Look at that spaghetti! (A densely patched modular synth with a bewildering array of cables going everywhere)

Happy February! As I mentioned last week, this week marks the end of phase one of this project, and the beginning of phase two: performances incoming! This month I will be building patches for performance, then performing them and recording the results, which will be released as an album at the end of the month. Exciting!

To get started, we’ve made one last tweak (well, set of tweaks) to our ongoing intro patch! (This is the patch we’ve been building and modifying since week 1.) As you can see from the pic above, we are well past color coding and into spaghettiville, so you’ll have to zoom in and follow the cables if you want to see what’s going on; I’ll make every effort to explain it well enough you don’t have to do that to understand what is happening.

As of last week we had a fancy square-wave monosynth that was generatively sequenced, with lots of groovy spacial effects and some nifty ways to control those effects. This week, we need to make it performance ready, so let’s add a few accompaniment options!

Let’s start with some drums. I have the Noise Engineering Tymp Legio being triggered by the clock, so it hits on every beat. The Tymp goes through the bottom distortion unit on the Noise Engineering Terci Ruina, to give it some low end crunch, then into the mixer and out through the reverb (Noise Engineering Desmodus Versio, now moved to end-of-chain to effect all our new elements, too).

Accompanying that main drum pulse is a pinged filter drum from the Make Noise QPAS. That’s triggered by one of the semi-random outputs of the Morcom Benjolin expander (Benjolin is clocked by 0-CTRL for this task). Basically, you just put the trigger into the filter’s input and, voila! Drum(ish) sound. That output (from the left side of the lowpass output of the QPAS) goes into Terci Ruina’s middle distortion, to toughen it up a bit, then into the mixer and through the reverb.

Tymp is modulated by gates from the Benjolin (into the pitch and wack inputs). One of the Sloths bottom outputs feeds the decay, giving it a wholly unpredictable variety. QPAS gets modulation in its !!!! inputs from various Morcom/Benjolin gates, and the cutoff frequency is modulated by the second output of the Ornament and Crime Turing app, which is simply a delayed version of the first output — so while the ping drum may not be exactly in tune it is playing a related pitch of sorts. Fun.

Now we need another melodic element, which will interact with our main melodic sequence to provide something between counterpoint and harmony. For this, we turn to Panharmonium. Feeding it a mix of our unfiltered oscillators (via the Selected output of the Doepfer A-135-2 VCA/Mixer, which in this case is identical to the All output we are using as the main voice) and controlling its pitch via output three of the Ornament and Crime Turing app — again, that is a delayed version of the same line the main voice gets, which creates some interesting interactions.

The Panharmonium output goes into the top distortion unit of, you guessed it, the Terci Ruina, to add some nice fuzz. Then into the wonderful C4RBN filter from WMDevices, which is modulated by a Sloth output in its V/Oct input, and by the 0-CTRL’s touch output for some manual control of the filter’s frequency. To get a stereo signal I used both the 12 and 24db lowpass outputs into the stereo inputs of Happy Nerding’s FX Aid XL, running an emulation of the infamous Lo Fi Junky effect (basically trashes the signal up real good — more distortion, but complex and with modulation effects stirred in). That goes into the mixer and into the end-of-chain reverb with everything else.

Woo, that’s a lot isn’t it? Told you it gets complex from here, and we don’t even have to cover the main voice…

So, can we hear it? Sure! Here’s a short snippet of one possible performance. For the full thing, you’ll have to wait for my upcoming RPM Challenge album, out March 1!

Video coming soon!

Here’s the video

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