The Make Noise 0-Coast with several colorful patch cables plugged into it.

Well, that didn’t take long. Not two weeks after adding Strega to the fold, I went ahead and completed the so-called Make Noise Easel (or “Dark Easel” if you like it theatrical) by adding the 0-Coast to the pair of 0-CTRL and Strega. To be entirely clear, this was always the plan — I just thought there might be a longer gap between adding the Strega and the 0-Coast. But the urge to just add the last bit and get started with the Easel as a single unit was strong…and serendipitously, I sold something for essentially the same cost as buying the open-box model Detroit Modular just so happened to have. It seemed like fate, and who am I to argue with fate. Here’s a quick sample of the Easel at work:

It seems likely the average reader here is well familiar with the 0-Coast, but real quick, just in case: it’s a full voice semimodular synth that aims to blend elements of so-called East Coast and West Coast synthesis styles into one unit. (If you want to get deeper into what all that means, there are many resources online; message me about it if you need help).

At a basic level it’s an oscillator with a wavefolder and a lowpass gate, plus a function generator, an ADSR style envelope, and a random source. It’s also got MIDI, an arpeggiator and some other stuff, but in short it adds a second voice (at the minimum) to the Strega, and combining the two and patching it creatively extends the possibilities several fold. Add to this the potent control and modulation possibilities of the 0-CTRL and baby, we got a stew going!

Typically, the idea is to run it into the external input of Strega for mixing and processing with the Strega’s internal voice. And naturally, you can use either synth’s modulation outputs on the other — the 0-Coast offers some ways to combine them, even. Together, they make a powerful system, a capable vessel for musical exploration. And it looks like this:

The complete Make Noise MUsic Easel: 0-CTRL, Strega, 0-Coast. Three black and gold semi modular synthesizers festooned with colorful cables.

I’ve actually had the 0-Coast about a week and did a couple quick introductory patches with just it, but just a few and I am not going to make one of those the patch of the week. No, I bought this thing thinking of it as a single instrument and damn it, that’s how I will patch it.

I’ve experimented with a number of things to get to this patch, and it’s starting to feel like something! Still a little rough but there’s some real promise here! Let’s break it down.

0-CTRL is providing control, no surprise there. The top row is sending pitch to the 0-Coast and Strega (via the 0-Coast’s mixer/mult section). The dynamic gate output goes to the gate input of O-Coast. The dynamic envelope goes to the Activation input of Strega, but the signal is inverted. In other words, Strega will drone until the gate triggers the 0-Coast, at which point it will be enveloped away. Neat! 0-CTRL also feeds a clock to the 0-Coast’s random generator, so we get a random voltage at every clock pulse.

Audio from the 0-Coast goes into the extrenal input of Strega. The 0-Coast’s function generator is sweeping the overtones of the 0-Coast itself (that’s a normalled connection on the Coast) and also sent out to the Blend knob of the Strega, controlling the overall mix. The random pulse from the 0-Coast goes to the Absorb input on the Strega, giving us random degrees of filter absorption with each pulse. From the Strega, we take its Agitation generator (i.e. its function generator) and use it to control not just the filter of Strega (it’s normal connection) but also the overtones of Strega –that is, how much wavefolding/shaping we get.

And that’s it for cables! This is very much a playable patch though! There’s a sequence on 0-CTRL but even it is meant to be played by interrupting the sequence, holding pads to get repeating notes, etc. And, as always, those touchplates on the Strega are KEY. This one was a lot of fun to play and got me thinking about ways to compose with 0-CTRL… more on that soon, I hope.

Until then, here’s some more audio, and the video version. See you in a week.

Video coverage of the patch:


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