Hello from Nobone,
another totally beginner in this huge world of modular. So Im here to get some info from you to make my first steps in this world or better universe. Like many others here Im into drones and dark ambient. Doing it by using the west coast style.
But the first steps are difficult. Must confess to understand this universe is not so easy for me. But today modular grid is there and youtube:-) So here Im with my first ideas and a lot of questions.
For the beginning I just want to sources ...the 352 (or the Honda piston) and morphagene (or clouds?). My fresh thoughts are....triggering/modulating the 352 via Batumi and the Doepfer. And triggering/modulating the morphagene via Maths. The output then from both to the Erbe verb.
And now the problems begin. Erbe verb has a lot of functions. So maybe its to "big" for just being used as a normal reverb because of the many cvs for size etc.. So should the Erbe also be triggered by Math or the batumi? And Im a fan of delays. But the space in the rack. I know....then a bigger rack. But wanted at first to start bit smaller. Useful?
So maybe some of you got some time to get me on the "technical" useful way.
Feel free to comment. By the way Im from Germany so you can answer in german, too. Thanks a lot. Nobone https://cdn.modulargrid.net/img/racks/modulargrid_626989.jpg?1522493522
Starting with a minimally-sized rack isn't useful. Trust me. It's always better to have room to grow into, because what will invariably happen is that you'll realize something about your first build that could be improved on by the addition of a few other modules. But without open space for those to fit into...well, you'd be kinda stuck. If you come up with a build that fits into, say, one row of 104 hp, then have two rows of that space, because you'll find all sorts of ways to expand that first 104 hp row's capabilities and without a way to act on those ideas, you'll be shortchanging yourself creatively. Versteh?
And here, we're going to run headlong into that limitation...
OK, if the idea here is to work along West Coast lines, you need to keep in mind that that method entails crossmodulating things at audio frequencies to get very complex spectra. Don Buchla's methods involved taking really simple oscillators and providing a number of different ways that they could modulate each other. Have a look at some obviously West Coast oscillators, for example: the MakeNoise DPO, Sputnik's Dual Oscillator, Radical Frequencies' Dual Precision Oscillator, or Verbos' Complex Oscillator. In all cases, the module contains both the oscillators and a lot of options to crossmodulate these under differing types of control. While the Cloud Terrarium is an awesome oscillator, it's not exactly set up like that; that module is more of a wavetable-scanning type of oscillator, which is cool in of itself (just ask Wolfgang Palm and the folks at Waldorf) but not exactly suited to 'pure' West Coast. You could include it alongside that sort of synth architecture as an incoming source, but as the sole source in this sort of synth, it's not exactly right.
Next up, West Coast derives a lot of its sound from the use of low-pass gates to shape the final amplitude and timbre. These are circuits that combine a low-pass filter and a VCA under the same modulation control signal. The idea behind these was to create a circuit that behaved how an acoustic source did when a sound decays: higher partials fall out faster than lower, and by the use of a vactrol, the decay gets shaped in a similar way as a resonating object in which vibrations decay over time. In theory. But in actuality, there's loads of ways to make totally unnatural sounds with LPGs, especially more recent ones that offer some controls that Don Buchla didn't either consider or have access to back in his day.
Maths definitely fits the West Coast scheme as a modulation source. It's actually a derivation of a Serge module, the Dual Universal Slope Generator; the Serge was a follow-on to Buchla's 100 and 200 series ideas, with a lot of rethinking of how signal flow should work and a stronger reliance on filtering for spectral shaping than in Don's earlier systems. In a way, the Buchla is the 'San Francisco' synth and the Serge is the 'Los Angeles' synth: similar, but definitely different. The Batumi, though...that's more akin to a typical LFO, albeit in a four-pack module. To get closer to a West Coast method for envelopes and modulators, you'll want a bunch of AD, AR, or ASR-type envelopes in which you can vary the 'rise' and 'fall' times, plus have a lot of triggering and cycling options. By combining these with the low-pass gates I mentioned above, then you get right into that West Coast 'pocket', sound-wise.
As for the Erbe-verb...the key to a lot of the early Buchla sounds, especially in the 100 series, was reverb. Back then, Don used a spring, because that's what fit into the space of the 100 cabs of the day. The Erbe-verb is actually an extremely complex digital device, but not at all out of line for the sound in a modern-day context. It allows the modulation schemes found in West Coast methods to also affect the reverb parameters to the same sort of complexity as other devices in a typical West Coast signal chain.
The Morphagene, though...that's a whole different thing. With that and the Phonogene, Tony Rolando is offering a modular take on concrete-type sound manipulation, either of sounds in the synth or ones coming in from outside. It's neither East nor West, but more like Paris, where Pierre Schaeffer first envisioned his Phonogene device for altering sounds as they travelled along a tape loop, to allow a more 'playable' aspect to tape methods, which are normally anything BUT playable. As for the Morphagene, it combines ideas from that plus granular methods from digital source manipulation, so it's a bit less Schaeffer and more Francois Bayle or Jean-Claude Risset in that aspect. It's not really West Coast, therefore, but it fits really well into the experimentally-oriented sound of the West Coast methods.
So...how to proceed? I suggest taking a bit of a stop to study the different modules on MG, but also having a look at Buchla's present-day website (https://buchla.com) as well as the outside-maintained site for Serge (http://serge-fans.com) so you can get a better handle on the contexts behind the whole West Coast thing. Eventually, you'll see the connection between the 'originals' and the Eurorack derivations of those, and that should result in a better-informed position from where to start.
Thanks amethyst and special thanks to you Lugia.
Lugia, I know , me got a big lack of the necessary understanding of sound creating. Especially of having Oscillators, the gates and doing crossmodulation.
But to keep it simple in my way, I thought modulating the 352 with the batumi will bring up some space sounds. These should then be combined with the morphangene. So the 352 should bring up the slow involving and bubbling "background" sound overlaid with some bizarre sound from the morphangene. That was my intention for starting. Timbre etc. was still neglected in my way.
Don't know if this is the right way to start diving in this huge sound universe.......thought of it as a kind of learning by doing.
So Lugia, hope its understandable what Im trying to say. Maybe there is no other way of getting started then doing it with the understanding of crossmodulation etc.. But maybe there is a chance to dive in by having a few modules, playing with them and developing a deeper understanding of sound creation. For me its a search of sound but the difficulty is to know if the modular thing is just playable by understanding the basics of sound creation or if there is a way in the kind of try and error?
Or in germany we say....the money is thrown out of the window....means you spent a lot of money.....if not paying attention to the basics rules.
Maybe you have some explaining words for me, again:-) Thanks.
Hmmm...OK, the idea of modulating with the Batumi would work if the Batumi could tune to the whole audio range. But I don't think that's the case; it's definitely more of a quad LFO. I'm gonna tinker with something here...hang on...
Classic West Coast architecture. I used a 126 hp Erica skiff which has a depth of only 60mm (45, effectively), so a couple of these exceed the depth spec. Basically, this is just for example purposes...
Left: this is the random/noise/sample and hold part. Don Buchla came up with this amazing randomness-redistribution module called the 'Source of Uncertainty', and the Doepfer A-149-1 is a Eurorack version of this. It allows stochastic distribution of randomness, instead of the unweighted sort you get from noise alone. Of course, we also have noise (a few different 'colors') and a normal S&H as well to interact with this and create a fairly comprehensive random function source altogether.
VCOs next. Now, the two main ones, as you can see, have a polarizing mixer between them. This can also output offset voltages, and it's key to how to make the two main VCOs interact. By combining modulating signals between the VCOs at either audio OR low frequencies (which all of these oscillators can do), you arrive at the complex sound spectra that's key to Buchla and other West Coast-type sound. A dual VCA plus a third oscillator is there, also, in order to intertwine those devices into the crossmod functionality, plus the third, simpler VCO can serve as a third modulation source when needed.
After that, of course, a waveshaper. This does the final spectral shaping prior to the low-pass gates. The next few modules are all transient generators. There's three of the classic Serge-derived A-171-2s; these are CVable slope generators, and can act as slews, oscillators, LFOs, or EGs, depending on how they're programmed and being used. After that, four AD envelopes. Buchla actually didn't utilize the now-common ADSR envelopes, preferring to rely on the LPG's vactrols (or, back in the early days, lamps-and-photocells) to create the release response. The harder the LPG would get 'hit', the longer the release, and also the higher the low-pass filter's cutoff would go upon attack. And natch, after those comes the lowpass gates...two Optomixes, MakeNoise's take on Don's classic circuit. A CVable panner/mixer follows to merge the two Optomixes into a mono signal, or to take one Optomix and CV-pan it between two stereo channels.
Then reverb, of course. Have to have that. It was key to the Buchla 100 sound, in fact. And then into an output stage, which also has a pair of AUX outs to allow something from the final part of the audio chain to be sent back to some other point to, yep, use as a modulation source. All of these modulation possibilities are key to the whole idea behind Buchla's sound, especially in the 100 series and the beginnings of the 200 series.
Now, if you notice something missing here...yep, you're right, there's several things missing! Most glaringly, no VCF! That's also a Buchla thing; Don really didn't want to do the subtractive method of synthesis that VCFs are key to. Instead, his idea...and the underpinning of West Coast methods...was to create complex spectra by crossmodulation and then shape that result into a final signal. If this were a proper West Coast synth, in fact, you wouldn't even have the audio connectable to the control signal path. This was only really a thing on the early Buchla 100 modules, and Don abandoned this gradually so that he could keep audio at normal line levels and have only the control signals at the higher, synth-level voltages.
No mults, either. After Buchla went over to banana connections, these weren't necessary. And on the Serge, they never existed at all, because the whole thing used stackable bananas, with all paths at the same signal levels.
If this seems...odd, well, you're right. It is, compared to the more common 'East Coast' subtractive method, which relies on many mixers, VCFs, loads of control devices such as dedicated LFOs or complex envelope generators to gradually 'pare down' sounds to the desired result. But these days, thankfully, Eurorack gives us ways to combine both ideas; Tony Rolando certainly nailed it when he called MakeNoise's patchable the '0-coast', because once you start combining these two working paradigms, you really do get this 'not exactly either one' result that's, well, really interesting.
But yeah...that thing at the top of this post is pretty much classic West Coast, albeit built with a lot of modules that don't connect together like yr.typ. West Coast stuff. But that's how it should work, basically.
Thanks again Lugia for your expert opinion:-)
Im happy that you take some time to bring a new one like me to the basics.
Certainly this is the way of creation right from the basic level. But like I wrote it before me think to take a two sources: a morphagene / phonogene and a Telharmonic. Both get modulated with random voltage (Chance), a filter and maybe the batumi to bring some randomness to the random voltage:-)
So far Im understanding the universe of modular by now this should me get crazy stuff out for experimenting some time.
Parallel I will keep on learning the functionality like you have written before.
For me a new universe has opened it gates:-) And its a bit like Humboldt.....feeling like a researcher out in new territory. But Im glad, Im not alone because there are some guides like you.
By the way are you a founder or moderator of this side?
Thanks and greetings from Essen a city in the so called "Ruhrgebiet" in the middle of germany:-)
Hey, kids...insomnia is fun! It probably played a part in this piece of crazy:
Basically, I got thinking about the above and, coupled with the general inability to sleep that's been something of a plague over the past few months, I got inspired. This build is sort of 'West Coast gone horribly wrong'...the architecture is similar, but this incorporates the core idea you had about cross-wiring the Morphagene and Telharmonic. The notion proved too attractive to not play with.
So, yeah...there's an external in with an envelope follower, so you can derive CVs from amplitude. Then there's this composite oscillator-fiasco-thing: a TZFM VCO, a Mysterion (MakeNoise's waveguide modeler), and a Telharmonic. And between each, a DC-coupled mixer and a VCable dual polarizer, which allows both attenuation and inversion under voltage control. The idea here is to interconnect all of these things and create a composite not-exactly-oscillator-device, a sound source way more complex, crazed, and full of potential than any typical Buchla or Serge complex oscillator setup. Madness!
Triple VCA/mixer after this 'generator' section gets us into 'modifier' territory. And first up is Happy Nerding's utterly-bonkers FM Aid, a diabolical little thing that allows something akin to through-zero modulation with any audio source, which is simply nuts! The Doepfer uVCO next to it is there to provide a carrier signal for the FM Aid and can be used in either VCO or LFO mode. Then there's this filter-atrocity...a Doepfer A-106-1 (Sallen-Key Korg MS-20-style pair), which has an insert point in its resonance loop. Then there's a Chronoblob. Now, that thing is for the A-106-1's insert, to add a 'time lag' into the resonance path. BUT WAIT! There's MORE...the state-variable filter next to that is for the Chronoblob's insert point, this time allowing a VCF into the delay's feedback path. So these three modules are actually intended, in this very irresponsible and totally mad build, to work as a single unit, just like the whole 'generator' section. Again, this is way beyond normal West Coast, even though the cross-modulation idea is present here, too...albeit in a very insane way! Last up is very West Coast, though: a MakeNoise Optomix, two low-pass gates which mix the top row's voicing results together into one very out-there mono signal.
Then the bottom row. A noise gen and sample-and-hold sit next to Mutable Instruments newest chaotic device, the Marbles...you'll just have to read up on this one; it makes the Buchla Source of Uncertainty seem as predictable as DB's train schedule! Three VC Slope gens next, for sort of a Maths-and-a-half of that sort of thing, and then the quad LFOs of the Batumi. A Dual VCA rounds the 'modulator' section out, allowing modulation sources to alter other modulation signals' amplitudes.
And the 'processor' stage. Now, this has MakeNoise's triumvirate of processors, in a specific order. First, the Phonogene allows weird loop/screw-with/delay/sample behavior in mono. This gets handed off to the Erbe-verb, which not only allows addition of reverb (and a lot of tinkering with it!), it also provides a stereo image from the Phonogene's mono signal, so that the Morphagene has a full stereo signal to chew up and spit out through its granular/scrambly methods. I put these all down below the latter half of the voicing row so that that part's signal can go directly in, and having them up front means you have a better ability to play the processors (and modulators) manually without having to address the voice row specifically to alter things...but at the same time, the key VCF controls are directly above this, and these would be the most likely-to-be-messed-with controls besides the processors'. The whole thing goes directly to a stereo out, which provides a convenient headphone amp and also a second stereo input in case you want/need to parallel the Erbe-verb and Morphagene and mix one in and out of the other.
No, no multiples. I went jam-packed on this mutha, so my suggestion there would be to make use of either inline mults, stackable 3.5mm cables, or both when you need to multiple off of an output. Naturally, never mult outs together. Very bad. May make module go boom. Spendy. Bad burnt electronic smell. Ick. Also, no power supply on the panel; this was done with an Erica 126 x 6U cab in mind, which has built-in serious power, plus even with that and the big size, still only comes in at 480 EUR.
The idea? Make an instrument specific to that initial idea of yours. Not merely a modular synth; this build/bit of craziness contains segments intended to work as integral elements in four specific blocks, as I mentioned. I tried here to optimize the initial concept, throw together some crucial West Coast architecture concepts along with a little graveyard dust and black cat bones for the hoodoo factor, and see what emerged. And this was it, and damned if it doesn't seem like a SERIOUSLY interesting concept. Frankly, this was one of those things that I wouldn't mind building one of for myself...and I think I could guarantee that what I did with it would be totally personal and unlike anyone else's music realized on it.
Anyway, to answer that question above: no, not a founder. Just a long-time user of electronics for musical purposes. Of the around 50 years I've been involved in music in my lifetime, 40 of those have involved electronic or electroacoustic devices of some sort or another, sort of in conjunction with my time spent as a composer. It's...well, kinda what I do. Except while asleep...which, as I noted, I'm not right now.
And you definitely know how to express your thoughts in words and wrap it in an interesting story:-)
Im still struggling with getting around only with a few modules. But over and over there comes the border and how you told.....more space is necessary. Ill keep on getting my brain twisted and if Im done....Ill show you the result hoping that you have a comment again.
Till that, find some sleep and rest the brain:-)
Here is afternoon and time for breakfast.
Many thanks for replying, Lugia.