Back in the late 1960s, a composer by the name of Iannis Xenakis began his research into the concept of stochastic synthesis, a tone generation technique that uses probability distributions to manipulate digital samples.
If you’re struggling to understand exactly what that means, you’re not alone, but the good news is that Xenakis’s Dynamic Stochastic Synthesis (DSS) algorithm has now been implemented into a free synth plugin, Xenos, that appears to be relatively easy to control.
There are three main sections - Pitch, Amplitube and Global - with the first two of these offering a choice of ten stochastic distributions with up to two parameters each. There are also “first- and second-order random walks” (nope, us neither), a variable number of segments per wave cycle and variable amplitude envelope.
Xenos offers 64 voices of polyphony and supports parameter automation. Despite its complex engine, the interface is pretty streamlined, so we’re hopeful that it could reward experimentation (even if you’re not quite sure what it is you’re experimenting with). There’s a quick start video below.
The synth was created by Raphael Radna and can be downloaded now from his Github page. It runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU formats and, because it’s open-source, you can also download and tinker with the source code.