A sample-playback instrument that creates textures based on fragments of your waveform. The magic of this particular instrument lies just in between typical sample-looping and the true micro sound of granular synthesis – Traces rests on neither extreme, yet brings a glimpse of both: the vibrating, pulsating rhythm of fragmented audio. With ample ways to manipulate the envelope of each grain or fragment, as well as its placement. Traces also features a Sallen & Key analog-modeled filter built by Surreal Machines, and the ability to directly control most parameters via MIDI or Live’s mapping & automation.

Traces is divided into three general panels:

The top panel provides all the main controls for Traces. You can load any audio sample you’d like to play with and, for each voice, you get to control the placement, envelopes, volumes, panning, etc., as well as global parameters.

The middle panel provides all the
MIDI CC routing and mapping & automation controls for Live.

On the lower panel you can find all the relevant credits and links with additional information about Traces (like this manual), as well as the developers.

The Main Panel is divided into seven general sections:

Wave Control

In this section you get to load any audio file that’s compatible with Live (you can drag a clip directly from Live’s interface, or a file from the Finder or Windows Explorer). Then, you can adjust the placement of each grain independently, or you can lock all the voices together (in which case the first voice will control all the others). Additionally, their placement can be randomized (whether independently or globally) and you get to control the amount of randomization (you can find all of these controls at the top of the waveform and faders.

Rhythm Control

Each voice will play a fragment of the loaded sample and loop it. In this section, you get to control the length of each fragment/loop – the length can range anywhere from a 32nd note to a half note, and it can either be quantized to a musical value (a standard rhythm, a triplet, or a dotted note), or you can adjust the value continuously. Just like in the Wave Control section – and in general – you can choose to control each voice independently, or you can lock all the voices together (the locking of voices is independent from section to section).

Grain Envelopes

An envelope can be applied to the shape of each musical grain or fragment. You can control these envelopes either globally or individually – by selecting each particular voice to which you’d like to apply a specific shape. The shape itself is controlled by two UI objects:

- An XY pad located below the envelope shape. The Y axis morphs between a triangular and rectangular shape, while the X axis controls at once the attack and release times.

- A horizontal fader below the envelope lets you adjust the length.
Depending on the audio that’s passing through, you can achieve various kinds of throbbing textures, from subtle “Leslie” effects to quite percussive or “glitch” kinds of sounds.

Panning & Volume

Each voice has its own panning and volume control. Again, they can be changed individually or globally. In addition, you have the option to spread each voice across the panorama spectrum or you can switch to a randomized option. In either case, you can control the amount of spread or randomization.

Monitor Section

In this window, you get a visual feedback of what each voice is doing:

- The X axis shows you the panning for each voice.

- The Y axis shows the relative volume.

- The diameter of each node represents the rhythmic value of each fragment
(the wider the diameter, the longer it is).

Filter Section

Included with Traces is a Sallen & Key analog-modelled filter, designed by Surreal Machines. It features a low pass, a band pass and a high pass filter. In addition to the standard parameters for cutoff frequency & resonance, the frequency has been mapped to MIDI velocity and you get to control the amount of velocity modulation; there’s also a dry/wet mix control, in case you want to hear both the processed and unprocessed signals in parallel.

Global Controls

The key control affects the overall keyboard transposition (0% means there’s no transposition and all the keys will play the same original pitch, 100% tunes the sample to a standard Western scale). The vol control affects the overall volume, a stereo mix of the four voices combined.

AR Envelope

Also part of the global controls is a two-stage envelope that shapes the overall sound of each note. In addition to the attack and release controls, there are independent curve controls for each stage. This envelope can also be scaled to MIDI velocity.

LED Section

In addition to the Monitor Section, there are four LEDs that will light solid whenever each voice is active. To the right of the LEDs, there’s an audio meter that measures the level of the output stereo signal.

System Requirements

The latest version of Traces is 1.0.4.
It was built with Max 8.1.5. & Live 10.1.18, in Sept. 2020.
License Information

Photo Credits

FASE: Choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
Dancers: Laura Bachman & Soa Ratsifandrihana; Yuika Hashimoto & Laura Maria Poletti; Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker & Tale Dolven.
Photos by: Anne Van Aerschot & Jamie Williams/Sydney Festival.