For those younger readers who have been accustomed to take every new technological development in stride, it must be difficult relating to those of us who in my case, since have composed on so many new creative toys with such promise, only to have this promise dashed as, like so many shiny new things, their limited capabilities contained the seeds of their ultimate demise. They are now mostly either bankrupt or considerably muted, consigned to legacy adherents. The other survivors have gone strictly commercial, relying on stock, easily constructed sounds and techniques. I mention these in particular because they are the pathway through which I myself struggled, hoping for more than 40 years to find the instrument that could satisfy my creative needs. In all cases, but particularly with respect to the last two, I made serious investments in time spent with the developers to forge systems that were musically feasible and intuitively accessible. But like so many of us in these early years, my journey was one of discovery, implementation, and then abandonment, as the limits of the particular sound vehicle became ever more apparent.
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For those younger readers who have been accustomed to take every new technological development in stride, it must be difficult relating to those of us who in my case, since have composed on so many new creative toys with such promise, only to have this promise dashed as, like so many shiny new things, their limited capabilities contained the seeds of their ultimate demise. They are now mostly either bankrupt or considerably muted, consigned to legacy adherents.
The other survivors have gone strictly commercial, relying on stock, easily constructed sounds and techniques. I mention these in particular because they are the pathway through which I myself struggled, hoping for more than 40 years to find the instrument that could satisfy my creative needs.
In all cases, but particularly with respect to the last two, I made serious investments in time spent with the developers to forge systems that were musically feasible and intuitively accessible. But like so many of us in these early years, my journey was one of discovery, implementation, and then abandonment, as the limits of the particular sound vehicle became ever more apparent. When the program Max came along, I thought for awhile that the ultimate instrument had been found.
With this software-based platform our electroacoustic duo The McLean Mix toured for a decade, performing many concerts and interactive installations. In fact Max designs are still prominently featured in our McLean Mix concerts, lectures, and installations. But this too became problematic for several reasons. First, it lacked the power to realize large-scale audio processing.
It was also rather cumbersome to build instruments, since one had to do this from scratch. Third, it lacked a powerful library of prototype instruments from which one could borrow and build upon it had plenty of prototypes, but they were at a basic, low level which had to be painstakingly assembled. The program also demanded huge screen resources, and it lacked an adequate and inspirational written technical support system or educational tools.
For all its merits, and they are many, I personally still longed for something better. And so the reader will now appreciate the frustration with which the author was eternally searching for more than 40 years. I began hearing about Kyma at conferences, from colleagues, and online.
The lack of processing muscle had always been the Achilles heel of electroacoustic systems. The few dedicated audio processing systems had hard-wired options with relatively little room for creative flexibility.
You want five vocoders? What about granular synthesis? In fact the Sound Prototypes include a mind-boggling array of just about any kind of synthesis or device you could ask for— additive, FM, granular, subtractive, spectral, aggregate synthesis, every kind of filter, morphing, delay, reverb, phase shifting, etc.
One area generates sound files via Fourier, polynomial, or impulse response techniques which are more accessible in Kyma 7 than they were in Kyma X. Another powerful tool is in the spectral realm, where an ordinary AIFF or WAV sample is converted into or sine waves or any other waveform you choose and is thus able to be manipulated in elegant ways such as changing speed independently of pitch and visa versa, or isolating a particular set of harmonics to transform the sound.
The important point here is that these are all ready-made prototypes that do not have to be painstakingly constructed. Using a building metaphor, the bricks have already been shaped into structures that have been pre-assigned appropriate doors, windows, and functions. All are easily accessible. In terms of building a sound from scratch, Max often requires significant time and effort to merely get to the point where Kyma already is with its huge collection of sound templates and examples.
For example, I have assembled over Sounds Kyma calls all sources for audio Sounds during the past three years. Each of these Sounds could be compared to, say, a complete Yamaha TX 81Z except that it would have infinite capabilities due to being customer designed or any other hardware synthesizer, sampler, or processor. Imagine having literally thousands of these at your fingertips, and you will get an idea about what Kyma can do.
Every kind of electroacoustic technique or instrument that I have ever seen is accessible through the huge inventory of ready-made instruments, which can then be combined with controllers added to achieve higher orders of sophistication. And so, the basic engine driving Kyma is the combination of a very sophisticated yet user-friendly computer interface communicating seamlessly with the Pacarana, which does the heavy lifting.
I think I may have found my ultimate sound creation vehicle. Since reviews and comprehensive summaries of the existing Kyma X system are so readily available via Google and the Symbolic Sound web site, I shall only briefly make some personal comments, saving the bulk of this article for the groundbreaking upgrade really a new program that is called Kyma 7.
Some of the earlier reviews mention the Capybara. A particularly comprehensive review of the old Kyma X worth reading was published in Electronic Musician, accessible from the Symbolic Sound web site.
Assuming the reader has browsed one or more of these references, below are some general reflections on Kyma. If I were to pick one outstanding Kyma feature above all others, it is its seamless integration of sounds or instruments with their placement vehicles in time in Kyma, called Timeline and Multigrid.
We have all experienced the frustration of working with Logic, MOTU, or other sequencer, only to realize that a particular sound being controlled sorely needs more editing. This forced alternation between two or more software systems, or between a software language and a hardware device, is damaging to the extent that it disrupts the creative flow. In Kyma, there is really no distinction between a Sound and its placement in time.
The individual Sound is actually part of the Timeline, and to edit it is a simple matter of opening it up from that Timeline or Multigrid, which is explained later on , making the edit, closing the edit window, and resuming the work. The second best feature is the sweet spot between having the highest level software language possible, consistent with the greatest variety and flexibility in producing sounds, processors, and controls.
In my opinion, no other software design has come close to achieving this balance. All these controls are easily accessible in a Timeline with a keyframe type control over each parameter as it progresses over time. Kyma achieves the kind of flexibility and breadth heretofore only available from lower-level languages like Csound, but without the tedium.
This originally was puzzling to me, especially since a part of my whole orientation had been to compose works that could be seen in terms of individual sound events being controlled and unfolding over time via the MIDI sequencer.
But as I delved deeper into making and controlling sounds in Kyma, I began to realize that one does not need a traditional sequencer. In fact moving away from notes and toward sounds was for me very healthy and invigorating.
If one is still dependent on a traditional sequencer environment, Kyma can be controlled externally via traditional MIDI, as well as a host of live performance devices such as the Kyma Control for the iPad, Wacom Tablet, Continuum Fingerboard, or Osculator.
This considerably lowers the Pacarana cost. Another attractive aspect about Kyma is its superb audio quality, thanks not only to the bit resolution and high-quality frequency response and dynamic range, but also to the way Symbolic Sound has designed the software.
More than any other similar system, Kyma is as glitch-free as I have ever experienced. Consistently, I hear the elegance by which they have eliminated potential grunges, clicks, and distortions. Simply put, it just sounds beautiful. Another legendary given about Kyma is the steep learning curve.
In fact, I do this all the time. As I gradually develop a deeper understanding of the Capytalk language, on a parallel course I develop an intuitive sense of where the interesting expressions are located in existing models, and shamelessly use them. As an electroacoustic composer interested in creating fixed compositions, I realized that my relationship with Kyma would be long term. After about one and a half years I attained an intermediate level using Kyma, especially with regard to modifying sounds and expressions from existing Sounds, and had created a personal library of over Sounds.
About this point in time the McLean Mix received a commission for a video depiction of artist life in our small town of Petersburgh, New York. This piece can be heard online via YouTube , along with more recent works composed with Kyma. Then, around 1 January , Symbolic Sound asked me to be one of their beta testers for the new Kyma 7 upgrade. What follows is the result of some intensive work with the new program.
After performing the user-friendly download procedure and following the step-by-step instructions, I was up and running.
Kyma 7 is not a routine upgrade but a brand-new program with its own set of samples, Prototypes, Sound Libraryin short, a full set of features completely independent of Kyma X, which can exist on the same computer as Kyma 7. In fact, I find myself occasionally alternating between the two programs but not opened simultaneously.
Even if one opens just one Sound from a Kyma X soundfile that contains many Sounds, every Sound in that Soundfile will be thus rendered forever inaccessible to Kyma X, if it is saved. The good news is that, in my explorations, virtually every Kyma X Sound can be opened and continued in Kyma 7, including Sound files and Timelines. Kyma 7 is completely forward but not backward compatible in all aspects. Since Sound and Timeline files take such little memory, it is a small matter to make a copy of all your files created in Kyma X and place this folder into the Kyma 7 folder, so that these files can be opened and used in Kyma 7 without compromising the original Kyma X files.
The memory-hungry Kyma X samples do not need to be copied and pasted, thus they can be left in the Kyma X folder where they can be accessed in turn by either program. Virtually every part of the program has been significantly changed, both visually and functionally. The Inspiration window new automatically opens with eight broad categories for the user to explore.
As you move the mouse over these categories, a different ethereal ghost-like Sound emanates from each category, providing one of many such delights as one progresses through the program. First, there are elegant and informative video tutorials describing every facet of Kyma 7, with extremely high production values.
There is a concerted effort here to progress more logically from the simple to the complex sometimes in Kyma X the help areas were more frustrating than helpful.
But the most useful part of the help areas is that they are followed by many Sound examples that contain the given message in different usages, followed by similar examples from the Kyma Sound Library.
You just need to have an intuitive sense of where the messages and expressions are located and in what contexts to use them. The above describes Kyma from the message side. But even more powerful in the new version is how it is possible to go from the side of the Sound itself and build out to the expression needed.
Up pops the Parameter Assistant window with a huge selection of possible expressions appropriate for the frequency field. This window also provides a parameter description of the frequency field, including how it is used, and suggests possibilities for a given effect. Taken together these two help areas alone are akin to having a tutor at your disposal as you try to figure things out.
Kyma X did have an overall description of each Sound and parameter upon mouseover, but these improvements are far more comprehensive. In every way imaginable, Kyma 7 has made the exploration of its vast resources more fun, logical, intuitive, and attainable. The first six categories in the inspiration Window, opened at startup, are the key to all the new features. This is a great exploration tool. The accompanying User Guide is a simple, nine-page introduction to getting around with Kyma 7.
This guide, a big improvement, is a model of clarity. It contains another video and user guide showing how to search for Sounds. The Sound Browser, a successful Kyma X feature, has a new look and includes more powerful search features.
Although the user guide is a bit confusing and unfocused, the basic functionality of the Browser is so well designed that one should have little trouble figuring it out. This feature is essential to survival as you accumulate more and more Sounds, samples, Multigrids, and Timelines, and it can be set up so as to browse through both your Kyma 7 and your Kyma X folders. The Wave Editor in Kyma X was already pretty good.
One could copy and paste samples, trim and configure simple fade ins and fade outs, normalize, and generate waveforms. But the Wave Editor in Kyma 7 alone, in my opinion, would be worth the cost of the upgrade. The sample edit area improvements are many, and include a full-featured box to select modes, modifications, looping, and playback areas, all elegantly depicted in a visually attractive shell.
Kyma Grain Clouds Processing
Login Register. First time here? Check out the FAQ! Tap into the collective expertise of the Kyma community! Most popular tags multigrid vcs midi smalltalk capytalk osc interface wacom arrays tool kyma script bpm timeline kyma-control kyma7 vcs-preset encapsulating spectral-analysis sample. How can I create and save my own prototypes in the Prototypes area? Please log in or register to add a comment.
New and Improved Sounds and Prototypes in Kyma 7
In this video, Meta Function demonstrate various granular synthesis techniques with a Symbolic Sound Paca sound computer running Kyma 7. The Paca rana is a small but powerful multiprocessor computer that sits unobtrusively alongside your Mac or PC and does all the sound synthesis and processing. Like any computer, the function of the Paca rana is defined by its software. This generates a cloud buy modvigil of grains from a sample read from disk, using a Gaussian shape to provide an amplitude envelope for each grain. Density is the likelihood that a new grain will start up on each sample, with small values resulting in a sparse texture and large values generating a dense texture.