Modular Philosophies

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

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unau
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Post by unau » Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:19 am

For me, the main thing that sounded nice and was not very complicated to manage. What would the instrument was within himself and convenient for live's.

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Donderdag
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Post by Donderdag » Tue Feb 03, 2015 5:26 am

I also fall into the "basic function" modules camp. IMO the whole point of a modular system is that it's MODULAR, and to this end every single one of the modules in my rack are, on their own, "boring", but it's the possibility of connecting up these individually boring bits to make new and exciting sounds that gets me out of bed in the morning.

For this reason I've mainly stuck with Doepfer modules, but I've got a z8000 and have some ASYS modules coming, so I'm not adverse to other manufacturers as long as their modules are simple and uncluttered (sorry MN!).
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Post by Mort Rouge » Tue Feb 03, 2015 8:05 am

ETP wrote:if one avoids digital then logic, clock dividers, bitcrushers, quantizers, tv etc. are to avoid. and vegans shouldn´t wear fur or leather
Logic and clock dividers? Really? Just because they're binary doesn't make them digital in the sense of the word we use for things like bitcrushers. :sadbanana:

I'm basically with Donderdag on this. I have one digital module, Doepfer A-166, but I might do its functions with an analog module in the future. But it isn't so much digital that is the problem for me, hence why I'm not in a hurry to switch it out. Modular is a way to get away from overly computerized electronic music. The A-166 is so basic in its functions that I hardly consider it a computer, or it doesn't make a real difference at least (it's just cheaper). However, if I wanted a multi-effect module (*cough* Disting *cough*), I would just have stayed in laptop-land with Puredata. Modular is about combining lots of simple things until it becomes complex for me, and having to know where each function fits in the patch by heart.

I'm also, not entirely, but still somewhat against modules like Maths. I wouldn't call it esoteric, though. For the price and size I will always recommend it to anyone (in truth it is a classic design). But it is only two slews with a gimped inverting mixer and hardwired maximum to the final output. I would rather have a Doepfer Min/Max, a standalone inverting mixer (so I can actually use all the channels for other things than the slews) and VC-ADSRs. It's not cheaper, takes a whole lot of more space, but I didn't get in to this expecting things to be cheap.

Furthermore, I consider quantizers to be cheating. What you do is chain multiple VC-sequencers together, one for octaves, and one for notes etcetera. Apply some math skills and you can get an all analog, horribly cumbersome quantizer. :bacon:
Calling a circuit that outputs the maximum of several sources "analog OR" makes as much sense as calling a ring modulator "analog XOR" ...

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Post by ear ear » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:23 am

Mort Rouge wrote:Furthermore, I consider quantizers to be cheating. What you do is chain multiple VC-sequencers together, one for octaves, and one for notes etcetera. Apply some math skills and you can get an all analog, horribly cumbersome quantizer. :bacon:
But if you're objectives include exploring microtonality then this is what you must do. It's also more interesting.
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Post by Mort Rouge » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:41 am

ear ear wrote:
Mort Rouge wrote:Furthermore, I consider quantizers to be cheating. What you do is chain multiple VC-sequencers together, one for octaves, and one for notes etcetera. Apply some math skills and you can get an all analog, horribly cumbersome quantizer. :bacon:
But if you're objectives include exploring microtonality then this is what you must do. It's also more interesting.
I never said I wasn't serious. :deadbanana:

There is the Analogue Systems quantizer for microtonality, though.
Calling a circuit that outputs the maximum of several sources "analog OR" makes as much sense as calling a ring modulator "analog XOR" ...

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Post by Dcramer » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:43 am

I certainly have a design philosophy when it comes to my system design; I feel the real power of these systems is within their modularity, that is the degree to which they are patchable and controllable. :tu: I don't think of my system as being of finite size or needing constraint. I simply keep adding and expanding based on a simple idea: I want to have the broadest palette possible in order to cover as many synthesis techniques as I can in a modular environment. To this end I keep adding modules, looking for good deals but striving to create balance across all of the functions possible and expanding to more functions :guinness: my rig has lots of modules that I don't use daily but that's fine, I keep them "in stock" for the times I need them. I swap out knobs to create a uniform look but beyond that I'm not picky about modules, it's all about the functions they provide and how those functions add to my system.
For me the modular is not an instrument. It's simply the possibility of an instrument, waiting to be created through patching :party:

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Post by dude » Tue Feb 03, 2015 9:59 am

props to op for putting this in mod gen



my modular philosophy is away and maybe in the hospital.

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Donderdag
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Post by Donderdag » Tue Feb 03, 2015 10:23 am

dude wrote:my modular philosophy is away and maybe in the hospital.
My deepest sympathies, I hope it recovers soon :tu:
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Post by peripatitis » Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:57 pm

a) Not digital, especially stuff easily programmed in max (granulators, envelopes, vocoders, etc )

b) Sound Character.

c) Modules that allow to built an interesting control structure.
random/noise/sampleandhold etc are a starting point not the goal.

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Post by pixelmechanic » Tue Feb 03, 2015 4:32 pm

I don't like multifunction/multimode modules... especially if they 'forget' what they were doing when you turn your system off (Sport Mod, I'm looking at you), and if you can't remember what each mode does (Disting, it's your turn)

(Old) Maths is ok as I see it as a bunch of modules in a single panel, I can generally tell what it's doing by looking at how I patched it...

Like switches, hate push buttons unless they physically latch.

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Post by ETP » Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:52 am

Mort Rouge wrote:
ETP wrote:if one avoids digital then logic, clock dividers, bitcrushers, quantizers, tv etc. are to avoid. and vegans shouldn´t wear fur or leather
Logic and clock dividers? Really? Just because they're binary doesn't make them digital in the sense of the word we use for things like bitcrushers. :sadbanana:

of course they do, they have digital chips onboard. run a bitcrusher with slow cv and you will hear quantized modulation.


however. i don´t want to limit myself by using digital only or coast limited. when an interesting module or synth comes out i want to buy, i will do so. no matter if a dx7 is digital or makenoise has strange panels.

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Post by ear ear » Wed Feb 04, 2015 4:01 am

Mort Rouge wrote:
ear ear wrote:
Mort Rouge wrote:Furthermore, I consider quantizers to be cheating. What you do is chain multiple VC-sequencers together, one for octaves, and one for notes etcetera. Apply some math skills and you can get an all analog, horribly cumbersome quantizer. :bacon:
But if you're objectives include exploring microtonality then this is what you must do. It's also more interesting.
I never said I wasn't serious. :deadbanana:

There is the Analogue Systems quantizer for microtonality, though.

I never said you weren't serious. :)

You mean the RS130? I'm not in Euro land, so I just looked that up. It only does 12T ET, no? If you don't use a quantiser you aren't limited to using only those notes that someone else deems useful. :party: :guinness: :yay:
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Post by dubonaire » Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:45 am

I can understand why people place constraints on themselves to help creativity, but I'm definitely not in the same camp as people who invent some kind of modular platonic ideal as a rule based constraint for the sake of a rule (like no digital, or only basic modules).

A modular is meant to be a tool for expression. Not a tool to limit expression. It's almost Freudian. Actually it probably is Freudian.

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Post by proturboplus » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:16 am

Meanwhile, I have another philosophy to add to my list:

Clones

I like modules that are clones of some well-known gear - but for me, it's important that for example a transistor filter behaves like a transistor filter (it need not to sound exactly like a Moog). Or a diode filter must behave like a diode filter (it need not to sound exactly like an EMS).

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Post by blw » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:25 am

Dunno, some of these:
noisejockey wrote: - No effects. I have that covered via hardware and software.

- No controllers. Between a DAW, audio interface, MIDI keyboards, USB slider/knob banks, footswitches, and a Ciat Lonbarde Tetrax Organ (pressure sensitive inputs), I have that covered.

- No sequencers in the first phase or two. If I play away from the studio, I own Korg Volcas and EHX pedals can drive, or be driven, by Eurorack.
Seem to contradict:
noisejockey wrote: - Optimize for insane modulation options. Uniquely modular and totally not covered via soft synths or existing hardware that I own.
Modular effects, sequencers, and some controllers seem to cover very different ground than end-of-chain effects and MIDI controllers. All useful, and maybe more your style, but a lot of unique modular sounds involve modulating an effect or a sequence, stuff you just can't do with anything else.

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Post by Mort Rouge » Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:50 am

ETP wrote:of course they do, they have digital chips onboard. run a bitcrusher with slow cv and you will hear quantized modulation.
Yes, but my point was that bitcrushers and logic are different. For example, the bitcrusher uses a A/D converter (and then a D/A converter :hihi: ).

Logic can also be constructed analog:
http://www.cgs.synth.net/modules/cgs26_analogic.html

Anyway, to further the discussion, I feel more than anything limitations are the essence of working with modular synths.
Calling a circuit that outputs the maximum of several sources "analog OR" makes as much sense as calling a ring modulator "analog XOR" ...

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Post by Dcramer » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:23 am

Yup it makes sense that if I limit myself to a set of modules doing interesting things through modulation, I can explore the range of results to get the artistic output I desire.
My philosophy though is that I build the constrained patch using a limited set of modules from the unlimited broad range I am continually adding to my rack :party:

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Post by missingtwin » Sat Feb 07, 2015 10:31 am

Interesting discussion.
I flirted w/ a euro frankensynth but it was a failure.
I could not get used to the varying tolerances between components
from different manufacturers. And I hated the look of it.
My philosophy was to start w/ a semi modular and use that
as the foundation, then branch from there, but only to enhance
the functionality of the semi.
So started w the cwejman s1mk2 and have slowly added modules
to complement.
This has been a great success for me w regard to production and
thoughtful module acquisition.

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Post by Mort Rouge » Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:13 pm

Dcramer wrote:Yup it makes sense that if I limit myself to a set of modules doing interesting things through modulation, I can explore the range of results to get the artistic output I desire.
My philosophy though is that I build the constrained patch using a limited set of modules from the unlimited broad range I am continually adding to my rack :party:
What I'm doing is actually just keep repeating the same patch over and over again, explore its limits. Now and then, I find out what I need to further extend the function of the patch without actually changing the patch, and I buy a new module.

I bought a PLL to further help me with my one cv derived polyphony, for example. I'm quickly finding the rhythmical uses for a PLL though, and pitch and rhythm merges in function.

No, I don't like Stockhausen :P ...
Calling a circuit that outputs the maximum of several sources "analog OR" makes as much sense as calling a ring modulator "analog XOR" ...

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Post by Aaronautical001 » Sat Feb 07, 2015 12:50 pm

Interesting topic, as a new wiggler the only guideline I have imposed on myself is to buy second hand as much as possible. This is helping slow down acquisition and gives me more time to learn the modules. God knows I would love to have the skill and time to build modules myself, so much respect to those that do.
For me, I am still in love with learning about the modules and the serendipity involved with using this instrument. This has meant I have a tendency towards desiring more complex or multifunction modules, but I'm still building the rig. As long as the modular invokes a child like state of wonder and invites play, I'm a happy boy. :hihi:

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Post by GuyaGuy » Sat Feb 07, 2015 2:35 pm

mskala wrote:I imagine proturboplus also watches Lars von Trier movies and drinks grain alcohol with rainwater.
Modular Dogme 15!

My Dogme 15 is more about preferences. I prefer modules that don't have menus or displays, have a straightforward layout, can handle CV and audio well where applicable, doesn't replicate what I have in non-modular, etc.

But I also like trying things out even if means breaking a rule of preference. Lars did it and so can I. So there.

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Post by calaveras » Sat Feb 07, 2015 8:38 pm

ETP wrote:if one avoids digital then logic, clock dividers, bitcrushers, quantizers, tv etc. are to avoid. and vegans shouldn´t wear fur or leather
Not true at all. There is a huge difference between logic such as and, nor, nand etc and an LFO built on an ARM processor.
Clock dividers also can be built without resorting to any kind of Arduino/ARM type cpu, but instead just using shift registers and logic. Of course I am not a flipping purist, I do own a 4MS RCD which has a microchip in it. But when I look at things like the Modcan quad LFO, I think it is nice, but that it is kind of lazy engineering to do periodic waveforms all in the cpu. I'm sure the DA conversion is first rate and very high resolution and all. But one of the things I like about modular (and SDIY) is that I get to play with the voltage. I can modulate just about anything with anything. Taking a conversion roundtrip form voltages to data and back introduces an abstraction layer. This robs it of the immediacy and organic roughness that I like in modular. I prefer an LFO derived from a circuit, not a LUT.

Also as background, I spent a long time doing every damn thing in my DAW. I still do quite a lot there. I started buying hardware synths a few years ago. And I really liked the sound and interaction. It seems to me that building a modular with a bunch of digital bits emulating circuits is just the worlds most expensive softsynth. I'm all for digital shit. Chiptune, wavetable, granular etc. But when I am cross modding and FM-ing I want the electrons screaming at me to stop, not the AD or DA converter of a module.

PS I do own a disting, and it is great, but I was high like a dog when I bought it. Though it does work well to fill holes in my not quite complete rig.

pps I am a vegan and I dont wear leather or fur.

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Post by ETP » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:11 am

calaveras wrote:pps I am a vegan and I dont wear leather or fur.
but some vegans do. :hihi:


however.

from wikipedia:
Digital electronics, or digital (electronic) circuits, represent signals by discrete bands of analog levels, rather than by a continuous range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_electronics


a clock divider is a bulk of flip flops. these are made of logic gates which are basic building blocks of any digital computer. yes, the a-160 is digital.
if you patch a clockdivider from a MN function using the gate outs, you have an on/off signal. which is actually digital. because it´s quantized

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Post by Mort Rouge » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:43 am

ETP wrote:
calaveras wrote:pps I am a vegan and I dont wear leather or fur.
but some vegans do. :hihi:


however.

from wikipedia:
Digital electronics, or digital (electronic) circuits, represent signals by discrete bands of analog levels, rather than by a continuous range.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_electronics


a clock divider is a bulk of flip flops. these are made of logic gates which are basic building blocks of any digital computer. yes, the a-160 is digital.
if you patch a clockdivider from a MN function using the gate outs, you have an on/off signal. which is actually digital. because it´s quantized
Then I guess we should stop using square waves as well, because they're on/off :hihi: ...

But frankly, just because a process arrives at binary numbers doesn't warrant the usage of "quantization". That would mean we actually have a continuous voltage being transformed into a quantized version (discrete steps). Triggering=/=quantization.

Anyway, I think calaveras put it nicely with his/her use of "abstraction layer". In the end, it is not about whether or not it sounds any different, or for that matter it is constructed technically this or that way. We won't perceive any difference. As you write, a gargantuan amount of flip-flops is what we construct a CPU from, but that doesn't make a single or few flip flops interacting in a different way the same as a CPU driven process. What we're against (or at least I am, to be modest) is not so much the technicalities, but introducing that next level of separation between us and the process happening beneath the panels, the computerization of ... wait, I have a better way to write this:

Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.
The Orange Catholic Bible

Or rather better yet:

Image
Last edited by Mort Rouge on Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
Calling a circuit that outputs the maximum of several sources "analog OR" makes as much sense as calling a ring modulator "analog XOR" ...

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Post by calaveras » Sun Feb 08, 2015 11:27 am

as I have said elsewhere, I'm not anti-digital. It's all ending up in a DAW after all. It is merely my preference to keep my rack as analogue as possible. Essentially to contrast with my softsynths and my digitally controlled analogs like the newer Moogs.
Stuff that isn't in the audio path, like step sequencers and clock dividers, do not count in my discernment.
Functions such as logic gates btw are not digital. Do I need to make a venn diagram?
Yes processors are constructed of logic gates, but these are building blocks, not the whole thing. There are a great many circuits that use logic that are not 'computers' in the strict sense that they are not programmable.
A logic gate is not issued a command, it merely acts on voltages. And you can process continuous voltages into a logic gate, depending on what kind of gate and the rate of the voltage you will get different kinds of output.


I do think it is kind of interesting that you can pick up nearly every building block of a modular as a digital version now. Does anybody make a digital filter in Euro?

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