The VCS3

I began writing pieces in a language called Csound when I was at UW in the mid 90s. Working on SGIs, we wrote programs in LISP to generate these huge lists of notes; lists to be interpreted by instruments written in Csound. This conveyer belt way of making music felt weird and wack at first, since my main mode of taking down ideas involved my 4 track, guitar, voice, cheap synth and tape manipulation. When I left UW things got more interesting: processors got cheaper and Csound evolved into a realtime sound processing tool. Many folks have contributed to a floating life raft of a code archive of Csound instruments; one night's trawl through the archive led me to Steven Cook's VCS3 instrument. It was designed to be fed the note lists, but look at the original! Covered in buttons, knobs and plugs, I had to lay a UI on top of this. Gabriel Moldonodo's CsoundAV was the first incarnation of Csound to make this possible - I could (reiterate ui on top of Csound orc). He added the FLTK toolkit to Csound, but I could never customize it past the default gray look. So it doesn't look as good as it should (yet) but sounds awesome, and that's what's important. Gabriel himself added a screen to save presets, I added MIDI in.
My band Wizard Prison relied heavily on it when we opened for Animal Collective on their Strawberry Jam tour, and on each of our 3 records. Some audio featuring my VCS3: 1st test:
Audio MP3
From Wizard Prison's second album, ][:
Audio MP3
Also feature on this little film: Soul Gold from listen faster on Vimeo.


You'll find the csd file here. Csound can be found here. I get requests for this instrument here and there, and it can be painful to set up, so I'm working on an independent cross platform installer . Hit me with an email if you want to be part of the beta test group.