Out of Russia comes a new version of the extraordinary Virtual ANS software simulator of the unique Russian ANS synthesizer. It was an experimental photoelectronic musical instrument created by Evgeny Murzin from 1938 to 1958. The ANS pulls music from spectrograms displayed as sonograms. Virtual ANS does this in a much less mechanical but visually arresting way and is completely fascinating to play with.
The basic idea is that you have pitch on the left in a piano roll styli and time along the top. In the middle is a grid on which is displayed a loaded sonogram. As the timeline travels it interprets the aspects of the sonogram as pitch and parameter information. It can generate an unlimited number of pure tones as the light dances across the image. Sonograms can be as simple or complex as you like, either intentional or experimental. You can load your own images and see what the ANS makes of them. Amongst the noise it finds curves of pitch and depths of frequencies in the colour changes and intensities – it’s really quite fascinating.
Then you can load your own audio files, samples and tracks and get a completely different view of them both aurally and visually. Pick up the pen tool and start drawing and shading in your own ideas as you start to grasp what these things do. You can lighten and darken, draw in quick lines or thick lines, pull in some fading triangles and gradients. Loading a drum loop is particularly effective while dabbing musical blips and blops over the top.
This is microtonal, spectral music that’ll draw deep atmospheric sounds out of any sound or visual you have to hand you. Or you can play in from a MIDI keyboard, record from a microphone or throw in a combination of factors. The possibilities are endless.
Virutal ANS is free although developer Alexander Zolotov would welcome donations. And remarkably it’s available on Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and iOS.
- Virtual ANS webpage.