Preparing for tomorrow's performance

My upcoming performance at the the plug.dos headphone festival provides some special challenges. Because the audience, both at the venue and online, will be using headphones, I need make sure my sounds and processes are headphone-safe, i.e., low volume with no clipping, glitching or large volume-spikes. More positively, I can take advantage of a uniform stereo listening environment with deliberate pan and positioning effects.

The need for steady volume and stability rules out the use of feedback and high-resonance filtering that I use in a lot of my recent music. Thus, the Evolver is out. Many of my Open Sound World patches are probably not approrpriate, though stable-volume patches are certainly doable.

I am focusing on Emulator X controlled with a MIDI keyboard (E-MU Xboard25). Thus, my preparations have focused on selecting existing sounds from the E-MU sound library that meet my technical and aesthetic requirements, and creating some new sounds. One preset that I spent a lot of time building is a modification of my additive synthesizer for Emulator X, consisting of eight independently controllable sinewaves. In addition to MIDI control of amplitude and frequency, I use a function generator to add amplitude modulations do the sinewave components of the timbre. Additionally, each “note” played has an independent pan position, spreading the sound across in the stereo field. I have also modified some existing sounds to include stable amplitude-modulation effects. The end result is a highly-controllable pallete of sounds from which I plan to make an ambient but punctuated sound scape, with a few rhythmic elements for good measure.

Logistically, this will be a very simple performance to travel and set up, just my laptop, the E-MU 1616m sound module, and the keyboard. I am looking forward to a relaxed, simple and enjoyable experience.

I'm not posting any advance examples, so you'll have to listen online to the show to hear what I'm describing. Hopefully I will be able to post a recording after the fact.