For SR: A Granular Sampling Tool Inspired by Steve Reich's Lecture at Red Bull Music Academy London 2010

instrument design, sound design

Client: Self
Category: Sound Design, Instrument Design
Year: 2010

In 2010, the renowned composer Steve Reich delivered a captivating lecture at the Red Bull Music Academy in London. I was lucky enough to be one of the attendees, deeply inspired by Reich’s ideas. Motivated by the lecture, I set out to create a unique instrument that could easily realize one of the concepts Reich had described. The result was “For SR,” a granular sampling tool developed using Max/MSP.

The Instrument:

“For SR” is a highly modified version of Nobuyasu Sakonda’s Granular patch, a well-known tool in the Max/MSP community. The instrument allows users to load a sample and select a specific point within the audio file to create a looping, pad-like sound. What sets “For SR” apart from other granular sampling tools is its ability to choose two distinct points within the sample and determine the speed at which the audio file is read.

Key Features:

Dual-Point Selection: Users can select two different points within the loaded sample, enabling them to create unique and dynamic looping patterns. Variable Speed Control: “For SR” gives users the flexibility to decide how quickly or slowly the audio file is read, allowing for a wide range of sonic possibilities. Reverse Playback: The instrument also offers the option to play the wave file backwards at any desired speed, further expanding the creative potential for crafting interesting and continuous pad-like sounds.

Ease of Use:

One of the standout aspects of “For SR” is its user-friendly interface. I designed the instrument with simplicity in mind, ensuring that even those with limited experience in granular synthesis can quickly grasp its functionality. A short tutorial video, available on Vimeo, provides a concise overview of how to use “For SR” effectively.

“For SR” is a testament to the enduring influence of Steve Reich’s ideas and the power of inspiration. I was able to channel that inspiration into the creation of a unique and versatile granular sampling tool. “For SR” not only pays homage to Reich’s concepts but also provides musicians and sound designers with a powerful instrument to explore new sonic territories. With its user-friendly interface and creative potential, “For SR” is poised to become a valuable addition to the toolkit of artists seeking to push the boundaries of sound manipulation and synthesis.