Sometimes a simple bass patch is all you need to get the juices flowing (black, silver and gold modular synth patched with multicolor cables)

Well, well, well! Later than ever. What can I say, multitasking is not my strong suit and right now I am trying to record an album, promote the previous album, break into YouTube with some modular patching and performance videos and, oh yeah, do this patch-a-week thing. In my defense, I’ve been patching A LOT, it’s the documenting I am having trouble with. But I am trying! Hence, this week you get a double patch post.

Let’s get to it! Patch one is a pretty simple bass synth patch — Two detuned square/pulse waves (one from each side of the Klavis Twin Waves), plus a sub square wave an octave down. Pulse width of each oscillator offset from each other and modulated by the Make Noise Function, one side getting the positive signal and the other getting negative. The three squares get mixed in the Doepfer VCA/mixer A-135-2 and output to the WMDevices C4RBN filter, then out to the Xaoc Devices Tallin VCA and out to the world! The Tallin VCA is controlled a simple envelope from Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms Mod Tools. Filter envelope proved by one of the envelope programs from the Ornament and Crime (I used a few different ones at different points). The result is a pretty straightforward fuzzy synth bass — tasty but unremarkable.

What’s interesting about this fairly basic patch is how it came to be. Last week I was working on that album I mentioned and things were going Not Great. I was basically stuck on this track that I had been working on for almost two weeks, with just a a few good moments to show for it. I wrestled with abandoning it a couple times, but the heart of what was there was compelling and I didn’t want to let it go. Night after night, I would add a part or two, only to strip it back out later or the next night, unhappy with any “progress” I made past the initial idea.

Finally, after a couple of days where I just couldn’t even bear to try anything new I decided to turn to the modular. My thought was I’d make a weird, out-there sound collage type patch to act as an intro or possibly a bridge/breakdown of sorts but as I started plugging things together, I instead was compelled to start making this bass patch detailed above. Fine, I thought, I can start there — but when it was done, and was trying to decide how to sequence it as part of this theoretical sound collage “thing” I was theoretically working on, I decided to just try it as a bassline sound for the track I was working on, sequencing it from the MPC. (This is also something I have done a lot less than I imagined I would, but considering how well it worked, I am definitely doing more of it in the future.)

It worked great! I found my logjam broken on that track and I was finally able to move forward from that track once I had a bassline down and a few other things that came together once that was in place! And it all came though the relatively chill and almost meditative process of patching that sound up — somehow, the process of building the sound from the ground up just helped me see past the issues I was having, and indeed, suggested a new direction!

Something about patching up a bass and sequencing it via the MPC got me thinking about how to set everything up to jam, so I did! The details of that setup are a bit beyond the “modular patch of the week” paradigm we’re exploring here, but you can see it in the attached video (and hear both the bass patch, and the one I’m about to describe). One of the elements of my jam set up was a nice lead from the 0-Coast (no real patch notes — I just tweaked the knobs till it sounded good, apart from using the filter/delay random CV from the Strega into the Slope time input for a little variation).

And hey! The 0-Coast sounds great in these kind of roles… but it was a little dry. I thought about pulling out the QuadraVerbs for a little retro effects action, but then I remembered that was work and my modular was right there. And much like my plan to sequence the modular from the MPC, I’d planned to use my Eurorack effects on my other instruments, but never really got around to it. It was time.

The patch I ended up with was pretty simple — 0-Coast into FX Aid XL, then into the Mimeophon, then out to the world. For controls, I just had the Planar 2 joystick Y axis controlling the feedback of the Mimeophon, so I could lean into the delay during select moments. Simple! The FX Aid Shallow Water emulation– an extra warbly chorus/ageing effect– was magic and turned my Very Nice 0-Coast sound into something special. And that was it! As complex as modular can get at times, it’s easy to forget that sometimes you just need to use it like a big pedalboard — plug and play, baby! Doesn’t make for an exciting patch, but it made for some exciting sounds.

Here’s a video of a jam that uses the bass I described (so nice I used it in TWO different tracks, back to back) and my 0-Coast effects rack. Enjoy!

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