This weekend, I was lucky enough to get to see the new Telharmonic module from Make Noise in action at Analogue Haven in Santa Monica. As with anything Make Noise develops, the module is already a hit among the early adopter crowd. Bringing a fresh approach to music theory into the rack, the Telharmonic does much more than 3 note voltage controlled polyphony.
As with a number of popular Make Noise modules, this device was designed by the one and only Tom Erbe. Erbe is the original developer of the soundhack software, a legendary application that first appeared on Mac OS 9, which provided an offline avenue to complete sample mangling and destruction. Erbe is responsible for some of the most ubiquitous Make Noise modules, including the Echophon and the appropriately named Erbe-Verb.
The tELHARMONIC’s roots go back further than the advent of electronic music, as it also takes a new approach to handling music theory in the modular context. TONIC, INTERVAL, DEGREE and D-GATE, allow for patch-programming of complex chord progressions, scales, melodies and playing styles. This Voltage Controlled Music Theory guides the Algorithms in a unified way, whereas CENTROID, FLUX and H-LOCK sculpt the timbre of each Algorithm uniquely, allowing for complex sounds to be created around a unified melodic structure and pattern.
Of course, Make Noise already makes a device that is perfect for creating triads, the Pressure Points. But it requires 3 separate oscillators to achieve what the Telharmonic claims to do in only one module, and Pressure Points doesn’t have any voltage controlled harmonic shifting. Some other modular companies are working on similar logic-based devices to achieve sensible voltage control over polyphonic instrumentation, including the incredibleand soon-to-be-released Tonnetz Sequent from Noise Engineering. Considering the popularity of Erbe’s other work, I imagine there are high hopes for Telharmonic at Make Noise HQ.