Neod: Variations on Vem kan segla förutan vind?

53edo DMI Neod development

One of the very first times I held the instrument, my fingers spontaneously started playing this traditional song from Åland. It's a sailor song about leaving your loved one on shore. I imagine a group of sailors singing this in 1909, when it was first published in its current form, rocking away with their ship.

Vem kan segla förutan vind,
vem kan ro utan åror,
vem kan skiljas från vännen sin
utan att fälla tårar?

Jag kan segla förutan vind,
jag kan ro utan åror,
men ej skiljas från vännen min
utan att fälla tårar.

Who can sail without wind,
who can row without oars,
who can part from their love,
without tears?

I can sail without wind,
I can row without oars,
but not part from my love
without tears.

This first incarnation of the Neod's sound synthesis is raw and quite brutal, just a triangle wave with an ASR envelope. But just like the sailor in the song the instrument still has some attractive vulnerabilities. When playing it with the note being constantly on, like a bagpipe, the imperfections from me not moving all my fingers at exactly the same time are entirely exposed, giving the sound a distinctly digital and distinctly human character. They affect different pitches differently since they require different finger movements and involve buttons with varyingly large interval sizes.

In my arrangement of Vem kan segla förutan vind? I embraced the imperfections of my playing as part of the instrument's expressivity and mimicked the vastness of the sea with 30 layers of recordings at different distances from the listener. The melody is fractured into segments that fully come together only once in a canon-like multi part arrangement. I like to imagine it as 4 drunk sailors with very good ears singing their hearts out on a rocking ship.

The neod excells at microtonal variations. In this arrangement they occur mostly as ornaments, but there is one middle third leading from the minor third of the main motif onto the theme starting on the major third relative to the drone.

Next up for the neod is more complex timbral variations and amplitude control.

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