Now I'm kind of jumping into this.. 4 days ago I was pretty clueless about Eurorack (I still am), but I started watching Emily Sprague and Ann Annie's youtube videos and it's just gotten me so pumped to dive in(I've spent about 10 hours a day researching different modules!).
I do have some experience with Hardware synths (Minilogue, Volcas, boutiques etc) so I'm not a COMPLETE novice, but I've felt sort of uninspired by my gear for the last few months and I think it's high time for a radical change!
Would love to get your opinions on this build.
What could suit me better to begin with than what I have chosen.
What you might choose instead for ambient/generative stuff.
Or just any opinions, thoughts and discussions are totally welcome too!
here it is:
(EDIT: I don't know why but the photo below is showing Akemie's Castle and Sisters, click on the photo to see the actual rack)
So the top row is phase 1, I plan on getting all of these as soon as possible.
Bottom row will happen gradually as my wallet permits, I also plan on adding maybe a Malekko Voltage Block to the top row soon after phase 1, or maybe a Monome grid + Ansible, something for some more control anyway.
Hm...there's a lot of problems here. Let's dive in...
1) Envelopes. There's zero envelope generators in this build. And you really need those, since they create amplitude contours (via VCAs), timbral contours (applying envelopes to VCF cutoff, resonance), asymmetrical modulation (applying envelopes to VCO FM inputs), etc etc. This is going to be a serious stumbling block. Yes, you can apply LFO signals as a simple substitute for some of this, but you don't have the ability (as a rule) to specify the parameters of the modulation curve with them.
2) Buffered mult. You don't actually need that; a passive mult will do fine if there's only two oscillators in this. Buffered multiples are used to exactly replicate an inputted signal, often to avoid 'voltage droop' when controlling numerous devices with a single CV. There's not enough here to really justify it, so save some money.
3) Pamela's. Again, this doesn't seem necessary. The module is an eight-channel CV source under a single clock, with one of its main uses being to lock up behavior of/around a sequencer, and there's no sequencer here. Yes, it can output a lot of other things, but using it in that way means that you still won't have proper hands-on control over the parameters that it's outputting, and a big key in using a synth effectively is to have the actual controls at hand to manipulate, not hidden behind some sort of menu structure. If the idea is to use this for envelopes, etc...I wouldn't do that. It simply brings you back to the awful 1980s world of programming through a single data control (think DX7 here), and defeats the whole rationale for working with a modular.
4) Putting an O&C build on 'low priority'. Not a good idea. If you really want one of these, you have to act quickly when they pop up, because the people building these do so on pretty short build runs. The kit versions are not too difficult to come by, but an Ornament and Crime isn't a 'starter kit' build, so if you're not experienced with some complex electronics work, the kit option probably won't work out nicely.
5) Clouds. Doesn't exist anymore, so you'd have to either source a used module or find a third-party build. If the latter, refer to #4 above. Also, what Clouds does is somewhat similar to what the Morphagene does; are two devices of this sort necessary?
The best advice I can give is STOP. Sit back, take a few deep breaths, get the heady aroma of modular out of your head a bit. Modular synths are just as capable as the synths you mention in your post of being eventually uninspiring. Just because there's all these...THINGS...doesn't mean that that factor changes any, it just makes the fiscal outcome of being 'uninspired' way more expensive.
Now, first of all, I can tell you...from experience...that if you're getting bored by your synths, you're probably not spending enough time exploring their capabilities. Granted, Volcas are a bit limited, which is why they're mission-specific, but they still have a lot of abuse potential. Have you looked into any of the hardware hacks for them? Tried 'misapplying' what they do (which was key in the discovery of what the TB-303 could really do, c. 1987)? Also, those are relatively simple synths you're listing; have you considered a hardware synth that allows you to get further 'under the hood' first, something like a Waldorf Blofeld where you basically have a redone version of the PPG wavetable architecture, or something additive such as a Kawai K5000s? Neither are that expensive on the used market, certainly nowhere near the expense of a Eurorack system. Explore more. It's not a good idea at all to take a leap from a Toyota Corolla to a Koenigsegg for going from a first car to a second, and it's not a good idea to go from something very simple like a Minilogue to something that's totally complicated like a modular of any format. Best way you can see this point is if you have some way to access a modular synth for a little while, without assistance...which I recommend to anyone considering taking a flying leap into modular synthesis from an early point in working with electronic music in general. Modular synthesizers are A way of getting toward something new/different, but not THE way. Versteh'?
Hey thanks for your in depth response, appreciate it.
1) ya I thought some envelopes could be helpful, I was planning on using the Pamela’s for this for the first while and mainly just experimenting with drones, but I can see your point about using Pamela’s for this as defeating the purpose of modular so maybe I'll rethink this.
2)this is included for cheap with the case I’m looking at so I figured why not.
3) I thought this would be a good first piece because of its many capabilities.. I figured it could wear many hats, Euclidian sequencer, Lfo, EG, many more things I don’t fully understand yet, it looks like it could be pretty essential in a small generative setup like this no? I have considered the Tempi as an alternative, which looks like it's a lot more immediate but a trade off for much less capabilities..
4) thanks for the heads up on the oC, maybe I am actually messaging a guy about getting one right now so we’ll see.
5) I wasn’t actually too sure of clouds function, I just saw it in a lot of people’s rigs whose music I like so I stuck in in there, was going to research more before getting though, but maybe I won't now :P
The morphogene I thought would be Fun for mainly processing external stuff (I have some Synths I will keep, Guitar, fm radio module etc)
I hear where you’re coming from though.. I definitely am rushing into this. It's a habit of mine to do this. I just can't contain my excitement.
It’s just I have found with my synths now my goal is more sonic exploration than building tracks, and it seems even from just my bit of playing with vcvrack that modular suits this purpose better for me, it feels like with modular just the process of creating can be so fun and rewarding, whereas with my setup now it just feels so oriented towards results.. I’m also not much of a keys player (not really my goal) so I always find myself just programming sequences, It feels like I'll dial in a few sequences, tweak some parameters, and then I've hit a dead end. This is what makes self generating modular patches look so appealing to me, there's just so many more options it seems.. Making these big evolving and changing patches where little tweaks can effect the whole structure and sound just seems so cool!
Thank you for your concern and input, but frankly I'm pretty set on learning, and I figure why not just dive in instead of watching youtube videos of it all day..
If you have a line on a built O&C, then yes, get one. Moreso than the Pamela's, that will allow for more in the way of generative work. Pamela's, ultimately, is more of a timing source-type of device, and while it can do some of that, the access to those functions thru the UI on it is a little clunky. A lot of the point of modular is to have the controls...ALL the controls...right there to grab, hence the ginormous control panel on these things. Modular synths are literally a gigantic control surface, so the better you can control the process you've patched, the more expressive and complex and such you can be with them. If you've worked with VCV, you get a bit of this idea, but VCV without a touchscreen (which I have) doesn't exactly get the point across fully.
Generative music, basically, is a subset of a compositional school of thought known as 'process music'. The idea is to create a structure that approximates a certain algorithm, and let that run, sometimes while making adjustments. I've actually worked with the earliest algorithmic electronic instrument created, the Sal-Mar Construction, which was a built-from-scratch device created by one of my composition teachers, Sal Martirano, back in the early-mid 1970s. In the case of that device, Sal used analog computing hardware to control the behavior and interactivity of the control surface and the synthesizer subsystems, and that analog computer had to be hardwire-patched. So what happens when patching a generative algorithm is that the synth patches in a modular synthesizer are behaving much like an analog computer, generating and reacting to various voltage curve functions. But the synth(s) of the Sal-Mar are actually pretty simplistic sound generators; the real 'meat' in the instrument is the control surface interaction, manipulating the algorithmic structure as time in a performance passes.
So, ultimately, doing generative music requires an effective layer of modulation control sets, in which the 'control' layer is being manipulated by a 'modulation' layer, which in turn gets manipulated by a 'sub-modulation' layer, and so on, with the idea being that the generative process is non-repeating and controls a fairly restricted set of sound generation as the listenable 'foreground'.
Perhaps the best example of this is Brian Eno's "Music for Airports"; while this work doesn't use synths that play as part of the work's audible layer, the audible elements are on tape loops. These loops are 'modulated' by the decisions Eno made in terms of loop length, cutting them so that they have a great deal of mathematical difference with respect to the loop duration, so that once started, the loops will never 'line up' again. Then the 'submodulation' comes from random factors involved with the playback machines themselves, since very few tape machines are 100% precisely the same, a factor Eno also took into account. And while this sounds like it has the potential to be very chaotic, it's actually anything but that, because Eno's choices of material which was recorded on the loops was highly restrictive. Any one layer will always correspond to any other layer's tonality, degree of activity, and so forth.
Now, with a modular synthesizer set up for generative work, one way to do this is to have several very simple sequencers which are running at speeds that also avoid 'lining up', with the clocks for each of these also having some degree of nonrepetitive behavior, and another layer that modulates that slightly and/or reacts to control signals coming in from the layer 'above' it. However, once having devised this time scheme, then you have to be careful that the sound sources being controlled by this system are simple enough that a sizable coincident layer's sounds 'mesh', either melodically, harmonically, or texturally. Otherwise, it tends to sound like meandering crap.
That's the tricky part, one which takes loads of experimentation and experience with generating and manipulating generative systems to get results which sound really, really spot-on.
Now, what I would suggest is to listen to a lot of generative music first-off. Take careful note of what seems to be going on, and then try and analyze how that might be done with a system of control signals. Think about how the time in these works passes and how the composer arranged the generative system to cause the events, across time, to occur. Not easy once you start diving into it, but over time you start getting the idea of what the generative process behind these works might be.
Once you start getting a feel for that, you're going to notice that modulation sources are the key...not so much sound sources. So that, actually, is where you want to start. Look at CV modulation sources, how you can make them interact, interfere, and so on. Then, how do you get the actual sound controls out of that continually-shifting process? Lots of ways: multipling out control voltage curves, using comparators to trigger events, altering timing signals feeding sequencers, etc. Be inventive. And study for some time how to extract control signals from the generative function layer...there's loads of ways that the can be done. THEN worry about the sounds. And you're likely to find that the simpler you can make the sounds, the more effective a composition generated in this way can be, because they won't get in the way of each other and will interweave nicely. To see if it's right, let the result play for a long time...as in, all day, possibly. Hell, some of La Monte Young's pieces ran for many YEARS, as in his 'Dream House' drone installations.
Also note: never consider electronic instruments as being separate devices. If there's some conceivable way to connect them, then what you actually have is somewhat 'modular' already. For example, consider setting up a couple of MATHS in a way that you get non-repetition. Off of this, use a few comparators (devices that send a trigger or gate pulse when a set voltage threshold gets crossed) to 'read' some of the process's voltage curves. Then send triggers from those to...oh, let's say, the Volca clocks, all separately. Now you'll have non-coincident timing signals syncing each Volca, and if they're pitched in such a way that it all sounds 'right'...well, there's another way to do it, and proof that an 'instrument' in electronic or electroacoustic media is only bound by the limitations of your own imagination, not by which things are in what cases.
So...four days in, well, maybe you'll want to study the idea more closely. And longer. And don't just do that on MG, but actually take some real time to STUDY the idea by listening, looking into various algorithmic processes, examining how related concepts like analog computing and how chaotic mathematical processes govern 'organic' processes. I've been tinkering with these concepts for about...ah, 40 years?...so there's a lot of possibilities to mess with here, and the only limit is really imagination and how broad you can make that imagination. Definitely not solely a matter of what equipment to use.
I feel like I could read this comments for a few years and still find things to soak in.. I liked your example with 'Music for Airports. I love that album but I've never even considered how it was made, I'm excited to go and listen to it again now.
Sal Martirano sounds like he was a revolutionary guy and that Sal-Mar instrument looks nuts, the interface looks so clean it looks like something from 2018 not the early 70's..
Jeez this is a lot to take in.. I will try to learn by listening. That makes sense. I feel like I might need a better grasp of concepts before this would even be really possible though.
Comparator's sound interesting (and confusing). So they take in some sort of source, and when that source reaches a certain level set by the comparator it outputs a trigger or gate.. So you might send the Comparator a sound source with a frequency modulated by say a vco/vca, and when that frequency hits a certain point it would trigger the Comparator..? So in that way you could get like randomized infrequent sequences based off of a predetermined sequence....? Is that at all close to being on the right track?
I didn't really think about how my current gear could fit into all of this. That's interesting.. I will keep my Volca FM anyway, and then just slowly ease my way into Euro.
I did go and buy a rack a few hours ago off of craigslist and I have the O_C on the way. Talk about impulsive.. I will just keep it simple for now. Maybe an OSC, some LFO's and VCA's and just do simple droney things until I have a better grasp on basics.
That's crazy you've been learning about this stuff for 40 years.. Does it still feel like there's more to learn? I guess theirs probably an infinite amount to learn almost.. Out of curiousity I wonder if you wouldn't mind sharing something you have recorded? I would love to have a listen, especially with some kind of description of the process. This is asking a lot though, feel free to tell me to bugger off.
There's always stuff to learn in electronic music, and there's always going to be stuff to learn. I'm fond of telling people that the minute you're sure you know everything, then call an undertaker...because you're probably dead. But seriously, a DJ colleague of mine once pointed out that since music is now so dependent on technology, music has become harnessed to Moore's Law just like everything else technological. And I have no reason whatsoever to dispute that. Consider for a moment how much synth you get for, say, $1000. For that much, you can get a Waldorf Blofeld keyboard. Now, consider that that instrument is based, way back in its ancestry, on the PPG Wave 2.3, which was PPG's final iteration of their digital/analog hybrids. Oh, and throw in the PPG Waveterm B as well, because you'll need that to do any decent programming of wavetable data, etc.
Now, I distinctly recall that the Wave 2.3 itself, back in the mid-1980s, was somewhere between $4 or 5 thousand. Waveterm B, that was actually about the same. So, to get the whole basic PPG setup circa 1984, you'd have to drop $9k-ish, perhaps a bit more. And for that, you got a synth with a single digital wavetable engine, analog VCF/VCA signal chain, and analog modulation (EGs, LFOs) over both, a huge thing with a green-screen and 5 1/4" floppy drives that had serious cooling issues to get at the insides of the synth, and the whole mess weighed about as much as two boxes of hernias! Believe me, I know that last factoid first hand!
Waldorf Blofeld: TWO of the same sort of digital wavetable engines, similar (albeit modelled, and very well) modulation and signal chain, NO ginormous rackmounted computer (you use your own PC or Mac, the synth has USB), and I can easily tuck the keyboard under one arm and carry it around like...well, not much more than my old-skool Kawai K1. And that's all due to Moore's Law and its creep into music tech. Same goes for modular synths. I've programmed full-scale Moogs, most notably a 55 with the sequencer expansion, and with those, you're talking about a wall of control panel, and it's not...well, 'user-friendly' doesn't exactly describe a Moog modular. I found it very funny that Arturia's Modular V (their Moog replication) is just as much of a pain to work with as the actual article. But who gives a rat's about a monster-size Moog when you can slap the requisite modules in a Eurorack case...and yes, some of them being shrunk-down copies of the original Moog circuits...and carry it all around like a piece of luggage? I know what I would go for, for convenience's sake! Thanks, Gordon Moore!
Anyway, back on track...yeah, always make serious considerations about how pieces of equipment can work together when shopping for electronic music gear. You sometimes hear talk about the 'studio as instrument' concept; I prefer to think of my studio as AN instrument, not a collection of them, and that seems to be a great way to proceed. I recall visiting Syracuse U. about 25 years back, where I saw their original studio, which was designed for them by Bob Moog. And I noted with great consideration that Bob had set the whole thing up so that there were NO preconfigured signal paths. None. Instead, everything routed to a few rackmounted patchbays, and everything could interconnect in any desired configuration from those. Soooo...these days, I can look to my right, several feet away, and see a 17U jackfield where this entire room can be reconfigured on the fly, depending on what I might want to do. Everything patchable to everything. So, yeah...the studio here IS an instrument, not an imitation of one. And that's not a bad way to make considerations when equipping ones' self with electronic music gear. Certainly, you want to know what something does, but as important a question is "how does this work with everything else?" And always consider a factor I call 'abuse potential'; case in point: I have a string synth that has a CV input so that an external CV can be fed to the master oscillator (it's a divide-down polysynth) to transpose the overall pitch. You're not really supposed to feed an envelope into that patchpoint...but if you DO...suddenly you get pulsing, polyphonic acid-type twitters. The manufacturer never intended that usage, but if it can be done and it works musically, what the hell? Gimme a patchcord...
Like comparators, also. Now, that's a circuit with abuse potential. Everything we do in electronic music with those qualifies as 'abuse', actually...because these were originally cooked up for scientific instrumentation, not music. Their original use was to derive a logic pulse or gate when a metered signal crossed a certain voltage threshold, and you see loads of Nuclear Instrumentation Modules from the 1950s and 60s that are the same basic thing as our synth comparator modules, save for some differences in the voltages involved. But because there's some crossover between early electronic instrument builders and various scientific disciplines (with the most notable example being Don Buchla), a lot of circuit ideas crept from that end of the usage spectrum and into this one. In fact, I seem to recall that the first primitive voltage sequencers were originally developed at Los Alamos as an arming and firing device for the first atomic bomb test. We just use them...well, differently.
But as far as comparators go, there's two types. One is the basic comparator, where the module emits a digital '1' of some sort when a metered voltage either exceeds or drops below a set voltage threshold. And the other, which we're just starting to see in Eurorack (Joranalogue released one) is the 'window comparator'. These are neat as hell! How they work is that you have two threshold levels, and between them is the 'window'. So from one of these, you can actually get THREE '1' signals...above the upper threshold, below the lower one, and when the voltage is between the thresholds. To say the least, they're a kickass way to derive all sorts of trigger and gate pulses from all sorts of continuously variable voltage curves. Feed an audio waveform in, and the output becomes a variable pulse wave. Feed it velocity CVs, and it'll fire when your keyboard velocity is above or below the threshold, caused by harder or softer velocity attacks. And you can port that digital signal to anything else that can be fired by one...clock start/stops, envelope triggers, sample & hold clocking, the list goes on...
That's just ONE example. You can also do things like using an LFO to modulate another LFO, which then modulates a third LFO, and the result becomes a more or less nonrepeating CV waveform outputted by the third LFO. Put that thru a DC-coupled linear VCA, and use an envelope to control it, and you can increase and decrease that nonrepeating CV value every time the envelope gets triggered by...well, most anything that sends a gate and/or trigger. So, why not send that to something else...maybe a filter cutoff, so you get this strange, nonlinear tremolo that gets wider and narrower as you play.
So, yeah...it's much more than 'throw stuff in box, attach patchcables'. Modular gives you the ability to literally design an instrument...or several instruments at once, if the system's big enough to support several signal paths. And as I noted, you don't have to stop that designing process at the edge of the box; coloring outside the lines is how you come up with interesting results!
But yeah...if generative's your thing, listen to a lot of it, and keep looking closely at what you see on MG to try and sort out how what you hear works...or might work...or could be done better, what the hell? Same goes for pretty much any sort of music, to be honest. Also, explore the treasure trove of racks built on here by experienced synthesists, and see how they're doing what THEY do. MG is amazing like that; it's a virtual Alladin's Cave of electronic music ideas, concepts, and methods for those willing to take the plunge deep into it.
As for some of my generative stuff, see https://daccrowell.bandcamp.com/album/beneath-puget . Now, what's going on in there is a very complex patch between my Digisound and an ARP 2600, plus a little back-and-forth flow with an MS-20 and a shortwave radio fed into the modular system via audio and two 1/10th-octave passbands into envelope followers to derive CVs based on signal amplitude. It's not a set-n-forget sort of piece, as I'm 'guiding' the modular patch with eight attenuverters on the Digisound. But each time I change one of those settings, it takes the synth (processed through a sizable processor cascade) quite some time to come back to a new state of voltage equilibrium and settle into a new activity. The only 'normal' controller use occurs before and after three theremin solos, when I drop the modular's general pitch-class way down to nearly subsonic range and then bring it back upward after the solo's done. But much of what's there is that complex, non-repeating CV-controlled patch doing whatever it wants in between attenuverter 'nudges'. Kinda nifty! I actually concocted this piece as a test-run of a 'sublayer' for a longer piece intended for live performance, so what you hear there is a 'live' take, also, because I needed a replicable and performable result for the performance version. Make sure you have an hour or so to kill to hear the whole thing, btw...it ain't short!
Lastly, have a look at this: Now, what that is is a generative concept sketch I was playing around with some time back. Note that there's only four audio sources in there, the four Weather Drones. The entire top row and the rest of the second are ALL modulation, and the third row is the output chain which eventually ends in quadrophonic output. Someone was asking me about what I'd do for a sound installation piece, and I toyed around with that design for a hot minute. But this illustrates what I was talking about nicely: not much in the way of complex sound, but the sources for that sound as well as the filtering and processing are operating with a LOT of CV modulation of varying frequencies ranging from low audio down to periods of a couple of hours. It's not a bad example-piece for something you can set in motion for, say, maybe a month or two at low ambient levels.
I see what you mean (if only a little bit). It is amazing what we can accomplish so easily now. Hell we can do more musically on our smart phones than anybody could 100 years ago I'll bet.
That's too cool you got to use a Model 55... Damn.
I'm starting to realize maybe Generative is a bit above my head for now though. I love the idea of it, and I love listening to it, but I don't know if it's something that's so easy to just jump into as I first thought.
By the way that piece you shared with me was epic. Really beautiful. That would be amazing to witness in a concert hall or someplace I'll bet.
I'm toying with new ideas for Racks now, simple sound sources, lots of modulation like the one you shared (which looks really intersting by the way), I wish I could see it in action to better understand how it would all gel together.
Here's a little prototype of a build I made tonight, it could probably use more filters and VCA's and probably some other stuff I'm not thinking of. I haven't even gotten my first module yet and already 6u feels too limiting haha.
Actually, that's a lot closer than the starting rack! Another fairly complex filter would be a good idea, plus I'd just go ahead and swap the Mangroves with another Plaits, given what it is (Olivier's PERFECTED Braids...yeaaahhh!!!). Not bad, now...if you slapped this into a Rackbrute and then strapped that to a Minibrute 2s, that would be a king-hell impressive small rig. And the fact that that sort of solution isn't all that spendy...well...
As for the Moog 55...ahhh, it LOOKS impressive. But the sad fact is that, compared to even modern-day MU-format systems (and certainly Eurorack), the shortcomings become really apparent really fast! For starters, there's the old and awful S-trigger system, which Moog Music STILL insists on using in its modular reproduction systems. Bob had this idea to use a logical hi-state (+5v) to indicate 'off', and a drop below a certain threshold on down to 0v as 'on'. if there's only one or two devices in this arrangement, it's workable. But there's a certain point, which varied for each module and certainly for each system, where connecting too many S-trig bus connections leads to a voltage sag...and then your bus would send a spurious 'on', often when doing so would drive you up the wall! This is, in fact, why we use buffered mults these days when voltage levels are critical across numerous connections, such as in VCO CVs which need to be stable to maintain tuning. But Bob didn't consider adding any sort of regeneration for the S-trig bus, so...well, you get the idea. And that's just ONE issue among several annoying ones. Honestly, these days, we have it easy; many older modular systems contained idiosyncracies that often amounted to 'boobytraps', since the whole concept of what a synthesizer should/could be was being worked out in tandem with the process of 'what's a synthesizer in the first place?' Mistakes got made...and got entrenched!
Ooh that plaits does look pretty wonderful doesn't it.. Good call on the 2nd filter I looked around and the Morpheus looks amazing, but it's pretty large which makes it a tough choice for my little system...
Here's my new edited version:
I feel like I'm getting closer to something coherent and fun here.
I swapped out the distings and the sequential circuit to make room for the Morpheus, also swapped the Mangrove for a 2hp osc to make room for the Frames Clone (what do you think of this choice?) It would either be the frames or a 2nd Plaits.. But considering I plan on using this system with some outside sound sources I figured more modulation couldn't be a bad thing..
That's an interesting idea with the Minibrute 2s, I hadn't considered that one.. My plans HAD been to run this system alongside a Koma Field Kit, Lyra 8 (which I already got), Dreadbox (nyx or erebus) and an Arturia Key step.
But it's all just a pretty murky vision at this point.
I guess it only makes sense that those old systems would have problems they didn't know to work around back then.. It's so easy to fetishize those old beasts because of how epic they look and the price they cost, but in reality we are super lucky to live in a time where I kind cram all that ^ into a rack not much bigger than a pizza box.
Have you played with much Buchla stuff? Buchla is a very interesting mystery to me. His systems are so super influential on the world of synthesizers, yet seem very much on the outskirts of it all considering..
The Frames clone is just perfect. This gives you eight VCAs, four audio-specific, and the other four to shuttle between linear and exponential duties as needed. Lots of nice modulation there, the Morpheus is a killer fit...damn, this is looking like a serious piece of circuitry! I think you're awfully close to a stop-point here; the only things at this point would be up to you, if there's something else you think has GOT to go in there. As for me, I don't see any potential major alterations...alongside your other stuff mentioned above, this is a boxful of raw power. I'd still go with the Minibrute 2s versus the Dreadboxes, though...mucho patchpoints, has the weird Brute VCOs, the yowling Steiner filter...yeah. I definitely see that, add the Keystep, screeching halt. Perfect.
Buchla...yes, very influential. I've used a very large 200/300 hybrid system way in the past and while the sound is...my gawd, it's that frickin' SOUND...it is more than a bit confusing to patch if you're not used to how Don started doing things with the 200 series, separating control and audio signals nearly totally. I've not had an opportunity to work with a 100, though, and that might be a happier experience given that you don't have to separate those signal paths; it's a lot more like Eurorack, with 3.5mms, everything connects (in theory) to everything. Another telling point about the difference between Moog and Buchla: the very first time I encountered a Moog system, waaaay back when, I couldn't get it to do diddly-squat. But the first time with the 200/300 (granted, that was later on), I had that thing emitting sonic havoc in pretty short order. Which is kind of funny...the Moog LOOKS simpler, but there's a lot of hidden ill engineering behavior there, whereas the Buchla was designed by a bunch of acidheads and could theoretically be worked even when the patch panels seemed to be melting! Ergo, it's actually a bit 'friendlier', especially the 100 Series according to a few people I knew who used one themselves.
As for them being 'outliers'...that was by design. Moog wanted something that was AN INSTRUMENT, by god...where Buchla was working with the San Francisco Tape Music Center's experimental music community firsthand in the early-mid 1960s, and there was more of an idea to replicate 'classic studio' techniques electronically with the first devices. As such, there wasn't an aim to make it 'traditional' in any way, while Moog was actually aiming his systems at a more orthodox clientele. I think it says it all in that Moog debuted his earliest system at an AES show, whereas Buchla's first big public outing was for one of the Merry Pranksters' 'Acid Test' events.
Jeez, that's a relief to hear it looks ok to you.. I've been stressing over my choices like crazy lately. It literally has been keeping me up at night.
I'm just about to order vco's/vcf's for the top rack and am now having all sort of second thoughts. Do you really think 2 filters would be super useful? I mean they would be.. But I can't help but wanting the Plaits AND the Rings instead.. Maybe even keep the 3 sisters but swap out that Morpheus for a few Utilities/samplers. GAH. The decisions never end!
That is funny to hear about the Buchla though.. That thing always looked like something that came down inside an Asteroid or something, at least with the Moog's I can look at them and have some idea of what does what. That being said the Buchla's do sound fantastic (from my limited scope of youtube), There's a video of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith playing the Music Easel and it's really something special.
Love that example too, hah! That about sums up just how different the two companies philosophies were. Do you think Synthesizers and Electronic Music as a whole would be a lot more interesting if Moog never existed perhaps? Or if the Buchla mindset prevailed over the Moog? I wonder..
Decisions, decisions...yep, welcome to EuroCrack. Seriously, tho...do the Morpheus since it can go off into some warped zones. At one set of sessions many years back, one of the guys I was working with had worked out a Max patch that allowed him to access a E-Mu Morpheus's Z-plane filter's multiple axis controls simultaneously (which E-Mu hadn't designed into the Morpheus because of how the Proteus line synths' UIs worked) and the results were completely INSANE. Given that Dave Rossum's redux of the Morpheus filter in Eurorack IS that filter, but now with total simultaneous control...yeah, I can imagine how bonkers that thing can get. I'd say leave that thing right where is it!
Would things have been different without Bob's input? Absolutely. After all, Bob took synthesizers in a direction that made them more recognizable as a 'proper instrument', such as the keyboard interface, keeping all signals (mostly) on the same level, exponential VCO/VCF response, and so on. Don's ideas were monumental, and we do have him to thank for things such as the sequencer in the end, but the Buchla 100s, back in the day, weren't anything like Bob's musician-friendly efforts. They used a weird CV scaling, they weren't as clear-cut with respect to their controls as the Moogs, and they were VERY counter-keyboard in the initial years. It's worth noting that Buchla actually tried mass-marketing his 100 series systems via CBS (who also controlled Fender et al back in the late 1960s) and they were a resounding flop at the same time that Moogs were selling hand-over-fist. These days, I think we've reached a point where the differences just don't matter, though; everything uses the same scaling for the most part (Korg as well as EMW's EML reissues notwithstanding), all signal levels are designed to interconnect (save for Buchla, still), and this has opened up things to a wild, infinite set of cross-hybridizations of synthesizers. It's not so much a "west coast/east coast" dichotomy anymore.