Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

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peachesandbacon
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Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by peachesandbacon » Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:02 am

So I've just added some more VCAs to my system with the intention of really diving into this whole "modulate your modulation" thing.

Right now, I'm guilty of only really using my VCAs for volume modulation.

I would love some good use cases from people as some good examples of patches to try out.

I feel if I start with some tips, then I'll realise as I go what new possibilities will open up when trying to use more VCAs.

Hit me with your fave VCA tricks :sb:

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windchill
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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by windchill » Fri Jan 15, 2021 5:52 am

I don't think this is about 'tricks' really - just one simple concept applied over and over again; put your modulating signal through a VCA and then do something to that VCA.

Let's say, as an example, that you're modulating a filter with an LFO. This will give you a wobble in the timbre of each note - but it will always be the same, so you run the LFO through a VCA in order to 'modulate the modulator'.

So... what can you do with that VCA?

if you apply another LFO to the VCA the amount of wobble will change periodically. For something less predictable you could use a chaotic signal, like an NLC Sloth instead.

If you apply an envelope to the VCA you could set it up so that the wobble increases as each note plays or you could invert the signal and decrease the wobble as the note plays. With a longer envelope, especially an ADSR, you could control the amount of wobble over a longer period of time, as part of the composition.

If you hit the VCA with a triggered random generator or sample and hold you'll get a different amount of wobble for each note.

For more precise control you could use a sequencer on the VCA instead. Then you can dial in exactly how much wobble you want for each note.

If you use the oscillator's pitch cv to control the VCA you'll get more wobble on higher notes (or invert to get more wobble on lower notes).

Use an envelope follower on the VCA to have another process, internal or external, control the amount of wobble.

Now you can try modulating the modulation modulators. In the random generator case above you could use another modulated VCA on that random signal to change the range of the random signal over time.

Rinse, repeat.

peachesandbacon
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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by peachesandbacon » Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:01 am

windchill wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 5:52 am
I don't think this is about 'tricks' really - just one simple concept applied over and over again; put your modulating signal through a VCA and then do something to that VCA.

Let's say, as an example, that you're modulating a filter with an LFO. This will give you a wobble in the timbre of each note - but it will always be the same, so you run the LFO through a VCA in order to 'modulate the modulator'.

So... what can you do with that VCA?

if you apply another LFO to the VCA the amount of wobble will change periodically. For something less predictable you could use a chaotic signal, like an NLC Sloth instead.

If you apply an envelope to the VCA you could set it up so that the wobble increases as each note plays or you could invert the signal and decrease the wobble as the note plays. With a longer envelope, especially an ADSR, you could control the amount of wobble over a longer period of time, as part of the composition.

If you hit the VCA with a triggered random generator or sample and hold you'll get a different amount of wobble for each note.

For more precise control you could use a sequencer on the VCA instead. Then you can dial in exactly how much wobble you want for each note.

If you use the oscillator's pitch cv to control the VCA you'll get more wobble on higher notes (or invert to get more wobble on lower notes).

Use an envelope follower on the VCA to have another process, internal or external, control the amount of wobble.

Now you can try modulating the modulation modulators. In the random generator case above you could use another modulated VCA on that random signal to change the range of the random signal over time.

Rinse, repeat.
Wonderful answer, thank you.
That really clarifies things in my head how it would / could work

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by autopoiesis » Fri Jan 15, 2021 6:04 am

It might help to start thinking about typical use cases of VCAs (or their digital equivalents) in non-modular synths, then the concept might turn into a more generalizeable strategy in your mind.

You often see a "velocity scaling" parameter for envelopes — you would just patch that by running your envelope through a VCA's "signal input" and your "velocity" signal (some value that is sampled and held at the end of your envelope) through the VCA's CV input.

Or "vibrato fade-in" — that's an LFO patched into the VCA signal input, envelope into the CV input, output of the VCA into oscillator pitch.

Any time you want your modulation signal to vary in its level as a function of some other signal (and not just your fingers on an attenuator knob), you will want to use a VCA with it.

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by Foghorn » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:03 am

VCAs can be used on feedback, like for instance with Rings, feed back one of the output signals to the input through a VCA and control the VCA with an envelope.
Or, feed an LFO through a VCA into one of the frequency CVs on a VCO or Filter and control that VCA with an envelope.
Hmm, can we use a VCA to modulate the CV into another VCA? :hmm:
.
Modulate the modulator
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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by pugix » Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:51 am

Audio rate FM of an oscillator, especially linear and through-zero FM, benefits greatly from a dynamic depth. Some TZ oscillators include a VCA on the linear FM input, but others need an external VCA. And if you control that VCA with a voltage-controlled envelope, you can modulate the modulation of the modulation. :)
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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by paranormind » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:17 am

As windchill suggested, I'm also a big fan of adding randomness to modulate modulation.

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by mosorensen » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:20 am

My "trick" (a generous term) is to conceptually think of my 3xVCA as an attenuator with a VCA. Whenever I need an attenuator, I use the 3xVCA and its offset to dial in the attenuation I need. Then later in the patch, when I go "hmmm, what if I modulate the attenuation", I can patch some CV signal (possibly random, as suggested) to the input of its VCA, and that never disappoints.

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by WarpHead » Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:24 am

mosorensen wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:20 am
My "trick" (a generous term) is to conceptually think of my 3xVCA as an attenuator with a VCA. Whenever I need an attenuator, I use the 3xVCA and its offset to dial in the attenuation I need. Then later in the patch, when I go "hmmm, what if I modulate the attenuation", I can patch some CV signal (possibly random, as suggested) to the input of its VCA, and that never disappoints.
This reminds me of an earlier discussion on something similar. Many VCAs - at least those of the more ordinary bread and butter variety - peak at 1x gain, fully CW; they don't actually amplify, so much as attenuate signals.

So often times what we are talking about is not a 'VCA', but a VCA - Voltage Controlled Attenuator.
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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by R.U.Nuts » Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:39 pm

pugix wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 8:51 am
Audio rate FM of an oscillator, especially linear and through-zero FM, benefits greatly from a dynamic depth. Some TZ oscillators include a VCA on the linear FM input, but others need an external VCA. And if you control that VCA with a voltage-controlled envelope, you can modulate the modulation of the modulation. :)
This also works well with amplitude- or ring modulation.
I like to use Mutable Instruments Blinds for this: Use one channel for the carrier and another for the modulator. Modulate the modulator with an envelope then plug the output of the modulator VCA into the CV input of the carrier VCA.
Do this with CV signals and use the output to modulate something else.

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by R.U.Nuts » Fri Jan 15, 2021 12:42 pm

Furthermore you also can modulate the frequency or duration of a modulation source. Not only it's amplitude. Examples: Voltage control over envelope times or LFO frequencies. Mult the pitch CV for your VCO into the frequency CV input of an LFO, use the LFO to modulate filter cutoff. - Faster modulation the higher the pitch of your VCO gets.

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by yhf » Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:05 pm

mosorensen wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 9:20 am
My "trick" (a generous term) is to conceptually think of my 3xVCA as an attenuator with a VCA. Whenever I need an attenuator, I use the 3xVCA and its offset to dial in the attenuation I need. Then later in the patch, when I go "hmmm, what if I modulate the attenuation", I can patch some CV signal (possibly random, as suggested) to the input of its VCA, and that never disappoints.
I do this, too. Great way to bring life to a patch. Lots of other great tips in this thread, too.

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by yhf » Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:08 pm

peachesandbacon wrote:
Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:02 am
So I've just added some more VCAs to my system with the intention of really diving into this whole "modulate your modulation" thing.

Right now, I'm guilty of only really using my VCAs for volume modulation.

I would love some good use cases from people as some good examples of patches to try out.

I feel if I start with some tips, then I'll realise as I go what new possibilities will open up when trying to use more VCAs.

Hit me with your fave VCA tricks :sb:
If you haven't already, watch this for a bit of inspiration:


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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by Ashley Pomeroy » Fri Jan 15, 2021 3:58 pm

This thread inspired me to try something out. I remember reading that the wobbly noise in "Flat Beat" was made by feeding an LFO into an LFO, and so I knocked this up:


EDIT: Whoops. I realise now this thread was about VCA tricks. Damn. Well, there are certainly VCAs in this video. Standing idle, doing nothing. Mods, feel free to delete this post.

It's using Plaits' simple virtual saw/square, with the square set on sync. The mid-speed TAKAAB LFO is modulating the LFO in my Behringer 140, which in turn is modulating Plaits' timebre control plus the A-101 filter and the Model D's filter as well.

I've heard the basic effect several times before. I'm sure it was in TRON at some point. Obviously this is a simple implementation because the TAKAAB LFO is free-running, and I could have done with attenuating the Model D's cutoff line, but this is the sum total of all my patch cables. I have used them all up. I don't have any more patch cables.

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Re: Great Examples of Modulating Your Modulation

Post by Dcramer » Sat Jan 16, 2021 1:00 am

That’s what this is:

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=239314&hilit=Beyond+generative

It’s very interesting to ‘play’ the modulation, that controls modulators, it’s like being one or two steps removed, but still influencing things, conducting 🥸

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