How do you produce / write / record with modular?

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

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rikardjh
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How do you produce / write / record with modular?

Post by rikardjh » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:11 am

Aside from all the cool modular live-performances on youtube, I'm curious to hear how people use their modular system in the studio. Guess it's me, but doing things live rarely gives me the result I want. Always a few too many mistakes, want to change the sound a bit afterwards (too much reverb is hard to EQ).

Given that most modulars are low on polyphony, how do you guys record and work with modular? Short loops and sequences one at a time? One track /voice at a time? Sample / splice-it / re-work-it? Or do just always do it "live" onto tape? How do you take it from a cool patch to a full song?

Have had some interesting results writing a piece sort of blindfolded in the DAW and then record voice by voice (works great for more traditional arranging and voicing (the kind you learn in music-school :) ). And gives a fair balance between creativity when recording the voices and structure.

edit: not sure if I posted this in the right forum, it's modular specific but perhaps belongs in music production techniques? Let me know..

adam
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Post by adam » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:16 am

i've mostly been recording a mono in from a mixer to a daw and sometimes overdubbing, but just got a 4 track tascam recorder to use instead

rikardjh
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Post by rikardjh » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:19 am

adam wrote:i've mostly been recording a mono in from a mixer to a daw and sometimes overdubbing, but just got a 4 track tascam recorder to use instead
So do you do all tweaking / development live then or do you make an evolving self-composing patch? Guess it vastly depends on what music you write..

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Post by adam » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:23 am

i tend to set up a patch i like, then press record when it sounds good, and tweak while recording

i've been considering doing something more sensible with clocking so i can have a bunch of snippets that fit together, though have ableton lite so can probably be flexible

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Post by nikmis » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:46 am

call me old fashioned, but I rock out on a keyboard while wearing my wizard cape and santa claus hat. I multitrack everything and re-record tracks multiple times, cutting and pasting the sections that sound best

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Post by nickgrys » Thu Jul 27, 2017 9:08 am

adam wrote:i tend to set up a patch i like, then press record when it sounds good, and tweak while recording
Same here. I spend days to weeks working on a patch (6U 104 hp plus drum machine). Everything is mixed on a 4 channel Xone:92 and recorded in one track in Ableton.

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Post by Richie Witch » Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:20 am

Once I find a patch I like, I record to tape or into Ableton Live.

From there, I'll drop the clip into a glitch sampler like Cumulus or a scanning synth like Kontakt's SkannerXT, and start tearing bits and pieces out to make new sequences, or build a new instrument in Live's Sampler.

Other times, I'll connect a couple sequencers to the modular and create some sort of arpeggio or drone, and just drop it into the track with some evolving filtering or external FX to add interest.

Because I don't consider myself a musician (primarily due to lack of talent :hihi:), the modular is more of a sound lab/sample factory.
Every new row of Eurorack is going to be my last.

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Post by witchbutter » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:54 am

I just upgraded to a Presonus Quantum, though any similar interface will do. I have a Xaoc Praga which have helped in this regard also because of the pre-fx outputs, but essentially I have 2 master stereo outs I can record the full patch in stereo, as well as 2 stereo outs on a clouds recording essentially a reverb track as well as I set several patch points either on a stackable or what have you at pre-fx vca outs.

Thus far recording the main outs has created everything I've posted publicly, but having the independent samples has led to some interesting experimentation in Live. A rhythmic sample can be warped, ambient pad like samples can create backgrounds but actually it's been more interesting dropping in some of the more complex timbres in NI Form and Granite just to see what they can do. I think this is the right route for me, and if anything it's revealed how much work I need to put into working solely with samples in Live.

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Post by rikardjh » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:22 pm

nikmis wrote:call me old fashioned, but I rock out on a keyboard while wearing my wizard cape and santa claus hat. I multitrack everything and re-record tracks multiple times, cutting and pasting the sections that sound best
:sb: Which I had the discipline to work like that. Balance between patching / playing around and (re-)recording is like 95/5% for me. Quick record and then on to the next fun thing. Need to figure out a way to make the editing / recording as fun as the composing / patching..

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Post by C3P4 » Thu Jul 27, 2017 8:20 pm

rikardjh wrote:Balance between patching / playing around and (re-)recording is like 95/5% for me. Quick record and then on to the next fun thing. Need to figure out a way to make the editing / recording as fun as the composing / patching..
This hits home. I need to learn to use my DAW faster so I can get back to patching.
For me I record mono from my mixer and layer that with other synths/drums in the DAW.

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Post by Klangzaun » Fri Jul 28, 2017 12:02 am

I am developing sounds and sequences with the gear and playing them all together. Once I found it worth to push the record button, I start the DAW and record sequences, drums etc... all at the same time, but on single tracks. Synth sounds I record separately, because mostly I tweak a bit here and there during the recording.

Then I add some fx, compressors, reverb und mix the tracks.

I set myself a limit of 2 sessions maximum 4 hours for doing the mixing after the recording. Otherwise I would find myself lost in all the possibilities a DAW offers to you and I certainly would never ever finish a track.

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Post by BillyB909 » Fri Jul 28, 2017 2:00 am

The modular workflow is really important to me as I'm not particularly time rich for editing. So I'll build up a patch, and as I do I'm not just making the sound but thinking about possibilities for the narrative of that sound - what can be faded in/out, what melodies can be evolved, what timbres can be changed. Using a combination of tools like the precision adder, switches, mutes, etc. When I'm happy I hit record on the DAW, improvise until I've run out of ideas, and it's a wrap.

The two concessions I'll make - if I can be bothered or it's appropriate- is to sync to the DAW clock in case I ever want to add extra tracks etc; and add some basic fx in the box like reverb and compression. I've got 8 mono or four stereo channels going into the box (NI USB thing and two Roland AIRA fx units.

But I rarely go back to anything. Should I ever reach a level where things are for public consumption, then I probably will.

What I wanted to do was to move from a DAW based workflow where I was forever tweaking a short loop but never finishing anything. I remove cables at the end of every session to ensure the piece is 'finished'.

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Post by rikardjh » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:21 am

Klangzaun wrote:... Synth sounds I record separately, because mostly I tweak a bit here and there during the recording.

Then I add some fx, compressors, reverb und mix the tracks.

I set myself a limit of 2 sessions maximum 4 hours for doing the mixing after the recording. Otherwise I would find myself lost in all the possibilities a DAW offers to you and I certainly would never ever finish a track.
Makes sense, kind of a classic band recording, lay down the foundation and then add some. guessing you have a lot more gear then the modular then?

Also, good idea with limiting yourself time-wise. Do you use a timer or is it more of a guideline?

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Post by Klangzaun » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:31 am

rikardjh wrote:Also, good idea with limiting yourself time-wise. Do you use a timer or is it more of a guideline?
I don't measure the time. It is a guideline. First session is mixing and the second session is correcting things and check it on different speakers. After doing this a few times, I draw the final line to close the project and consider it as final.

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Post by davidh » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:30 am

1,2,3,4 or more tracks, it depend, if I want the possibility to adjust the mix later, If I have drums, I prefer to put them on a separate track, of if I have a bassline, or a special sound I feel it may need some eq later.

I Always try to make the maximum live as I don't like to spend more time in the daw than on the modular

If at the end I suspect it will be too time consuming in the DAW, I simply trash the track, and create a new one, I could spend days to re-work it in the DAW, but it doesn't really worth it, I prefer use this time to create new tracks, the magic always comes from the modular, the DAW rework is only adjustments.

sometimes I record various versions and cut the more interesting parts and re-organize them in the DAW, but again, I prefer to perform live as close as possible to the final version.

sometimes I also add some field recording, a synth pad, voices later in additional tracks

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Re: How do you produce / write / record with modular?

Post by Scories » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:14 am

rikardjh wrote:doing things live rarely gives me the result I want. Always a few too many mistakes, want to change the sound a bit afterwards
Composing and performing are two different things. I considerate myself a poor performer. I never release a recorded performance 'as it is' (which is an ideal from a performing purist point of view). When I start composing with a modular, I hunt for sound/mood and electronic interactions. Later on, I keep on thinking about 'what is missing' or 'what should be added'. Then I try to create it and to add it to the mix. Or sometimes I change everything upside down.
In other words, I have to use my will, my imagination and my freedom of choice during the process to really call it my own. Otherwise, it feels more like a technical achievement rather than an artistic process.

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Post by starthief » Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:50 am

I came to modular after a long habit of DAWs and software plugins, and I still work that way:

-- Maschine is my DAW. I'm used to pattern-based sequencing even though I don't do EDM/techno/etc. There's nothing stopping me from setting it to 7/8 time at 17 BPM, or making patterns that are 3.125 bars long, or both.

-- each voice has a channel with a MIDI out and audio input assignments. CV.OCD is set up for 3 voices (one with velocity) and extra gates and clocks, and I've got 0-Coast and Microbrute on other MIDI ports, and occasional softsynths or samples.

-- record/write MIDI sequences. (Except for drones or very simple parts -- I'm not a great performer.)

-- adjust FX chains, levels etc. and get everything sounding pretty much how I want it as the song plays through.

-- record the whole thing "live" to a stereo file, sometimes while wiggling manually. (Including tempo sometimes... like I said, it's not techno.) I don't multitrack and rarely will record individual channels as a backup on larger projects. Occasionally I'll sample odd toys though.

-- post-process the stereo file (trim silence, fade, EQ, mastering, occasional more creative stuff).

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Post by addendum » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:48 pm

For me any processing depends on how dry or wet I recorded the modular, and on whether there was any keyboard performance or just sequencing and knob tweaking. I enjoy applying heavy FX while tweaking the modular, and snippets from that usually remain unchanged except for EQ and dynamics so I "keep the spirit" so to say. But if I recorded dry or with very little reverb, I may process it the same way as I would with samples from a record (pitch shifting, time stretching etc) - unless I used a keyboard to actually play, then again it won't be changed. Performance is kind of sacred, I mean mistakes are part of it and I'd never edit them out, if I'm not happy with it I'd rather play it again or god forbid even PRACTISE it. :cat:

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Post by noisejockey » Mon Jul 31, 2017 11:02 pm

Klangzaun wrote:I am developing sounds and sequences with the gear and playing them all together. Once I found it worth to push the record button, I start the DAW and record sequences, drums etc... all at the same time, but on single tracks. Synth sounds I record separately, because mostly I tweak a bit here and there during the recording.

Then I add some fx, compressors, reverb und mix the tracks.
This is pretty much my workflow when I want to use my whole studio to produce tracks: Write/arrange, record stems or pieces, and it all comes back together in the mix. I need to hear each stem against the other as I'm arranging, but I want the flexibility of discrete tracks in the mix...most of the time. (Sometimes an overloaded mix bus is the magic you need, and you roll to two tracks because it's great!) I often track other instruments like like polysynth, guitar, and found objects, and being able to carve space in the mix for that is important.

DINSync is the tempo and sync language of my studio. I keep enough MIDI tools around to slave it all to the DAW but I do that maybe 2-3 a year at most. But between hardware boxes, there are instruments like the Avalon, Analog Four, Octatrack, and even the TR-606 that can be tricked into doing sync format conversion.

I have another series of recordings which are the opposite: Record to two-track, played entirely live, full mix. I do mix polishing ITB, if it needs it.

All mastering is out from the DAW with external DA, through tube hardware, and back into the DAW via external AD. Sometimes I'll track stuff through the tube hardware with their settings at zero just for flavor.

Futuresound

Post by Futuresound » Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:25 am

noisejockey

Can you elaborate on why you use DINSync as your primary clock format, instead of 16th-note clock for example?

And this is probably more suited for another thread, but I'd love to hear about your tube outboard gear...

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Post by noisejockey » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:28 pm

Futuresound wrote:Can you elaborate on why you use DINSync as your primary clock format, instead of 16th-note clock for example?


Because I have an Avalon Bassline, TR-606, and Acidlab Miami that I need to sync with the modular. When I am all-modular, I just use 16th note analog clock pulses like a normal person. :-)
Futuresound wrote:And this is probably more suited for another thread, but I'd love to hear about your tube outboard gear...
PM me if you want more info. Happy to expound on models and rationales, but not sure mastering and signal flow is the OP's core thread topic.

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Post by serum » Wed Aug 02, 2017 2:23 am

I spend a lot of time messing around and then bounce all the best sounds and sections and use them.

If I have particular sound effects in mind when I'm making a track I'll just make it there and then and chuck it in. I make Drum & Bass so there's not really much live performance going on.

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Post by adam » Wed Aug 02, 2017 4:03 am

serum wrote:I spend a lot of time messing around and then bounce all the best sounds and sections and use them.

If I have particular sound effects in mind when I'm making a track I'll just make it there and then and chuck it in. I make Drum & Bass so there's not really much live performance going on.
what do you do about timing etc? sync everything or timestretch later?

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