Hey guys!

I've started with modular synths about one year ago and having a lot of fun with my case so far.
Even though I've made the common mistake and didnt take enough time to think about what I am REALLY looking for.

I still have a lot to learn, but there is one thing that interests me a lot and where I still have a lot of questions.

How do you create some more complex harmonies, melodies, basslines and chords, that all harmonize together?
Are there some quantizers or sequencers that are especially useful for that?

I know that this topic is a rather complicated one but I thought maybe some of you have some helpful input for me.
I feel like that the ACL Sinfonion is covering a lot of what I'm searching for but its so damn expensive.. So when you have some specific modules in mind please tell me!

Here's one example for what I'm looking for:

Would love to create stuff like this an get lost in it..

Thank you very much in advance, love this forum/website!

Yes, I think the Sinfonion is what you are looking for. I know that one of the members here uses the Sinfonion. Maybe @GarfieldModular can give you some guidance.
Have fun and good luck!

+1 for the Sinfonion here...yeah, it's spendy as hell, but you've got to consider what it IS. Multichannel sequencing quantizer + "theory engine" ain't gonna be cheap. F'rinstance, I've got a NDLR here, which definitely covers that "theory engine" aspect, and even though it's just a little desktop box, it was an EXPENSIVE little desktop box. You get your money's worth with the Sinfonion, tbh.

Hi Amliw,

I totally agree with you that the Sinfonion is completely bananas expensive, there are no words for describing how %&^(#*^# expensive the Sinfonion is and just don't buy it, saves you lots of money and you can buy so many more modules from that money, right? So who needs a Sinfonion? ;-)

Of course I am joking but yes the Sinfonion is expensive but no, it's seriously worth it, what I am trying to say here (my above text), that yes with the money of Sinfonion, you can get so many other nice modules but not really what Sinfonion can offer you here. Don't expect wonders from it either but if you are ready for the next step into more complexity, yet harmonised and get the things kind of organised (well.. when is something really organised within Eurorack, never I guess? ;-) ) then the Sinfonion might be actually the right module for you.

But before I continue: Hey, did you saw that woman just walked away at the end of the movie and leaves a very interesting modular synth there in that crappy building? Run fast and see if you can get that synth for yourself, perhaps she hasn't returned yet! I mean... come on... who walks away from a system like that and leaves it unguarded? (assuming the camera man wouldn't be there of course). Well at least Hélène does ;-)

Anyway, back to the Sinfonion. Bit more details then, with the Sinfonion you have 3 channels that you can use for your "regular" voices, each channel has a slightly bit different extra functionality compared to each other but the main functionality is about the same. Then you have another chord channel, it only requires one input but gives you up to four outputs to play for example (that's how I like to use it) with a polyphone module like the Doepfer A-111-4 Quad VCO. Last but certainly not least is the arpeggio channel, I love to use that one, very flexible in it's use.

That might not sound very complicated but it exactly gives you so many possibilities and complicated ways of using it harmonised or even unharmonised if you like (detuned). You can have slew option on channel 1 and on the chord channel. In my demo "The Cry Of The Modular Synth" you are hearing there that "Cry" sound using partly the slew option in combination with channel one. I am only using channel one here for this track (so "barely" using the Sinfonion actually):


The other voice you hear in that track (more kind of LFO driven sound) that's not done by or via the Sinfonion.

If you want another example of the Sinfonion I used, take this track here:


I fully utilise the Sinfonion here with all it has: 3 channels, channel 1 in A/B mode as well, chords, and the arpeggio. In that track I didn't used any keyboard or whatsoever to put "notes" into this track, that was mostly done by the Sinfonion. You just give it some bizarre sound and Sinfonion spits the notes (and chords) out you prefer, brilliant!

These are only two examples, I am not sure if Hélène is actually using a Sinfonion but if she would then that would be some other examples, but you can do so many various things with a Sinfonion, it's almost endless.

One thing to keep in mind though, it's not a sequencer in the classical way, it actually isn't really a sequencer; ACL likes to call it a chord progession sequencer and that's exactly what it is, the "only" thing you can sequence with the Sinfonion itself are the chords, all the other channels can't be sequenced, at least not by the Sinfonion itself. But that's not the idea of the Sinfonion anyway. See it more as a kind of master control of your entire rack getting all your stuff channed into the Sinfonion and get it a bit nicer out of it :-) Harmonised, quantised, whatever you like to call it. For details please download the Sinfonion manual, it's in English and it's written with some nice kind of humour. The manual will give you a good idea of what is possible, but actually that's just the beginning of it, what you are going to make out of it at the end might be way beyond what has been described in the manual and the Sinfonion is the tool for you that allows to do just that.

So yes, it's expensive but I have never regretted it. If I have to sell a few of my modules, the Sinfonion will be one of the last ones!

Though having said that, please do keep in mind that the Sinfonion becomes the black hole of your entire modular synthesizer! It sucks up any of the modules you have, it's very module hungry, because you need to feed it with inputs, so it can processes the sounds you provide it and then spits it out again and then it might again cry for more modules to do funny bits with the output. So you must have tons of modules (that's a bit the con of the Sinfonion) and Sinfonion will "slurp them all up" :-) Hence the reason I call the Sinfonion the black hole of my modular synth!

Have fun and kind regards, Garfield Modular.

Thank you all for your fast replies!

Seems like the Sinfonion has won and I have to save some money in the next months..
Even though the NDLR also looks interesting, I didnt knew about that one, thanks! @Lugia

Thank you for your detailed description! Definitely made me even more interested in that module and sure I know that the price has it reasons and that the sinfonion can be hell of a machine in the right system.
But this is also still one point that makes me feel sceptical about buying the sinfonion.

I've seen another post somewhere, where also somebody said that you will need a bunch of other modules before you can use the full potential of the Sinfonion.
I've just started one year ago and my rack is still a rather small one.
So what exactly does the sinfonion like to be fed with?
When I use the polyphonic mode of my Qu-bit Chord I have 6 voices/oscillators in total.
Unfortunately I don't really have a lot of utility modules so far.
In general my system is a rather simple one and I'm afraid that the sinfonion is too "big" for a system like that.

I really like Azewijn, you got some interesting sounds in that!
And about the woman in the video, I will keep an eye out, maybe I will find a creepy abandoned building with a nice system in it one day :-)

Thank you all again!

Hi Amliw,

You are welcome :-)

Well, I have to be honest with you, yes that Sinfonion needs a lot for input (actually for the output, the input is still kind of okay), the more you feed it, the more fun it gets and I wasn't joking that the Sinfonion will become the black hole of your system, it really sucks up anyting that comes near to it, you just want to feed it more the get more complicated stuff out of it.

I also bought it a slightly bit too early, but there was a good deal in the regular shop I am going so I couldn't leave it there :-) What I did then was I just didn't use all the channels at the same time yet because I just didn't had enough modules to feed this beast. Then slowly when my setup started to grow I could make more use of the potential of this monster. A monster in a good way, but still a monster ;-)

Well utility modules are always good to have, with or without the Sinfonion, so you might need to look into that issue first then.

Perhaps we should change the question a little bit here from "What does the Sinfonion like to be fed with?" into "What would you like to feed the Sinfonion with?" ;-)

It's really difficult to answer that question of yours because, the Sinfonion is rather flexible and because of the many possibilities it offers you, you really can just almost throw anything to it and it will take it and do some weird or less weird things with it, which all will depends on you, on how you configure it.

But perhaps with trying to give a few examples, you might get a better idea:

For that "The Cry Of The Modular Synth" track, I "fed" the Sinfonion with an input signal... oh yes! For each channel the Sinfonion likes to have an input :-) I usually take an LFO that's flexible in use so when I change the LFO, the behaviour of the Sinfonion changes too. However for the above-mentioned track, I used the Doepfer - A-118-2 noise module and used the random output and used that as the input for channel 1. That's why the "note selection" by Sinfonion behaved a bit weird (and not in always the same kind of rhythm that you might get with an LFO) in that above track; on purpose of course :-)

On the output of each of those Sinfonion channels you could connect those to a simple or complex oscillator, totally up to you. What I didn't do was that I connected the output of a channel first to an oscillator and then started to work on that sound of the oscillator. No, I worked the other way round, it could take me days till I found a nice kind of sound (or an interesting sound), once found only then I decided the channel I wanted to relate that "nice found sound" connected to the Sinfonion. Once I got then a nice tone pattern with/from the Sinfonion then I tried to kind of finalise that sound by an extra touch with yet another filter or effect.

But in the above example of "finding a nice sound" that usually takes some efforts and might use quite some modules to come up with that nice sound.

Once that channel was then ready, I then again started to look for another nice sound that took me again some time and lots of modules and then used that in context with yet another channel on the Sinfonion. Till the Sinfonion was fully fed (or connected all the channels) and then you can start using the Sinfonion in all its glory ;-)

But you are totally right, you need quite an already large system to be able to get the Sinfonion to its rights. ACL is mentioning that also, it's rather meant for medium till large setups than for small setups.

While you saving money for the Sinfonion, look if you have enough oscillators for 3 channels, chords and a nice arpeggio (with all the supporting modules that those oscillators might need). If you find here and there a lack of modules you can start working on that and when you think you are ready, get the Sinfonion :-)

But don't get me wrong here, I don't want to push or force you into any direction or whatsoever, you just do what you like. You don't have to get a Sinfonion. For your wallet it's much better not to take a Sinfonion, not only because of the costs of the Sinfonion but also because of the costs of all the modules you sooner or later will need to keep the Sinfonion (and yourself) happy :-D

Take a few days off and think about it, for these kind of big things you shouldn't rush into it and give it a few good thoughts. Meanwhile have fun with your modular synth and a good weekend. Kind regards, Garfield.

Hi Amliw,

I wanted to give you one more example but pressed the Submit button already...

That Azewijn track, I made that with 12 voices and 5 voices were for the Sinfonion (but those voices were the complicated ones, well most of them, not the chords), the rest of the voices where not done via the Sinfonion. In total for that Azewijn track I used 56 modules, so I estimated somewhere between 30 and 40 modules were used by Sinfonion (for it's channels, chords & arpeggio and the whole shebang), just for that Sinfonion (and all its channels of course). Just to give you a rough idea. Not that 56 should be a leading number, it's just an example. I am sure it can be done with less modules. I use usually rather simple modules trying to make something complicated. Others might prefer to buy a more complicated module then the complexity is already in just that one module and you don't need many extra modules to come up with the same ;-) So don't hang yourself too much up on that number, pure as an example here.

Kind regards, Garfield.

Hey Garfield,

I have to thank you again for your detailed answer!
Its always interesting to read some patch notes of others, especially about modules I want to have :-)

I think I will start saving some money now and when I will have enough I can decide again whats more important for me now.
But I'm definitely super hyped!

And I also think that it wont be too bad to buy it early because I already know that I want to get more into beautiful and harmonic atmospheres and I have the hope that with the Sinfonion on my side it will guide me to the right direction while showing me what I want and need as my next modules..
I will see :-)

And 30-40 modules really is a large number, unbelievable actually for a beginner like me :-D

Thanks again and enjoy your Weekend Garfield!

Let me give you a counter-suggestion instead:

Get a paraphonic / polyphonic synth and use Eurorack to create timbral variation of a harmony. Eurorack is not good at creating complex harmonies.

Get a paraphonic / polyphonic synth and use Eurorack to create timbral variation of a harmony. Eurorack is not good at creating complex harmonies.
-- Wavescape

No disagreement here. Sure, you COULD build a polyphonic modular, but the resulting instrument would be QUITE huge, physically, and the patching complexity would border on total insanity. The ONLY setup I can think of like that would've been Toto's massive early-mid 1980s Polyfusion rig, which also used a Roland MC-8 clocked by a central timing device (my bet's on Garfield's MasterBeat being the device responsible) for control. And sure, Eurorack IS smaller...but you'll still wind up creating something huge and maddening to patch even in that format. You're far better off trying to set your build up as a multichannel set of potential mono/duophonic patches, then slotting those in and out via your main output mixer. Then if you want chords...there's loads of options with prebuilt polysynths.

As for 30-40 modules being a "large number", consider this: I learned modular (1980/81) on what I still say is the best teaching synth, the ARP 2600. And even though that looks to be just a big prepatched rig, the fact is that it contains 25 or so discrete "modules" within it, and you can break the prepatching just by plugging in patchcords where you see that little circled "interrupt" icon. So 30 - 40 is really kinda typical for module counts in a basic Eurorack system.

??? I think you misunderstood what I meant. I am not suggesting to build a polyphonic modular.

I meant you can use paraphonic / polyphonic synth as an ambient pad (with CV in / VCV Rack etc.). Then, use Eurorack in parallel to create a melody/timbral variations based on the harmony of the ambient pad. Especially, nowadays some synths like P6/OB6 are compatible w/ MIDI MPE, you can modulate the parameters of each voice instead of all voices. It also depends how you are trained too. For me, I prefer to play with a keyboard, instead of using a quantizer/chord generator. Eurorack to me is more about exploring timbre instead of harmony.

??? I think you misunderstood what I meant. I am not suggesting to build a polyphonic modular.
-- Wavescape

Oh, I know...that part of the comment was directed at the thread's OP.

Thanks for the suggestion Wavescape!
I also thought about that, but actually I'm having a lot of fun while exploring harmonics and I just love letting my sequencers play some melodies while turning some knobs here and there.
But I get your point, its just two different things I guess. And as far I can see the Sinfonion really gets me in the direction I want to go, even though I'm still open for alternative ideas/modules :-)