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Watch the live-stream here, 23rd April 2020, 18:30 BST / 10:30am PT.

Meet Andrej Kobal, from Slovenia. Andrej is an artist and a programmer, who built GranuRise, a rich and complex granular synthesizer for the Seaboard RISE (hence the name, GranuRise). In this live-stream, Andrej presents the vision he worked on for the past 7 years, demonstrate the product, and share how he built it with Max. Join the live stream to ask him questions.

7 years in the making

I first met Andrej Kobal in 2016, when he shared a prototype of his granular synth, which he had built for his own artistic practice. I was blown away by the possibilities that were already available in that version. Andrej turned out to be a perfectionist, and it took him another 4 years to bring Granurise to a version he felt comfortable distributing. In the meanwhile, MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) instruments  became more popular, and MPE support in DAWs also became more pervasive, so anyone trying Granurise now should have an easier time than in 2016. Granular synthesis can have many control parameters, and it is a great synthesis technique to use with an MPE controller. You can truly feel how the dimensions of control of the Seaboard have a direct impact on the sound, which you cannot achieve using a normal MIDI keyboard.

Granurise isn’t a typical VST or AU plugin, it’s a Max for Live device. As such, it can be played within Ableton Live, or standalone, but unfortunately not within any other DAW, unless you use Soundflower or similar re-routing software. MPE support in Ableton isn’t there yet, but there are workarounds for Max for Live devices.

The user interface of GranuRise is feature-rich and intuitive. It offers micro-level controls for the grains, and macro-level controls such as sequencing. The preset bank and morphing capacity is great to store experimentations, and morph between them to discover new sounds and smoothly transition from a state to another. Unlike most plug-ins, GranuRise has been built for live performance, and you an use it standalone.

What is granular synthesis?

Over the past 20 years, granular synthesis has become an ubiquitous form of synthesis. Every mainstream plug-in company has released their own version of it, or integrated aspects of it to their suites of plug-ins. It was first coined by Iannis Xenakis, who conceived a music theory based on grains of sounds, (1960). Notable developments in the theory of granular synthesis were brought by Curtis Roads in his book Microsound (2001).

Essentially, granular synthesis proposes that sounds can be formed by the assemblage of smaller sounds, or grains of sounds. These grains can be excerpts of a larger sound (for example the sustained part of a piano note). Each of these grains can be played faster or slower, to increase or decrease their pitch, and be altered independently. These grains are then layered together with variable offsets, frequency, delay lines, feedback, and an overall density parameter that controls the number of sounds layered together. Over time, many more control parameters have been added. Check out Maurizio Giri’s example below for an implementation in Max.

Useful links for Granular Synthesis

List of granular synthesis software

Max tutorial by Cycling’74

Supercollider tutorial by Nick Collins



What you'll learn


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