Exploring granular sound on the iPad in the application Curtis. Image courtesy the developers.

Named for Curtis Roads, Curtis is an iPad and iPhone/iPod touch application that implements granular sound processing – a technique, imagined early on by the composer Xenakis, which divides sound into tiny granules, allowing more liquid modification of the audio. Roads brought this idea to digital synthesis, and the results can transform recorded samples in pitch and time.

Composer, producer, and sound designer Richard Devine has long made use of granular techniques in his own work, so it’s little surprise Richard is turning his sonic compositional efforts to the iPad app. The latest release includes a new sound set he designed, but he also writes CDM to point out a track he’s shared on SoundCloud, free to download and hear and for your remixing and re-compositional use.

The track is a composition of samples, and it shows just how much you can do with recorded audio:

This piece is a Acousmatic composition based on everyday found objects. I recorded various wine glasses, gears, metal, motors, Ratchets, chimes, croaking frog scraper, Indian bells, Tibetan Singing Bowls, Santoor, waterphone, piano, hematite magnets, processed voice, underwater ambiances, computer, and sprinkled bits of Buchla 200e/Doepfer Euro rack Modular.

All of the sounds originally captured at 24-bit 96khz with a Neumann RSM 191 A/S stereo shotgun mic, SMK4060 Stereo Matched 4060-BM Miniature Omnidirectional Microphones and Sound Devices 702 recorder.

Objects Of Granularity by RichardDevine

If you want to try out Curtis, you can do so on both iPad (pictured above) and iPhone:

Curtis for iPad
Curtis Heavy for iPhone

I love the geometric/vector-style twist on the wave display. New in the recent 1.1 release: pitch control, echo effect, volume control … and the all-important MP3 import. (Usually working with uncompressed files is more successful, however. With WAV or MP3 files, simply drag-and-drop files from iTunes.)

In other sound design experiments, Richard records an insect’s footsteps inside a box, recorded on a catch-and-release program, from earlier this summer.

Found a large Velvet Ant walking on my driveway today, and couldn’t help but notice the odd sounds this insect was making. The recording is of the insect crawling around inside a cardboard box, before I let it go back into my backyard. The Velvet Ant, also known as the “Cow Killer” is actually not an ant, but a wasp. I recorded this with 2 DPA 4060 Lav’s and Sound Devices 702 recorder at 24bit-96Khz.

Recording of a Velvet Ant. by RichardDevine

  • Josh

    I've got to pick that up.

  • I cannot wait for seeing the real big cpu/DSP from my analogueBus friends!

  • bemused

    is there anyone else out there making electronic experimentalsims apart from Richard Devine?

    Not hating on the guy, but c'mon, he sure is every bloody where.

  • Kim

    The new updates and samples are only for the iPad. I just bought the iPhone version.
    Theres no info on how to get the files out of the app..

  • J

    Yes, the iPhone one is on version 1.4, last updated a year ago. I really hope they will add those new features to the iPhone Curtis Heavy.
    @bemused – perhaps he is one of the best software preset makers? I like his presets for the Wavestation and the Logic physmod synth.

  • J

    So yeah.. the blog entry got me excited, then it turns out to be Pad only!

  • simon

    Richard Devine made me rethink about what I consider "Music".

  • ewistrand

    Of course, Richard Devine is not the only one,
    His music is unlisteneable and nobody really bought any of his records, he hasn't released any "music" for years now, because no label will release it.
    After failing as a "artists" he became a "sound designer"
    He is really hyped by all commercial blogs, because he is basically a promo guy, promoting various hardware and software synths, etc.

  • DubKing

    @ewistrand, just a hater, hahahaha, whats your tracks sound like?

  • ewistrand

    not a hater, The guy is a great sound designer, he knows a lot about synths, but as a musician he sucks.

    To listen to great experimental music, you can start with Autechre, Datach'i.

    There are a zillion electronic artists giving awesome music for free in various netlabels.

    Check out Altered Carbon (who happened to have been influenced by Autechre and mr. Devine himself.

  • James Morgan

    I love how ewistrand totally avoided sending a link to his music.