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When Technology Meets Music – A Coffee With Pat Scandalis 1024 576 audio modeling

When Technology Meets Music – A Coffee With Pat Scandalis

We visited our friend, Pat Scandalis, in California at moForte.  We spent a nice time together talking about the relationship between Music and Technology.

Pat is CTO of moForte, a company that makes a unique new kind of musical instrument. This musical instrument allows performers to play multiple voices independently with fingers, very fluidly, and additionally they can reach the desired pitches in virtually any temperament in a very precise way.

This instrument has been coupled with a model of the physics of the guitar, and it’s able to do a kind of feedback distortion guitar. They also have a number of Indian instruments. For this reason their products are used by South Asian artists including music creators for Bollywood films.

Pat has been in the audio business since 1994. He was a researcher at Stanford on physical modeling for a number of years, and then he wound up running some of the first digital download companies. Now he is again working on musical instruments and creating tremendous instruments for musicians.

Pat, in your opinion, what’s the role of Technology in relation with Music? 

I am a technologist and of course technology is super important to me however I feel like technology takes a backseat to musicians. 

One of the things that we did at moForte is we created a partnership with rock star Jordan Rudess. We actually called him the “sacred user” and we let him drive the development of the software.

So instead of being engineers who created a product that we thought would be really really cool, we went to an actual musician who was using it on stage every day, and we would ask him “what do you think about this feature”, “how do you think this works”. He came back with some very direct feedback on how we should do things differently.  Because we focused on Jordan Rudess, the “sacred user”, above our engineering ideas we wound up with a product that was very comfortable to use and very expressive for musicians.

What can technology bring to musicians to make a different experience on a conventional musical instrument?

For instance in our own product we have this “almost magic” pitch rounding, where a user can very fluidly slide their finger around like they’re on a pedal steel or a slide guitar. Yet when they stop the computer helps them get very precisely to the pitch that they’re trying to reach This works whether or not you’re in western temperament, or if you’re in India and you’re using a Carnatic temperament, or you’re in Bali and you’re using a Balinese temperament. It works very well, and it possible for more people to have a very satisfying musical performance experience.

GeoShred and SWAM: Why?

Many users of GeoShred use it in combination with the SWAM instruments, but the very interesting thing that’s happened: We did not promote this, it was sort of discovered! A few of the users figured out that they could connect GeoShred via MIDI through MPE MIDI, a very expressive MIDI, to the SWAM engine for the SWAM Violin and they started to use it. The result is sort of expressive modalities that you wouldn’t get from a conventional keyboard! 

For example, one of the expressive articulations in Indian music is what’s called a Gamaka, it’s a kind of vibrato that’s very different than western vibrato, it’s microtonal it often starts on the center of the note which is called a Svara and then it bends up to microtonal pitches which are called Shruthis . So it’s very easy to perform a gamaka on GeoShred and when these gamakas are articulated with SWAM Violin it sounds like a classical Indian violin player playing in the style of Carnatic or Hindustani music.

SWAM Brass Video Tutorials: Balkan trumpet sound example 1024 576 audio modeling

SWAM Brass Video Tutorials: Balkan trumpet sound example

If you love improvisation, you have to try recreating and playing the typical Balkan trumpet sounds. Dirty and very thin, this sound can be considered the opposite of the clean classical trumpet. 

First tip, if that is possible with your controller,  assign the Flutter Tongue to the after touch from the External Controller section. If you have a keyboard with aftertouch is very useful to assign some parameters that you can modulate and trigger during your performance. In this case, you can push more on the keyboard then generate this interesting and very expressive effect.

On the Play Modes find the Pipe Gesture and set it to Half Valve Transition. The Half Valve Amount set it to a low level, that is important to hear more the breath noise. Pedal Notes set to on.

In the Timbre Section set high level of Bell Resonance, Breath Noise as well and Dirtiness to get a dirty and resonating sound. 

On the Pitch Section let’s move the pitch bend down range to one semitone, to be able to hear and play easily quarter tones.

In the Advanced Section find the Dynamic Pitch and Random Lips. We suggest to use high level values to build  a dirty sound.

SWAM Brass Tutorial: recreate your own Miles Davis-ish trumpet sound 1024 576 audio modeling

SWAM Brass Tutorial: recreate your own Miles Davis-ish trumpet sound

Miles Davis is certainly one of the most recognizable musicians that jazz/fusion has ever known, and his trumpet style and sound is unique. You can now recreate and get close that sound, just identify and set the key parameters on the SWAM Brass interface, then add your own personal taste.

In the Play Modes the Pipe Gesture recommended is the Half Valve Transition: that is very important to manage the legato sounds; and of course in the Mutes you have to select the Harmon Mute. So, on the Expressivity Section, set the Mute Control to 0.  with this setting, the mute will be very close to the bell of the instrument.

On the Timbre section, the Breath Noise and Dirtiness are recommended to be set to  high values, to get a club dirty sound and finally experiment moving around the mute size to find the sound that is closer to your taste and references.

SWAM Brass Tutorial: how to play a Louis Armstrong-ish trumpet 1024 576 audio modeling

SWAM Brass Tutorial: how to play a Louis Armstrong-ish trumpet

Louis Armstrong is synonymous with Jazz, and he revolutionized this genre and the way of trumpet playing. He experimented with syncopated rhythms and improvisations.  

If you are looking for a sound similar to Satchmo, tweak and play with the parameters we have spotted and try to make your own sound. 

In the Effects Section, check out the Bell Angle, we recommend a value around 0.3, so you can simulate the typical jazz genre mic position.

On the Expressivity, set the Vibrato Rate to a high value, 7 or 8, because Louis Armstrong’s vibrato was very fast. Even the Attack Tongue should be close to the max.

And now let’s focus on the Timbre Section. The Bell Resonance and Breath Noise are set at a low value, the Dirtiness must be at a high level because Louis’ timbre was a bit dirty. Find your own Dynamic Sensitivity starting from our suggestion of 0.7.

Explore the Advanced Section. We suggest to set the Dynamic Pitch to the high value to recreate the typical jazz detuning. Also Random Lips should be set to a very high value.

These are our suggestions, use them as starting point! You just have to find your own sound and have fun!

swam brass baroque
SWAM Brass tutorials: how to recreate a classical trumpet sound 1024 576 audio modeling

SWAM Brass tutorials: how to recreate a classical trumpet sound

In this new video tutorial focusing on SWAM Brass, Simone from Audio Modeling guides you through the recreation of a classical trumpet sound with the most technologically advanced virtual modeled instrument on the market. 

How to recreate a distinct Baroque sound and its characteristic cleanness? A practical example shows you the settings and parameters used to obtain just that: the Bell Angle, the Compression, the Reverb time and the Reverb mix.

How important is the expression curve to reduce the resonance on the highest dynamics? What about the expressivity parameters? 

Through a simple, intuitive and smart interface, playing Baroque Trumpets becomes easy.

swam brass midi mapping
SWAM Brass tutorials: the MIDI mapping 1024 576 audio modeling

SWAM Brass tutorials: the MIDI mapping

The fifth video tutorial about SWAM Brass focuses on MIDI mapping. Audio Modeling has put its best effort to provide every performer and musician the best experience in terms of External Controller Mapping.

SWAM is a virtual modeled instrument built with the goal to be expressive. The easier you map your favorite controller, the more you’ll be able to master the sound in real-time and interact with it. 

Simone from Audiomodeling will show you several different MIDI controllers: experimenting with them will help you find the way that works best for you or your music style.  

Discover how easy it is creating and assigning a MIDI mapping to your controllers. 

swam brass mutes
SWAM Brass tutorials: let’s talk about mutes 1024 576 audio modeling

SWAM Brass tutorials: let’s talk about mutes

In the fourth video tutorial dedicated to SWAM Brass, is focused on Mutes. In SWAM Solo Brass, they are modeled: that means that you will not select one or two mutes, but you’ll have the chance to build a mute that is just your own and identifies the sound you are looking for. 

That is possible thanks to four dedicated parameters that you can tweak to create your own sound. SWAM enables a creative and challenging approach that will allow you to get as close as you can to the sound of the Greatest Brass Players, such as Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis!

swam brass overview ui
SWAM Brass tutorials: product overview and User Experience 1024 576 audio modeling

SWAM Brass tutorials: product overview and User Experience

In the second video tutorial dedicated to SWAM Brass, Simone will help you find out more about the product and the importance that Audio Modeling has given to the User Experience.

Discover the different formats of SWAM Brass (standalone and Audio Unit plugin, VST, VST3, AAX) and explore the main screen to familiarize yourself with the interface.

swam brass introduction
Welcome to SWAM Brass Tutorials: introduction 1024 576 audio modeling

Welcome to SWAM Brass Tutorials: introduction

The first video from our latest SWAM Solo Brass playlist introduces you to the concept behind the creation of the most technologically virtual instruments on the market. Simone from Audio Modeling will guide you through the technology, vision and features of SWAM Brass Solo instruments and the exploration of the new user interface.

Just like all the other SWAM products, SWAM Brass too has been designed based on physical and behavioral modeling technology. That means that SWAM is not only a library or a collection of audio recordings from session musicians. It is a “living” digital instrument that generates sounds according to a specific algorithm, coded to follow behavioral rules.

This is quite an exciting journey, because it will reveal all the secrets that can make SWAM Brass your ultimate solution both in music productions and live performances.

[VIDEO] SWAM Double Reeds virtual instrument in action 800 800 audio modeling

[VIDEO] SWAM Double Reeds virtual instrument in action

What can SWAM Double Reeds do once put to the test? Pretty much adapting to every single variable and nuance of a musical interpretation.

Take a look at the video made by digital entrepreneur and musician Doctor Mix and Stefano Lucato, CEO at Audiomodeling: one camera, one keyboard, unlimited potential. If you had to listen to the intro played by Lucato with your eyes closed, we are sure you’d be thinking that he’s playing a set of acoustic double reeds.

SWAM Double Reeds has a great range of expression between the staccato and the legato and is very easy and intuitive to use.

Not only this virtual instrument grants the widest range of musical nuances just by reacting according to the musician’s unique interpretation, but it can also be fully personalized: the player will customize their interpretation of a track by merely focusing on the note on velocity during their execution to control the sound attacks on staccatos and portamento speed on legatos.

This allows any musician to jam in real time  in the easiest and most musical  way, without key switches or complex DAW post production automations.