OP-1 Tape vs MakeNoise Phonogene for Concrète-ish things?

I’m feeling a bit disillusioned with modular stuff right now, so I started re-thinking my tiny system with the idea of selling unused modules and getting a MakeNoise Phonogene. I have a lot of love for various 20th Century avant-garde styles and this one was one of the first modules I ever wanted. But in revisiting some Phonogene videos on YouTube, I realized that most of what I want to do (constant overdubbing, some moderate pitch changing) could be done on OP-1 tape. In fact, I’ve used the OP-1 tape and abused it like I used to do with cassettes in the long-long ago. And the granular re-slicing capabilities of the Phonogene could be handled by my Microgranny.

Does anyone here use the Phonogene? Are there situations where you would heartily recommend it for a very small (2x48hp) system over using the OP-1 tape?

@jshell I’ve got a Phonogene, had it for about six months so I’m no expert. When I first got it I was unsure but have gradually worked out why it gets high praise. I’m almost inclined to say that other modules help to bring the most out of it (but thats a whole other rabbit hole of modualr). As part of a modular system I’d absolutely recommend the Phonogene for concrete styles but not really just of itself if that makes any sense.

The Phonogene very much like early primitive concrète tape in many ways but also very adept at granular as well. It really comes into its own with voltage control - introducing clock sources and gates to trigger and mangle sound - speed (therefore pitch) can be controlled through CV or manually. There is also a mode called broken echo where it becomes a little like a crude sound on sound looper.

Its very different animal from the tape on the OP-1 which is more about how you layer sound rather than just mangle. The thing that sold me on the OP-1 (I can’t remember where I read it) was that it was like the Radiophonic Workshop in a tiny box which (for how I use it) is spot on. The Phonogene feels like part of a whole whereas the OP-1 is more of a compositional tool in its own right as its a breeze to sample, slow down, sample again then reverse with a new effect etc. That the sound of the OP-1 gets quite lo fi is perfect for concrète experiments in my book.

I have sometimes considered a second OP-1 just for concrete stuff (one feeding the other and vice vera) but I think that the micro granny would be equally as effective. That combo would cover a lot of the Phonogenes functionality I think.

I hope some of these ramblings are of use, let me know if you have any specific questions about the Phonogene…

@wolflegjon thanks! that helps. My system is pretty small and I’m kindof not wanting to grow it much further but I do have some CV generators (MN Function, Wogglebug) and LFOs (Pittsburgh Bender or LFO2+VC Bend), plus a couple of externals CV/Gate generators (Oplab for Midi-to-CV, Koma Kommander for doing tricks with light). I think it should be enough, along with a Telharmonic, for a small avant-garde system.

If I sell enough old modules to cover the cost, I’ll probably get a Phonogene but it’s feeling more like the Op-1’s features are what I need.

@jshell Glad my wittering were of some use. I like the sound of your setup, the Wogglebug is one of my favourite modules. I’d really like a Telharmonic at some point, that three voice shift register alone sounds amazing.

Its worth checking out MakeNoise’s system concrete for inspiration as they’ve really thought out what you’d need. In OP-1 terms, Phonogene is the tape (x4), echo phone is the delay, Wogglebug supplies the random (I use the Phone effect for this) and MMG is the filter (Punch/Nitro/LFO). The main difference for me is that the OP-1’s workflow is so much faster to get around.

I really love my Phonogene and it’s organic and unpredictable ways, BUT as a new wiggler, it’s a tad difficult to tame in certain patches I make. Not to be equally compared, but I’m thinking Roland’s Scooper will be more practical for my particular glitchy needs. The fact that it can run 24 bit audio is a big plus for me too.

That being said I may selI my Phonogene. I really wish I could keep a Phonogene and Scooper in my system, but I’m desert dry out of HP.
= (

@Kites Yeah, six months on and I’m only just starting to feel like I’m in control of the Phonogene, even then it still surprises me. Not really had a look at Rolands modules so will check those out.

Pretty much out of HP as well and I’m considering buying a small skiff for a few modules but I’m scared of the rabbit hole having extra free space involves.

the OP-1 is more of a compositional tool in its own right as its a breeze to sample, slow down, sample again then reverse with a new effect etc. That the sound of the OP-1 gets quite lo fi is perfect for concrète experiments in my book.

Thank you!!!

On the previous OP-1 forum somebody started a musique concrete thread. I had no idea how to get started (even though Tape was staring me in the face - yes, I can be that dense at times) - I asked how the hell to do it, and nobody answered.

fixed things abused is concrete

tape could be considered as fixed
non musical abuse of tape is blossoming when its done as absurd as it goes and further

@GovernorSilver I think the old forum was down by the time I joined this one otherwise I certainly would have attempted to answer.

Traditionally music concrete is build from recorded sounds and manipulated to create something new that renders the original sound(s) unrecognisable. With the ability to sample, record (through the/a mic), four tracks of tape, unlimited overdubbing and ability to change speed/reverse and resample the OP-1 is great for this style of music. The lo fi digital creates odd artefacts which for a lot of other music can be unwanted but in this context are very welcome.

One thing I quite like to do is sample some random old video from Youtube, find an odd snippet then pitch the sample really high. Then I’ll use the tombola and put in a load of random notes and record it. Once I’ve got a decent chunk onto the tape I’ll then slow the tape speed down and and build up from there. Its all just experimenting really, happy accidents are plentiful!
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Thanks, wolflegjon!

You are most welcome!

Yeah I do wonder what’s the best “companion hardware” for OP-1 to do concrète / ambient / aleatoric music. Any suggestions?

fixed things abused is concrete
tape could be considered as fixed
non musical abuse of tape is blossoming when its done as absurd as it goes and further

@Thor I heartily concur with your much more eloquent explination!

This thread is awesome!

I’ve recently been recording ambient sounds to an old cassette I bought for $1 in an antique shop. I damaged the tape further by running it over a paperclip that has a textured pattern on it to give it even more artifacts. Then I take the tape and record it to Ableton while playing through El Capistan. I’ll do multiple takes this way then do some eq work to the individual takes and record those together into one channel. Makes some really awesome gritty texture.

I still haven’t gotten very handy with the OP-1 but I do love messing with the tape and am going to step out in a bit and and record some ambient noise and see what I can make.

@thedrexl That cheap cassette setup is a great idea! I used to record all my guitar stuff on a water damaged old dictaphone which made everything sound like a 1930’s delta blues record by accident (except for my playing, I’m not very good).

There is a railway line at the back of my flat, I’ve taken a few field recordings and put it through the OP-1 a few times. Even the hum of the recording not much is happening when pitched and mangled reveals hidden music.

Wow. Go away to the movies for a few hours and this thread explodes. Awesome! If I weren’t so sleepy, I might even have something good to add :wink:

OK, just to praise on the OP-1’s tape for a bit - last spring I made a recording using the Pocket Operators into the OP-1’s tape, and added a little bit of OP-1 synth to it all. But mostly I did a lot of tape manipulations and came up with something very warm, abstract, and ambient. And I realized that it matched fairly well with old tape stuff I did 20 years ago that was all radio and samples and a crude tape loop.

There’s a really cool BBC documentary from 1979, “The New Sound of Music” which goes from early mechanical instruments to 1979 synthesizers. It has a good section on musique concrete that someone pulled out here:

Musique Concrete - YouTube

@jshell Great link, I never tire of watching that! Would love to hear the recordings you’ve made, are they on the interweb somewhere?

Second to your splendid link I often think of this http://youtu.be/R-R3F3ZVbi8

Stuff like this makes me all kinds of excited!

@wolflegjon I really like that idea of recording the train! I bet you could get some nice rhythms from that.

I’m going to watch these videos now and daydream things to record!

@wolflegjon Oh man, have I got recordings online :slight_smile: There’s a lot at Eucci, Dirty Modern with the newest releases near the top. Many of the recent ones are recent finishings of very long projects or ideas that just seemed to take 15 years to come together.

Bridgeport, California Zephyr | Eucci | Rive/Sunhill (Eucci, AODL, etc) - a 4:15 recording built from sampling the room during a quiet tabletop noise session while visiting some friends in Chicago last spring, and then assembled into a track while riding a cross country train back home. (OP-1 as traveling folk instrument).

The Changing of the Light | Eucci | Rive/Sunhill (Eucci, AODL, etc) - A 2:45 recording. Started out as trying to do something interesting with the PO’s for one of the battles here, then turned into an attempt at a joke, but turned into something warm and pretty for springtime. This is the one that fit in well with a 20 year old tape recording, which can be heard here: Summerhaze (1994) | Eucci | Rive/Sunhill (Eucci, AODL, etc)

[Rive073] Eucci, In Marianne District : Eucci : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive - a 47 minute recording featuring processed and unprocessed field recordings from a trip to Netherlands in 2001, including the setting up before a show I played. A lot of the processing was done on long-dead things like Supercollider 2 (Mac OS 9), Noiser, Reaktor maybe?, other program oddities; along with drones and etc. What is of interest is that most of the recordings and processing were done 2001-2009 on Minidisc and on computer; but there are a few mintutes (roughly 27:00 - 32:00) that are on the OP-1 from last year. I’m delighted as hell that the OP-1 could so easily fit in with my older production methods.

There’s a lot. I’ve been doing mediocre experimental music since 1994 when I poorly spliced two headphone wires together to start layering sounds (walkman + radio) because I couldn’t afford Nurse With Wound CDs… Now I think of how much I’ve spent on gear in the time since then… ha!

I’d love to hear what you’ve got!

@thedrexl Cool! It’s so fun to do.

A lot of modern sampling is in many ways a direct descendent of musique concrete in that sounds can be manipulated into other sounds. Korg published a video showing how a whole drum kit can be made on the Volca Sample from a single source, just with different parameters supplied.

But there’s something about that tape-manipulation sound that I’ve always loved. Most of my tape machines are dead, so it was a delight to find how close in sound (especially with its output-drive settings) the OP-1 can be to that. It’s also why I’m interested in Make Noise’s Phonogene as it’s steeped in the avant garde history of tape manipulation where so many other tape-emulation devices are primarily just focused on delay or saturation, and not what you can do with splicing and overwriting.

Here’s a fun video where the Bastl/Standuino guys visited Mr Müller, an former assistant to Stockhausen, who does some tape music on big machines. I just like this video as Müller, who’s been doing this a long time, is as confused by where some of his cables are supposed to go as I often am :slight_smile:

Mr Müller (former assistant of Stockhausen) performing on generator, radio and 3 tape machines - YouTube