Series 5 of Pittsburgh Modular’s experimental modules takes us on an analogue ride with the Elephant Drum and the Narwhal Cymbal.
Coming hot on the heels of the Llama Kick and Polar Dear Snare, we have the strange non-specific Elephant Drum. Pittsburgh Modular says that it attempts a re-imagining of the classic Pollard Syndrum 1970s drum synthesizer. Doesn’t look much like it, but it’s the sound that counts. Pittsburgh went for the musicality and flexibility of the Syndrum rather than trying to make a copy.
It has a variable waveform oscillator which can be rhythmically modulated to generate complex percussive sounds. It has a built-in LFO and decay envelope (Tension) that add depth and movement to the sounds. The Material knob moves the waveform from sine to square wave and can be voltage controlled, as can the tuning.
This brand new design attempts to mimic the sound of an acoustic cymbal using analogue components. This usually results in something horrible or brilliant, depending on your perspective. Pittsburgh like to think they’ve got this one right.
The sound comes from analogue physical modelling and results in something that sounds “not completely unlike a cymbal”, which is a nice Douglas Adams turn of phrase. I’m sure he would appreciate this sort of thing.
Richard from Pittsburgh has done a nice long live stream presenting the modules on YouTube. The Elephant Drum has an amazingly wide range of percussive sounds. He was getting everything from kicks, toms, bells, clacks, clinks, squeaks and bongs from it. The Narwhal really lands on that hi-hat sound, both closed and open. Again, the knobs of density, material and tuning offer a wide range of timbres.
Elephant Drum and Narwhal Cymbal will be available in limited numbers for $199 each.