Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

This is what it's like to be a music major

Here's an assignment I just turned in. The assignment involved working with a synthesizer to generate electronic sounds. We had to make a composition with our sounds and write about how we went about using the synthesizer to create our sounds. Reason is the name of the computer program we used.

Reason Project

My Reason composition is entitled "Closer and Closer." It earned this name as I got closer and closer to finishing it. The instruments used in this piece are the Space Violin, the Muted (Space) Circus Organ, the Grind-o-matic Space Bass and everyone's favorite, the Space-copter. Also featured are some good old Earth Drums.

The Space Violin was invented a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away by combining two different sawtooth wave forms slightly out of phase with each other. A modulator is used to slowly shift the phase of the first sawtooth waveform. This gives the Space Violin the swirling, phase shifting sound which we commonly associate with things from space. The Space Violin is recognizable as a violin because of its moderately slow attack and release times, giving the sound time to fade in and out of the cosmos. One of the Space violin's two waveforms decays to a lower sustained level than the other, letting the other waveform come through after the initial attack.

Harmony in "Closer and Closer" is provided by the Muted (Space) Circus Organ. This is a standard earth circus organ which, when played in space, sounds short muted notes in order to conserve oxygen. The sound of the Muted (Space) Circus Organ is produced by first mixing a sawtooth waveform and waveform #5 from the Subtractor Polyphonic Synthesizer. The waveforms have a quick attack, a slow decay time, a high sustained level and a quick release time. The muted sound is achieved through the use of an envelope controlled filter which quickly sweeps a high frequency cut across the entire frequency spectrum, leaving silence.

The Grind-o-Matic Space Bass originated as an inter-galactic weapon of mass destruction, but was abandoned by the Department of Space Defense due to budget cutbacks. Fortunately, the Grind-o-Matic Space Bass is great for laying down some low end grooves and has gained a cult following in the Space Garage Band scene. The Grind-o-matic Space Bass is a combination of the PWM and triangle waveforms. The triangle waveform sounds an octave lower than the PWM waveform. A modulator provides a varying phase shift in the two wave forms. The high end of the PWM waveform is cut off by a lowpass filter. Finally the entire sound is sent through a D-11 foldback distortion unit to further dirty up the sound.

The final sound used is the Space-copter. The sound starts as a triangle waveform which is fed through a low pass filter to cut out the high frequencies. Another filter is linked to a modulator to provide the classic 'thud-thud-thud' helicopter sound. Space-copters fly much faster than standard earth helicopters, so the wave form has a relatively quick attack to simulate the Space-copter's rapid approach. In the same way the Space copter has a shorter release time than we could expect from a standard helicopter.

I'll let you know what my grade is when I get it.

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