I tried! I just need more colors of cables to color code this stuff. (A densely packed modular synth with many multicolor cables going everywhere.)

After weeks of tweaking our prior patch to last week’s performance setup point, it felt pretty weird to pull it all out. Once I did, I couldn’t stop looking at my beautiful baby Benjolin, so that’s where we went for this week’s patch.

I’d also asked on Mastodon for suggestions and got one: to divide a pitch sequence, or other CV, and use it across multiple modules. I thought about ways to do this for a minute, and decided to go all in. I would use the Benjolin not just as the primary/only sound source (apart form some effects*) but also as the sole source of modulation. A giant Benjolin self patch, in other words, but assisted by a bunch of utilities.

Let’s look at the audio side first. There are basically two audio chains here. First, the main voice. I created a stereo image by putting the bandpass output on one side, and a mix of the lowpass and highpass outputs on the other. Each runs into its own delay, set for slightly different time divisions (I believe it’s 1/8 note delay and 3/8 note delay), then into the left and right sides of Mimeophon, into the mixer and into the Desmodus Versio delay, then to the outs.

The second voice goes from the PWM output (so the unfiltered pulse wave that gets sent to the filter), which goes to the Panharmonium, then into the FX Aid XL (running a Chorus into Reverb program), out to the mixer and through the reverb.

That’s all, voicewise, but it fills the soundstage pretty well. The Panharmonium voice gets turned into a harmonic accompaniment that tends to lag just behind what the main voice is doing. The main voice is bouncing all over the place thanks to the differing delays. It’s all pretty wild.

The clock for the whole patch is, of course, the Benjolin, meaning oscillator two. I have the pulse output of oscillator two going to the Clocktopus and distributed to the various delays (Disting algorithm B4 running on both sides of a Disting EX, and Mimeophon). It also clocks the Panharmonium, which affects when it samples its input to generate its voicing, which I find gives it a musical call-and-response like relationship to the main voice.

For modulation, we have a bunch of stuff going on. The rungler output gets split out to a couple places. One branch controls the bandwidth of the Panharmonium. The other feeds the Make Noise Function, and gets slew limited into a sweet chaotic waveform, kind of like a Sloth output. Function being Function, I then further split the outputs. One of the positive outputs goes to the Panharmonium, where it controls the number of oscillators it will use — skewed towards fewer as a default, but this can push it to the full 33 I believe. The other goes into one of the Pittsburgh Mod Tools logic inputs (the other input is fed by the triangle wave output of oscillator two).

The Negative/inverted output of Function goes to the Panharmonium, where it controls the waveform selection of the oscillators. The second output goes to the After Later Blend module, where it controls the amount of highpassed signal in the mix. The lowpassed signal is controlled by the mix output of the Mod Tools logic section. The mix output also goes to the rectifier of Kinks where it then gets attenuated via the Doepfer A-135-2 VCA bank and used to modulate the feedback of the Desmodus end-of-chain reverb. Finally, a gate from the Morcom expander to the Benjolin is used to trigger the slew limiter/function generator section of Mod Tools, and that signal is used to control the zone of the Mimeophon. (EDIT: It also goes into the “Both” input on the Function to warp the output of the function with yet another derivative CV.)

Is that it? I think so. Are you confused? I imagine so. The Benjolin is confusing at the best of times — one doesn’t so much play it as play with it and marvel at the output, so breaking a bunch of its outputs out to make even more confusing inputs is a special kind of confusing…but please ask if you have any questions, I will explain until you get it, or we’re both crying and give up.

In the meantime, a short audio snippet to whet your appetite for the eventual full track:

Just one weird snippet…

And a video explainer:

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