A friend from years back uses Hollyhock and sent me this remix he did relatively recently, where he just fed the original track live through all of its processing. Both the original and the result are noise / drone kind of things, so no idea if they’re stylistically of interest, but, yeah, it certainly suggested to me you could manipulate a sound pretty thoroughly in Hollyhock.
(Original track for comparison purposes)
Having faffed around in AudioMulch for let’s call it 15 years I switched to Bitwig ~2 years ago and am really enjoying it. It’s more of a trad DAW than AudioMulch or either of those mentioned in this topic so far, which suits my relatively trad writing style. It’s multi-touch capable, very heavy on modulating anything by anything else, and I find it incredibly intuitive. It has the best contextual help I’ve seen in an application. (Yes, no qualifiers.)
I typically use it to build up a series of loops, parameters of which are being modulated in polymetric ways (which is a fancy way of saying different length loops), so that even when you leave things alone they are changing form over time.
Here’s some examples of things I can imagine pulling together in 10 minutes each (the time is in coming up with the ideas!):
A 4-note arpeggio plays a 7-note long sequence that randomly changes speed against the master clock (e.g. from 8th notes to dotted 8ths to 4ths to 16ths) every time a new note plays on a bassline. The arpeggio is a phase distortion synth tuned to just intonation. When the volume of a separate audio track goes above a certain volume, the length of the sequence gets bumped out to 13 notes long, temporarily pushing the start point of the pattern to a new place against the master clock. When the cutoff of a separate synth line goes above a certain value, a wavefolder kicks in on the arpeggio causing the notes to … fold?
A wavetable synth riff echoes away using MIDI echoes (i.e. decreasing note velocities), but the echoes are changing pitch (constrained to a given scale if you like - maybe C major, E Lydian, a Javanese 7-note scale, etc.) and also changing speeds. Those two things are happening at different rates, perhaps controlled by other MIDI or audio events in the track, or by LFOs or by step sequences. Each new note of the synth cycles through its wavetable, but the speed at which that happens is being modulated by a step sequence that’s 11 16th-notes long. The amount that the step sequence changes the wavetable cycle speed is modulated by an LFO with a 50-bar duration. The relative velocity of each echo is also modulated by an LFO with a 49-bar duration (this LFO is a different shape and phase to the other one, of course).
A synth jam you’ve loaded as an audio file is played back as grains in a granular synth at 5% original speed. You’ve laid the file across a MIDI keyboard so the bottom note is the start of the file and the highest note is the end of it. The release rate of each note is controlled by [some MPE shit I don’t understand from your Roli Seaboard]. A highpass filter is rolling off the low end of each note, based on the volume of a kick drum on a different track. The results are going into a reverb unit that has a delay in its wet tank plus a pitch shifter, to create the classic shimmer effect.
[I personally hate this shit but] you’ve got a 2-bar beat and the crash cymbal at the start of the loop only plays every 16 bars, even though it’s a 2-bar loop. The hi-hats that are on-beat play 90% of the time and the hi-hats on the off-beats play 40% of the time. You’ve put in some bonus kick drums that randomly play back between 20-50% velocity to add ghost notes. A cowbell plays on the 2nd beat of the bar 80% of the time, and only if the cowbell doesn’t play, a ride cymbal plays on the and of the 3rd beat.
and on and on and on…
Oh and… you open your Ableton .als file and press play and it goes. (I believe - I hear it doesn’t deal well with AUs.)
Bitwig has also got a built in modular environment called The Grid, a bit like Reaktor, with two preset modes with different shortcuts for generating vs. processing sounds. And it can send and receive CV, sync with Eurorack (I don’t know what that means), send DC offsets, and so on and so on…
I quite like it.
PS. I’m happy to provide some examples of music my ambient duo has made, where I’m using it, and try to explain what features I’m using and how. I’ve got one published example of me using it solo which might actually be a better one… Not sure.