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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chromaphone - make your own instrument


Have you ever wanted to create your own instrument, but are a bit like me and not skilled to work with metal, wood, skins and other materials? (Not skilled is putting it mildly in my case.) Applied Acoustics has released Chromaphone, an atelier for musicians and producers! At the turn of a few knobs, become an instrument maker, shaping metal, carving wood, and stretching skins. Craft and play expressive and responsive instruments that have a real-life presence. Like the rest of their great sounding products, AAS has used their expertise in physical modelling to create a powerful (and fun!) synth.

Musicians and producers will love the creative control offered by Chromaphone.  It is ideal for teachers and students as a learning and creative tool.

Chromaphone lets you create pairs of acoustic resonators from string, beam, marimba, plate, membrane as well as open and closed tube objects. There is also a manual mode that let you pick your own partials for super specific applications. The Material, Tone, and Decay controls—which together shape the actual tone of the resonators by working on the amplitude and decay of the partials—yield a rich palette of sonorities. With just a few parameter tweaks, go from wood to metal to glass and completely change the nature of the instrument you are crafting.


The Pitch control is used to adjust the reference pitch and relative size of the object. The Pitch's Key (keyboard) modulation can be tempered for an exact match of the keyboard note; fixed for a soundboard or one-shot construction; or stretched and contracted for interesting effects.
The Hit Pt (Hit Point) control determines where the impact signal from the Mallet and Noise modules strikes on the resonator. It has a great influence on the tone and also mimics live playing techniques and articulations.

Chromaphone follows a simple signal flow diagram where an excitation signal from a Mallet and Noise module is fed to a pair of resonators. The resulting signal is then sent to two multi-effect modules for extra sound shaping possibilities.

The heart of the synthesizer lies in the resonator pair which can be configured in parallel or in coupling mode to emulate different types of instruments.

In parallel mode, each resonator receives the mixed signal from the Mallet and Noise modules. The resulting sound is a simple mix of both resonators as if they were played at once.

In coupling mode, the resonators are laid out in series. It's the first resonator that receives the mixed signal of the Mallet and Noise modules. The connection between both resonators is bi-directional and deals with energy information rather than an audio signal. That's where the magic happens: depending on each resonator's characteristics and where they are physically connected (second resonator's Hit Pt parameter), they interact dynamically to form a totally new object!

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