Marco Petracca – Deus Ex Diode

For this exhibition, Marco Petracca has created his own version of a “Krell-Patch” for his modular synthesizer.

In the 1956 movie “The Forbidden Planet”, the Krell was the intelligent alien race in the film.  The movie soundtrack was groundbreaking as the first to use an entirely electronic musical score, courtesy of Bebe and Louis Barron.  Louis Barron constructed his own electronic circuits that he used to generate the score’s “bleeps, blurps, whirs, whines, throbs, hums and screeches”.   Most of these sounds were generated using an electronic circuit called a “ring modulator“.  After recording the basic sounds, the Barrons further manipulated the sounds by using other effects, such as reverberation and delay, and reversing or changing the speeds of certain sounds.  This groundbreaking method of making music preceded the invention of the Moog synthesizer by eight years (1964).  Listen to the original “Ancient Music of Krell” here.  This style of composition is called “Musique Concrète.

In the triptych below, Marco has based these three installations on fellow synthesist Todd Barton’s modular interpretation of the “Ancient Music of Krell” song from the film.

The challenge in creating this “Krell-Patch” on a modular synthesizer is to find a combination of settings and routings that brings out the “soul” of the machine.  Hence the title of the installation “Deus Ex Diode”.

“My approach is basically quite similar to what Barton did when he tried to rebuild the Barron’s Krell-Music: setting rules for the machine by patching logical behavior which results in a generative composition… meaning the machine is making the music, I’m just teaching her to do so by wiring her brain/modules in a certain way.  The difference between my approach and Barron/Barton is, that because I’m not a big fan of Musique Concrète, I ‘cheated” by not only implementing rules on composition, but also on what notes to play in order to achive a more musically appealing result.  Although the notes and scales are pre-set by me, the machine is still free to choose its own notes, tempo, modulations and events from the ‘library’ I provided.” – Marco Petracca

Further, the third part of the triptych, “Deus Ex Diode III” features some generative projections on top, programmed in Quartz Composer that are audio “reactive” – so that at the end of the day two machines have created a concert for the viewer.


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