Richard Devine
Enter Computer Synthesis

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Devine first started using computers for composition around 1993. Don Hasslier, a professor at the Atlanta College of Art, got him interested in computer synthesis, introducing Devine to Csound and other powerful computer-based applications. “Csound was interesting because it was capable of doing anything the user defined,” says Devine. “I was amazed at the sound variety and I quickly discovered that computer synthesis was going to play an important role in my music.

“It’s interesting, because you’re doing things to sound that just aren’t physically possible,” says Devine.

“Csound was nice because it gave me separate control rate and audio rate processing, and the program is widely portable under C and UNIX,” he adds. “It’s also completely open-ended for further development and allows the user to add functions. I used Csound in the beginning for generating granular cloud textures using sine waves.”

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The Lowdown On Kyma
Kyma is another system that Devine has used quite extensively for sound design. “Kyma was excellent because it ran on its own independent DSP (digital signal processing) engine and offered a wide variety of sound manipulation options,” explains Devine. “Some my favorites were granular synthesis, sample granulation, cross-synthesis, alternate tunings, spectral morphing, live spectral analysis and resynthesis, and cross-synthesis.

“Kyma also has advanced additive synthesis features. For example, I can take a microphone and control 500 sine waves just with my voice articulation map,” explains Devine. “You can drastically change the tonal characteristics of the sound by pulling those partials either way — they can be divided in odd numbers or even numbers. It’s really wild.

The setup

“Spectral Morphing was another strong key feature that I liked in the Kyma system. For example, taking the sound of a train and the sound of water, and then morphing those two sounds into each other,” muses Devine. “Where the interesting characteristics happen, is when you’re going from point A to point B and you hear the envelope, frequency and amplitude characteristics apply to the next sound — because that’s where you can change the sound into this alien formality.”

Next page: Where Sound Galaxies Collide

Richard Devine

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

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

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