Manipulation resynthesis natural grains

This determines the point in the audio file at which the grains are created. Grain Position can also be modulated, e.

Granular Synthesis in Ableton Live

If the modulator, e. The LFO will then scan through the sample once within 4 bars. Most granulators also offer a function for randomizing Grain Position, so that grains are created at random positions in the audio file depending on the range of the randomization. Some granulators like HALion 5 or Padshop Pro allow for multiple grain streams occurring simultaneously, these streams can also run with a position offset, each stream scanning the audio at different points of the processed file making for extremely dense and rich grain clouds, especially when slightly detuned.

1. Introduction

In granular synths the user can also modulate the grain position via Aftertouch, so when, for example, the sample of a musical phrase played on a duduk is used, Aftertouch will scan through the phrase making for some expressive solo playing. Interesting results can be achieved with Grain Speed set to 0, and then only slightly modulating Grain Position with an LFO, so that the audio is frozen but still has some movement inside, like a spaceship gently hovering over a landing point. The definition of this parameter also varies between the different apps.

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The shorter the duration of the grain size, the less distinct the original pitch is audible. With sizes below 50ms the grain stream turns into noise without a distinct pitch; very short grain sizes below 10ms in combination with some randomization of grain position create more white-noise-like effects; without randomization sounds reminding of ring-modulation can be achieved. Some apps like crusherX allow Grain lengths of up to 20 seconds yielding similar results to an advanced delay unit with very long delay times and several delay lines.

This determines how many grains are created over a given period of time — the higher the density the more continuous the sound will become. Most granulators offer a variety of shapes applied to the amplitude of each grain.


  • Granular Synthesis for Rookies (Special Guest Writer Simon Stockhausen).
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  • Manipulation Resynthesis Natural Grains.
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Generally speaking, smoother waveforms with round curves create more organic sounding results, while shapes with more right angled forms create more edgy and distorted tones. Some apps like crusherX also let the user draw the shape. The more complex the shape, the more distorted the grain stream will sound.

This parameter determines the pitch of each grain, Grain Pitch can also be randomized within a given range making for some very interesting chaotic grain pitch clouds, or they can be pitch-quantized to certain scales like pentatonic, major, minor, diminished, dorian, etc. Most apps allow a more or less complex modulation of the amount of pitch modulation, so one can for example use the modulation wheel in a granular synth to introduce subtle grain detuning, similar to chorus FX with the wheel slightly up and totally chaotic pitch randomness over several octaves with the wheel fully engaged.

I have made videos explaining these basic functions using various apps which may explain all this more clearly. They are embedded below for your convenience. Today we find numerous granulators, either as playable synthesizers, where the user can load a single sample or multi-sampled key maps and play the grain stream on a keyboard, or as FX plugins where the incoming audio is processed in real time.

The advantage of granulating multi-sampled instruments with several velocity layers, variations per sample round robin and several sampled notes per octave in the case of a melody or chord instrument is obvious, as there are no artifacts occurring due to extreme pitch transpositions. So the expressiveness of traditional multisampling is combined with the versatility of granular synthesis, a field I find particularly interesting.

I hope to have given the reader some insights into granular synthesis and I can only encourage electronic musicians out there to grab a field recorder, record your environment and start granulating away. The emphasis will be upon asynchronous granulation. For an introduction to synchronous granular synthesis using simple waveforms please refer to chapter 04F. Csound offers a wide range of opcodes for sound granulation. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and suitability for a particular task.

Some are easier to use than others, some, such as granule and partikkel , are extremely complex and are, at least in terms of the number of input arguments they demand, amongst Csound's most complex opcodes. The following example uses sndwarp's first mode to produce a sequence of time stretches and pitch shifts.

An overview of each procedure will be printed to the terminal as it occurs. You will need to make sure that a sound file is available to sndwarp via a GEN01 function table. You can replace the one used in this example with one of your own by replacing the reference to 'ClassicalGuitar. This sound file is stereo therefore instrument 1 uses the stereo version 'sndwarpst'.

A mismatch between the number of channels in the sound file and the version of sndwarp used will result in playback at an unexpected pitch. You will also need to give GEN01 an appropriate size that will be able to contain your chosen sound file. You can calculate the table size you will need by multiplying the duration of the sound file in seconds by the sample rate - for stereo files this value should be doubled - and then choose the next power of 2 above this value.

Window size randomization irandw adds a random number within that range to the duration of each grain. As these two parameters are closely related it is sometime useful to set irandw to be a fraction of window size. If irandw is set to zero we will get artefacts associated with synchronous granular synthesis. By using different function tables we can alternatively create softer grains with gradual attacks and decays as in this example , with more of a percussive character short attack, long decay or 'gate'-like short attack, long sustain, short decay.

The next example uses sndwarp's other timestretch mode with which we explicitly define a pointer position from where in the source file grains shall begin. This method allows us much greater freedom with how a sound will be time warped; we can even freeze movement and go backwards in time - something that is not possible with timestretching mode. This example is self generative in that instrument 2, the instrument that actually creates the granular synthesis textures, is repeatedly triggered by instrument 1.

Granular Synthesis

Instrument 2 is triggered once every Instrument 1 is played from the score for 1 hour so this entire process will last that length of time. Many of the parameters of granulation are chosen randomly when a note begins so that each note will have unique characteristics.

The timestretch is created by a line function: the start and end points of which are defined randomly when the note begins. Each entire note is enveloped by an amplitude envelope and a resonant lowpass filter in each case encasing each note under a smooth arc. Finally a small amount of reverb is added to smooth the overall texture slightly. The granule opcode is one of Csound's most complex opcodes requiring up to 22 input arguments in order to function. Only a few of these arguments are available during performance k-rate so it is less well suited for real-time modulation, for real-time a more nimble implementation such as syncgrain , fog , or grain3 would be recommended.

For more complex realtime granular techniques, the partikkel opcode can be used.