How do you use your modular?

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around an experimenting with my modular, but I found I end up not using it much if at all in the actual tracks I make. How is this for others? How do you use your modular? What’s the goal for you? Do you use it purely by itself or does it end up in your tracks? Do you sample it? Record to multitrack? What?

I spend more time assembling new modules than playing them (this might be a case of builds never working from the first time), when I do, I usually start with a blank patch, and build up slow evolving self-generating patches, I seldom, if ever, record it.

I once attended a modular meetup with a group modular improvisation, but that scared me, I couldn’t figure out how to recognize my noises from others, until I cranked up the resonance and everybody stared at me, at least they recognized my noises from theirs :smiley:

My modular is actually played by kids, they also enjoy making tall structures of stackcables.

I fear you are labouring under the misapprehension that a modular synth is a means to an end, rather than an end in itself.

As a child i wanted to build a chinese wall size machine that has many many Knobs and Blinkenlights™ and i must say i am quite happy with the result.

Honestly, mostly i “use” it to discover new sounds and make self playing/evolving patches that i play to nobody except myself. If i had a Cat it would sleep ontop. When i “make” music in a classical sense i tried to use it as a lead synth but my mates had a severe laughter attack when i was bringing it to rehearsal instead of the µQK :wink:

Hm. Maybe it’s not me. I might sell (some of) my modular though.

At the moment mine is an ugly desk ornament and half of it is in a box waiting for chips and headers to arrive to finish them off… so currently all I’m doing is incredibly uninteresting bits like this to test things as I build them.
The plan is more drone-based/evolving/spacious stuff a little like Eliane Radigue but I also want to add a Yarns to it and pair that and the Hexinverter MIDI2CV up with my Nord C1 to have an 8 voice poly thing…
I’ll be needing that wall size machine…

How can you live without these BlinkenLights™ (Makes a good Songtitle i guess…). Where will your Cat sleep?

I use mine to try getting new textures, sounds that evolve over time and move in subtle ways. I also use it for self-playing stuff and hope to get more sequencing going on, probably an Oberkorn on the horizon. I tend to record bits and pieces and build songs rather than just playing an entire song. Completely the other-way-'round from the way I’m used to working, which was the idea.

Sometimes I just hook up a huge lead or bass patch and go nuts too!


@fcd72 I was always struggling to answer my friends’s questions about synthesizers and what am I doing with them ; you won my heart with this part of statement especially the bold one

"As a child i wanted to build a chinese wall size machine that has many many Knobs and Blinkenlights™ and i must say i am quite happy with the result.

Honestly, mostly i “use” it to discover new sounds and make self playing/evolving patches that i play to nobody except myself."

@fcd72 My other gear, especially the A4 and the RYTM, is pretty well endowed in the blinkenlights department already.

Not really using mine much at the moment, but I can see myself plugging some of the euro stuff into the Dominion 1.

I don’t have enough rack-space for all the modules I have, so in order to actually ‘use’ my modules, I have to select which modules I want to use from the pile (they are literally in a pile), and plug them into my single HEK. It’s not a great situation, so it does pretty much limit what I do with my modular gear to jamming with a small number of modules (usually whatever is newest). I have plans for a bigger rack, but keep spending money on more modules, rather than on setting up a system so I can use all the modules I currenty have.

In the long run, I enviage using my Euro gear to make little sequences and riffs, and to mess around with FX. I’ll probably end up recording stuff, then collaging with other elements in my DAW.

I do plan to get a general MIDI>CV interface (probably a Yarns), as well as MIDI>clock, MIDI>trigger and maybe even CV/Gate>MIDI interfaces, so I will be able to integrate the Euro gear with Live, should I want to.


I use mine mostly for noise and self playing, evolving patches. However, I did just perform with a 20+ piece band last weekend. I was mostly doing simple Jupiter Storm pitch glides, but also some more experimental liquidy clicky and poppy sounds with the Mikrophonie, EKO, Manhattan SVVCF, Clouds and multiple Peaks.

My modular is a pretty weird one… it was assembled according to the modules I have designed panels for and not according to a musical principle. Though of course, this can be a musical principle itself, in a more Cage-y way.
How do I use it. Sometimes I use it to get frustrated. Sometimes I use it to get inspired.
I haven’t been recording anything in ages, my musical activity lately is more concentrated to live performance and I have used the modular only a few times there (usually I have a mix of circuit-bend toys, loop station and drum machine), but after using the modular live in a couple of occasions I’ve decided to intensify my use of it live, it’s very rewarding.

In these cases I usually play the modular via the qunexus keyboard, using the Vectr and Frames to modulate and shape the sound in real-time. I tend to play slow evolving sounds, kind of pads if you want. I love using Elements for that, it’s such a great module to be played live.
In parallel I run sequences from a MIDi sequencer into it (using Yarns), this is usually to create percussive sounds with short decays and sharp attacks, maybe mixed in with the drum machine and processed with Clouds to create some glitchy, kind of rhythmic textures.

I’m still working on it though… it needs a lot of experimentation and trial&error to find what works for you. Right now my aim would be to have a basic patch, which I keep evolving, but which stays unchanged in its basic configuration, a patch I can use to make the most diverse sounds with without needing to completely re-patch the modular… as you can guess, it’s not going to be easy, and even the voltage memory isn’t really making it easier.

Great question. For the first 5 months, my modular was basically a few modules that made noise. I’ve been piecing together more modules and integrating other equipment (ipad via cvpal), etc. just looking for ideas. I haven’t really worked it into the anything made in Ableton… yet. In fact, I actually just built an amp / speaker just so I can turn on the modular and listen to what it has to say, without the added pressure of recording anything. One of my troubles was sitting in front of Ableton not knowing where to begin and then getting frustrated for not “producing.” Having this modular to just make sounds (or noise, if you ask my wife) is nice. It gets better and better each time I turn it on, as I start to figure out each module. I had a Eureka moment using Auxy on ipad to quickly sketch a sequence to play x0x-heart, while adding in some sub from a Peaks LFO and routing the drums from Auxy through mikrophonie. All of this on top of Radio Music on a German language station going through an Eko, just got me so excited. I finally felt like I got something musical out of the system. I plan on just doing a cell phone recording to post to youtube soon. If it’s really good, maybe record to DAW.

Anyway, I digress - right now the modular is there for investigation, learning, and as an outlet for the musical juices in my brain. Plus, I enjoy building various modules.

I’ve been using it as a source of abstract noises to go with tracks based on acoustic instruments. I found this works really well because sounds from a modular tend to be more ‘organic’ (but also more weird) than a lot of other electronic sounds. And i’m working on doing polyritmic generated melody stuff but i’m not quite there yet because of the lack of good modules to use for that.

@toneburst that totally sucks. I think the only real annoyance of modulars is to have to swap modules… sometimes I wish I could plan my modular, build it all like I want it and then go on playing it for 10 years without having to move anything around. It’s weird, but somehow the really annoying part of the modular is… that it’s modular :slight_smile:

Btw. I realised that I’m totally not into drum modules. Funny thing is I have the whole Mutant Drum series here for obvious reasons. I still don’t get it why I should want to have a modular drum machine, doesn’t really seem worth the added trouble, takes up a lot of space, does not let you save patches and so on. I do love to make intricate rhythmic sequences with the modular, but I usually end up using non-drum modules, envelopes, vcas and LPGs because I get the full advantage of using a modular and I can produce the sound I’m after. This despite the fact that the Mutant Drums, in contrast with other drum modules, offer a much wider range of sounds, they don’t just do a classic 808 or 909 type of sound.
But yeah… I’m thinking about selling the Mutant Hihat and maybe the clap as well.
I’ve got the Machine now… still have to figure it out, it’s pretty huge and offers a lot of sound possibilities, this starts to make more sense as a modular approach to drums.

@rumpelfilter I know what you mean. It’s my own fault, though. I just have to have the self-discipline to invest in a case, or some kind of rack-based solution, instead of spending on more modules.

I did start to plan a modular setup, but mostly just allowed myself to be guided by what DIY modules are available, and more recently, what Olivier has come up with, to be honest. For that reason, I’ve ended up with a lot more drum voices than I really need, and some duplication in other areas, too, like the Crush Delay and Eko, Ultra Wave LFO and Peaks (though, as we all know, Peaks is a truly must-function module).

It’s certainly not the modular synth I’d have planned, had I ever sat down and, well, actually made a plan, but I’m pretty sure, if I had all the modules setup at the same time, I could have a lot of fun!


@rumpelfilter, toneburst
Part of the fun is selecting modules to stuff in a limited “tiny” 6U 84 HP case for a certain theme. Atm its one BRAIDS, Orbitals, 2 BRANCHES (well one DIY version of it…), some Envelopes and LFOs, a RIPPLES and and CLOUDS. Purpose was a self playing Patch that never really repeats for hours. Ill disassemble everything when i get bored for the next small theme Modular. Probably something with ELEMENTS as a center piece and self playing.