How often do you hit a dead end?

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Standup
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How often do you hit a dead end?

Post by Standup » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:11 am

Yesterday I hit a wall. I had patched something up and it sounded great for awhile, then started sounding less great until the more changes I made to the patch the worse it sounded.

Now I'm just going to pull all the cables and try something else. There's one path with Rene that I'm leaving intact.

I'm sure this happens all the time? With everyone? I've been messing with this stuff for 6 months.

Do the dead ends happen less often as you learn your system inside out?

I'm sure you can't tell much, but this was the dead end:
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Kent
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Post by Kent » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:42 am

All the time and with everything. Just reasses and don't give up!

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Flareless
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Post by Flareless » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:00 am

I've had similar experience with what I call the now what it needs is... syndrome.

As you said, sometimes you get something that sounds really great then you think "now what it needs is some phase shifting" and "now what it needs is for this CV to be inverted" and "now what it needs is some wave folding" until what you finally end up with is a cacophony of noise or a mud-puddle of a patch.

Sometimes I personally find that less is more. If I'm patching a lead and it sounds good I've learned to leave it be and use it as a lead. If it's a morphing drone that's morphing and droning then good.... let it alone to do its thing.

Of course the more gear you have the more tempted to use as much of it as you can but I find (again, personal taste) that piling too many ingredients into the stew make it just taste gunky.

Now, having said that I don't always adhere to my own rules and I still take great sounding patches and try to make them 'better' by piling on the modules. Sometime, like you mentioned, I then find myself hitting the wall and pulling the cables.
Rich

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Post by shamann » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:51 am

Definitely all the time, doesn't really stop with experience although I guess it gets easier to move on from them.

I like the dead ends, I find after a major project I go through extended bouts of patching crap. Helps build up bits and pieces of good ideas for the next big project.

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Post by Michael O. » Sun Mar 12, 2017 12:48 pm

When I get patch-fatigue I usually take my dog for a walk, read a little, or play bass or drums or guitar or whatever. I find time away from the synths (or anything musical/creative) allows for conceptual reinforcement that goes beyond the rote memory you develop when actively at the helm.
It's sometimes beneficial to break the audio/visual feedback loop of working with the synths and to take a step back to allow the mind some breathing room in which it can better reflect on the complex and abstract workings of synthesis. Also, this can lead to a good perspective-shift: sometimes a patch may become stale, but its more the subjective perception of the patch you've heen staring at for an hour+.

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suboptimal
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Post by suboptimal » Sun Mar 12, 2017 1:05 pm

As a patch's complexity increases, so does the chance that some variable falls out of alignment with your aims. It's part of the zen of modular, really.

There are times when you patch for hours and nothing good comes of it.

Other times you patch for hours and don't recognize the point when the patch is at its best, and end up in garbage land for the last hour.

Other times, you catch the peak and start fine tuning there. I think it does get easier to find the peak once you have experience, but that could just be because experience helps you hone your goals as well, so you are better able to recognize when you're "there."

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Post by Tumulishroomaroom » Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:28 pm

SewerBadger wrote:All the time and with everything. Just reasses and don't give up!
Like 9 times out of 10... But then when I have one I take great pleasure in letting it run for hours and the key in these cases is subtlety in modulation.

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PhineasFreak
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Post by PhineasFreak » Sun Mar 12, 2017 3:54 pm

n.b. before i start i should point out i agree with all of the above, this is just an odd thing that crossed my mind:
Flareless wrote:Sometimes I personally find that less is more. ...
suboptimal wrote:As a patch's complexity increases, so does the chance that some variable falls out of alignment with your aims. It's part of the zen of modular, really...
my first thought upon seeing that pic was 'where's all the cables?

i know i'm not the only one - many very experienced wigglers i've seen pics and vids of end up, like me, using damn near every cable/socket available, with incredibly dense patching occurring.

i'm pretty sure there's a degree of me using a lot of utilities like mults, mixers and especially attenuators/attenuverters to control cvs going all over.

also i think theres a mix in my case of having only modules with very large degree of cv capability and only modules that are essential to my needs - i have a dense system with simple building blocks rather than big hp complex modules that dont require much patching.

i guess what i'm saying is, dont be scared of patching densely or overcomplicating things even if the overarching advice of less-is-more is generally good advice...
https://thomaswulfe.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/ylem-records/
http://www.soundcloud.com/best-of-ylem/
http://www.soundcloud.com/waxcide/
http://thomaswulfe.muffwiggler.com/
http://ljunggrenaudio.com/
http://waxcide.bandcamp.com/
Just remember what Phineas would say... "eurorack can get you through times of no money better than money can get you through times of no eurorack". - bkbirge/

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GuyaGuy
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Post by GuyaGuy » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:08 pm

There are different reasons for patches reaching a dead end.

If the patch sounded good but doesn't anymore, it's a good opportunity to learn how to get back to that--by backtracking, starting over and trying to recreate the original, etc. That should help gain familiarity with the system. Sometimes it's that the EG decay is just too long. Other times it might be that you find that a module works differently than you expected.

If it never sounded good, it's a good opportunity to look at how you got there compared to what you were going for. Can you still get there with the patch the way it is or is it time to initialize the patch again?

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Post by Standup » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:36 pm

I pulled it all out. This was a casual effort for part of an afternoon, no great loss. Maybe I patch minimally, right now I want to understand what's going on. Still learning.

I could set something similar up pretty quickly, but the next time I sit down I may go down another path. It's all good.

I guess I was surprised at how things fell apart, and after an hour down the wrong path I said to myself "this is starting to sound like shit".

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MindMachine
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Post by MindMachine » Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:09 pm

The beauty/curse of modular...

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mutierend
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Post by mutierend » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:20 pm

Aside: I *love* the knobs on your Tides.

This happens to all of us all the time. It happens to me when I'm using my keyboard synths too. Sometimes I'll create a patch, thinking it will suit a composition I'm working on, and then I end up tweaking it here and there as I go on a journey. Then I realize I don't have anything to move my composition forward, just a cool patch that I might someday use.

It's kind of like story-starters, which are 1 or 2 paragraphs a writer will write to seed a short story or novel. Most of them never see the light of day.

But one thing you can try is recording your patching session. If you patch something in or out, and you don't like the results, fix it and keep going. Sometimes I use voice markers in the recording so that I can just grab a sequence and loop it later. I do all of my music via sequencing so that helps in my case, because in the very least I can just keep the sequence and change the sound.

Anyway, the answer is yes. But don't get discouraged.[/i]

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Post by Paul Perry » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:30 pm

Sometimes we get lost in the moment, and sometimes we just get lost.

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PhineasFreak
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Post by PhineasFreak » Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:51 am

mutierend wrote:....But one thing you can try is recording your patching session. If you patch something in or out, and you don't like the results, fix it and keep going...
mutierend wrote:...I do all of my music via sequencing so that helps in my case, because in the very least I can just keep the sequence and change the sound...
these two combined - not just wiggling random knobs in real time and hoping you might get something good by using recorded/programmed sequences. and recording a streaming audio track as you work so you dont lose anything that occurs when you make changes. works very well...
https://thomaswulfe.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/ylem-records/
http://www.soundcloud.com/best-of-ylem/
http://www.soundcloud.com/waxcide/
http://thomaswulfe.muffwiggler.com/
http://ljunggrenaudio.com/
http://waxcide.bandcamp.com/
Just remember what Phineas would say... "eurorack can get you through times of no money better than money can get you through times of no eurorack". - bkbirge/

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spinach_pizza
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Post by spinach_pizza » Mon Mar 13, 2017 9:38 am

+1 for recording.

Recently, I had what I thought was a dead end going, but I was recording it anyway. Fortunately I was recording each sound source to a separate track in my DAW. I was really underwhelmed by the result. I even saved it with the name "not very good" :lol: :cry:

Anyway, I revisited the recording a few days later, and with some creative editing and stuff within the DAW, I now have a track which is one of my favorites of anything I've ever done. And it has a feel which is completely different and unexpected from what was originally happening with the recording. There was stuff hiding in there that led me to later hear some things which had totally escaped me at the time.

So, you never know. Just keep patching and playing around. I think of it as creating raw material from which I can extract things to make a finished product.

cycad73

Post by cycad73 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:34 am

Awesome conclusion!

I often run into this but the actual problem may not be the complexity of the patch. What follows is a summary of my own struggles with this:

It is more that when starting out, the patching is motivated by absolute necessity -- the joy of discovering something new, or simply of wanting to hear a particular sound. Then there is very little distance between the outcome and the inspiration that produced it.

When moving beyond that point, patching decisions become more about "should" -- such as , I have this great sounding phaser module, thus I "should" use it, I have this big system, I "should" make better use of it to justify the expense. Or -- I'm trying to show someone, even myself, that I am getting better. These are not inspired thoughts.

These are certainly not thoughts coming from the place of the thing that keeps asserting itself, the thing that must at all costs be realized.

When everything is right (so rare!), I feel truly that I am not the author, that the music has taken on its own life, and I am simply a channel for inspiration, or a humble worker that is struggling by far less than adequate means to realize it.

One can take blame but not credit.

Complexity is a symptom but the root cause is letting "ideas" block the inspiration. Inspiration that must radiate across a clear sky. Ideas are the clouds that hide the light of inspiration.

Ideas -- scheming, planning, organizing, have their place in music are best prepared prior to the performance -- or be so internalized that they do not block the light of inspiration. This internalization, perhaps, is the process of acquiring skills.

Having a fresh perspective, looking at the material in a new context and re-framing it, likely cleared the path for inspiration to flow again.

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Post by stoke175 » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:27 pm

im lucky
my dead ends are usually when ive added too much and everything sounds like crap
the lucky part is whenever i start with just an oscillator or 2 i think "thats perfect" so starting over is usually my favourite bit!

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Richie Witch
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Post by Richie Witch » Tue Mar 14, 2017 9:04 am

I bought a used studio cassette deck just for this reason. When I hear something good, I just reach over and hit record, letting the tape run for a minute. When I've captured a satisfying chunk of sound, I switch the tape off and continue patching.

Afterwards, I can transfer any sounds I still like into my DAW.

You can pick these decks up cheap now too. I paid less than $150 for a rack-mounted Marantz deck in mint condition, along with a couple Maxell CrO2 90-minute cassettes still in the original wrappers.
Every new row of Eurorack is going to be my last.

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Post by Standup » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:19 am

I leave it plugged into the computer. If I need MIDI beat clock I get it from the DAW, and it only sends the clock if I'm in "Record" or "Play", so I often just hit record.

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Post by i.murray.fraser » Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:51 am

spinach_pizza wrote: I think of it as creating raw material from which I can extract things to make a finished product.
For sure. I generally try to record a little bit of every session, even if I think it sounds a bit crappy. The thing is I often begin patching with grand ideas about a beautiful, generative, standalone patch. Like somehow I can just fade in and out and call it perfect. Sometimes I actually get something that stands up by itself, but mostly it's a fragment of an idea and so I just chuck it into the computer and forget about it. Returning to these fragments later is a real joy. Once I've forgotten about which modules I used, what techniques, etc., I can focus on the sounds, which are always at least interesting because modular synths are awesome! Even if I just get a drum hit or a 1 bar loop, these can be the raw materials for something more complete. Right now, I'm sifting through a year's worth of recording and seeing if the pieces fit together into something cool. I guess what I mean to say is, in my experience, sometimes dead ends aren't actually dead ends.

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Post by captjrab » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:38 pm

Sometimes it goes the other way. You think man this sounds bad and with a few twists and turns and luck it suddenly sounds coherant. I,as many do, have several subpatches going at once and over the course of a session, crossfade and readapt individual events and hope by the end, the puzzle fits together. On the other hand, after maybe a few too many puffs, I am like "yes" only to listen back the next day and think " :hmm: "
It's all learning.

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Post by PhineasFreak » Wed Mar 15, 2017 10:51 am

Richie Witch wrote:I bought a used studio cassette deck just for this reason. ... ..., I can transfer any sounds I still like into my DAW...
why not record straight into your daw?
https://thomaswulfe.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/ylem-records/
http://www.soundcloud.com/best-of-ylem/
http://www.soundcloud.com/waxcide/
http://thomaswulfe.muffwiggler.com/
http://ljunggrenaudio.com/
http://waxcide.bandcamp.com/
Just remember what Phineas would say... "eurorack can get you through times of no money better than money can get you through times of no eurorack". - bkbirge/

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Richie Witch
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Post by Richie Witch » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:00 pm

PhineasFreak wrote:
Richie Witch wrote:I bought a used studio cassette deck just for this reason. ... ..., I can transfer any sounds I still like into my DAW...
why not record straight into your daw?
My studio is primarily hardware, with a 30U rack of old synths, a couple keyboards, some controllers, a mixing desk, and a handful of outboard gear. I designed it so that everything can be run without the computer at all (although the computer is installed in a rack-mount case in the desk). I love sitting down in the studio late at night, under dim blue LED lighting, and just jamming--or wiggling.

For me, nothing kills the mood faster than having to stop, boot the computer, wait for it to spin up, launch my DAW, setup all the routing, etc, etc, etc. Even with DAW templates, there are a lot of routing options depending on which instruments are being automated, which are being played, and which outboard gear is being used.

Don't get me wrong, I love recording and producing in my studio, but when I'm just jamming or experimenting, I want my mind to be free to wander away from all the technical aspects--all music, no thought.

I love that I can just sit down, flip a couple switches, and just play any instrument in the studio.

All the synths have memory for saving presets. For the modular, there's tape.
Every new row of Eurorack is going to be my last.

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Post by jommutta » Thu Mar 16, 2017 3:32 am

Maybe better save it. Anyway dont give up.

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Post by PhineasFreak » Thu Mar 16, 2017 8:42 am

Richie Witch wrote:
PhineasFreak wrote:
Richie Witch wrote:I bought a used studio cassette deck just for this reason. ... ..., I can transfer any sounds I still like into my DAW...
why not record straight into your daw?
All the synths have memory for saving presets. For the modular, there's tape.
wowsa :eek:

i dont think i'd ever get anything done!!
https://thomaswulfe.bandcamp.com/
http://www.soundcloud.com/ylem-records/
http://www.soundcloud.com/best-of-ylem/
http://www.soundcloud.com/waxcide/
http://thomaswulfe.muffwiggler.com/
http://ljunggrenaudio.com/
http://waxcide.bandcamp.com/
Just remember what Phineas would say... "eurorack can get you through times of no money better than money can get you through times of no eurorack". - bkbirge/

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