Granular processing expansion cartridge for the Tiptop Audio zDSP Voltage Controlled Signal Processor.
Granular Synthesis uses small slices of sounds (‘grains’) to compose new sounds from existing material. By combining multiple grains of differing lengths, amplitude, pitch and speed creates very characteristic sounds of modern music.
Xenakis claims to have invented the technique and indeed his ‘Analogique A-B’, composed of tiny tape splices of pure tones, is credited as the first piece of granular music in 1959. Tape editing proved extremely time consuming, but by the 1970s digital processing could take the place of tape splicing. Curtis Roads dove into the early computer based granular synthesis and made some of the classic techniques known through his recordings, teaching and texts like ‘Microsound’. Today, most computer audio programs have some sort of granular synthesis engine or plugin. Dr. Richard Boulanger has used granular synthesis in CSound to great effect and he is also a beta tester for this card.
The French phrase for the cartridge is “Grain de Folie” which could be translated as “seeds of madness”, but in French “grain” also translates to “grain”, and “madness” evokes the strange disassembling/reassembling granular process. Also, “avoir un grain de folie” is a typically French expression to describe people behaving in a non conventional way, thus a fitting play on words.