Bringing an eight-channel drone instrument to life

Tools: PureData, Bela, C++

Octocosm[e] is an ongoing project by artist and composer Vincent Fillion. It is an audiovisual digital instrument designed for drone and generative music performances. It was presented publicly for the first time on February 25th 2023 as part of the Mois Multi festival.

Vincent Fillion showcasing his work at Mois Multi (Photo: Merryl B. Lavoie)

At its core, Octocosm[e] is a musical instrument with eight (drony) sound generators, eight channels, and eight audio outputs. Each channel is identical and can be assigned to any one of the sound generators. The instrument can be controlled using its physical sliders, buttons and pots, or remotely through OSC. The resulting sound is played on the eight speakers directly embedded in the instrument’s body. On the visual side, Octocosm[e] allows the user to take control of eight audio-reactive 3D shapes that can be manipulated, distorted and transformed using the physical controls on the instrument.

Prototype of the Octocosm[e] instrument.

My contribution in this project was divided in two parts. First, I helped Vincent optimize and debug his main Pure Data patch, which produces all of the instrument’s sound. Vincent enlisted me to make his Pure Data patch run more smoothly without audio drops and refactor it to make future maintenance and development easier. I also helped him develop some sections of the patch and gave him various tips on how to optimize Pure Data and make the most out of it.

The second part was during the project’s artistic residency at the Charpente des fauves as part of the JAM 360 event in January 2023. During this time, my work was focused on developing a small C++ program on a Bela development board. This program is pretty critical, since it is in charge of reading the values coming various physical inputs of the instrument, scaling/filtering their values and transmitting them to the network using OSC.

A prototype of the project was presented at the Mois Multi on January 25th and further development is planned throughout 2023.

Octocosm[e] residency in January 2023.