch. I experiment with live video and feedback, here’s a video, recorded with a prototype system at Signal Culture –