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