A silver and black modular synth with colorful cabling: pink, purple, yellow, teal, et al.

This week’s patch is not only late but a little short — it’s like I’m back in college! Actually, I’m in preproduction for a new album, and my musical time isn’t being spent writing blog posts and filming videos explaining them… but I haven’t abandoned the project! Just might be a little … skeletal, for a while.

Anyway, this week’s patch was inspired by an idea/misunderstanding I had way back when I was getting started: involving effects in the synthesis process before the end-of-chain. Specifically, this week, I wanted to stick them right after the oscillator and see what we could cook up.

The audio path for this patch was Twin Waves oscillator (making a sine wave) into the Blend utility to attenuate it a bit (it was clipping with certain effects), then into the FX Aid XL, then (stereo) out to the QPAS filter and from the bandpass outputs directly to the output stage. Modulation wise, I had the Mod Tools function generator acting as a simple envelope for the filter’s Frequency input, and the Function function generator (that sounds weird) opening the QPAS VCA. On a few variations I tried mixing in bits of noise and random signals into various QPAS inputs (especially the “mystery” inputs); most of those went nowhere, but I think at least one made it to the sampling stage. Pitch and gate came from the MPC One, which I was using to sample the good sounding patches.

So how did it work out? Well, pretty well. I worked my way through a set of 32 effects, mostly modulation based with a few distortion and delay effects thrown in to see how they worked. I ended up with four sampled synths to work with in the MPC. They’re all variations of “wobbly sine wave” patches except for the bitcrushed one, but there’s a bit of variation to be had there. And there’s more experimentation to be had next time, with more complex waves, multiple stages of effects and filtering in series, etc.

Here’s a quick listen to all four patches playing a simple sequence (there’s some bad loop points and other tweaking still to be done, try to listen to tone only).

This patch really shows one of modular’s strengths, which the flexibility and ability to do something that isn’t typically done, relatively quickly and easily. Like 70% of the monosynth patches I put together in modular could be done in any synth more or less, but the rest either don’t exist/aren’t possible elsewhere in hardware, or are stupidly rare/expensive/otherwise unattainable. In modular, I can have the idea, build the patch in an hour, and be sampling it or using it in a song before I could even do research to see if it existed in a dedicated hardware synth (and yes, at least a few hardware synths do allow you to place effects right after an oscillator, and I have at least one of those synths, but that isn’t the point). Anyway, it’s a big part of why I love modular, because I have a lot of weird ideas…

That’s it for this week. Last week, I kind of bailed on the post, offering just the video, and this week I am doing the flip side: just a post, no video. Might be like that for a while…

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