Oblique Strategies card reading: Gardening, not architecture

Let me tell you about the life of a patch. It might start incredibly simple — for example, maybe a sine wave oscillator into a waveshaper and out to the speakers! Super simple, the kind of thing one might patch up to, say, test out the waveshaper and/or a new oscilloscope. Use of a few split cables let the synthesist look at the wave on the oscilloscope to confirm it starts as a clean sine, then watch it get twisted by the waveshaper.

Now, this might be entertaining for a few minutes and one might even learn a bit about the operation of that waveshaper…and notice it sounds pretty good. Bet it would sound better through a filter, so let’s put it through the Wasp. And into Mimeophon, because if you give a signal a filter, it’s going to want some delay. Wow, all of a sudden, this sounds not like a simple experiment to learn about a technique but … something cool.

Wiggle the filter, and it sounds even better. Heck let’s add a wiggle from our friend Sloths so we can do other stuff with our hands. Speaking of, this waveshaper has all these inputs… try things until you have an envelope working a pair of envelopes — normal and inverted — working the top and bottom now that we’re done “making observations” and have moved to “making sweet sounds.”

Oh, and might as well send it through that nice sounding VCA that adds a crispy layer of distorted goodness to the whole thing — reroute what’s done so it goes filter into VCA into delay… add more Sloths outputs to modulate a few things, swapping them around until things sound “right” more or less. Get some chaotic pitches going from the rungler (clocked by the delay, because sometimes your delay clocks the patch instead of the other way around), attentuated into a less insane range…wow, this is almost a song already!

And folks, that was my patch this week. Patching a modular synth can be architecture — requiring planning, extensive knowledge of all the proper procedures and materials involved in pursuit of building something sturdy and sound and reliable. And that’s great! But more often, for me at lest, it’s gardening — poke something into the ground, see what sprouts… pull the weeds as they appear, unless they look as nice as the plants you added deliberately (I’m that kind of gardener). You get the idea, I don’t need to torture this poor metaphor any more. The point is, modular is a place to explore, and it’s important not to get hung up on what you are (or aren’t) “supposed” to do, or should be doing, or whatever. It’s a playground of aural insanity. Enjoy it.

Here’s a pic, module list and video below (you can hear it in the video intro).

Here’s the patch! (Moderately complex modular synth patch with multicolored cables)

Audio path:
Klavis Twin waves (sine wave) -> Klavis Flexshaper -> Doepfer Wasp filter -> Tallin VCA -> Mimeophon -> Output

Modulation:
Waveshaper modulated by multiple Sloths channels, envelope from Function + inverted copy of envelope (triggered by Mimeophon clock output). Wasp filter cutoff modulated by Sloths channel. Hand controlled the VCA.

Pitch/Sequencing:
Benjolin rungler output into Kinks, out of full rectified (negative voltage switched to positive values) output.

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