Tag Archives: Max/MSP

Triple Axis Modal Synthesis

Presentation by Giorgio Sancristoforo and Michele Tadini
July 12th 10.00 AM IRCAM Centre Pompidou @ Prisma Meeting

With the contribution of the Reihe Laptop Ensemble musicians and SAE Institute Italy:

Marcello Sodano
Luca Pagan
Marco Neridetti
Eric Guizzo
Pietro Scialanga


Downloadable Aiff file + 10 pages pdf booklet from the band camp site

We are entering in a new era of sounds.

As multiphysics engineering softwares become more and more accessible and the personal computer gained the necessary power to run physics simulations at home, we’ve found a new meaning to the words sculpting sound. To the musician, until some time ago, not so many resources were available in the field of modal synthesis. They were almost all commercial products with a limited choice of models and materials. On top of that, polyphony was a serious issue. Due to intense calculations running in background, one could expect to run a maximum of 3, 4 voices at once.
But the point is that it’s not that interesting to just “strike a plate”.

What about the shape of the plate? Is it round or hexagonal? Is it made of glass, stone or plastic? If it’s metal, what sort of metal? Platinum? Palladium? Aluminium or chrome plated steel?

What if I want to design my own shapes? What’s the sound of a 30cm long and 1.2mm thick swirling tube made of glass connected to a thin platinum semi-sphere? What is the sound of a glass cello, plucked by water? What’s the sound of a gold heart-shaped box caressed by feathers? With the aid of computer modelling, an universe of new instruments is unfolding in front of our eyes, and the possibilities are endless.

As the listener enters for the first time in this world, it will take a few seconds for him to realise the striking realism of this sounds. The advantage of modelling sound sources with resonators lies not only in its semplicity, but also in its capability of creating hyper-realistic frequency and dynamic responses.
Since the modal system of synthesis requires just two basic elements: a resonator and an exciter, we can use any kind of sound as an exciter. Not only we can create it synthetically, but most imporantly, we can use real acoustical sources, from contact or aerial microphones or files.
A contact microphone attached on a wooden plate can drive a polyphonic metal model with such realism (both in sound produced and gesture made by the performer) that it is not distinguishable from a real acoustical instrument. And we can even go further by pre-processing exciters sounds with other well-known techniques, such as granular synthesis to look for more radical sounds..

Realism, however, here has only a functional role, rather than aesthetical.
The aim of this research is to create surrealistic instruments, impossible, or immensely hard to build and mise en oeuvre such as platinum, diamond, beryl, sapphire and plutonium resonators.

Physical modelling of course is not new, but new software tools bloomed during these years, thanks to research done in aerospace and building industries. These softwares create an essential bridge to set the foundamentals for a new form of numerical lutherie…

Also read:
http://music.columbia.edu/cmc/courses/g6610/fall2011/week11/modalpaper.pdfa b





The Arcane Pillar is an hermetic musical instrument based on Neural Networks and Western Esotericism.
To make the software work, one must answer a number of enigmas, record or collect sounds of fire, water, air and earth, and finally balance them with the aid of different processes designed for each grade.
No user manual is given, but the γνῶσις that unlock the enigmas is quite well documented on books and in the web, if one knows what to seek…
Cheating is futile and genuinely discouraged, for only understanding the enigmas presented, their meaning and consequences, it is possible therefore to put in practice the knowledge and set in motion the inner logic of the instrument…

Currently in Alpha state
Screenshots are not definitive.
Follow this post for more updates.

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A multi-screen installation exploring and challenging the ambiguity of realism in the digital realm.

Natural landscapes from the wilderness of western Australia slowly deconstruct. By losing their “photographic skin”, the illusion behind their realistic appearance is revealed.
Commissioned to mark the first anniversary of ‘Lovebytes at Millennium Galleries’ – a permanent plasma screen gallery curated by Lovebytes with the Sheffield Galleries Trust (2006)
Direction/Design: Quayola, Chiara Horn
Sound: Giorgio Sancristoforo
Coding: W. Kosma



A video installation

Selene (Greek Σελήνη [selɛ̌ːnɛː] ‘moon’;)
Fonia (Greek: φωνή, phōnḗ, “voice, sound”)

I always had a passion for astronomy.
Some months ago I’ve got a 200mm telescope and a  webcam to capture videos of the Moon surface.
My exploration turned into a video installation premiered at the National Museum of Science and Technology of Milan on October 29th 2011 for the annual audiovisiva festival.


Concept, images & software: Giorgio Sancristoforo
Production:  AGON 2011/2012

That Stockhausen Sound

A simple MaxMSP patch to re-create the sound of the original recording of the legendary STUDIE II


This could be filed under “contemporary musicians that get crazy at sound design or sound designers that get crazy at contemporary music, thread”…

This year, Santas brought me the wonderful Studie II score, so after a while I’ve decided to make something about it..

As you know at WDR at the time of STUDIE II, there was only one sine oscillator. In order to create the Tone-mixtures for the work, Stockhausen had used an interesting method.

He had recorded every single sine frequency on tape, then he had cut every tape in 4cm long cuts.
To build the mixture he sequenced 5 of these pieces of tape (lowest frequencies played first) in a tape loop, and played back those loops into a reverb chamber with RT60= 10sec

While playing back, he had recorded the reverb chamber sound, and then he had cut the first part of the resulted sound so to obtain the reverb tails only.

Lastly he had used those reverb tails for the work, shaping the amplitude envelopes by hand.
When a crescendo was needed, he first had reversed the tape, then he shaped the amplitude.

This simple Max Patch can help students to build the tone mixtures (that then must be arranged in audio editors like Reaper, Logic, Protools or Cubase and the like).
It’s an interesting learning tool for it is faithful to Stockhausen’s technical approach at the problem.

audio example can be listened here

max patch for max6 can be downloaded free here

You will hear that the obtained sound is much more close to the original recording compared to the classic Stockhausen patch that comes with Max. I hope students and teachers will find this interesting.

Live in Bologna

Notturno part II: the music of gesture

I was Invited by the italian national newspaper La Repubblica to perform at the prestigious “La Repubblica delle Idee 2012”, a 3 days festival in Bologna that hosted an incredible selection of talks and lectures with intellectuals, scientists, nobel prize winners and artists, as well the Italian Prime Minister.

I was deeply honored to perform my music in such an amazing venue.
For the event I’ve chosen to perform an extract of Notturno, with a new twist: gesture and spectral music techniques, so this is Notturno Part II: the music of gesture.

The software used: Max/MSP, Spear, OpenMusic, Logic
Hardware: Kinect

My deepest thanks to La Repubblica newspaper, Riccardo Luna, Alessandro Scotti, all the staff at the Arena del Sole Theater and Massimo Marchi @ AGON.

Variations software had a slight delay, I’m upgrading a couple of features… release July. sorry!!!

More spectral music from the sounds of the blast fournaces:




Variations 1.0.1 AVAILABLE NOW

A software for live electronics and algorithmic composition

Some months ago I’ve started dreaming of a software, a tool made to help me develop evolving musical structures in realtime. What I was looking for was a way to arrange sounds coming from the Buchla synthesizer or any of my softwares, without the use of a classic multitrack audio editor, a realtime tool capable of following precise instructions as well as of using some degree of chance and most importantly, capable of rearranging every parameter involved at the touch of a button in million ways. My musical research is strongly linked to the poetics of the “open work” (Umberto Eco – Opera Aperta, 1962) wherefore I am deeply fascinated by the idea of music as a constantly evolving process rather than a fixed path. As a basis for this new software there are two very different musical discoveries (some may say antithetical): 1) The idea of a music the outcome of which is not foreseen, a fundamental theme of experimental music which was given birth by the “New York school” (Cage, Brown, Feldman) and 2) The formal organization of sound structures that use internal homothety and avoid repetition, theorized by the European composers of post-war serialism (Eimert, Stockhausen, Evangelisti and so on). To these two I’ve added a third possible approach, very common among modular synthesizer musicians: improvisation.

Variations blends experimental music and serialism together into a powerful tool able to arrange a single music piece in more than 319 million ways at the click of a button.

In many ways, Variations is the perfect companion of Gleetchlab and Berna.
Gleetchlab and Berna deal with sound manipulation and creation, Variations deals with sound organization. It’s a composition tool.

The concept is simple. The software has 4 tracks. Each track uses 12 unique “cells” – i.e. non looping samples – for a total of 48 cells.
These samples can be recorded in realtime or loaded from your hard disk. A cell can be an improvisation part, or a tone row that follows the classic dodecaphonic rules, or concrete sounds.

At the basis of the software there is a sequence of numbers (a sort of musical DNA) that rule every part of the composition; these are 12 non-repeating numbers (called the original row) from 0 to 11, ordered in any way you want (randomly too). This row is then automatically permuted with the classic twelve tone technique into a “serial matrix”: a magic square made of 12 rows. Each row can be read sequentially by the software from left to right (Prime Rows), from right to left (Retrograde Rows), from top to bottom (Inversion Rows), or from bottom to top (Retrograde of Inversion Rows).

Each one of the 4 tracks has 8 “serialized” parameters (i.e. each parameter is sequentially controlled by a row) to variate the track.
The parameters define: (still work in progress!) the the cell number sequence, cell’s pitch/duration, delay/feeddback, LPF cutoff, a parameter of a VST plugin, the distance (amplitude) and pan. The spatialization can be stereophonic, quadraphonic or octophonic.

Despite the dodecaphonic heritage, the software is easy to use also for non trained musicians.

Note for trained musicians
I’ve changed the notation of the rows (p0, p1, p2 etc) so that the row index follows the position of the 0 and not the order of permutation.


Mac Intel machine running OS X 10.5 or later, and 1 GB RAM.


Variations 1.0.1 UPDATED! : If you have downloaded V1.0 please download again now.


James Joyce and Electronic Music

Unexpected Word Space: the theater of sound


My latest work was a collaboration with the Italian composer Francesco Paradiso. Together with Massimo Marchi at AGON and the actress Adele Pellegatta, we have created a very singular performance of words and sounds based on a Finnegans Wake extract.

Of course there is a link between this work and that of Berio/Eco in the famous Thema, Omaggio a Joyce. We’ve honored it creating an 1950s electronica soundscape that well represented the paradigm of the RAI Studio era, but we headed on a different use of language. We didn’t chopped words, we used them taking care of their semantic value.

Adele Pellegatta read a chapter of Finnegans, while a 9 channels PA system is filled with delays and live electronics constantly moving in space and interacting with the voice. As a matter of fact each electronic event is controlled by the voice. The text itself is music, it has a vast number of onomatopeic sounds trough all the lyrics. Located across a river with an incredible number of words (or segments of words) that refer to rivers’ names, it is very clear that Finnegans Wake has an aquatic soundscape. For this reason the synthesis section and the delays were all imagined as “pictures” of water, or allegories to better say.

Adele PellegattaThe performance was premiered at the San Fedele Auditorium of Feb 27th, 2012






Unexpected Word Space by Francesco Paradiso
Excerpt from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake


Concept and direction by Francesco Paradiso
Voice: Adele Pellegatta
Programming, sound design, live electronics: Giorgio Sancristoforo
Sound direction: Massimo Marchi
An AGON production

Francesco Paradiso (left) Massimo Marchi (right)
The custom software for the performance