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Arranging, editing, recording, finishing stuff, stresssss
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author Arranging, editing, recording, finishing stuff, stresssss

I have been out of the modular game for a while, but I am now trying to get back with my beloved 12U eurorack. Before this little hiatus, I was either using the modular as a tool to delve with job and life stress anxiety, or when I was recording something I was just using it as a standard synth (sending midi and either playing bass or leads or sequencing, so nothing too special)

Now I am trying to start a new project based on generative music and letting the machine do its job. I know my way around this with my setup (I have a bunch of cool sequencers, some random stuff, boolean logic, switches, and quantizers as at the end of the day I am looking for melody and "traditional musical" results, as in working within scales and harmony). But after three days, I have encountered the same problem I tend to find when I am trying to get something more advanced and controlled than just noodling around my system...

I don't know how to find a workflow that allows me to use the modular to its potential and at the same be able of editing, arranging, and making stuff that is more developed than just a 8min jam clip

My setup at the moment is:

Im using Ableton as my sketchboard, I have a midi keyboard, beatstep pro and a bunch of plugins (mainly using Reaktor with the modular)

I am using both Beatstep Pro and Reaktor as a way to connect the DAW and the system. Both for sending clock from DAW, as well as building actual sequences inside Reaktor, or inside Ableton or from Beatstep (I use them depending on wether I am going for something more generative/random:Reaktor or something where I am actually inputting the note info). I am also using a TipTop z8000, Rene and Cv modulators+vcas+attenu+randome+quantizer to get cv sequences. I have up to 4 voices in my system, which is somehow limiting but at the same time allows for a lot of stuff.

So here is my problem...

If I am working with midi (sending midi from ableton or beatstep) I feel everything is way to static and feel I am using the modular as if I had any other piece of equipment instead of the magic beast this is.
The good thing about using midi is I can play around without committing to recording any audio, as well as saving the project and getting back to it the next day. (I also love polysounds so I also like playing pads and chords and stuff with my VSTs)

On the other hand, if I am using CV, I tend to get melodies and stuff I enjoy more (because they move more as they have more of a random feeling)
But this offers a ton of problems I guess we all encounter...

This ties my sequencers, so I am limited to what I can do
This method makes great results as a "part" but trying to make arrangements in this way seems impossible to me, as trying to make something evolve wlil either ruin the original seq or just make it loose its sense...

Now the issues with recording... If I am working with midi, I will hit record and start moving knobs, and might be able of creating a decent evolution midi and soundwise (as I can program the midi as I want, with is changes and different sections/parts)... When recording CV I feel although soundiwise things can move a lot, melodically and musically everything is very static as I cannot move around different sections. Which takes me to the next problem...

Working in either way, will probably require recording every part independentily (as in "intro" will be one take, next section will be another take, etc), how are you people dealing with this? As sounds are very difficult to replicate, what is your workflow? Just do the whole song in one take? Build bit by bit and then just crossfade?

I know these are all veeeery vague and common questions and doubts, its just I am having a selfdoubting crissi right now and remembering why I spent some time away from music a couple years ago.

Im into everything Alessandro Cortini, Caterina Barbieri, Brian Eno BoC, etc but also love some industrial and harder drumdriven stuff... I am not too crazy on making super glitchy crazy idm music, just some nice melodic stuff that moves with time... Listening to that kind of stuff (don't want to compare, of course) it seems to have a sense of arrangement but at the same time there seems to be a lot of improv and everything seems to be done in one take (just built a bunch of sequences and play while recording)... Is this a method you consider works the best with a somehow limited modular system?

Oh damn, Im sorry for such a long and repetitive topic, but I would like to debate a bit about these aspects: how to take advantage of all the benefits modular philosophy has to offer, but pushing it to the next "production" level

Cheers, love this community!
If you were a student of mine, this would be my prescription.

First, step away from the computer. You are showing signs of DAWpendency. You have a lifetime of habits to break away from. This can be done with a three week regimen.

For the first week concentrate on one module a day. Read the manual, do some experiments, then compose a 30 second composition featuring the module. Try to show off the range of the device. Record it using Audacity or something equally simple, no DAWs. Use primarily LFOs for control.

The second week, feature two modules in a 60 second piece. Try for an ABA form with simple clocked rhythms and ADSRs.

The third week, unlimber your sequencers. The goal is a 90 second composition with a definite beginning, middle and end. Try to get as much variation in the patterns as you can.

All this should give you enough understanding of the modular approach to bring your DAW into the picture. Leave the plugs alone and put down a couple of layers using the modules you’ve been working with. Don’t use MIDI for anything but clock synchronization.

Report back in a month and post what you come up with.
Pelsea wrote:

If this wasn't a thing, it is now. thumbs up

I would add that it sounds like you have set notions of how to put music together, and are trying to force your modular to conform to that way of doing things. Like Pelsea says, you need to go back to basics, embark on a voyage of rediscovery, and work things out from scratch. That sounds daunting, but it's really just fun in disguise. This is fun!
Awesome stuff, Pelsea! I'm going to try this myself thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up
The only thing I use my DAW for in modular is a real fancy recorder, that's it. The synth runs everything, period.

This is problematic for a number of reasons; sync and timing probably being the greatest troublemakers. I mean if I want to lay down a new track in sync with the others I have to be in time with them, right? And there's no way in hell I'm going to haphazardly get beats to match on multiple tracks without some sort of master clock.

So that means everything I do I do in one shot live when I record, and I usually have a set of drums, a bass line, and a couple of other things going on all at once. Since I can record multiple tracks at once I have set myself up to run three stereo outputs to the computer. I'll still be recording in one shot, but this will allow me a little more wiggle room for mastering, as with only one track I'm stuck with the mix I record.

Now all that being said I've had a fair amount of success in multitracking modular. I have a pile of audio files recorded, and I find myself spending an afternoon once and a while pasting tracks together to make a composition. I'll usually start with a beat track with drums, bass, and some background, and add other ambient tracks on top of that. Nothing has to sync because it's all random, and that's the beauty of it all!

Here's an example, there's at least half a dozen tracks here:

(sorry, I can't get it to post as an app...)
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