Alea Taction is a new iteration of the classic Alea with the addition touch plates as well as a new aesthetic and enclosure. The touch plates open up another another dimension of gestural control and influence which the user has over the instrument - providing more potential for variation and playability within a patch, and a deeper, closer connection and involvement with the instrument. The touch plates can be patched to control the dynamics of each voice, bend and affect the pitch of the oscillators, affect the cross-modulate the voices, modulate the waveshapers of each voice, affect the shift-register, and so on, in any configuration you’d like to patch. The touch plates are equally useful for manually playing drones using only the touch plates as they are for adding dynamics and variation into a rhythmic techno patch. The touch plates do not function as a traditional keyboard controller or traditionally drum pad, but instead as a way to introduce organic and gestural interactions through variable control voltage to influence the overall ecosystem of the Alea.
Alea Taction is a two voice semi-modular analog synthesizer with sine wave oscillators, waveshapers, low pass gates, LFOs, a stochastic shift register-based sequencer, and three touch plates for gestural influence. These elements work together as a standalone patchable instrument that is capable of everything from generative melodies and morphing drones to psychoacoustic percussion, silky sub basslines, esoteric techno, tactile improvisations and much more. Sonically, the Alea is dark, smooth, warm, and natural sounding. The sine wave oscillators have CV and FM inputs paired with attenuators for each input as well as a two different voltage controllable waveshapers per oscillator which affect the timbre of the oscillators - one type of waveshaper which adds subtle harmonics to shape the sine into a soft triangle wave, and the other waveshaper folds and shapes the phase of the sine. The oscillators also have sine outputs for modulating each other, as well as a vactrol-based vca which is hardwired as a bi-directional modulation index that can be opened via cv or gate signals for timbral cross-modulation between the two oscillators. The oscillators can be used as completely separate voices, or together with one voice acting as a primary oscillator and the other as a modulation oscillator. The two voices also have individual outputs. Each voice has a vactrol low pass gate with two inputs per LPG - one regular gate input which will provide sustain for the duration of the gate or cv signal, and one input which coverts the gate to a trigger for faster percussive sounds with no sustain and only decay. The LPGs can also be patched so that they are held open to create drones, or patched for amplitude modulation via one of the oscillators or modulation sources. The LPGs can also be help open and dynamically controlled by the touch plates via the LPG gate input. The three gold-plated touch plates of the Alea generate variable control voltage signals which can be patched to control various aspects of the system such as the amplitude, pitch, modulation, and cross-modulation of the voices as well as the the pattern and tempo of the shift register. The touch plates do not function as a traditional keyboard controller or traditional touch controller, but instead as a way to introduce organic and gestural interactions to influence the ecosystem of the Alea. The amount of control voltage which is produced as they are touched depends on factors such as the amount of skin that contacts the plate, the amount of pressure used, the as well as factors such as the temperature of your fingers, etc. Because of a build up of body heat and perspiration, the more you touch the plates, the more responsive they become. The Alea has two LFOs - a LFO with triangle and square wave outputs as well as a VCLFO with a triangle output. The Alea's sequencer is based around a four-stage shift register which is clocked by the VCLFO and collects data from one of the oscillators for probabilistic pattern generation. The shift register can also be clocked from external clock signals from other instruments. The shift register cycles through it's four stages as it collects on/off data on each clock pulse and creates different arrays of outcomes as it cycles. Once the Alea has been patched and knobs have been set - the shift register will continue to cycle through patterns and generate different numeric combinations of it's stages in unity or in abscense like a roll of the dice or a song of the birds.
- Each Alea Taction includes a 18v center negatice DC power adapter.
- Patch cables and output cables not included.
- The Alea Taction is housed in a 15” x 9’ x 2” bamboo boat with a matte PCB front panel.