Strategies to add dynamics into modular music

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soggybag
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Strategies to add dynamics into modular music

Post by soggybag » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:07 pm

Much of the music I make with the modular has a flat dynamic quality. I’m looking for strategies to add accents and dynamics.

I suppose it’s all about VCAs?

On the surface it’s seems straightforward just make a few notes louder! In practice it seems more complex.

For example, imagine you have Tinrs Tuesday, which has an accent and Velocity out, with v/oct/note into a VCO and the VCO is fed into a VCA. Using the Gate from Tuesday to trigger an envelope connected to the VCA you’d have your envelope but how would you make this arrangement more dynamic with some notes louder than others? Here you have the Velocity and Accent available.

What about with Metropolis? Which supplies a Gate and Sync output. It’s possible to have step lengths up to 64! Sync comes at the first step.

What strategies do you use to add dynamics?

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pieter
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Post by pieter » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:17 pm

Mutable Instruments Blinds and two triggered envelopes: main envelope goes into the main input of Blinds, and the accent envelope into the CV modulation in. This also allows you to duck, since the modulation on Blinds is bipolar. The output of Blinds goes to a regular VCA or a modulation input of your choice.

You can put really complex envelopes into the CV modulation, and you can daisy chain several modulation signals (for example over various time scales) by sending the Blinds output into the next Blinds input and repeat the process.

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Post by Jaypee » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:21 pm

Deleted. Off topic.
Last edited by Jaypee on Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by LunaticSound » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:24 pm

Before this thread dissolves too much:

Dynamics means volume differences.

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Post by soggybag » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:26 pm

I was talking about dynamics in terms of volume not random notes or generated melodies.
Last edited by soggybag on Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by SavageMessiah » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:30 pm

Some envelope generators like zadar have voltage control over envelope amplitude so you don't even necessarily need a VCA. For metropolis you could clock a euclidean rhythm generator and use that to drive an accent envelope like pieter described. Or use a clock divider and a mixer/or logic to create an accent sequence. Or you could use another sequencer or a turing machine or stepped random or whatever and use that to control a VCA that your main amplitude envelope is going through. For the things that have reset inputs just patch the metropolis sync in to reset to lock them to the length of the sequence in metropolis. Or don't and let your accent pattern drift out of phase, that could be cool too.

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Post by LunaticSound » Thu Dec 12, 2019 12:33 pm

Have you considered Low Pass Gates with Vactrols? The way they ping out inherently gives very dynamic behavior. Apart from that, I would say, more than actual VCAs, which you need, ofc, it is about the envelopes that modulate those VCAs.

Exponential envelopes will give you pronounced dynamics and if you then modulate their decay for example, you already have a lot of movement going on volume wise.

Edit: typo

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Post by comacomfort » Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:05 pm

Loooks like you want the opposite of compression

An expander


The WMD Compressor does Expansion if you switch it, so you got both options for compression or expansion

Also look into how a noise gate works you could set that up, to quiet the quiet parts of your track even quieter

Or you could mix your dry signal with the inverted compressed signal which will also cause expansion because the parts that are the same phase cancel out, and the parts that are different stay the same. So as you clip the transients off with the compressor those will be whats revealed on the output.

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Post by Jaypee » Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:10 pm

Compression can add dynamic to a sound if used for this purpose.
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Post by foliephonics » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:41 pm

Chaos. Sloths.

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Post by cptnal » Thu Dec 12, 2019 2:52 pm

Many strategies and yes, they generally involve VCAs. To elaborate on pieter's daisy-chain, put another VCA after your main one to modulate its strength. You'll probably want to mix an offset with some fluctuating modulation so the strength of the envelope is weaker or stronger around the central point of that offset. You can make your envelopes more "expressive" this way if the secondary modulation is in some way related to something else in your patch. Pitch for instance, or rate of change.

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Post by Nutritional Zero » Thu Dec 12, 2019 3:49 pm

I use Cold Mac as a macro-controller to manipulate several things over time: panning, depth of modulation, introducing or removing elements, etc.

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Post by soggybag » Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:23 pm

Thanks for the replies. This is all inspiring information. I’m going to rearrange my case and try some ideas.

I have a Befaco Hex VCA and a MI Streams. I think I’ll set up one or both of these with Maths or O&C for envelopes.

Seems the problem could broken up into two areas VCAs and envelopes, and clocks, triggers, and gates. The first to control variable output the second to control or generate timing events.

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Post by Tenderosa » Thu Dec 12, 2019 7:32 pm

soggybag wrote:Thanks for the replies. This is all inspiring information. I’m going to rearrange my case and try some ideas.

I have a Befaco Hex VCA and a MI Streams. I think I’ll set up one or both of these with Maths or O&C for envelopes.

Seems the problem could broken up into two areas VCAs and envelopes, and clocks, triggers, and gates. The first to control variable output the second to control or generate timing events.
I find my MI Streams very useful for this, running envelopes & pattern sequences into those useful level inputs. In a more general compositional sense I find having some sort of long form macro control over your note length envelopes is a great way of defining sections and bringing different voices in & out by shortening some to plucks & letting others ring out inside sections of a piece rather than just inside one static patch.

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Post by soggybag » Thu Dec 12, 2019 10:10 pm

You’re right MI Streams makes this pretty easy. Gate into Excite, and accent CV into Level.

For timing I used Temps Utile with a /4 or /8. I might play with some more.

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Post by Jaypee » Fri Dec 13, 2019 1:37 am

Play around with your filters, open and close them!
Last edited by Jaypee on Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Umcorps » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:02 am

Noise into sample and hold. Multi your envelope trigger/gate to the S/H clock input, mix the S/H output with your envelope and route that to your VCA

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Post by zerodivide » Fri Dec 13, 2019 4:26 am

surprised nobody's mentioned filters till 2 comments above.
Very simply, you run your sound source through a filter then modulate the Filter cutoff amount to give yourself accents. Also you can have a VCA controlling the filter envelope amount, and modulate that for extra layer of control

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Post by pieter » Fri Dec 13, 2019 5:08 am

zerodivide wrote:surprised nobody's mentioned filters till 2 comments above.
Very simply, you run your sound source through a filter then modulate the Filter cutoff amount to give yourself accents. Also you can have a VCA controlling the filter envelope amount, and modulate that for extra layer of control
Definitely a very effective way to get movement in your patch, but technically not "dynamics" in the sense of volume modulation (although closing a filter can also affect the overall volume).

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Post by nios » Fri Dec 13, 2019 6:47 am

There are a lot of ways to achieve this, but I find an easy one to be Mutable Branches timed/synced to (maybe, usually a lower probability) trigger an extra gate on each note, that goes and sets off an envelope going into something (filter, VCA etc) to give a bit of randomized range to melody.

It's audibly sort of like S&H'ing but on a much more defined and controllable manner, since you can also mod the envelope shape, the probability that the gate's going off and to what depth of attenuation on the envelope, all to give some slight (or exaggerated) humanization.

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Post by paranormind » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:03 am

There are many techniques to "do it right", and properly control your accents, etc. But when I want to do it fast, and humanize a patch to make it more living, I usually go with random modulation.

Random velocity when there's a velocity input.
Random LPF/HPF/Resonance.
Random CV with VCA as suggested above.

This helps me quickly break the flat dynamic.

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Post by Jaypee » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:06 am

pieter wrote:
zerodivide wrote:surprised nobody's mentioned filters till 2 comments above.
Very simply, you run your sound source through a filter then modulate the Filter cutoff amount to give yourself accents. Also you can have a VCA controlling the filter envelope amount, and modulate that for extra layer of control
Definitely a very effective way to get movement in your patch, but technically not "dynamics" in the sense of volume modulation (although closing a filter can also affect the overall volume).

Bolded by me. These two sentences are contradicting each other

Do you agree closing and opening filter affects the overall volume?


Volume is measured and perceived.

Even at exact same volume measured (dB) we (our brain/ears) perceived a difference according to frequency (filtered or not).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal-loudness_contour
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Post by ether » Fri Dec 13, 2019 7:29 am

My best advice is very simple: human input -> modulatable destination (e.g filter cutoff, but so, so many options)

For example, Pressure Points -> VCF cutoff.

Or Synthwerks FSRs -> VCA level.

Or Intellijel Planar -> any old CV in.

Now you can play the thing.

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Post by mdoudoroff » Fri Dec 13, 2019 8:43 am

dropping this here (discussion of clep diaz for dynamics)
viewtopic.php?t=220918&highlight=

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pieter
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Post by pieter » Fri Dec 13, 2019 9:20 am

Jaypee wrote:
pieter wrote:
zerodivide wrote:surprised nobody's mentioned filters till 2 comments above.
Very simply, you run your sound source through a filter then modulate the Filter cutoff amount to give yourself accents. Also you can have a VCA controlling the filter envelope amount, and modulate that for extra layer of control
Definitely a very effective way to get movement in your patch, but technically not "dynamics" in the sense of volume modulation (although closing a filter can also affect the overall volume).

Bolded by me. These two sentences are contradicting each other

Do you agree closing and opening filter affects the overall volume?
Yeah, I realised that when I wrote it. Still, the volume change in filtering is very much a secondary effect compared to direct amplitude modulation. It is worth keeping a distinction between the two (with LPGs somewhere in between).

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