i'm just learning the deeper nuts & bolts of modular synthesis to supplement my decades old understanding of normalled synths. i was always more into the sound mangling potential of sampling, being an early art of noise fan, but have since come to the conclusion that a lot of the re-synthesis they did was likely samples of analogue effects. not only that, sampling just doesn't sound as thick & juicy as analogue unless you maybe run your sounds through magical VCFs & tubes.
i'm having real trouble though with the artificial limitations of analogue modules that mostly still only do the same things they've done since the 50s with the possible exceptions of clock syncing & digital wavetables (not counting MIDI as a modular thing) no matter how many patch cords you use, to me, modular analogue still sounds like modular analogue, just being driven by slightly different sequencers (which totally lack loose & sloppy FUNK BTW [and COWBELL!] as far as i'm concerned)
what seems like OBVIOUS features that at least ONE designer should put in their modules just never happen, so i'm going to share my idea of a "much needed modulator"
OK... start with the beginning of a sound... analogue SUCKS at attacks which are a major part of a sound's quality. all analogue can do, really, is change the attack rate. as far back as at least the early 90s, i remember reading an EXCELLENT idea about sample editing, in keyboard mag i think, that would have been great for synthesis... using sampled attacks... plucked, strummed, blown, bowed, iron, steel, rubber, wood, balloon, plosives etc. to add complexity to sounds. it's a great idea... why didn't anyone take it up? a great module would have a massive "wavetable" of attacks and materials eg. a woodblock being hit by metal, plastic, wood, rubber & urethane sticks & mallets. personally, i LOVE the fat thump sound of finger snapping a balloon or a basketball hitting a wood floor. besides onboard attacks, have sample memory where a user can create his own attacks, or download more.
this is a TRIGGER based module BTW
besides using SPECIFIC attacks, ADSR SUCKS!!! what if you want a downward dropping then upwards CURVED envelope for whoops & scratches or wobbles etc.? ADSR is so last century! the only way to PROPERLY animate envelopes is to be a modwheel slinging robot, or to draw them in a sequencer. why not make a module where you can use preset "wavetables" of various effects or even draw your own & i'm not talking about erica's "hey... let's draw sawtooths & other geometrics" module that's a very limited step in the right direction.
use the same idea to modulate pitch too for boings (on top of a "twang attack" would be sick), scratches & bass wobbles etc. you can do this sort of stuff hard syncing to an advanced LFO & gate combo, i guess, but then you're artificially confined to having your notes fit perfect timing (i DESPISE quantization soooooooooooooo much!!!!!!!) when you should be able to trigger your modulations per note creating new SOUNDS. i'm all about sounds. that's why i was drawn to sampling & not synthesis. the only limits you have with sampling are the sounds available and your imagination at creating new ones. on top of that, you should be able to modulate your modulations eg. do dubstep bass wobbles ON THE FLY, morph between envelope effects, eg, animate your scratches by modulating "envelope" speed, including dub style echo effects and so on. i'm surprised for that matter, no one's invented a dubstep synthesizer VST for doing a variety of pitch & wobble effects live and that the stanndard is still hand drawing with "ancient" ableton "live" (ironic name) you should be able to do the same kinds of modulations you can do on a computer with a rack module. it's OK to put digital modules in your racks now!
basically, the simplest way to describe the module i'm talking about is one that ANIMATES sounds by offering sampled attacks, COMPLEX amplitude AND (separate) pitch envelopes with the ability to add and edit sounds & curves... heck... why not let your module IMPORT curves etc. you draw in your DAW & ableton?! MIDI protocol was designed for that kind of thing. it would be a note/pitch modulator for whatever VCO you're using, then process the sound's envelope as a VCA (envelope generator)/ mixer. you could even break it up into TWO modules i guess... attack/pitch mod & amplitude mod.. even... cough cough cough*, integrate VCF modulation. i DESPISE filter sweeps personally, but you could add a 3rd dimension of "complex envelope generation" for that too... along with modulate by velocity & do the crossfade thing samplers do. LFOs would be a natural extension of the concept in "loop mode", and even there, again, you could add modulation where you LFO speeds up & slows down to the beat, but without having to be locked into it in "trigger mode"
someone could even take these ideas even further and create an entire synth voice with wavetables & samples, but really, it's just be nice to be able to modulate "boring old ADSR/LFO/portamento modular" with a little more precision and variety.
analogue needs the kind of modulation that gives sounds attacks with teeth (or wet noodles) and sounds that BOUNCE without having to patch a dozen modules that break the concept down into "micro-functions" that are hobbled to a robotic kraftwerk/techno beat.
what do you think? it's something worth creating a buzz about until someone does it? have any dream features you'd like to add like "complex switching" (whatever that would be... i'm really weak at understanding complex utilities & patches)
if anyone builds one of these... you owe me a module!