Monday, 25 July 2011

Designing VSTs

I use VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology instruments) in my music, and have always admired those who make their own. So last weekend, I sat down and decided to learn how to use Synthedit. I've been reading a lot about John Cage, and his early experimental music. Too much coffee and a whole day spent learning how to make a random (virtual) voltage signal, and I came up with Cassette_musik. It is inspired by Cage's 1977 work 'Cassette', and his 1953 work 'Williams Mix' (great title!)

Cassette_musik loads a .wav, and plays it either forwards or backwards, and can cut the audio (via a simple gate) or play the entire wav from start point to end point. I'd only recommend that for one shots or very short samples though. The sample plays at a random starting point each time it is triggered (using the lovely Random Voltage module). I have also added some filters to degrade the sound and make it more like a scratchy old tape. I'm still beta testing, but when it's totally finished, I'll post instructions and a download link. My first free VST, whoop!

Buoyed by my success of making a working VST, I started to make a second one (using the structure of Cassette_musik as a base). Jareth also loads a .wav file and has a random starting point generator, but it also has a granulator. The GUI is inspired by Labyrinth, a 1986 film starring David Bowie as the Goblin King, so the controls are based on things in the film. The Peach button is pitch range, Goblin controls the Grains, and Oubliet controls the Grains Range (I think). You can play the sample forwards and backwards, although reverse doesn't work very well with higher Peach and Goblin settings; you can also choose different cycles 2-16, 32 and 64. This one is still being beta tested too, but as soon as I've finished I'll post instructions and download link. I'll also make example mp3s so you can hear the original audio compared with what it sounds like run through the VSTs.

Designing the GUIs was great fun too. I wanted an old cassette for Cassette_musik as it made sense, but I was a bit more creative with the design for Jareth. I even made my own dial for the dB levels - the clock hand is a bit jerky but I still love it!

This is fast becoming my newest obsession.

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