Sunvox is a modular Daw / working environment and since the last big update a new module came into play which allowed users to pack the other modules inside the metamodule and make them into a new module.
The great thing about the metamodule is that you can build complex instruments mixing synthesizers / samplers / and effects,
or do what Gilzad has been doing, build really useful mixing / mastering tools...
So the decision was made on a rainy day to meet over the internet and discuss him and what he has been doing.
Also I have a confession to make,
to make him comply to this interrogation I am sorry to say that I had to stoop so low as to threaten to eat his cat...
Frank- Which software have you been using and which are you using now?
Gilzad- Well, in a brief introduction I'd say I'm one of the lucky guys who could learn how to compose music on a computer back in the 90's.
I started with Fasttracker 2.06 on DOS,
which you'd call a "DAW with a step sequencer" today (around 1996). On Windows I used MadTracker and BushTracker. Sometimes I used a roll-sequencer (Massiva), too.
Around 2003 I found Renoise,
that was finally able to work properly with my MIDI-hardware, too.
And now I found love for SunVox.
Frank- And Hardware?
Gilzad- My old and beloved Yamaha CS6x,
which got stolen along with my monitors and other hardware last year.
However, I noticed that I prefer to create those cool sounds myself and that I'd rather have my projects and songs in a compact and exchangeable format.
That's one of many reasons why I prefer music trackers.
Only one type of hardware I couldn't live without: Monitor speakers.
So I just got me a pair of the HS80M's again.
Don't want to ever create a song that is messy on the mixing and mastering again.
Frank- What attracted you to Sunvox?
Gilzad- I think I had heard about it when it came out, but had the same common misconception first as many others:
"It looks like Buzz, it must be too complicated.".
Later at SDCompo I saw organic_io posting songs in the SunVox format,
so I began beliving that there has to be something nice about it.
And due to some circumstances
I only had my phone to scratch down ideas on and I knew there was SunVox.
Man was I impressed that its tiny GUI actually provides some cool usability on the small screen. For a tracker!
And man was I impressed to hear how all the modern DSPs were actually working on my little phone in realtime.
If you're convinced of a GUI that works on 3,4 inches, then you know that it has to be super-easy on usual desktops.
Oh, yeah, SunVox works on almost anything that has a display and sound output.
Frank- Any features you like especially?
Gilzad- SunVox is really full of features that you love.
It's multiplatform, it's efficient to the bone, it has the killer feature MetaModules but it brings one very important thing that I've been missing in the tracker-music scene during the past 10 years. Warmth and educational values.
SunVox is not very commercial, in fact its desktop versions are all freeware.
It seems to not measure its success by commercial interests (higher sales).
Many feature requests are being taken care of very quickly because they are considered useful,
they are not priorized differently because one feature would sell better than the other.
Artists who release their songs are promoted on the homepage, like there's a SunVox family.
And there are no goddamn VSTs! :)
Seriously, while I'm not a total enemy of external plug ins,
I believe that it's just great to learn how one can build many of those commercially available tools himself.
With just a few clicks on a very intuitive GUI.
So SunVox really helps creating and experiencing open-source audio-knowledge.
Just like you could learn how DSPs and synthesizers work by examining projects in PureData but with all the fun.
You can see how some guy created his supersaw waves with a bunch of layered oscillators,
and you can hear how this knowledge is working in a song practically as it's playing some wonderful melodies.
Frank- Any features you really miss?
Gilzad- Especially for vocal productions I think there should be a feature like "Audio Tracks".
I think it would be possible to enhance the Vorbis player for such tasks.
If the module were set to play the original pitch regardless of what key you press,
then it could be able to remember the position of a triggered sample at any position of the song.
Another feature I'm very excited about is the scripting capability.
You can build very intelligent synths and DSPs already but if scripting capabilities are added,
I wouldn't wonder if SunVox gains the attention of many musicians who like to build their own instruments and such.
Frank- Any other modules you been thinking to make?
Gilzad- Yes! Instrumental/Tonal ones. I thing together with the side-chained compressor
and the self-made gate, you can layer different sounds in a way to have intelligent instruments.
Like a flute that only produces noise on a low velocity, but if you increase it, the sine will come through more and more.
Another thing is the randomized pitch. I think this one can be interesting for string instruments.
Frank- Are you getting closer to finishing the vocoder?
Gilzad- While the current version (0.2) is one that is really working
(after many attempts which I threw away),
I'll do a next attempt, where I'll go back to a higher amount of very narrow-band filters. Eventually I'll wait until we can assign one controller to many parameters in SunVox
(I hope this feature will be implemented some time).
Because I'll probably need to chain many filters to get orders even higher than 48 dB. Further versions shall come with an internal oscillator so you only can feed it with the voice but have to play it like an instrument.
If this works out, we'll probably have a very natural sounding vocoder.
Btw, as soon as Sunvox v1.7.3 comes out on Android, you can use the MetaModule to have a vocoder on your phone.
Frank- Any special Sunvox tricks you want to share?
Gilzad- Yes. On your mobile phone, attach the input device to a bunch of DSPs, talk into your microphone and scare your friends with the output :)
Frank- When you started doing the meta modules it seemed that you came to it from the perspective of a programmer, and after seeing your web page it shows that you are, so are you going to program any music programs?
There is this cool programming language called Vala, that is as easy as any 4th Generation language but creates super-fast machine-code.
I might mess around and write an audio tool with it one day.
Frank- In your music there is a lot of traditional instruments-
what instruments do you play? any favorites?
Gilzad- Haha, thanks!
I sing and play chords on an acoustic guitar.
Except of these two, the traditional instruments in my songs are mostly handcrafted sequence and synthesis.
Sometimes I used available physically modeled instruments, too.
That's a very exciting part about digital music to me.
Creating natural sounding instruments with all their expressions.
I'd love to create the authentic sound of a clarinette or a violin one day.
Frank- You do make a very broad spectrum of music!
What is the music that gives you the most pleasure making?
Gilzad- Thank you!
Although I made my first steps with electronic music,
I'm a big fan of ornaments, melodies and harmonies. So I think I'll go more and more towards genres like classic Jazz or Gypsy/Roma music.
However, every now and then I will create electronic songs, too.
Frank- Any special advice regarding music making in general?
Gilzad- Yes, buy some monitors that are known for fairly neutral sound.
Else no one will hear what your song intended to express.
I'm writing this out of personal experience that happened many times.
Frank- Well that is probably it.
Gilzad- Ahh Phew, I just rescued my cat!
Link to Gilzad's homepage:
Link to Gilzad's Soundcloud page:
Download Gilzad's metamodules- with explanations and examples!: