Richard Devine
Architect of Aural Mayhem

By Stephanie Jorgl

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Richard Devine
During the past three years, Richard Devine has remixed top Warp artists like Aphex Twin, designed sounds for virtual instrument deity Native Instruments, scored commercials for Nike and Touchstone Pictures and engineered and performed his own ear-tearing music mayhem worldwide. He’s also been completing his BFA in graphic arts and programming as a fulltime college student.

Learning Music Structure
“Classical piano was the foundation for my musical theory and composition — how I write,” says Devine, who played classical piano for about 10 years. “I hated it at the time, but now I’m glad that I had that background, because it really does help me compose the structure of my music,” adds Devine.

“This was my first introduction to the world of music, and more specifically classical music. My teacher introduced me to a wide variety of composers and allowed me to form my own preferences about which music to play.”

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During this period Devine learned to play the music of Frederic Chopin, Bach and Dmitri Kabalevksy. He also discovered the music of Erik Satie, who became one of his favorites. “I was drawn to Satie’s emphasis on emotional statement and his slow and unexaggerated tempos,” reflects Devine. “He, along with Chopin, set the foundation for my interest in music.

“Subotnick was creating sonic timbre environments that were completely interchangeable and complex,” says Devine.

After piano, Devine took up drums for about a year and a half. He played bass for about a year and a half, and played jazz guitar for about three years, as well. “I’ve always loved experimenting with new instruments, learning about how to play them, and seeing what they can teach me about the sound and the variation of the timbres,” he says. “Lately, I’ve been experimenting with various frame drums and Middle Eastern instruments like the tablas.

The Physical Experience
“There’s a certain instantaneous physical feeling you lose when you do music with computers — you lose that connection somewhere,” he says. “I remember picking up a guitar and half of it is the feel, the feel of your body when you get fully into it. When you’re playing the drums, your whole body is feeling what you’re playing. So when you’re working with synthesizers and software — when you’re transferring that info to CD, you have to recreate that feeling with your mind,” says Devine.

Infiltrated By Influences
At the same time, Devine discovered the music of Morton Subotnick and Karlheinz Stockhausen. “This was the main turning point in my musical explorations,” he says. “Morton Subotnick was the first composer to influence me to use analog modular synthesizers. Particularly, his main works such as ‘Sidewinder, The Wild Bull and Silver Apples of the Moon,’ where he used Donald Buchla’s modular electronic music systems at San Francisco Tape Music Center.

“I saw Subotnick’s work as completely dynamic, and futuristic,” he adds. “He was creating sonic timbre environments that were completely interchangeable and complex. After hearing his work I began buying rare analog modular synthesizers and cataloging sounds.

Next page: Intention and Accident

Richard Devine

1. Architect of Aural Mayhem
2. Intention and Accident
3. Enter Computer Synthesis
4. Where Sound Galaxies Collide

A Portable Studio
In 2001, Devine flew out to L.A. to score two Nike commercials on set, using just a PowerBook and some headphones. “I had to fly out to Universal Studios. I did the whole thing in Logic Audio with another software sampler, Native Instrument’s Battery — it was completely done on that. It was just crazy,” he recalls.

“It was so funny because everyone on the set was like, ‘You’re doing this whole commercial on that computer?’ and I was like, ‘Yep. It’s all you need.’ I had a 896 MOTU sound card and a pair of headphones and that was it,” adds Devine.

Useful Links

Record Labels
Warp Records
Schematic Records

DAW Software
Emagic Logic Audio
MOTU Digital Performer
Steinberg Cubase SX and Nuendo

Virtual Effects & Instruments Software
Cycling ‘74 Max/MSP
Cycling ‘74 Pluggo
Native Instruments’ Absynth, Battery and Reaktor

Sound Design Software
Symbolic Composer
Symbolic Sound’s Kyma

Audio Hardware
Digidesign Pro Tools
MOTU 896

Sound Design Hardware
Symbolic Sound’s Kyma

Remix Galaxy

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