In this tutorial, we’ll be exploring the technique of spectral synthesis for creating long, evolving ambient soundscapes, using the freeware application VirtualANS.
VirtualANS is a software emulation of an electrical/mechanical synthesizer called the ANS, which was conceived by Russian inventor Evgeny Murzin in the 1930s, and finally built in the 1950s. The operator would inscribe designs on a sheet of glass coated with an opaque black material, and light shining through the transparent areas would strike photocells, activating oscillators tuned to individual frequencies corresponding to the clear areas on the glass. In this way, the ANS was the original precursor to today’s software-based spectral synthesizers, like Izotope Iris, MetaSynth, and Photosounder.
Much like its more famous Russian cousin, the theremin, the ANS was capable of strange, eerie microtonal sounds that were perfect for ambient music, especially science fiction movie soundtracks, like the scores of 1970s movies Solaris and Stalker.
Watch the video tutorial, take a look at the links to download the software and learn more about the original ANS, and have fun!
Download VirtualANS here: http://www.warmplace.ru/soft/ans/
More about the original ANS synth:
Here is a 2004 album by British experimental music group Coil, made entirely on the original ANS synthesizer in Moscow: