So I think I finally understand the true value of a modular

So I’ve been doing the classic “hit record, patch stuff, have an hour of material that mostly is terrible, repeat” experience with the latest, greatest addition to my repertoire: my Braids, Ripples, Grids, Links, Dual ADSR and Rubicon and Micro VCA.

I bought the Rubicon to go with Braids and get some wacky dual FM syncing with “through zero” modulation possibilities. For the past few weeks, I’ve been kicking myself for not buying a companion oscillator for the TZFM input on the Rubicon because it needs a sine wave for FM (duh). Then, despite the fact I read it 20 times, last night I finally remembered that Ripples puts out squeaky clean sine wave. Needless to say I spent the next 4 hours getting totally lost. The Rubicon is an unwieldy beast- very very sensitive and touchy- you can pretty much never turn the freq. knob, the Symmetry (+/- FM level) or the TZFM knob and and get back to a spot you previously were- it’s always a little different. But it produces some goregrous FM timbres and also some really really harsh and evil sounding stuff. I’m not getting rid of it any time soon (the LFO is just monstrous going into BRAIDS FM input…).

Still, I listened to the recording and thought “meh”. But then I said screw it, let’s just build a percussion section around it and see how it sounds…and, wow- that’s working suprisingly well. Every time I thought “It’s time for a drum break”, the recording seemed to be right there with me. It was like making music with a copy of myself. Then I figured I’d slap a bassline in there and- wow, how is it possible that what sounded so tame and/or useless comes to life like this? Then I decided to seek out some track stems of a certain artist who is my avatar and see how I could fit a few tracks in there, as he’s a modular guy and user of non-traditional synth insanity on a lot of his tracks.

It all works so well, I just sat and built a track across the entire 800 bar recording…of course the finished product will be 1/4 of that , but this made me realize why modulars are s great- by zoning out and tweaking in a trance for a long time, you give up on making it sound the way you want a synth to sound and then: magic happens. You step outside yourself and, like a Ouija board, subconsciously you give into it and it reveals things to you. So then, when you sit down with it later trying to build a track with the recording, you’re less of a blank slate and you judge it through the same standards you had when you sat down to use the modular in the first place.

But when you get over that and throw a basic track together, the layers and undercurrents you were chasing before reveal themselves again and it directs you were to go with the track. Very very cool stuff. It’s almost like it removes your musical brainwashing and lets you get to the core of something new (or new to you).

Anyone else able to pin down what makes their modular so valuable to them?

So what you mean to say is you have no idea what you are doing like every one else with a modular. :stuck_out_tongue:

So what you mean to say is a modular is like a bigger 303? :stuck_out_tongue:

I totally know whats going on, you feed power and money in on one side, and poopy farty noises and crack come out the other side.
Repeat ad libitum.

I suppose not, but I very much like the results! I think I accomplish more (in general) when I have no idea what I’m doing.

It’s an inspirational, brain-dead experience. “What’s this do?” “Hmm, nothing” “Maybe if I open up the amp?” “Yup, that’s something” “Or was that there before and I didn’t notice because of the amp envelope?” “Fuck it imma go ahead and turn this knob over here now”.

And BTW, when is mine going to playing me back in crack? Those Mungo Enterprises modules…

w0…g0…musstt haveee

So anyway, where’s my crack?

Yeah, I’m definitely atypical when it comes to synthesis. I know what I want to do, and then I do it. Sometimes I get lucky, but as I’ve stated before - it is all about the oscillators. Once I have that set, everything else falls into place. Including the “complex and unpredictable” routings.

What am i doing wrong? Over here its more bleeps and blurps rather than farts and cracks. Can anybody please help me and show me a patch?


I like programming with no goal in mind sometimes- with modular I have a patch in mind, not a sound, when I sit down with it. The sound is secondary to the possibility of hearing something new and unexpected.

So I put I sine wave in FM, I enveloped the VCA, I synced Rubicon to Braids (and then internally soft synced the sub oscillator of the rubicon back into itself.

That’s as far as the plan went. I’m sure one day I’ll have a handle on most of the modules I end up owning and be able to deterministically program some complex stuff- but I just don’t see that being to point of a modular.


V/Oct into pilot light on stove, heat the product inside a jar with baking soda in a boiling pan of shallow water, keep your attack down and sustain high, otherwise you’ll blow the patch and have to keep doing it every day.

That is one way to get stuff done. Not a bad method, but it seems most modular owners follow the same method. I wish there were more to a modular soundtrack than just bippity blop zippity bop most of the time. Really, most modular “demonstrations” seem to be exercises into tweaking your own knobs while jacking cables all about with very little regard for the end product that comes out.
Not that I haven’t heard good ones. @qp makes blips and blops that sound good.

People like to show off the functionality of a module- there aren’t enough musical demos because if I make good music with my modular it isn’t called “a demo”, it’s called “a song”.

The other thing: it’s easy to get musical stuff out of 2 or 3 modules, but it gets tricky for people showing off for demos- they feel the need to make as big a spaghetti cable explosion as possible, and most people (myself included as of now), don’t have enough utility modules and sync/clock MIDI/CV interfaces/sources, so they have lots of oscillators and filters and fun stuff without the proper equipment to keep them all in-line.

(I also noticed tons of people with a single ADSR or none at all- I’ve been told many people who are obsessed with euro don’t even understand the concept of a VCA- they constantly ask “why do I always make one long droning sound, can’t I play single notes?”)

I still think demonstration is better to describe what I mean.
This one is cool because it has several different tones and textures.
You know, I wonder if these institution that have modulars sitting around would let people like us use them while they are just not being used? Probably not. After all, we didn’t pay tuition, haha!

Yeah, I am well aware that people buy modulars expecting them to act like a regular keyboard synth with no idea how many mundane components go into one.

regarding audiohoarders demo:
another proof that some people structure their sound in time with replugging instead of an Envelope and VCA :wink:

There used to be a music school in LA called “Laboratory of Sound” or something like that, and they had a Moog modular that the public was allowed to use during some limited hours on nights and weekends.

You also need to understand that most people aren’t building things like moog modulars…most of us could build a nice patch on a Moog modular deterministically. I’m building a synth to get away from that.

@fcd72: Yep, that is why I chose that one.

@RyanA4: That is cool. I didn’t know anyone actually did that. I’m glad to know that someone did offer that. Also, I know that a Moog modular is not at all similar to a Eurorack or even modern 5U standards. However, they are both just as “confusing” to newer patchers.

Also: I fell alseep during that demo.

I heard that from the guy I bought he VS from- he also said it didn’t last long (guarantee a few stupid kids ruined it for everyone).

That would figure.
There was a small kid playing on a demo Moog synth at a store. I walked by it after the parents drug the kid away. It was on a page displaying “Press to delete OS”. Why is that option even ON a synthesizer to begin with? I think it was a Voyager.