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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Module recommendations for constructing complete tracks
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Module recommendations for constructing complete tracks
ugokcen
I have slowly built a 9U system which has been great for idea generation, but I'm finding that I'm accumulating a lot of unfinished tracks on my computer. I'm guessing that's a common malady among wigglers...

I'm used to sequencing in the DAW, come up with riffs and melodies, arrange the blocks on the timeline, make a track, you know the drill. I want to get away from that, thus I've started to think about alternative workflows. I consider a "song" to be a theme with variations and instrumentation that evolves over time (some might find that too restrictive, but that's another discussion). Now, there must be a way of getting there which is more live and organic than placing clips on a timeline. Like many people on this forum I'm a fan of mylarmelodies, so I know it is possible. I don't necessarily want to mimic his setup though so I thought I should get some more opinions. Workflow tips or module recommendations - all is welcome.

Ideally, I should be able to save sequences, make variations on the fly, and turn different parts on and off. Saving full songs is not required. I don't need total recall or anything, I plan to record everything in the DAW at the end of the session and be done with it. I'm not too worried about mixing at the moment. At some point I could grab the Expert Sleepers audio interface and get multiple streams feeding into the DAW.

Final constraint: physical space and money. I would love to have a system like Colin Benders' but that's not going to happen anytime soon. I think I might expand another 3U or 6U at best.

Do you write music from start to finish on the modular? If so, how?

Cheers,
xenosapien
I´m not exactly a role model on the topic of finishing tracks, but: what do you think will a module do for you here?!

if you plan on recording everything to the DAW anyways, why not do that, and arrange there like you´re used to?

your DAW can do all the things you ask for... save sequences, make variations on the fly, and turn different parts on and off.

no need to reinvent the wheel. wink
cptnal
You say you're not too worried about mixing at the moment, but I'd suggest this is exactly where you should be focusing. Mixing is how you can achieve that beginning-middle-end-ness you're looking for by highlighting and developing different elements at different times. And I'm talking about mixing CV (including pitch/sequences) as well as audio.

I used to do the DAW thing like you describe, but these days I treat it like a tape recorder, with minor mastering-type tweaks afterwards if I think the result warrants being called a "finished track". If not, move onto the next thing.

So, in short, maybe try a mixer or two (or if you have them already, place them in a more performance-friendly location) and just let yourself get carried away.

This is fun!
Tumulishroomaroom
I do my tracks entirely with the modular except for drums which are handled by a sampler. It can be handy to have a modulation source with several outs and presets (Voltage Block in my case; although I have yet to use the presets in a creative way).

The most useful for me are mixers and attenuators, so I can fade audio in and out and have control over the amount of modulation over time.

Then I find it important to have lots of subtle changes in the drums with FX, volume etc...

I only have a 6u by the way.
ugokcen
xenosapien, I'm asking because I'm not exactly happy with the DAW workflow I've got. These days computers are powerful enough to handle everything, producing, mixing, mastering - even software modulars - but I've grown wary of staring at a screen all day and moving things around with a mouse. I was in a bit of rut trying to start tracks with an empty project in Logic, and the modular totally pulled me out of that state. I'm hoping for something similar to happen in terms of finishing tracks.

cptnal, I meant "mixing" in a more traditional sense. Balancing tracks, eq, pan, compression, maybe a splash of reverb to glue things together. Similar to how people used to work with 8-track tape and a console. That's the part I'm not thinking about right now. I could do that myself or better yet, send it off to a professional mix engineer if funds allow it. I'm more focused on the music creation, or the songwriting aspect. But I take your point about CV mixers. I have Shades which I use for mixing modulation signals. It didn't occur to me to mix pitch CV. What do you use for mixing in the modular?
acidbob
http://squarp.net/hermod
cptnal
ugokcen wrote:
What do you use for mixing in the modular?


I use whatever happens to be lying around. oops I have a couple of Tangle Quartets, XAOC Samara, Rebel Tech Mix 04, a Doepfer Precision Adder, Maths is its own mixer...

I tend to approach it the other way around and try to give myself multiple related CV outputs for fewer inputs. That may not suit your workflow because a small tweak in one place can have a radical impact on the whole patch, and I think you're looking for a bit more control than that.

But if you're interested, the Samara is worth a look. Maybe also consider the Doepfer A138-S or Rebel Tech's Mix 02, which can effectively be 4-into-2 matrix mixers. I use the Mix 04 to send different sound sources down different effects chains (so, for instance for two of each you get four combinations). Versions with knobs would give you manual control rather than my throw-it-all-against-the-wall approach.
brandonlogic
nerdseq is a game changer for composing full songs, probably one of the best sequencers in eurorack for this task, imo.
Daisuk
Winter Modular Eloquencer. 8 tracks. Lots and lots of patterns for you to fill in. Song mode. It's the module to go for in eurorack for composition, in my opinion. I haven't tried the Nerdseq though, which also looks very up to the task.

BrandonLogic - what would you say the Nerdseq sequencer does better than an Eloquencer? Would love to hear a general comparison between the two.
lisa
ugokcen wrote:
I'm finding that I'm accumulating a lot of unfinished tracks on my computer.

Why? If you don't mind me asking.

I get that you want to change things up. That's always fun. It's peanut butter jelly time! But I also get the sense that you are asking for some piece of gear that will make you make finished tracks. I'd say that it doesn't work that way.

In my view, most people who increase their productivity when they go full on modular do so by lowering their expectations on a finished track. They go from endlessly fiddling with levels and automations to just wiggling and recording. As a listener you can usually hear that it wasn't fiddled with too much; it sounds a bit rough and dull (although the composition might be interesting).

So, I'd say that it's all in your head. If you have a 9U system already it should be plenty for you to just start recording.

And if you don't like that answer then you should check out Eloquencer or Voltage Block. They pack a sequencing punch! razz
MarcelP
ugokcen wrote:
I consider a "song" to be a theme with variations and instrumentation that evolves over time (some might find that too restrictive, but that's another discussion). Now, there must be a way of getting there which is more live and organic than placing clips on a timeline.


Cheers,


Hi - I never finish ANYTHING so am probably not going to bring much to the table here. However, I recognise what you want to do as it is something I am working towards too. I don’t use the computer for any control - it simply records the audio in a single pass - but multi track - so I can mix after performing. So everything “musical” is accomplished (or not!) live with manual control or using automation within the Modular.

First consideration is do you have sufficient sequencing resource to program: bass, melody, harmony, etc for each section of your piece? Using sequence controllers (or a slow clocked sequence or to provide key shifts to melody lines, etc,) helps, but that is a lot of sequencing. Combining sequences with precision adders helps with variations - but can have odd harmonic results. Using some kind of random helps too - but can have even odder and (by definition) unrepeatable results...

Once you have your music al phrases (sequences of notes) you may want textural/tonal variation to keep things interesting - that might mean a load of available modulation, more sequencing driving CV for mod depth or freq cutoff, etc. Switching source oscillators on the same melody line makes interesting changes as does switching filters for different sections...

Quite apart from the need to have playable controllers (PP, Planar, keyboard, etc), switching, logic, VCAs, etc, to make the above work you need a lot of resource available to be able to change VCOs and filters during a piece. Of course that complexity depends on the type of music you are making - minimal techno will be less resource hungry than performing the Brandenburg concerto live...

All of which means that your current rack will likely shape the type of music you can make. If you have complex, ambitious very defined ideas then using DAW or computer might be the most practical way to work.

For an insight into how to achieve complex musical results by intelligent patching I would recomend looking at DCramer’s excellent videos where he explains his patch construction with detailed diagrams. It is is revealing how much planning and thought one needs to invest to make a longer complex modular composition.

I don’t have such focus so my patches grow organically and therefore und up as a sprawling mess. Still, I just do this for the process and joy of patching/wiggling in the moment rather than the final production... so as I say: my advice/thoughts can be taken with a pinch of salt...
mdoudoroff
What lisa said. I’d add that no sequencer is a silver bullet—I learned that the hard way.

At the risk of sounding flippant, the “module” you’re seeking is YOU. Literally.

Everything I do is “in the rack”: I record a solitary stereo stream, and other than maybe some fades, EQ or compression in the DAW, it’s as finished as it’s gonna get. Not always easy, and definitely limiting. Sometimes limits are good. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. lol Obviously, there are other approaches, including full-on multi-tracking to DAW or tape, MIDI…
starthief
ugokcen wrote:
Now, there must be a way of getting there which is more live and organic than placing clips on a timeline.


I use a DAW for sequencing (usually), hosting effects chains, mixing and recording, but I don't multitrack.

Normally I sequence in MIDI; sometimes those sequences also drive Euro sequencers (or clock dividers/Pam's/etc. and/or gate combinations into a matrix mixer). Sometimes I forgo sequencing and record "live", and once in a while I only use Euro sequencing.

But anyway, the only thing I record in the DAW is the "final" stereo mix; there's no arranging of audio clips etc. (I do use a pattern-based MIDI sequencer, but that's just what seems natural to me and makes variations on themes pretty easy.)

A lot of people talk about DAWs like there's only one way to work, but there are many different DAW paradigms and different ways one can work with them. I really dislike Ableton myself and some of the others never really made sense to me, but Maschine works nicely for me even though I'm not making sample-based groove stuff like it was originally designed for.
ugokcen
Thanks for the suggestions. I would need some additional mix/utility modules for the new case and Samara looks very capable.

I've never heard of hermod or the nerdseq, will check them out. Hermod isn't out I guess, has anyone got the chance to try out a beta version or something?

Eloquencer I'm well aware of and seriously considering. I just didn't want to bias the opinions beforehand.

lisa, the reason I end up with lots of unfinished tracks is that every time i turn on the modular I come up with something exciting and record just that. So, I am recording but it's only one voice, or one idea with lots of wiggling so to speak. I've got Rene so I could get two voices out of my system, though they would not be completely independent. For drums I'm using the Pam's New Workout triggering the Nord Drum 2. I don't think I've exhausted the possibilities there but I'm also looking into more performance oriented gate sequencers. Pam is more of a set-and-forget kind of experience.

Quote:
But I also get the sense that you are asking for some piece of gear that will make you make finished tracks


Yes, wouldn't that be nice hihi
Daisuk
ugocken - alternatively, if you restrict yourself to work in a specific key and/or tempo for a given time (let's say all the way through a month), just keep on what you're doing, record little bits here and there, and then piece it together for a sort of "essential mix for February" type of thing after you've recorded a few things. If the tempo and scales/key match, I'm sure you're going to find some interesting ways to mix the various tunes.

That is, if you are able to record the tracks from your modular separately into your DAW (or, shall I say, I imagine that would make this process easier).
xenosapien
ugokcen wrote:
xenosapien, I'm asking because I'm not exactly happy with the DAW workflow I've got. These days computers are powerful enough to handle everything, producing, mixing, mastering - even software modulars - but I've grown wary of staring at a screen all day and moving things around with a mouse. I was in a bit of rut trying to start tracks with an empty project in Logic, and the modular totally pulled me out of that state. I'm hoping for something similar to happen in terms of finishing tracks.


Fair enough - actually, my workflow at the moment is pretty much exactly based around that same problem: my DAW is not inspriring me.

So I have my modular etc. all set up so it all can run with the computer turned off... but it´s on 99% of the time and I record 6 channels of audio into the DAW at all time of whatever I´m jamming out.

Then when I have that one loop/segment stuck in my head that I just played out, I know it´s time to edit the recordings I just made and voila - no more blank session staring back at me, usually that sets me up with 5-15min of raw audio material, and more often than not that is 3+ "voices" of modular all separately recorded.

For everything up until that, I use a mixture of droney stuff and sequencing done by the Arturia twins. (keystep+beatstep pro)
Also sometimes my Octocontroller gets to be boss. wink
Multi Grooves
ugokcen wrote:
xenosapien, I'm asking because I'm not exactly happy with the DAW workflow I've got. These days computers are powerful enough to handle everything, producing, mixing, mastering - even software modulars - but I've grown wary of staring at a screen all day and moving things around with a mouse. I was in a bit of rut trying to start tracks with an empty project in Logic, and the modular totally pulled me out of that state. I'm hoping for something similar to happen in terms of finishing tracks.



Get a Wacom, innit...

hihi
Multi Grooves
Alternatively, The Frap mixers biggest pluses (for me) is being able to record the stereo out as a flattened single take like others have mentioned but in addition to this, it offers individual outputs for each channel, so I can process any individual parts that need it afterwards, or save bits that may come of use elsewhere, later. Best of both worlds?
brandonlogic
Daisuk wrote:
Winter Modular Eloquencer. 8 tracks. Lots and lots of patterns for you to fill in. Song mode. It's the module to go for in eurorack for composition, in my opinion. I haven't tried the Nerdseq though, which also looks very up to the task.

BrandonLogic - what would you say the Nerdseq sequencer does better than an Eloquencer? Would love to hear a general comparison between the two.


Nerdseq is a lot more flexible. basically the pattern view is like ableton live's clip launch view with follow actions if your familiar with that.. You have a grid of columns and rows. the rows represent the 6 cv/gate/modulation tracks and two internal sampling tracks. the columns are the timeline. and the grid is where you enter your pattern for individual racks. patterns are 64 steps by default. if you enter a pattern in a row directly under another one, it will automatically advance to that following pattern, it will continue to advance to the next pattern until you leave a spot on the grid open, when it reaches that open spot it goes back to the first pattern in that sequence of patterns. patterns you write can be used on any channel, and can be placed on the grid however many times you want. you could for example have a long chain of patterns one track one (lets say a sequence of 100 patterns!), and tack two could be just a looping 16 step pattern the entire time if you wanted. you can individually start and stop any pattern on any track. or you can start and entire row of patterns (all 8 tracks) at once, or stop them all at once. Another thing - the nerdseq has something called "tables" that is like micro steps, basically every step, you can "zoom in" to that step an access 16 steps within that step...

the eloquence, at least the last firmware i used with it, didnt even come close to the flexibility of the nerd. with the eloquence, a pattern was tied to all tracks. so when you switch a pattern, all tracks change at the same time. this would be very annoying if you have tracks with different step lengths and your forced to change them all at once! this is not a limitation on the nerd, all tracks are completely independent. also, with the elo, working on patterns in 16 step chunks then chaining them together when writing longer sequences drove me mad. i much prefer the 64 step defult of the nerd.

If you can wrap your head around this description of how the nerdseq works and think about how you would use that to compose entire tracks, you will understand that when it comes to composing entire tracks with a sequencer, nerdseq is the best euro for it... i think so at least.
Parnelli
I sort through those tracks from time to time and find combinations to put together to make something completely different than what I had in mind when I recorded the track.

I also do at least two takes on tracks, one with drums and one without so that I can use it either for the "master" track with drums and layer others in with it or use it without drums as a layer for something else.

I've been looking at my modular as my color palette and the computer/recorder as my canvas. After all a painting is pretty drab when it's painted in all one color...
Armstrb
I am in the camp of only using DAW as a big stereo tape recorder. Everything is mixed down from 16 stereo channels in the rack to 4 stereo in the mixer, to 1 recorded.

From a composition perspective, I think it’s about structures, bringing voices in and out, etc. in general I have 8 sections to a song and use 2 x PP and 2 x Analog Memories to vary 8 things per section. These can control EGs+VCAs (I use RADAR and VC8), the sequencer (ER101/2) or other dynamics. Sometimes I use Brains to automate. I also use a lot sequential switches and VC Gates.

My workflow is to build a patch, then turn it into sections, then record. Generally aiming for 6-10mins.

I’ve recently discovered that much of the above can be achieved using ER301 and Tetrapad. The TP is very much the match of 2 PP+AM. It’s just less visual.
ugokcen
Quote:
I never finish ANYTHING so am probably not going to bring much to the table here


MarcelP, quite the opposite, you hit the nail exactly on the head. I don't have sufficient sequencing resources. I use Rene and the Disting in Turing machine mode for my pitch sequences, and while they are great for coming up with cool riffs I can't do much else composition-wise once they are locked in. It would be nice to be able to create variations of those patterns on the fly and come back to the main pattern. A few more channels of sequencing wouldn't hurt either. So it seems like I either I need some modifiers/switches to make more of the sequencers I already have, or add a new multi-channel sequencer.


Quote:
If you have complex, ambitious very defined ideas then using DAW or computer might be the most practical way to work.


Yes and no. When I start a track I have no ideas. But after playing around for an hour or so, creative juices start flowing and then there are specific things I want to do. With my modular setup at the moment, that's when I hit record and move into the DAW world. I wish I could just keep going on the modular.

I will check out DCramer's videos, that's the jdanielcramer youtube channel, right?

I really appreciate all the workflows tips you guys are sharing. Lots of stuff I haven't thought about. Keep them coming!
steveoath
Second the sequencer recommendations.

Nerdseq
Eloquence
Hermod

are all mentioned.

Monome grid plus ansible is great.

Or more simply novation circuit and a midi to CV box such as CV.ocd.
pre55ure
Not sure if you are opposed to just the computer, or things with screens in general - I have had some success by using something like an mpc along with the modular. I usually muck about for a while (on the modular) and after I get something going that I like, I sample either the individual parts, or the whole thing, and can then start unpatching and realocate those modular resources to a different part, or change / alter the sequence. If you keep everything set to a certain tempo then this can be a pretty seamless way to lock down parts and then move on. Of course the downside is that you lose the ability to change parts later. I think you could probably use bitbox in a similar manner if you want to keep it all in modularland.

Another technique that I use alot is to figure out the general chord progressions that I want to use ahead of time, and then I program the root note into a sequencer that I run at a divided rate from the main clock, and then use this root note track to transpose my other sequencers. This way I can have a main bassline or melody type sequence but still have the ability to have it follow a specific chord progression.

Also, modules with memories are IMO are obviously better for stuff like this. Between something like the TT audio CR and trigger riot + a sequencer like the ER-101 you could save different patterns for each part and essentially have as many different "sections" to your composition as you want. If you want to bring parts in our out or start switching sounds up on a per section basis you start to run out of modules (or hands) rather quickly.

TBH I have been trying to figure out how to do more "song based" composition on the modular for a long time, and have never really found a solution that has worked for me.

My most recent attempts have been by trying to bridge the worlds of midi and CV using a couple of different CV to midi and midi to CV boxes, so that I can write and record my "structure" (basic drum triggers, and chord progressions) as midi in the mpc, but still allow the modular to do what it does best (generative and probabalistic stuff + sound design). I'm still in the process of trying to figure out if it's something that feels right or if it's another dead end...
electricanada
Quote:
I don't have sufficient sequencing resources. I use Rene and the Disting in Turing machine mode for my pitch sequences, and while they are great for coming up with cool riffs I can't do much else composition-wise once they are locked in. It would be nice to be able to create variations of those patterns on the fly and come back to the main pattern.


Can't you do that with Rene?
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