The Psychological Effects Of Modular(?)

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The Psychological Effects Of Modular(?)

Post by userfriendly » Sat Apr 14, 2018 10:40 pm

Hi peoples.

I'm wondering what you guys think about the possible psychological repercussions of modular synthesis? Or any experimental synthesis for that matter.

I am new to the eurorack thing. I've just finished filling a 12u 104 rack...And I only just started about 8 months or so ago. I am certainly moving wayyyy too fast... But it seems like everyone kind of finds there own path with this sort of thing. Some of us start small and learn allllll the things about the modules that we have, and some of us build a monster and then poke it to see what it does. I would say I am more in the latter category. Which I am very happy with because I got into this to liven up my musical thoughts as so to speak.

ANYWAY, it seems to me like modular has very strong roots with both ambient and experimental music. It seems to me that when you get started the easiest and most interesting thing to do is to make wack ass, out of this world noises. Especially noises with darker undertones. Screechy, droney, thumpy, dark and uncomfortable sounds...that have loose rhythms or completely chaotic sonic births. I know for a fact that I am not the only one that has sat there staring at a patch and feeling like I am hearing something that I shouldn't be hearing. But its amazing.

Yet, I cant help but wonder what the effects of listening to these sorts of sounds could be. I know that there is no REAL answer to this question. I'm sure it's different for everyone. But still...some of these sounds are the sort of thing that sound (to me) like what a schizophrenic person might hear or even feel...Maybe the sort of thing that might enhance the onset of some sort of nervous breakdown? I have no idea what I'm talking about...I feel like that is pretty clear at this point. I suppose I just have a hard time believing that I am the only one that has walked away from my system with a bit of an uneasy feeling about me....Not always. Surely, these sounds are often mesmerizingly gorgeous. But other times they're just...Cthulhu?

Heck I don't know.

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Post by captjrab » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:01 pm

Hypnotic with the potential for good or evil. When patching I am usually in some kind of escapsist alpha state trance where time speeds up.
Makeing outrageous noise has its place for sure. It helps break up the more left brain aproach of making melodious music. Bringing the two together is the challenge. More of an odious melodiuos kinda thing.

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Post by JakoGreyshire » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:15 am

Psychoacoustics have been a topic of research and study for quite a long time.
There are many scientific studies that have shown a change in brain states due to sound frequencies..

Like most things, it can be used for one side of the coin or the other.

A balance of both hemispheres of the brain is always recommended. Like captjrab stated, "Bringing the two together is the challenge."




Taken from TK's ABR website:
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delta (0.5 – 4 HZ). Associated with deep levels of relaxation such as sleep

theta (4 – 8HZ). Associated with tranquil states of awareness in which vivid internal imagery can often occur

alpha (8- 12 HZ). Relaxed nervous system, ideal for stress management, accelerated learning and mental imagery

beta (12-30 HZ). Associated with waking/alert states of awareness k-complex (30 – 35HZ). Clarity and sudden states of integration, the “ah-ha experience”

super high beta (35 – 150 HZ). Psychodynamic states of awareness

-------------------------------------------------------




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Re: The Psychological Effects Of Modular(?)

Post by lisa » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:40 am

userfriendly wrote:it seems to me like modular has very strong roots with both ambient and experimental music.
Yeah, especially ambient. Every other "help me put together my first eurorack"-thread states that the OT is aiming to make ambient music.

I'd say that this is down to the nature of composing using a modular system. Most folks want to use their modular on its own and many doesn't have (much) in terms of percussion related modules so most tracks will be drumless or very scarce in this respect.

Add to that the hard task of creating different sections to switch between when you're going full modular as the same time as modulating stuff is easy. This makes for tracks where the patches, with tons of modulation, just keeps going. There are no sections but there's timbral movement.

Add tons of reverb, record 10 minutes and you have a decent ambient track. This can be done by people with no formal musical training, not much practice, not much interest in or understanding of the gear (or music, really) and it will still sound decent. Reverb/Clouds is the key.

What I'm not at all sure of is whither people who like ambient are drawn to modulars of if modulars make people like ambient. I'm leaning towards the latter, though.
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Post by gonkulator » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:22 am

All I know is, now I find the sounds of an MRI quite interesting.
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Post by Yes Powder » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:15 am

Obviously modular synthesis and experimental sounds will inevitably driver a person to madness.
Why else would we spend thousands of dollars putting together machines to make sounds so easily produced with a hand and an armpit?
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Last edited by Yes Powder on Thu Mar 19, 2020 5:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by cretaceousear » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:29 am

If you started by finding ambient the easiest thing to do I think you were all missing some tricks.
Lfo on a slow cycle into a sample and hold - use s/h output to drive vco or filter - use s/h clock to drive envelope shaper. Env shaper can either shape level as per normal or feed it back onto VCO. With some fine tuning you can get stuttering rhythms with a fairly simple setup. Ambient needs at least three VCOs, maybe more.
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Post by dubonaire » Sun Apr 15, 2018 4:47 am

Electronic instruments can certainly replicate the sense of paranoia, they provide the sonic equivalent of th dolly zoom.

https://boingboing.net/2015/01/26/watch ... y-zoo.html

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Post by cptnal » Sun Apr 15, 2018 5:27 am

Effects like you're talking about - none at all. It might seem like it has a mind of its own but remember - you're in control. If you think you aren't, try turning it off and see how much noise it makes on its own.

That said, what you produce will reflect your mood. If it makes an evil noise and you choose to keep it, that suggests you're in an evil mood. Otherwise you keep wiggling until it makes a noise you do like. :cloud:

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Post by Cybananna » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:18 am

The type of sound you’re talking about is exactly why I got a modular. Can’t readily be done without one. Dark, bizarre sounds are what does it for me. I know my music has creeped people out but I’m not aware of giving anyone any lasting brain damage. Although it’s still something to strive for.

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Post by dooj88 » Sun Apr 15, 2018 10:04 am

I've had a thought along these lines... These sounds are not made with physical objects and so we're hearing things as a product of a realm we don't normally have access to. Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness? Maybe. There are tones and scales that are certainly extremely difficult if not impossible to make outside of electronics. But at the same time if we can perceive it, then it can't be all bad. A loose gutter resonating with strong wind can sound like pulse width modulation. Not common, but not unnatural either.

Perhaps that's the distinction. Is it natural? Yes, we're doing it. Is it possible to replicate with physical objects like wood, metal, foam, glass, bones, water, fire, etc? Maybe if you work hard enough.

I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.

My approach, as others said, is a kind of 'in the moment flow' mix of intention and instinctual improvisation. Ego and superego? (not sure, freud always seemed like a nutter to me..) Anyway so in that sense, it's an extension of our own mind enhanced with and made easier to access by electricity. It's an evolution of music through human ingenuity. Now can evolution make mistakes? That's a different discussion.

Cool thread!!

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Post by cptnal » Sun Apr 15, 2018 11:19 am

dooj88 wrote:Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?
No. Now go and make some tunes.

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Post by dephonator » Sun Apr 15, 2018 12:55 pm

dooj88 wrote:I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.
If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds :twisted:

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

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Post by starthief » Sun Apr 15, 2018 1:08 pm

I made some crazy experimental stuff before I got into modular. I got a little more experimental with my music in my first few months with modular... but since I have a habit of recording a lot and critiquing it later, I realized: that wasn't my best work. And neither was the percussion-heavy stuff I was making with VST plugins, for the most part.

So I went for about a 50-50 darkish ambient/"abstract electronica" split, more or less. The album I'm about to release (gotta doublecheck my master) is darker and dronier, but also has some almost-industrial-techno elements to it.

As far as my mental health, well. I'm fighting with anxiety and irritability, but I don't think music gets the blame for any of that; often it calms and soothes me (whether it's Cocteau Twins, Vivaldi, or Skinny Puppy).
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Post by Yes Powder » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:03 pm

cptnal wrote:No. Now go and make some tunes.
This.

We're at the point of electronic instruments where the original experimenters like Stockhausen, Sala, Varèse, and Schaeffer have grown old and died— and generally with their sanity well intact.

Also, not to invoke Godwin's Law here but talking about experimental electronic music like this has echoes of the Reichsmusikkammer, which attempted to spread fear of the experimental electronic music of the time (among other forms) by linking it to mental illness and calling it "degenerate music."
I'm assuming this wasn't your intention. Just throwing it out there, though.

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Post by cptnal » Sun Apr 15, 2018 2:46 pm

Yes Powder wrote:
cptnal wrote:No. Now go and make some tunes.
This.

We're at the point of electronic instruments where the original experimenters like Stockhausen, Sala, Varèse, and Schaeffer have grown old and died— and generally with their sanity well intact.

Also, not to invoke Godwin's Law here but talking about experimental electronic music like this has echoes of the Reichsmusikkammer, which attempted to spread fear of the experimental electronic music of the time (among other forms) by linking it to mental illness and calling it "degenerate music."
I'm assuming this wasn't your intention. Just throwing it out there, though.
Indeed. It's also unappealing to take a serious and debilitating condition like mental illness and use it impart some kind of tortured-soul-ness to your work. Music can move us, but it can't make us ill.

I also assume this wasn't the intention. :hug:

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Post by Cybananna » Sun Apr 15, 2018 6:41 pm

starthief wrote:often it calms and soothes me (whether it's Cocteau Twins, Vivaldi, or Skinny Puppy).
Same here. Dark, hard, noise, etc. is therapeutic

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Post by BTByrd » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:55 am

If you buy a 5U instead of Eurorack, it tends to make prog rock and Berlin school techno in all the major and minor keys. Whatever the other psychological effects, it can cause buyers to chose to grow a ponytail.

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Post by Shledge » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:52 am

Inb4 432hz nonsense

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Post by zengomi » Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:54 am

Gateway to hyper-sanity

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Post by dooj88 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:18 am

dephonator wrote:
dooj88 wrote:I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.
If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds :twisted:

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

:tu:
i was referring to sounds that are so loud they are physically damaging your ears, like uncontrolled feedback. it's easier to do on a modular that a prophet 8 or whatever canned synth.
cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?
No. Now go and make some tunes.
i was just having a bit of fun with this. you took the hardline position 'no' in what is a talking out of your ass thread.. perhaps you picked up on something i missed, which is that OP is genuinely concerned.

i should state for the record i do agree music/sounds cannot break your mind. i think most cases of schizophrenia (since this is what op specifically mentioned) are biological and therefore it's a roll of the dice if you're genetically predisposed regardless of what goes into your earholes.

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Post by Dragonaut » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:39 am

Sometimes you have to open a portal to hell to throw back what belongs there. Just make sure you have some sweet wavetables morphing to keep the demons at bay. It mesmerizes them into a stupor. Patch carefully my friends. It's no easy trick riding the devil.
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Post by cptnal » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:40 am

dooj88 wrote:
dephonator wrote:
dooj88 wrote:I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.
If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds :twisted:

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

:tu:
i was referring to sounds that are so loud they are physically damaging your ears, like uncontrolled feedback. it's easier to do on a modular that a prophet 8 or whatever canned synth.
cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?
No. Now go and make some tunes.
i was just having a bit of fun with this. you took the hardline position 'no' in what is a talking out of your ass thread.. perhaps you picked up on something i missed, which is that OP is genuinely concerned.

i should state for the record i do agree music/sounds cannot break your mind. i think most cases of schizophrenia (since this is what op specifically mentioned) are biological and therefore it's a roll of the dice if you're genetically predisposed regardless of what goes into your earholes.
Sorry if I upset you. It all seemed a bit too frivolous to me.

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Post by dooj88 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:57 am

not at all! deciphering the tone of text ain't always easy

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Post by userfriendly » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:43 pm

cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
dephonator wrote:
dooj88 wrote:I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.
If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds :twisted:

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

:tu:
i was referring to sounds that are so loud they are physically damaging your ears, like uncontrolled feedback. it's easier to do on a modular that a prophet 8 or whatever canned synth.
cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?
No. Now go and make some tunes.
i was just having a bit of fun with this. you took the hardline position 'no' in what is a talking out of your ass thread.. perhaps you picked up on something i missed, which is that OP is genuinely concerned.

i should state for the record i do agree music/sounds cannot break your mind. i think most cases of schizophrenia (since this is what op specifically mentioned) are biological and therefore it's a roll of the dice if you're genetically predisposed regardless of what goes into your earholes.
Sorry if I upset you. It all seemed a bit too frivolous to me.

No, I'm not genuinely concerned. But I think it is an interesting thought to consider. I know if I listen to too much Max Richter I can end up terribly depressed. Which is certainly no surprise seeing as music has been known to make a person feel a thing or two. I guess it just seems like listening to SUCH abstract sounds for sometimes hours on end could make the brain stressed or something as it is constantly trying to make sense of it. I think I am thinking about effects more subtle than straight up bring driven insane.


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Thanks for all the interesting replies. It really is true that this is great community to be apart of. =)

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