This paper discusses a generative compositional approach within a modular synthesiser system using square waves. With a passing similarity to Schillinger's 'millimetrization' procedure that influenced the composition of Villa-Lobos' New York Skyline, this live presentation will illustrate some potential outputs, suggested adaptations for expressivity and dynamics for realtime performance within this novel form of application.
Using square waves as source material offers a number of advantages over other waveforms, chief being fast transition between states. For composers this introduces an aspect of creative randomisation with controlling elements provided by additional modules such as LFOs for smoothing, attenuators, offset generators and quantiser(s) used to constrain voltages to specific pitch sets or tessitura.
Processing the summed audio output via a VCA under the control of an alternative CV source acts as a potential 'glueing' factor that also introduces the potential use of Audio Rate Modulation as a part of the available sonics. Using this systems based approach it is possible to generate quite rich and potentially expressive melodies from simple sources.
A number of approaches will be demonstrated using a modular synthesiser and Ableton Live. The aim will be to accompany generated melodies with a number of ground bass examples, treating the bass as a secondary melody, as per Schoenberg's observation. The range of examples should enable discussion of the relative merits of this form of application and utility in generatively performed compositions, introducing a sense of creative 'randomness' within a more democratised music composition approach using modular synthesis.