Part 1: Quadraphonic Master Class with Suzanne Ciani

Suzanne Ciani is an electronic music pioneer, composer, sound designer responsible for iconic sounds in commercials and video games, AND not only a pioneer but someone who is still leading the pack today with amazing modular performances.

But what you won’t get to really know about Suzanne’s performance until you attend one of her concerts is that all her shows are strictly quadraphonic, and the experience is amazing.

That experience can be recreated in the studio, so I set out to create series of videos about creating quadraphonic music and performance.

Here’s Part 1 of that series – a master class with Suzanne Ciani. Suzanne’s gear of choice for quadraphonic is a Buchla system, which is rare and expensive. In Part 2 I’ll show how you can get similar results with any DAW, a few things that are unique to Ableton Live, and, if you’re into Eurorack, a few ways to perform quadraphonically with standard and specialized modules.

0:00 Intro
1:30 History of Quad
3:30 Venues
4:30 Quad vs 5.1
6:30 Minding space
9:50 Using 227e
13:00 Reverb
14:30 Swirl control
15:50 Multiple motions
19:00 Illusionary space
19:40 Effects (H9)
25:40 Too much motion?
27:00 Some snippets
35:40 Decoding Quad

7 thoughts on “Part 1: Quadraphonic Master Class with Suzanne Ciani

    1. Yes, VCV is awesome for this!

      Sharing files quad recordings is indeed a problem. The easiest way would be to share your VCV project 🙂 otherwise, share 4 wav files (or 2 stereo). The other options are 5.1 encoding, but playback maybe spotty depending on the capability of the decoder in question. Movies have been doing 5.1 for quite some time, which is basically just quad and two more channels.

    1. Thanks – by the way, if you’ve created something in quad for VCV rack and want to share it, feel free to send the project file over (email in “about” section). I want to cover VCV in the next video too – happy to share what you made and give credit/link to where ever you want

  1. I am really struggling with setting up reverb in the quad system I am trying to build and would appreciate any guidance. I don’t quite understand the comment in the video about using a single H9, placing it before spatialization. Does that not mean that a given sound would be moving along with its ‘space’? I am sure that could sound good as an effect but what I am striving for is the sense of the spatially positioned elements being positioned in a much larger, possibly less natural, space than the room. I have been thinking about a separate reverb, Starlab specifically, on the front pair and rear pair of speakers. The issue here seems to be that something positioned front left would reverberate into the front right but would be unnaturally absent from both rears. Is there any advice out there? Thanks!

    1. Nothing in particular as it seems like you’ve caught on to most of the issues, just to say that too much reverb will wash out the spatial effect. Personally, I don’t think it’s just a sin that the reverb follows the object if it’s not moving too fast but if you do then a send as opposed to an insert should do that trick. Check out my Quasar video for a few more ideas

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