Homegrown Sounds has released Phase Shifter, a free VST instrument plug-in designed to emulate Steve Reich’s tape loop phasing technique.
In the late 60’s composer Steve Reich stumbled across a technique he called phasing, which was to have two identical tape loops that run at slightly different speeds, the result is that every possible combination of sound is cycled through until they arrive back in sync. The result with a melodic piece of music is that it moves through moments of chaos and moments of melody. Brian Eno also used this technique extensively on some of his Ambient albums. After becoming interested in this in 2008, I decided to build myself a simple plugin to emulate the process as it was surprisingly difficult to emulate with any software I had at that time. I have now expanded it to emulate four tape decks and many more features such as time stretching, filters & FX so that it has become a much more capable synthesizer.
Phase Shifter is designed more for playing live, though full VST automation is supported and having an external controller makes the process a much more rewarding experience. It also has a built in recorder so that the output can be recorded directly to disk. It works by loading up to 2 WAVs, and is triggered via a midi keyboard. Middle C will play the WAV at it’s original speed. It has a lot of potential for producing interesting sounds, I would be pleased to hear of the different ways people use it.
Phase Shifter was developed for the KVR Developers Challenge 2009. It is available to download as a freeware VST instrument for Windows PC.