Flocking analog synthesis (more Max/Moog Modular V fun)

I’ve had a moment to return briefly to working with using Max to control the Moog Modular V as I described in this article (that contains a link to a PDF file listing the complete Moog Modular V VST plug-in parameters as they appear at the time of this writing). I made time, actually. It was a Defensible Break from working on Cycling ’74 documentation.

While I’m generally interested in generative systems, I’ve been toying with and thinking about flocking algorithms for the past year or so–first, because they’re elegant and beautiful, a secondly because I like the kind of not-random-but-not-predictable quality that they add when applied to parameter spaces. So it seemed reasonable to try out some flocking analog synthesis.

The stuff that’s in this little downloadable archive certainly may not be the most awesome exemplar of what’s possible, but it’s a place to start. The archive’s contents consist of a painfully simple Moog Modular V patch (two patch cords!), a Max patch that uses the Java “Flies” object included in the Max 4.5 Java examples to control the MMV’s formant filter bank and to tweak their delay line, and a couple of MP3 examples of the resulting mayhem (which you can use as radiaL loops if you want, of course).

You’ll find some different versions of the flock in action on the upcoming third volume of the Cycles series of audio libraries from Cycling ’74 (titled Incidental Gesture), to which I contributed.

I’ve kept the example pitifully simple; there’s no reason you couldn’t add interesting bells and whistles (filtering a tuned oscillator bank instead of white noise, replacing the formant filter bank with other filter modules in the MMV and then changing the parameter numbers to drive the filters, and so on), or create control structures in the Max patch that would modify the flocking algorithm over time to create even more complex outputs. In my case, I fired up the patch on one machine and let it run through the monitor speakers while I worked on docs on the other machine. I find white noise so centering, don’t you?

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