Talk box & Vocoder
When teaching composers about voice, giving a class on the talk box & the vocoder is a great complement. Here are a couple of notes I took to prepare the class I'm giving tomorrow.
The talk box is mostly known as an effect enabling to apply vocalic sound colors to guitar sounds. My teaching material includes:
- a copy of the original patent for an electronic voice box apparatus, designed to be used as an artificial larynx.
- a video of Peter Frampton performing with guitar & talk box (the device is used from around 5:40 in the video):
- a picture of Peter Frampton's talk box, by Carl Lender:
- drawings on the blackboard, to remind students about formants, resonances of the vocal track, voiced and un-voiced sounds, vocal folds, guitar strings, and more.
Going from the talk box to the vocoder, it's going from real-world formants to modeled ones, where the resonances are not made by a human's vocal tract, but thanks to electronic resonator circuits. The Moog vocoder is perfect as a teaching support. My sources include:
- a copy of the patent for an analog speech encoder and decoder, designed by Harald Bode and used in the Moog machine.
- the software vocoder included in the Cycling 74 Max examples: we can see and analyze the code easily.
- drawings on the blackboard to highlight the source/filter architecture, the noise detection, and the voiced/unvoiced synthesis.
- a great video including an introduction to the vocoder, by composer Giorgio Moroder.
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