I feel so unsure as I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor. As the music dies, something in your eyes calls to mind a silver screen and all its sad goodbyes. I’m never gonna dance again; guilty feet have got no rhythm. Though it’s easy to pretend, I know you’re not a fool. I should have known better than to cheat a friend and waste a chance that I’d been given. So I’m never gonna dance again the way I danced with you.
Although I was extremely cynical for a sixth grader, I still couldn’t shake the idea that dancing was extremely important. It seemed to loom large in media, with so many story lines climaxing at a prom, so many of my mom’s soft rock songs mentioning it in the chorus, and so many situations requiring Kevin Bacon or Patrick Swayze to provide dancing leadership. By the time I actually got to go to a school dance, I wasn’t sure if I was going to wind up in a dance battle with Wesley Snipes like in the video for Michael Jackson’s “Bad” or if everyone in attendance was going to go home pregnant.
I was over this by high school, and had become so cool that I was buying Camille Saint-Saëns CDs at Tower Records. In the liner notes for his tone poem Danse macabre, I learned all about the tritone (the diabolus en musica) and visual depictions of the danse macabre, with skeletons carrying off everyone from popes to paupers to their fate like a Grateful Dead conga line.
The Slow Danse Macabre is a tribute to the relative stillness and profound awkwardness of a sixth grade slow dance.
The Boss DC-2 Dimension C is one of the coolest pedals to me. It’s chorus without the swooshing.
In a standard chorus effect, the signal is copied and the copy is slightly delayed. The amount of delay is modulated by an oscillator, which causes small changes in pitch and time that are evocative of the small differences in pitch and timing that you’d get from an ensemble of voices or instruments. This is what my Okay Chorale chorus pedal does with bucket brigade delay chips, or what my Monotonous modulated delay does (over longer delay times) with a PT2399 delay-on-a-chip. In most electronic chorus effects though, the LFO is steady, and there’s a uniform swoosh or warbling sound that doesn’t usually happen in acoustic chorus.
The Dimension C attempts to alleviate some of that motion. Instead of making one copy of the original signal, it makes two. It then modulates both copies and inverts the LFO on one of them, so that when one is modulating “up” the other is modulating “down.” This cancels out of a lot of the swoosh, and you’re left with a kind of motionless chorus. The Dimension C creates the delay with bucket brigade chips, which makes it pretty complicated, like practically two normal chorus pedals in one. A PT2399 is a more convenient way to make delay, although it’s limited to around 30ms, which doesn’t leave much room for modulation in the time range that would be perceived as chorus—it winds up being more of a pseudo-chorus/slapback.
While I was in the process of figuring out how to make a Double Pelota 2, which is on the very edge of what I can get my head around regarding circuits, I came across the Dimension P. That’s basically what I was trying to do, maybe optimized mostly for low parts count, and that’s what Slow Danse Macabre is. It uses what Electrosmash calls the “Pin 2 Hack,” which makes my pedal guru sad, but apparently works. I made him slightly happier by incorporating a buffer so the instrument input isn’t being dumped straight into the chips, but then made him sad again by using a JFET instead of a TL072. At least it’s not specified to be a J201 or something. The buffer is Jack Orman’s basic Vr-biased JFET buffer. The layout for the rest of the circuit is lifted entirely from Parasit Studio.
Slow Danse Macabre has controls for speed and depth like a classic chorus. At high values, it will still swoosh, but can be turned down and will get pretty motionless while still sounding chorus-y. It has two additional toggle controls that I kind of regret including: Dry lets you omit the original dry signal and Odd is supposed to be some kind of voice control, but mostly just sounds…odd. If I were to ever build one of these again, I would likely have Dry permanently “on” and Odd permanently “off.”
It definitely does the thing that it’s supposed to do. Perhaps better than expected. It stops doing the motionless thing at extreme knob settings, but it’s not finicky either, and will easily make a range of sounds. I still want to make a Double Pelota 2, if only to see what the difference is.
The following example is the Coronacaster > Slow Danse Macabre > Vox-flavored DI with some convolution reverb in post to give it a sense of space. This is not the greatest demo ever, but is at least exemplary of what it makes me want to play.