guess i’m one of those who finds the question a little opaque or hard to fit. as in, i don’t know actually what a playable instrument is, if it isn’t a tool for making surprising noises. (saying this with a conservatory background in string performance.)
so, i have a shnth (a prototype, it has some physical quirks) and i find it to have a broad range of use cases. you can very simply set it up so that (say) one set of buttons are gates, one set are octave switches, barre-presses and the antennae modulate timbre, and each barre is a fixed base pitch. a straightforward gesture-sound mapping which, for some, might constitute a playable instrument.
or you can make rather complex self-generating or “random” textures of course. no doubt that the ecosystem encourages sort of exploratory and chaotic applications.
for tuning the num/denom paradigm lends itself well to just intonation, as well demonstrated in @wednesdayayay’s lovely vids above (thanks for those!)
and to me, i guess i find shnth/shlisp’s actual sound palette relatively limited, but not in an unpleasing way. it feels a bit nostalgic, like playing with csound in the 80s. i kinda wish there were more options for straightforward lowpass filtering.
thanks for the question, it has inspired me to dig the thing out of a crate and take it on the train with me.
that’s super interesting! i think probably anyone who plays music, makes instruments, studies music theory, conducts, engineers records, builds amps, &c, has some kind of analytical instinct in the presence of sound. but that can take all kinds of forms, and for myself its something to be, i dunno, selectively suppressed or engaged at will (ideally, not always easily.)
personally i’d find it totally hopeless to maintain a sufficiently detailed mental model of how all the instruments work in a given piece of music, in real time. and one aspect of the art of orchestration is about totally subverting or annihilating the possibility of such a model.
do you have similar reactions to, say, compositional structure, or electronic production techniques? like, you have to fully work out the structure or signal flow, or experience discomfort / chaos? (i have friends like this)
i remember my dad listening to a record i had just made. “what do you think?” “it’s great! there’s some intermodulation distortion around 800hz.”
that would be hard. shlisp opcodes are ARM assembly. i’ve long thought (and said on this forum a few times) that it would be a cool project for someone to emulate each opcode in C. then shlisp would be a portable system. i’m never gonna find the time.