Whinfield Luke – Project Media Files

When auditioning the audio files, please ensure you have your playback equipment set a responsible level.

Demonstration Video Files:
Demonstration Videos

Sound Installation Files:
Granular Sound Installation (ProTools Session)

Granular Installation Stereo Mix (Wav)

Granular Installation Stereo Mix (MP3)

Whinfield_Luke_Project_Tasks (Max 6 files: Appendices 7, 8 and 9)

Appendix 7
Audio Files:
Simple Grain Generator Example:

Simple Grain Generator_02 Example:

Appendix 8
Audio Files:
PB Granulation Example

Appendix 9
Audio Files:
IGS Example:


Appendix 10
Audio Files:
Gaussian Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMGaussian1 (Granulation):

Quasi-Gaussian Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMQuasiGaussian3 (Granulation):

Triangular Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMTriangular1 (Granulation):

Trapezoidal Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMTrapezoidal1 (Granulation):

Expodec Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMExpodec1 (Granulation):

Rexpodec Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMRexpodec1 (Granulation):

Narrow Pulse Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMNarrowPulse1 (Granulation):

Sync Function Envelope



Envelope_Test_GMSyncFunction11 (Granulation):

Time and Space

I was just looking through some of the photos taken during the course of the project and was reminded about a resource I intended to blog about several months back.  It covers the various set-ups used to achieve good surround sound and also highlights those that have inherent issues and should be avoided if possible. The resource is a website entitled What Comes Around – Goes Surround by Wendy Carlos and can be accessed by following the link below:


Also included is a snap from one of my quadraphonic speaker set-up experiments conducted in the university studios:

Speaker Set-up Experiments picture

Picture taken from quadraphonic experiments at Teesside Universities Studio 1

I never managed to reach the stage of presenting my own Granular Instrument as a quadraphonic installation during the projects official timeline. However, I still intend on doing so even though the official project will be over, as it is one of the key motivations for taking on the project. Using the Granular Instrument with a home quadraphonic set-up has been great fun and very addictive, with hours of listening enjoyment. I can readily see the appeal of presenting sound in a multi-speaker environment, especially when using a large amount of speakers.



Finishing Touches

As university draws to an end, I will be spending the following two weeks focusing on the completion of the project. A lot has happened since the last blog and further details of the project will be added here soon. Although the projects official deadline is looming, work will continue exploring granulation and granular synthesis into the future. I shall be posting the finished version of the Granular Instrument that was constructed as an aid to explore granulation and granular synthesis. Illustrated below (Figure FT1) is screen shot of one of the main granulation modules:

Granulation Module Image

Figure FT1- Granulation Module Interface.

The issue of sample rate mentioned in the previous post Granular Synthesis and Sample Rate has been addressed by implementing a custom ‘brickwall type’ filter. The filter calculates the cut-off frequency by dividing the systems current sample by 2.05, to get a value that is less than half the sample rate (21.5 kHz for a 44.1 kHz system). A notable change in the design are the changes made to the expodec and rexpodec envelope shapes, the inclusion of a small attack stage (expodec) and a small decay stage (rexpodec) were added to reduce clicks produced by the original shapes. Some audio examples comparing the original and new envelopes will be included in the final project.

Barry Truax: Riverrun

To get a better feel for the results of Granular Synthesis, I will be exploring the works and methods of established composers known for their implementation of Granular Synthesis. The first composer is Barry Truax and the composition Riverrun:

Also, I have found some information on the production methods of Riverrun, that have proved useful in the design of my Granular Instrument. I was initially intending on sending 8 grain streams to each of the four speakers , given a total at any one time of 32 grain streams. Reading how Riverrun was created has illuminated the possibility of using more grain streams to achieve an interesting output, experimentation will be needed to find the best approach.

Information on how Riverrun was made:


Draft Design: Granular Instrument (Block Diagram)

I thought it was time to get on paper a draft blueprint design for the Granular Instrument that would be constructed (Figure DDGI.1). Although not a comprehensive design, I always find it useful and motivating to have a starting point. Hopefully, the design will help the actually construction of the Granular Instrument gather momentum. I have also gathered some further research and resources to assist me, a list of which will be added soon.

Granular Instrument Block Diagram

Figure DDGI.1 – Draft block diagram of suggested Granular Instrument design.

He’s alive! alive! one more time, alive!

Many microsound grains of time have passed since my last post. Fear not, I have been keeping the project pot simmering with some cursory experiments into speaker positioning.

The following website proposes a range of options for Quadraphonic speaker positioning, and looks at the pros and cons of each:


Although the project is based on a Quadraphonic set-up, expansion to more speakers has to be considered. The cursory experimentation was interesting and revealed that more experiments will need to be conducted when the Granular Instrument is completed. During the experiments some recordings of a couple of the techniques were captured and will be posted to accompany this post soon.

Further work has continued using the application: Cycling ’74 Max 6 and construction of the Granular Instrument has begun.

Floating Grains of Sound!

It is not exactly granular synthesis, but it is sound and it is grains and most of all, it is pretty swisho!

Happy New Year!

Granular Synthesis and Sample Rate

A fellow student (Chris Winter) posed the question: “I was wondering… how important is sample rate in granular synthesis?”. At first I only registered the question from a grain waveform (using sampled sounds) perspective, and concluded using samples recorded at low sample rate samples may lead to interesting sonorities. However, after sitting with it a while and thinking about it from a system perspective. I realised that the possibility of waveforms with  high fundamentals (and thus partials that exceed the sample rate) were likely in granular synthesis. So I looked a little deeper into the research and found the following information.

In the book Microsound, Roads (2004) states that for the practical reasons relating to software and hardware compatibility in recording, synthesis and playback, the standard sampling rates of 44.1 or 48 kHz have been used out of necessity. He proceeds to say that these sample rates provide limited “frequency headroom”. This is pertinent to granular synthesis as it is possible to have grains with complex waveforms that feature  high fundamental frequencies, which may lead to aliasing. Steps can be implemented to avoid aliasing, an example is to limit the choice of waveform based on the fundamental frequency.  Roads suggests constraining fundamental frequencies above half of the Nyquist frequency, (11.025 or 12 kHz, depending on sample rate) as waveforms beyond these limits  generate foldover (with the exception of sine waves). Roads then concludes by stating that, it is better to implement higher sampling rates for digital synthesis.


I will consider the option of constraining fundamental frequencies, although the implementation of how? will have to be explored (possibly filtering individual grains). I will also consider running my final granular synthesis instrument at as high a sample rate (above 48 kHz) as possible.

Roads, C. (2004) Microsound Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Granulation & Polyphony (Batchelor, 2011)

The purpose of completing this series of tutorials on Granulation (published by Peter Batchelor) was to explore various approaches and methods that are adopted when realising a Granular Synthesis based instrument. The tutorial proved very informative and highlighted some new ways of approaching Granular Synthesis. The only down side is that the tutorials seemed to end with the instrument unfinished, this however does not distract from the learning afforded by following these tutorials. A lot of time was spent exploring and understanding the purpose of each stage of the construction and experimenting with the resulting instrument.

The focus in these tutorials was the use of sample playback as the source of the grain waveforms, this was implemented using the buffer~ and play~ objects as can been in Figure GP1. below:

Image of PB granulation Max patcher

Figure GP1. – Showing the initial construction of the granulation instrument.

Polyphony for the instrument was achieved using a method that I was unfamiliar with, it was achieved not via a poly~ object but via the use of  multiple voice objects from an abstraction (containing the playback~ object and controls) and triggering them via a counter and route object, see Figure GP2:

Image of Max granulation patcher with polyphony

Figure GP2. – Polyphony achieved using multiple voice objects.

The voice objects were produced by encapsulating and creating an abstraction from the playback~ object and related controls, the contents of the voice abstraction can be seen in the patcher illustration below (Figure GP3):

PB Voice Patcher Max Diagram

Figure GP3. – Showing the contents of the voice object.

The next stage was to clean up the patch and set some values for when the patch was initiated, this was achieved by using loadbang objects triggering message objects with start values for all the parameters of the instrument. Another element of tidying up the patch involved encapsulating the multiple voice objects into a single patcher. A master gain~ object was added to offer quick control of the master output of the patch and the controls for Grain Duration were modified (Figure GP4.). The Grain Duration was originally controlled by a multislider object and was changed to an rslider object, this was to allow random grain durations to be generated from a set range (whilst still allowing the option for single length grain durations).

Max patcher diagram showing loadbangs

Figure GP4. – Highlighting loadbang initialisation and master fader control.

After completing the tutorials, I did some further modifications to the design, this included adjusting range values (grain duration from 5 seconds to 1 second) and setting minimum and maximum values for many of the parameters. I also used the finished instrument as an opportunity to test some Graphical  User Interface ideas I had, the finished GUI can be seen in Figure GP5. below:

PB Granular Synth Design

Figure GP5. – Design exploration on recreated Granular Synthesiser PB-1.

PB-1 Granular Synthesis Audio Example:

PB-1 Granular Synthesis Max Project:

PB Granular Synth Max Project

*Remember when using any audio devices, start with the audio low and then adjust to taste.


Following the tutorials assisted in gaining a better understanding of how to utilise sampled sounds as grain waveform content. The use of sliders to control data worked well and can be used to give the user more options when controlling the various parameters. Some new objects and methods were explored and the resulting sound produced by the Granular Synthesiser PB-1 is a step forward in creating more complex timbres. Exploration into the most suitable source for the sampled sound is needed. Also up for consideration, are the ranges and values of the various controllable parameters, as well as a deeper look into polyphony.

With regards to the design, some of the ideas explored worked well and others did not, The use of transparency and fpic objects worked well, but I am not happy with the styling and colour choices, so more time working on the design shall be incorporated into the project schedule, to allow for more experimentation.

GUI Design Thoughts

I am currently adding the finishing touches to a granular synthesiser created from following the tutorials published online by Peter Batchelor. I will post a blog (in a day or two) documenting the process  and  the insights gained from creating and analysing the granular synthesiser. I will also utilise the finished syntheiser to practice designing an intuitive and straightforward User Interface (UI). I have some ideas on colour schemes and the potential look of how I would like my final Granular Synthesis Instrument to look and operate, with the design being inspired by movie UI design. Figure GUI1. highlights a potential colour palette that is being considered for my final Granular Synthesis Instrument:

colour pallete for granular synth design

Figure GUI1. Colour palette idea for final Granular Synthesis Instrument design.

Below are some links that were informative with regards to design choices:

The 10 most iconic user interfaces in movie history

Interfaces (Part 1): The Art of Screen Design