I read about this about a year ago, and it intrigues me. This is the same principle as granular synthesis, but Curtis Roads puts every grain together piece by piece into collages - it sounds a lot more interesting than it sounds…..
The grains of sound are so small that taken together they lose all their individual character and they blend into a kind of noise. It is interesting beautifully sculpted noise to be sure, but I have the feeling I could do the same thing with cleverly filtered pink noise.
Filtered Pink Noise
Roads is doing it from the bottom up and no doubt achieves superior sound polish but horizontal density-wise there is little to distinguish his bottom up approach from the top-down approach. And his approach takes much longer.
What I think inspired me about Microsound and what I thought it would sound like - is really something I call fast sound. This is really a midi trick where you take a midi file and speed up as fast as the DAW can go...
Example - An atonal improvisation on keyboard without much logic or forethought:
Here is what it sounds like at 999 bpm:
Since piano is not that great of an instrument - I'll experiment with some different VSTs. Here is the same fast sound with VSL strings:
Here it is with a Kontakt Synth patch. I've now repeated little parts of it as "hooks":
I made a collage out of this piece with other VSTs playing the same file back and forth at varying speeds. I experimented then stopped and burned WAV files when it sounded good.
Fast Sound Nancarrow Style
Here is a longer fast sound I made of various transcriptions and exercises from a theory book. I liked the way the strings sounded in it:
Sometimes the software breaks down under the strain of processing that fast and that is an interesting sound in itself...
Where I think this actually could approach Road's method is if I use different sounds for different notes in a fast sound. This means a lot more work since my software will completely shut down if I use MIDI for the whole thing. This is a lot closer to Road's idea in any case, but because you are actually perceiving timbre and pitch differences it is somewhat more fecund (I won't say more "musical" ) since there is I think more of a perception of variety.
Here is another fast sound composition:
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