Ian Boddy is well-known as a recording artist, sound designer and purveyor with fine electronica (through his DiN label). He is a veteran of the European electronic music scene. Since the late 70s, he has been intriguing listeners with a wide range of music that defies easy categorization. Ian is a long-time MetaSynth user and agreed to sit down and talk with us about the role MetaSynth plays in his music.
Vox Lumina is a composition from his CD Aurora and was created primarily with MetaSynth. Ian says "All the voices, drums etc. were done in Metasynth. Bit by bit, loop by loop and then assembled in Logic and mixed there. I think it used an unusal tuning which gives the pitches and harmonies a strange piquant feeling".
U&I: Hi, Ian. Thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk to us about the role MetaSynth plays in your music. How would you describe your relationship to MetaSynth and the role that it plays in your work?
IB: I primarily use it as a sound design tool both in my own compositions as well as in the sample CD's/virtual instruments that I design. It can produce sounds that no other instrument/software I have can.
U&I: How did you first find out about it?
IB: A friend of mine told me about it at one of the NAMM shows - I think maybe 1998 or 99. It was only at version one but when I saw & heard it on the booth I immediately purchased it. I guess I may well have been one of the first users in the UK at that stage.
U&I: What stands out to you about MetaSynth/What do you find attractive about it?
IB:Well as I mentioned above it can just produce sounds that I can't get anywhere else. I'm a great advocate of analogue gear and I use this kind of equipment extensively. Thus for me software synths that pretend to sound like vintage synths are not of interest. I'm after software that takes me in new directions and Metasynth certainly does this.
U&I: Do you have a favorite MetaSynth room or rooms?
IB: The Image Synth room - especially when messing around with unusual tunings.
U&I: Do you use MetaSynth frequently?
IB: It comes in bursts and all depends on what work I have on. It's part of my arsenal of audio tools so it gets used when appropriate.
U&I: Has your impression of MetaSynth changed over time? If so, how?
IB: Only in that it just gets cooler and cooler ;-) Nothing else I've come across has even got close to some of the stuff it can do.
U&I: Are there any songs/albums/soundtracks of yours that feature Metasynth-created sound prominently?
IB: I used it a lot on my solo album Aurora (DiN12) as well as my first album with Robert Rich, Outpost (DiN11) but really it crops up all the time in my music. I've also used it a lot on my virtual instruments that I design for Zero-G. The last one, Outer Limits has a load of stuff on there from Metasynth.
U&I: To you, what distinguishes MetaSynth from other music/sound design applications?
IB: In some ways it's unpredictability. I tend to mess around with it, poking into corners and just generally experimenting. There's a great deal of Serendipity involved. However I have enough experience with it that once I come across something interesting I can then sculpt the sound further to what I want.
U&I: What are your favorite MetaSynth features?
IB: The tuning features are great. The ability to work in exotic & microtonal tunings is excellent. I also like the ability to import your own samples into the Image Synth window - this is great for mangling up material until it's unrecognizable.
U&I: Have you made any MetaSynth "discoveries" that surprised you?
IB: There's been so many ;-) As I've used it for so long my use of it has evolved with it. However the Spectrum Synth in the last version was very good. Whilst this wasn't exactly a discovery here we had a new OSX version with a completely different way of messing up sound - I had a lot of fun with this and did some rreally nice vocal manipulations that I used in my Outer Limits software instrument.
U&I: Do you have any advice for someone that is first exploring MetaSynth? Is there anything you know now that you wish you had known when you started out with MetaSynth?
IB: Get your hands dirty - just jump in and play. OK - after reading the manual - I always do this but it really is an experimental audio playground. There's so many ways of working from the very subtle to the absolutely extreme. The more you play - the more you learn.