Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ On Modular Synthesizer

Sunday Synth Jam: This video captures a live performance, by joeSeggiola, of Terry Riley‘s seminal minimalist work, In C.

In C (1964) is considered by many to be one of the most important works of minimalist music. It consists of a series of 53 short music phrases, in C, that can be repeated by the performers an arbitrary number of times. It can be performed groups of any size and make up of instruments, so every performance is unique.

Here’s what Seggiola has to say about this arrangement:

Made in February 2020 with Eurorack modular synthesizer and Minibrute 2.

The system implements five separate synth voices (shortly described further down), plus the eighth note pulse. CV/gate for every voice is provided by a custom-made module powered by Arduino, which is controlled using manual buttons to advance through the 53 melodic patterns of “In C”.

Bass (1) is from Minibrute 2 double VCO, with both on-board VCF and VCA controlled by the on-board ADSR. Mild resonance and Brute Factor are used to shape the tone.

Mid-bass (2) is from MFB OSC-02 third VCO. It is filtered by WMD/SSF Pole Zero with an ADSR envelope from Stages, which is also used to open a VCA in Veils.

Mid (3) is from MFB OSC-02 second VCO. It is filtered by Bastl Cinnamon in band-pass mode, with slight distortion (drive plus character). The AD envelope from Pico MOD modulates the VCF and open the VCA in Veils.

Mid-high (4) is from MFB OSC-02 first VCO. Maths CH1 is used to open the first LPG in LxD, sometimes configured like a normal AD envelope, other times like a ramp LFO. The output signal is sent through Pico DSP for a tempo-synced echo effect.

High (5) is a looping stage from Stages used as a VCO. It is not filtered. The VCA in Veils is controlled by the spare AD envelope on the Minibrute 2. Notes are occasionally randomly skipped, by filtering gates with a Branches clone module. The output signal is sent through Pico DSP for a tempo-synced echo effect.

The eighth note pulse is ModBox Skew LFO used as a VCO, passing through the resonant LPG in LxD opened with Maths CH4 (which is also used as a master clock signal). The S&H from ModBox is scaled in Stages and used to randomly change the pulse volume in Veils.

The audio mix is sent through a couple pedals for reverb and optical compressor. A stereo-widener VST is used to process the mono signal.

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