The Psychological Effects Of Modular(?)

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

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cptnal
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Post by cptnal » Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:14 pm

I think there's a case for saying the two are related, but it's unlikely to be causal. There's a difference between feeling down and depression, and with the latter you wouldn't want to get out of bed let alone put a record on.

So, yeah. Obviously a case that mood and music are inextricably linked - that's why we do it. Depression is a physical illness with its own causes, many of which we don't understand. So perhaps music can form a part of that mix - who knows...

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Post by oberdada » Mon Apr 16, 2018 2:56 pm

As a tool for composition and synthesis it makes things a lot easier than programming everything from scratch (as I have done occasionally). In that sense the modular could induce a certain laziness, in particular when paired with the attitude that you can buy yourself out of artistic impasses or general lack of inspiration. Making music that sounds really nice is not at all difficult, but then to make something original and exceptional takes a concious effort.

As for the psychological health effects it's mostly therapeutic to make sounds that you get to influence. There is always the option to turn it off if you don't like what you hear. However, the intense engagement you have when playing an instrument such as piano, guitar or violin is quite different from what you typically experience when playing a modular set up to be controlled by a sequencer or some auto-generating patch. Patching the modular so that you actually have to manually trigger every sound and use controllers for continuously controlling the sound makes it a different, more absorbing experience.

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Post by dooj88 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:06 pm

i remember when vaporwave was new and vektroid was putting out stuff and spin offs were coming out.. a spent a week immersed in that music and at the end of a binge one day i noticed i was irritable and my normal undercurrent steam of consciousness thoughts were looping and skipping rhythmically like the music does..

of course it didn't last long, the effect was like staring at one of those spinning spirals and quickly looking at something else to watch it morph. but it was a bit of an unnerving realization. i think that was the most striking psychological effect sound has had on me though.

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Post by BenignToxicity » Mon Apr 16, 2018 10:15 pm

Personally, I got into modular to assist me in my search for the elusive "brown note". With that mastered, you shall all kneel before me! :hail:

Seriously... a modular is just a tool, and in some ways (as with any tool) it can do whatever you want... with acknowledgement to the fact that a saw is better for cutting wood, and a hammer far more adept at banging nails in.

I don't need a modular to make someone depressed... I just put on some Leonard Cohen. Music by its very nature promotes/provokes an emotional response. For the past few hours I've been listening to a drone I put together... multiple oscillators, slight detuning, multiple LFOs doing multiple things, all weaving around shortwave radio samples processed through the obligatory Clouds. The psychological effect is a simple one... I find order in the chaos as untold intricacies weave throughout the piece. It's mesmerizing... and everything I wanted... today. Tomorrow, I shall string some bouncy baselines together with a bass-drum, snare, and hi-hat churning around driven along by my new best friend... cycling euclidian patterns from four channels of Pamela.

Who's in control... me or the system? I like to think it's me... within the parameters of what's in the box of course. Of course, if I'd just wanted to make happy-slappy funsies... I'd have bought a Ukulele :guitar:

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Post by sasbom » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:31 am

May I offer a completely different approach to this topic?

When I read "Psychological effects" I didn't quite think of the influence of the sound on the listener, however I think that playing a modular can have
very real benefits!

I think that the modular approach to music and sound design is a huge creativity boost. I work in the 3D field, where a lot of software has gone modular as well. Substance Designer for example, is a software that uses different generators and filters to make images suited for texturing.

Having done semi-modular and modular synthesis, I notice that I'm able to learn to use modular software a lot quicker. I feel like I'm able to "read" the networks of a patch.

TLDR:
Modular makes you smart and efficient.

sorry for my broken english, feeling a bit groggy at the moment.
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Post by notmiserlouagain » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:03 am

It´s rather the top40 stuff that´s pushing me toward catatonia. :zombie:
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Post by Panason » Tue Apr 17, 2018 10:33 am

Recommended reading: Hazrat Inayan Khan's The Mysticism of Sound

In my experience dissonant electronic sounds especially when played in a loop, can be detrimental to those exposed, especially late at night, but it's a temporary effect. I suppose if it continues regularly over a long period it may eventually result in health issues. But maybe not, I have no idea how people who make industrial/noise can withstand it!

I like to play my drone flutes occasionally, to soothe my soul after all the electronic madness.

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Post by Blairio » Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:50 pm

Acoustically, modular can be genuinely a full-bandwidth experience - from subsonic bass through to frequencies and and harmonics beyond the human hearing range. The effects of subsonic sound on emotional state are well documented (they can induce a sense of unease and anxiety in the listener), as are those of psychoacoustic impacts of ultrasound - remember that sounds beyond the rang of human hearing modulate sounds that we can hear. Both can have a theoretical impact on our emotional state or level of arousal, however we would need a sound playback system capable of genuine full bandwidth sound reproduction to create the necessary conditions, and that rules out all but the most expensive hi-fi's and quality PA systems.

I was finishing a psychology degree as a mature student in the early 90's. Around that time there was a lot of interest in a study that appeared to show that exposure to music (in the original study a Mozart piano concerto for 4 hands) enhanced scoring in subsequent cognitive performance tests. The original findings were rarely replicated, but the point was that someone had come up with an experimental design where the potential impact of exposure to music could be assessed. Substitute emotional state metrics for cognitive performance ones.....

Perhaps the visual aspect of the means of production is a confounding variable when it comes to assessing the impact of modular' music on its listener. Visually, a patched up modular system looks a bit nuts - a bit 'mad scientist' with all those wires going everywhere, and a country mile from the refined image of e.g. a cellist and their cello, or a pianist and their piano. Maybe we are more prepared to believe that the sounds emanating from that chaotic looking instrument have the potential to impact the way we think and feel?

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Post by JakoGreyshire » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:08 am

Anyone here ever seen Dr. Masaru Emoto's book?

Here is a simple youtube video highlighting a small part of what the good Doctor did.. Read the youtube liner notes for more info and do some of your own research about his work if you are interested...


This could be related to a part of our conversation... What do you think?




[video][/video]
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Post by Blairio » Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:18 am

Mmm, but was he such a good doctor? His 'doctorate' was the result of a one year distance learning course from an overseas university.

Emoto proposed that emotional intent could remotely influence the state of organic matter through the expression of +ve or -ve emotion such as praise or rebuke. His main paradigm involved influencing the formation of 'beautiful' crystals in water.

This has not been reliably replicated, and in Science (as in many walks of life) if something hasn't happened twice, it hasn't happened. Emoto's grasp of experimental design & methodology appears slight at best, and the myriad of factors that inform the shape of ice crystals was not adequately controlled for in his original study. When they were in subsequent studies, the strength of the 'effect' evaporated.

His idea falls into the general area of Telekinesis (a PSI phenomena) - the notion that humans have the ability to influence their environment, its contents and its state, through thought or intention alone. Telekinesis wilts under laboratory conditions, although there is an interesting phenomena that has been replicated: Under lab conditions, PSI experiments generally yield results around chance levels for the proposed experimental effect. This however changes when the experiments are conducted by declared cynics. Here the results are less than chance. This damping effect is a bit of a conundrum....

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Post by sasbom » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:09 am

The water "crystal memory" idea has also gotten way out of hand, and people are now drinking "raw water",
untreated water out of murky swamps and the like.

The psychological effects of drinking water with "bad memories" is just placebo.

and like blairio said, the doctor is indeed a controversial one.

From what I know, if water requires a crystal form to contain memories, it wouldn't have the same properties as regular water.
The experiments reek of confirmation bias as well.
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Post by JakoGreyshire » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:20 am

Wow, you seem to know your stuff... You must have studied this extensively..

So, somewhere, someone tried to replicate his findings and could not do it? That's amazing... I wonder who those people were?
Blairio wrote:the notion that humans have the ability to influence their environment, its contents and its state, through thought or intention alone.
So, it's just a notion then? It's not possible? I have no evidence to support either true or false here. I was just wondering....

So, maybe all the things scientists did that seem amazing are all just lies...
Maybe most of the things they have discovered or reported are lies..

Whoa I'm going off on a tangent here... My mind is blown!! Please tell me Blario, tell me, what's real and what's not real? Are scientists capable of lying? That sucks, now I don't trust anyone! Everybody is a faker! Can we even trust the people who tried to replicate the findings? Maybe they are lying to throw us off the track? Maybe the results were replicated. Were you there to see their findings? Or are you going to trust them instead of the original tests? How do you choose which ones to believe? Written paperwork can be altered... I guess we're all screwed. To bad intuition is probably discredited by scientists too...

:tinfoil: :tinfoil:

So, if he is not a good Doctor, then is he a bad Doctor? ( I originally used it as an expression. I admit now that I really don't know anything about him. I just like the pretty pictures.... Reminds me of snow on the mountains, and therefore skiing, and hot coco.)

Maybe documentaries are lies too? How do we find the truth?

Blario, you seem to know the truth here.. Can you tell us how to find truth? Where do we go to not be tricked by these charlatans? I was so naive!! I'll never be the same now....

:waah: :waah:

:help: :help:
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Post by JakoGreyshire » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:52 am

Everyone... I'm sorry for posting quack science before researching it for controversies.. Can you forgive me? I didn't know... Sorry!

Here is some more Quack Science to be aware of... If it's controversial then it must be wrong. They must have spent so much money on this! Crazy eh?


[video][/video]


Sorry to go off topic here but maybe this thread's topic is a load of quack as well... Do we really have any replicate proof that sound does anything psychological?

Maybe someone can share what does affect the psychology of people? I wonder how many psychologists are into playing with modular synths?
I'm pretty sure that electricity affects psychological behavior... Right? That's why electro shock therapy is still practiced... Er.., wait! Do they still do that? I don't know...

Chemicals!! Yeah! Chemicals affect psychology! There we go... that's the answer...

Okay, we've got electricity, chemicals, emotions (maybe), stress (Probably) that affect us psychologically, but no water or sound..

That's good.. What else? I think I'm learning something here...

Thanks everybody!! Keep it coming...

Edit: Don't drink pond scum! Thanks Sasbom, I'll remember that one...
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Post by Blairio » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:10 am

My personal view is that to invoke science to determine the truth of something .. is missing the point of science. It is a methodology (some would argue a belief system) developed to determine the most likely explanation for an event or phenomena, given the state of our knowledge or understanding of the world at any given time. When it comes to Psychology a lot is reliant on robust design and statistical analysis. That stuff is tricky to get right, and prone to manipulation. With Geology a rock does not behave differently when observed, whereas people can and frequently do change their behaviour when they know they are being observed.

There are Paranormal Psychology departments in universities across the globe engaged in thorough & rigorous research of a range of PSI phenomena such as Telekinesis, Precognition, Telepathy. There are also nut-jobs & charlatans trying to invoke science to prop up this or that bogus theory.

And, YouTube is not a peer review forum.....

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Blairio
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Post by Blairio » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:46 am

If you are interested in the 'Psychology of Music', the 'Psychophysiological effects of exposure to music', and 'Psychoacoustics and music', there is a wealth of reading out there. The best of it has been peer reviewed. Just google on those strings.

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Post by cptnal » Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:44 am

Blairio wrote:With Geology a rock does not behave differently when observed, whereas people can and frequently do change their behaviour when they know they are being observed.
I wonder if the water knows it's being observed. :hmm:

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Post by dubonaire » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:30 am

BenignToxicity wrote:I don't need a modular to make someone depressed... I just put on some Leonard Cohen.
:yay:

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Post by dubonaire » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:36 am

Blairio wrote:My personal view is that to invoke science to determine the truth of something .. is missing the point of science. It is a methodology (some would argue a belief system) developed to determine the most likely explanation for an event or phenomena, given the state of our knowledge or understanding of the world at any given time. When it comes to Psychology a lot is reliant on robust design and statistical analysis. That stuff is tricky to get right, and prone to manipulation. With Geology a rock does not behave differently when observed, whereas people can and frequently do change their behaviour when they know they are being observed.

There are Paranormal Psychology departments in universities across the globe engaged in thorough & rigorous research of a range of PSI phenomena such as Telekinesis, Precognition, Telepathy. There are also nut-jobs & charlatans trying to invoke science to prop up this or that bogus theory.

And, YouTube is not a peer review forum.....
I agree with you Blario, one of my favourite thinkers in this area is Rupert Sheldrake, someone I don't consider to be a quack.

That's aside from all the science and technology thinkers who more theoretically underpin you comments about scientism.

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Post by Shledge » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:48 am

Anyone can consider themselves as a Doctor - doesn't mean they are qualified to talk with expertise! Like with anyone in the scientific community - let your peer-review evidence and independently repeatable experiments do the talking.

If there is no scientific method to it, it is likely bollocks, like any "New Age" stuff.

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Post by pugix » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:07 am

Cybananna wrote:
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
It's like riding a motorcycle. People who don't ride think it must be stressful. Actually it is calming to ride.
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Post by Cybananna » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:20 am

pugix wrote:
Cybananna wrote:
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
It's like riding a motorcycle. People who don't ride think it must be stressful. Actually it is calming to ride.
Absolutely. It’s an interesting thing. Such variety in people drive variety in music (and vehicles!). “Typical” calming music makes me want to throw the music player through a wall. I understand that it works for most people but clearly not all.

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Post by pugix » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:23 am

dooj88 wrote: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.
The sound is produced by speakers, of course, but I get your meaning. I work almost exclusively with oscillators being the signal sources. That is, I don't process live or recorded sound. I like your point, that sounds originating from an electronic realm that we don't have direct access to (like we can with a guitar, piano, etc.) can have an eerie effect. I think that is why people with no understanding of modular synthesizers can't understand what's going on unless they seem someone with a keyboard, etc.. Even if the keyboard triggers an electronic gate, it can seem as if the music is coming from the musician and not from the machine. I'm actually working on patches that play themselves and still sound interesting. I call it automatic music. And that is even more mystifying to people who don't understand the machines. When I 'perform' this sort of thing, it consists of me raising the volume level at the beginning and lower it at the end. (And sometimes even this is automated.) There is no intrinsic length to this sort of music, which is also hard to fathom. I couldn't do this with any other type of instrument.

To the topic: Anything unfamiliar can produce feelings of discomfort. I had to work pretty hard, some years ago, to listen to and try to understand the noise music genre. It paid off. Your expectations can lessen and you can open up to a wider appreciation of possible sounds.
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Post by pugix » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:27 am

Cybananna wrote:[“Typical” calming music makes me want to throw the music player through a wall. I understand that it works for most people but clearly not all.
Yes. I was having some body work done and the therapist was playing some new age ambient stuff with a repetitive melody that drove me nuts. Music is never a background thing for me, I have to pay attention. He thought it would be calming, but it actually stressed me. So I had him turn it off!
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Post by mantid » Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:29 am

Lots of cool tangents in this thread! Some thoughts:

- My interest in underground/punk/garage is what ultimately brought me to modular. I've always been fascinating by people purging their minds of "darkness" by fearlessly exposing it to sunlight. I noticed early on that the folks into metal/punk/etc tended to be the most sensitive, friendly, and thoughtful. Seems like the ability to articulate, encapsulate, and share pain or confusion at life's challenges is healthy. See also, most good fiction/poetry/visual art.

- Synths for sure make it easy to discover dissonance and other unpleasant harsh tones. To me, these are Not Good and not related to the above. Dark music can be creepy and melancholy, but should also be sublime. This is just as challenging as conventionally "good" upbeat music.

- A hint of dissonance/distortion is a great spice, just like hot peppers in food. It can separate something amazing from something boring, but indeed it would be a noob-mistake to serve a bowl of just hot peppers and call it great art. One of my benchmarks of judicious dissonance is the vocal harmonies between Excene Cervanka and John Doe in X - an algorithmic musical analysis would probably call it garbage, but their slight out-of-keyness transcends conventional vocal harmonies popular at the time and they take it somewhere utterly remarkable as a result.

- Science is a fantastic tool, and probably the best general approach we've discovered as a species for solving and predicting all kinds of problems. We shouldn't discard it so quickly. That said, thinking outside of the constraints of science is also valuable, as long as we remember that is what we are doing. This can stimulate creativity, get past cultural blockers, and ultimately, at least occasionally, encourage scientific institutions to nudge a bit closer to what could be an updated actual understanding. In the meantime, though, it does seem wise to draw a line between speculation, daydreaming, shower thoughts, and repeatable results.

- I've noticed myself that after certain sessions with the modular, regardless of how good or bad the patch sounded to my ear, that I can feel physically charged, depleted, or sometimes slightly nauseous. This seems mostly dependent on the bass notes. As above - this is pure "fun" speculation - but I do feel intuitively that it is possible to discover that certain bass frequencies in unusual volumes and durations of exposure (as in a modular performance) can cause some fairly distinct physical reactions. I do not feel that "insanity" is among the likely outcomes here, but I wouldnt be surprised at all if I could set up an experiment and show that a certain frequency range at a certain volume for a certain period of time makes me feel a bit woozy. And that others might leave me feeling stimulated and energized. Again, this is highly speculative, baseless, and just interesting food for thought.

- To touch back on the above, where I pose that getting negative vibes out of your mind via art is valuable, I might also feel that ingesting this type of art as a consumer is valuable, too. It allows exploration and acknowledgement of a huge part of the human condition in a safely packaged morsel. You can always skip track if you get in trouble. I don't like horror films at all, but I think they serve the same purpose. Play with your fears, confront them, conquer them, all in a safe little playground.

Just a smattering of thoughts - hope some of it is useful to someone out there.

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Post by Blairio » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:52 am

With the advent of cd there was considerable debate over whether there was additional cognitive load on the human brain stitching back together digitised slices of sound into a continuous waveform, compared to the output from vinyl or tape. This question wasn't helped by the fact that early consumer DACs were pretty harsh, and mastering for CD took a while to get the best of the new format.

The years went in and the cd / vinyl supporters became entrenched in their positions, with little in the way of scientific research to support the contention that listening to digitised music is, frankly, harder work for our brains, and as a consequence less soothing (if you want soothed by your music).

Then in the mid 90's a psychoanalyst wrote an article which shook things up for a while. This person had a small cassette based library of music pieces chosen for their efficacy. Sessions conducted with that background music yielded better results, compared with 'no music' sessions. Intent on moving with the times (and also some of their tapes were wearing out) the therapist went out and bought CDs of the same pieces (the very same performances) and a portable player of similar quality to their cassette machine to play their new discs on.

I am no therapist and I have no idea what outcome measures they employ, but the practitioner soon found that their sessions were not as effective. Not having a dog in the CD vs vinyl/tape debate, they didn't immediately associate this with the change in music format. After persisting for a few months with the CDs they then reverted back to tape, and normal service was resumed.

What is the relevance of that to this thread? Just this - do our brains react to a sine wave produced by an analog VCO and a Digital VCO in the same way? Does a waveform (simple or complex) have the same emotive effect whether generated by an analog source or a digital one? I frankly have no idea, but it would make an interesting study, maybe for a 'wiggler' in his or her final year of a Psychology degree....

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