Richard Scott > Buchla Lightning / Wii / JunXion / LiSa latest installment

This period of residency was focussed on the further refinement of the buchla lightning/wii and JunXion and LiSa configurations. Through the use of various kinds of quantisation of midi data the visit opened up the possibility of defining the regions in LiSa I am using more exactly, and also using arbitrary quantised grids to subdivide the sample buffer into smaller regions.

Until now I was viewing the buffer as piece of continuous tape which can be addressed individually or simultaneously from a number of moveable heads located in different places. In addition to this I can now “split” the tape up into 8 sections. These 8 positions, which I will call “play points”, are addressed slightly differently by the 4 different play modes I use, giving 4 groups of 8. And in practise I am normally working within a smaller (relative) section of the buffer; this giving a further group of 8 x 4 relative region play points. Of course all these play points can be easily shifted to new locations as a grid-like group – by moving the region start for the entire buffer they all move at once up and down the “tape”. If quantisation is enabled while scrolling through the buffer, this gives 8 different positions where the relative region can start so this gives rapid and reasonably predictable access to groups: 8 x 8 x 4, without quantised on the scroll or the relative buffer, this become 127 x 127 x 4 which is too many, without quantise on the scroll but which quantise on the buffer this becomes 127 x 8 x 4 which is not so predictable gives a lot of choices.

In fact, if one were interested to program it, harmonic progressions could be defined and used in that manner, incredibly complex and intricate patterns could be performed.

My original concept of this instrument was somewhat saxophonic, not so much sonically, more functionally I was thinking it as a source of rapidly moving monophonic lines – the introduction of quantisation in to the buffer gives the possibility of greater accuracy and repeatability in these lines, especially when working rhythmically, it is much easier to conceive of a horizontal line in space divided into 8 sections than into 127 and easier to physically and intuitively grasp which point is where and immediately commit this to the muscle memory. The 127 positions are of course still available but I have the choice to see them as a set of grids of 8 positions.

The second major introduction is the implementation of a variety of timers and tables functioning more or less like S&H/looping devices. This gives the possibility to work with patterns and rhythmic patterns in a way I haven’t been able to before – added to this functionality is the ability to leave notes sustained/held notes, creating a possibility to make drone and more “orchestral” layered material, introducing a possibility of harmony and form which are new for me with this instrument. The introduction of these sustained long loops frees me from the percussive keyboard player roll and frees me to work with other aspects, for example composition and sound projection, building multiple layers changing the contents of buffers.

The expanded buchla lightning is capable of pianistic and percussive playing, generating individual lines, rhythmic pulses, harmonic patterns and “orchestral” layering, and performing many of these functions simultaneously so it could be used not just for improvising but for composition both in a studio multitrack and a live performance situation.

So the instrument is growing from being simply a monophonic, essentially linear sampler which could also function as percussion controller. What has been added are sequencing possibilities, for rhythmic generation, quantised play modes and even the possibility to work harmonically/orchestrally. This is a much more rounded instrument, in fact it’s a collection of instruments, in different modes and with different gestures and controllers I can suddenly work in a variety of different ways.

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