Recreating Alvin Lucier's I'm Sitting in a Room with Eurorack Magic: A Deep Dive into the Nonlinearcircuits I Was Sitting in a Room Module

The Nonlinearcircuits I Was Sitting in a Room module, borne from the intersection of artistic expression and technological innovation, delves into the granular world of processing effects, embodying the spirit of Alvin Lucier's impactful work.

Designed to mimic the sonic essence of Lucier's renowned piece, "I'm Sitting in a Room," the inspiration behind the module's creation sparked during the CellF project, helmed by two Nonlinear Circuits members, Guy and Nathan, who interacted closely with Lucier. The project aimed at a neuron-driven performance in New York City with Lucier's involvement, which, owing to unforeseen circumstances, had to be reinvented. Adapting to the change, they executed a performance at the 2023 Venice Biennale, using neurons cultivated from a vial of Lucier's blood - a testament to the group's ingenuity and dedication to embody Lucier's artistic legacy.

At its core, the module houses nine PT2399 chips, arranged in series. The initial chip responds to voltage-controlled delay time, while the subsequent eight come with fixed delays. Intriguingly, the module is distinguished by its intrinsic noisiness, contributing a unique flavor to the music it births. It's not devoid of quirks either; certain settings tickle the sonic palate with uncommon sensations, like a phantom perception of reverse delay.

The model offers flexibility for experimental enthusiasts. Out6, the default feedback input, can be substituted with other outputs, lending a bespoke dimension to the sound. Notably, the odd-numbered outputs contrast significantly to the even-numbered ones when employed as feedback, providing a platform for trial and error approaches. Raising the complexity a notch higher, the option to process one of the outputs through a Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF) or Phase Shifter before it's cycled back infuses the sound with an additional auditory layer.

However, it's essential to note that this remarkable module extracts a significant amount of current from the +12V rail, approximately 220mA. Therefore, it's necessary to factor in the heavy electricity demand while planning your eurorack's power distribution.

Add to the mix an ALL output, which amalgamates everything excluding the ninth stage, and you unlock an avenue to achieve pseudo stereo, multi-phonic, or spatialization effects. Whether you're immersed in sound art, into experimental music, or just enthusiastic about modular synthesis, this module offers a charming dance between the expected and the unexpected, a journey of sonic discovery.

Overall, the Nonlinearcircuits I Was Sitting in a Room module manifests the synthesis of art and technology in a tangible form. A commentator in the concert of modular synthesis, this module honours Alvin Lucier while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of how we perceive, create, and interact with music.

Example Usage

To use the Nonlinearcircuits I Was Sitting in a Room module in a novice-level setup, start by patching the out6 output to the feedback input to hear the initial effect. Experiment by trying out different outputs as feedback, as using odd versus even numbered outs can yield distinct results. For added creativity, take one of the outputs and run it through a Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF) or a Phase Shifter before feeding it back into the module.

Additionally, make use of the individual outputs for stages 1-8 to explore the unique characteristics of each stage. Keep in mind that the final output of stage 9 is combined with the ALL output, offering a comprehensive mix of all stages.

This versatile module can also be utilized for creating pseudo stereo, multi-phonic, and spatialization effects, adding depth and complexity to your soundscapes. Remember to refer to the build guide for various customization options when setting up your module.

Lastly, be mindful of the power consumption requirements, as this module draws a significant amount of current on the +12V rail, at least 220mA. Ensure your power supply can accommodate this demand effectively for optimal performance.

To demonstrate an INTERMEDIATE-level usage example with the Nonlinearcircuits I Was Sitting in a Room module, let's explore creating a unique spatialization effect. Start by patching the output of stage 1 to a VCF or Phase shifter module for additional processing. Then, route the processed signal back into one of the feedback inputs, such as out6, to introduce complexity and modulation to the delayed signal. Experiment with different outputs for feedback, particularly trying odd and even numbered outs for distinct tonal variations.

By leveraging the multiplicity of delayed signals in this module, combined with external processing and feedback routing, you can craft immersive and dynamic spatial effects that add depth and movement to your soundscapes. Remember to consider the power requirements, as the I Was Sitting in a Room module draws a significant amount of current on the +12V rail. Explore these possibilities to push the boundaries of spatialization in your Eurorack setup.

Further Thoughts

To create a longer feedback loop with more pronounced and complex textures, try experimenting with different combinations of outputs as feedback sources. For example, routing an output through a voltage-controlled filter or a phase shifter before sending it back into the module can yield unique timbral transformations and spatial effects. Additionally, exploring the contrast between using odd and even-numbered outputs for feedback can result in contrasting sonic characteristics and nuances in the processed sound. By engaging with various output configurations and signal processing techniques, you can push the boundaries of sound manipulation and unearth new sonic possibilities within your eurorack setup.