Renowned sound designer and synthesist Richard Devine recently made us aware that he created over 51 presets for the new Plonk Eurorack module from Intellijel.
Physical modeling is a digital synthesis technique that's well-suited to emulating acoustic instruments such as woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Instead of using samples (or analog oscillators) as the raw materials of tone generation, it uses a complex computer model.
What's a model? Think about how storm-chasers might try to predict the behavior of a tornado. You can't go out and "sample" a tornado into a mason jar and bring the sample back to the lab. So you plug in all the physics known about tornados into a computer and run a program that asks, "Now what would I do if I were a tornado?" The concept is the same with modeling instruments, only the computer is asking "What would I do if I were a drum? A clarinet? An organ pipe? A struck or plucked string?" The first commercially successful synth to incorporate modeling was the Yamaha VL-1.
The software masters of physical modeling are Montreal-based Applied Acoustics Systems (AAS), known for such soft synths as String Studio, Chromaphone, Tassman, and UltraAnalog -- and they happen to be exactly whom Intellijel collaborated with in developing Plonk.
Plonk specializes in percussive sounds and its sound engine has two chief components: The exciter, which is a model of the thing doing the striking; and the resonator, a model of the thing being struck. Parameters for each are deeply adjustable, and resonator options include marimba, plate, drum head, and more.
The most complete information on Plonk is currently on Ctrl-Mod's retail page, and we've reached out to Mr. Devine about hearing some early audio examples. Price is $349.