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Serge learning: meas. 1 of "Cont. History of CounterPt
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Buchla, EMS & Serge  
Author Serge learning: meas. 1 of "Cont. History of CounterPt

I saw a reference to David Borden, a name I would like to have known before, but just got introduced to (I think over on the lines forum). Listening to his "The History of Counterpoint Part 9” and looking at the sheet music, it looked really cool. I wanted to try and see how it was put together, and if I could reproduce part of it on my rig. Of course Borden recorded individual lines one at a time due to the the gear he had available at the time he was developing this approach and the composition, but I thought: how does it work with sequencers?

I am convinced that there are other approaches to it, but working with Doug Lynner on my lesson yesterday, it became apparent that the 14-note linear pitch sequence is the simplest way.


Getting a 14-beat count was done with the NCOM. The main clock goes in to it, and you dial-in 14 beats. The clock also goes into each Programmer Sequencer (clock advance input). The clock also goes into the Pulse Divider; /4 output is the clock-in at the Pulse Sequencer. The Pulse Sequencer outputs (1, 2, 3, and 4) are gates for the Triple Bi-directional Switches. Of course, due to the NCOM resetting the Pulse Sequencer after 14 beats, only the first two beats of pulse 4 are used. The Triple Bi-directional Switches are networked (and switched by the Pulse Sequencer outputs) so that each Programmer Sequencer outputs 14 notes.

A 14-pitch sequence out of each Programmer Sequencer goes into the first two VCO’s (lower voices). The pitch sequence for the top line was from the Korg SQ1 sequencer. That one has to be manually started at the beginning of the cycle.

I brought in envelopes to a filter for the NTO (bass line); and envelopes into a VCA for the middle line (Stroh PCO); and an envelope into the top line (Mannequins Mangrove VCO, “air” input for built-in VCA-like function). The 4th, continuo voice is just the Fritz Theeler VCF, manually moving.

I tuned the various pitches slowly, using a tuner, but things didn’t sound exactly right. So I adjusted the VCO pitch settings to get something that sounded approximately right. Not sure if it is the same set of pitch relationships as the actual piece!

The key to synching everything was using the NCOM output as a reset to both the Pulse Sequencer and the Pulse Divider. Before I figured out that last part, when I didn’t have it into the Pulse Divider, everything was off. Pulse Sequencer out #1 also resets each Pulse Sequencer (by plugging into the pulse input of column #1) to keep it all tight.

For the future: the piece consists of a 14-note phrase (sub-phrase is 6+4+4) repeated 3 times to make the first part of the piece. There are 3 very active voices, and 3 continuo voices. For the active voices, the lower two have a 3-note sequence repeated once, then a 2-note sequence repeated once, then another 2-note sequence repeated once. The upper voice is the same except that the first 6-beat sub-phrase is 2-notes repeated 3 times. This starts to make one think about using the Serge Programmer Sequencers using the pulse inputs instead of the clock-advance inputs. But I haven't figured that out yet.
Very nice! I love the NCOM-- one of the most underrated modules there is.

Plus the video is a cool who's who of various serge synth manufacturers smile
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