In the previous episode, we talked about the basics of a tremolo effect, its history, and its modern applications in a device like WOV. We focused on WOV’s core parameters, and in the video walkthrough, we saw how to use them to sculpt our amplitude modulation precisely.
Today, we will see how to deviate from such settings and reach unexpected modulation territories. To do so, we’ll uncover the three remaining parameters of WOV: Response, Variation, and Silence. As usual, a video walkthrough will guide you through the functionalities. In this blog post, we’ll talk a little bit more about the importance of variating and deviating from the predictable way. If you want to skip straight to the video, feel free to jump directly to the end of the page or click this link!
1. Control v/s Predictability.
For us at K-Devices, electronic music can be excellent or boring for the same reason: when composing, you can literally control every parameter.
This capability allows us to achieve results that would be unthinkable with acoustic instruments: we can chop our samples, reverse them and trim a vocal part by a couple of milliseconds – and here’s the problem. We can come up with the best-sounding bass loop ever created, but if we repeat it as is for 32 bars, we won’t end up with a song: we’d get a ringtone.
The reason is that music, in most cases, needs a particular development to be enjoyed: it needs to “go” somewhere and provide enough variation to prevent the listener from getting bored.
Even the most repetitive genres such as minimalism, psytrance, or even drone music take great advantage of subtle variations to avoid too much of a static flavor.
There are many ways to add variation and avoid boredom. In the piece above, Giacinto Scelsi was able to craft four pieces with just one note thanks to subtle variations in amplitude, frequency, and timbre.
Even in electronic music we can obtain many nuances by slightly changint the melody, the timbres, the amplitude, and we can change them on purpose or at random. Yes, even at random!
2. Randomness: A Way Out of Boredom.
If we pay attention, we can realize that many of the things that let us enjoy music are actually unpredictable. (For example, we may enjoy a live track because the musicians were thrilled at that gig and played the song slightly faster. Or, we can enjoy a “staged” unpredictability when a big drop comes all of a sudden out of a long riser in a Trance track.)
Now, let’s get back at our tremolo. We saw that a tremolo is a cyclical modulation, and cyclical may mean repetitive or, worse, boring. In the previous video, we talked about WOV’s Multislider, which allows you to create a pattern of modulation cycles with different modulation amounts. That’s a massive improvement in terms of variations!
However, these variations are still quite predictable: we can always tell when a given cycle will happen, and after a few iterations, we’ll be able to recognize the pattern. (This is why we listed the Multislider among the arbitrary controls: it works uniquely according to our decisions).
3. Response, Variation, and Silence.
But fear not! WOV has three more parameters explicitly built to add some spice to your tremolo: Response, Variation, and Silence.
Two of these take advantage of randomness.
Variation allows us to define the probability that our tremolo will double or halve its speed, while Silence gradually introduces silent cycles at random.
Response is a little bit more peculiar: it changes the tremolo rate according to the incoming signal dynamics. If it has a high amplitude, the deviation from the default frequency is higher; if it has a low amplitude, the deviation will be lower.
To find out more about these three parameters and how they can work with stereo signals, check out the video below!