Shape from Lectric Panda is a utility that was originally designed by Lectric Panda and was released as a separate Rack Extension. While synchronous was more an effect process generator where the curve could also be used as an external control voltage output. Shape, on the other hand, is all about that idea yet take it towards a whole different level. When I originally bought Shape as a utility to sculpture a sound in all kind of different ways, I started making use of this device more often especially in terms of Genres like Ambient music, IDM, Breakcore, and Glitch. Part of the beauty lies in the way you can reuse the same pattern, yet do it differently while the waveform progresses over time. So from an evolving point of view, that is pretty much perfect for the genres I just mentioned.
While Shape does a lot of things for shaping the waveform in different ways, it can be used as a straightforward LFO (=Low Frequency Oscillator) if you need one. While a lot of pattern-based oscillators are fixed by default while Shape on the other hand (just like Synchronous) uses a method like drawing in the LFO manually segment by segment.
While both Synchronous and Shape do something similar, there are major differences between them. So I will just throw these down on the table.
|No effects||Effects (delay, reverb, distortion, filter, and level)|
|Does not require to connect to the transport||requires to be connected to the transport|
|One waveform||3 waveforms|
|5 anchor points per waveform||1 anchor point per waveform|
|Alter the waveform using shrink, grow, smooth and sharpen||Waveforms are drawn in manually based on pattern segments|
|Synced / Free running oscillator with rate changes||the rate is always fixed since it matches with the transport|
These are most likely the most obvious difference between the two. I could name much more differences but that is not really the point of this article. The major point I am trying to make over here is while there are some similarities between the two, they are served in different situations because they handle things differently.
As you may realize by now, it is all about movement when it comes to using Shape. And sure you could have a similar touch using some creative routing using delays to get a similar artifact. This would need some form of an audio to CV converter so the LFO would be converted to an audio signal and passes that on to a delay. Part of the problem with techniques like these is that passing CV to an audio cable is not as transparent as using just native Control Voltages. In most cases it works, sometimes it just doesn't. Thus, shape kind of solves that part for us.
Videos About Shape the LFO Editor
While I made a series about this LFO editor back in 2015, most of the stuff I said back then is still relevant today:
Shape your LFO
At first, when you look at Shape, it is just like a traditional LFO utility. With the major advantages, you can draw your LFO manually or pick a waveform from the patches that come with Shape (and there are 9000 different waveforms to choose from, so take your pick ;)). On a personal note, I prefer to draw in my things manually just because I usually have an idea what I want to do with it. But when it comes to specific directions (like saw waves with different angles) I usually pick a preset. For this article, I will be creating a pad that is nonlinear in the way things are moving. Nonlinear meaning, the sound will always travel slightly a bit different in the way it sounds like (ideal for ambient creations right?).
For this article I will be using a waveform that manually was drawn in. This waveform will look as displayed in the following picture:
I am using the Vocoder here in this case just to display how these signal will look like in strength. So the BV-512 vocoder is used as a visual aiding tool (rather than being an effect in this context). The concept and idea I am going with this are to have a 'random' shaped LFO that slightly goes up and down in a slow time (0.018Hz too be precise). The spread knob (located next to phase) can be used to set the 5 different anchors and put them on different starting positions. So the values from all 5 anchors will then be totally different from one to another. While the LFO moves over time, the values of the 5 different states will be nonlinear. While using 5 anchors, it does mean that you always need all five of them. In this patch, I will just use four of them. Because... four... no special reason for that.
While using different LFO states they are pretty awesome to use them in a set of waveform moving synthesizers. The candidates on this list would be the Malstrom Graintable synthesizer, Europa the Shape Shifting synthesizer, Grain the Sample Manipulator or Expanse. Sure there are most likely different candidates your there that could make use of an LFO. Just another thought: a morphing subtractor patch.
Just to keep things simple I will mainly use Shape to control the different volume outputs using a Mixer 14:2. I am using mainly the Mixer 14:2 (and not the Mixer 6:2) because it is one of the few devices that allows mixing signals using control voltages directly. Some synthesizers have a master control (or level control). So an alternative route would be going for that direction. But when it comes down to cable management the Mixer 14:2 is pretty much rock solid for that approach.
As you can see in this picture, the Shape Control voltage outputs go to the BV-512 Vocoder (as being the visual aiding tool). These control voltages get passed on to the mixer channels one until four. So the Shape LFO editor will then control the outputs of the individual mixer channels.
While looking at the CV inputs of the mixer 14:2 itself, I have set the maximum amounts for the mixer itself to 100. This prevents any clipping issues by default. Because the default output volume of the Mixer 14:2 is set to 100. Increasing the amount could lead to some form of clipping issues (thus distorting the digital output signal). So setting the CV inputs to 100 is a precaution method to prevent things from clipping.
In this picture, you can see that the control voltages level inputs for channel one until channel 4 has been reduced to 100 (instead of the default 127). An alternate solution to this problem would be setting the master level of the mixer itself to around 74.
For the sound itself, I am using a series of Malstrom Graintable synthesizers. Part of the beauty of using the Graintable synthesizer is the usage of motion. The Malstrom uses a wavetable which is chopped up in small sections called grains. These grains will be played back in a sequence based on the motion. While the motion determines how fast you are playing through the waveform itself. I have done a wide range of different videos explaining how this synth works internally.
The main idea here is to introduce randomness in the way the different sounds would interact with each other. Where channel 5 is used as a constant output.
All Malstroms have a similar layout on how they work. Since the idea, for with this is to have a sweeping type of sound. And there are some awesome candidates for making a sweeping sound effect using the Malstrom: Sweeping Square, Vocoder Bands, Vocoder Swirl and so on. In this particular case, I am using the Sweeping Saw as base sound for this pad.
The benefit while using these type of sounds is that the contour of the sound is different based on the Index setting. Since the Index, in this case, is just the start position of the sound. Eventually, this starting position will move around (because of motion) and thus the sound will vary per note, and in time.
The combinator patch
The combinator patch I will be providing sounds like the following:
The combinator can be download from the following location:
Please make note, this combinator requires the Shape Rack Extension
Written by hydlide