EmissionControl2 (EC2) is a new standalone interactive real-time application for granular synthesis and sound file granulation. It is available for OSX, Linux, and Windows.
The original EmissionControl was written in 2004 and updated in 2008. It was coded by David Thall as part of his master’s project in Media Arts and Technology at UCSB in consultation with Curtis Roads. The program code ran in SuperCollider 3 using a custom library for granulation written in the C++ language. A limitation of this version was that the custom library was compiled for a PowerMac G5 processor only. Apple changed to Intel processors shortly thereafter.
The EC2 project began in early 2019 with an initial goal of rewriting EC to run on modern computers. Over time, EC2 has evolved far beyond the original EC app.
According to a 1946 theory of the physicist Dennis Gabor, any sound can be represented as a combination of elementary sonic grains. The composer Iannis Xenakis was the first to formulate a theory around a granular approach to music composition.
EC2 takes one or more sound files as input and emits a series of grains. A grain is a segment of sound (a short sound clip), often less than 1/10th of a second (100 milliseconds or ms). In EC2 we allow for longer-duration grains (up to 10 seconds). This provides granular-style processing of short phrases of music or other audio.
The waveform of the file is shown in the Scan Display. The user can set what portion of the file to granulate, whether to scan it forwards or backwards, and how fast to scan through it. Grains will be emitted at the rate set by the Grain Rate parameter.
Any of the Granulation Controls on the top left part of the screen can be modulated using one of the six low-frequency oscillators (LFOs) shown in the LFO Controls at the middle right. The Modulation Controls at the top right set the amount of modulation to be applied to the corresponding Granulation Control parameter on the left. EC2 has a MIDI Learn feature, which makes it easy to map a physical controller such as a MIDI fader box to the Granulation Controls.
- Granulation of multiple sound files simultaneously
- Multiple simultaneous grain streams
- Synchronous and asynchronous grain emission
- Intermittency control
- Per-grain signal processing (envelope, waveform, amplitude, frequency, spatial position, filter center frequency and resonance)
- Unique filter design optimized for per-grain synthesis
- Matrix modulation control of all granulation parameters with six LFOs
- Real-time display of peak amplitude, grain counter, waveform, and scan range
- Scalable GUI and font size
- MIDI Learn enables mapping to any MIDI continuous controller.
- Code is open-source and available at GitHub
- Maximal “Grain Integrity” ™