Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

Moderators: Joe., lisa, luketeaford, Kent

Post Reply
originalanon
1-Post Wiggler
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:28 am
Location: Bangalore, India

Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by originalanon » Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:13 pm

Hey all,

Am sorry if this question is repeatedly being asked, or that i came across this question, and did not get the answer am looking for.

Music is my hobby, Design is my profession, currently and am working on creating my own music under electronic music genre, i want to have my own sound in my music. For this i got addicted to Modular, after looking at videos and also watched live performances and the amount things you can do with it,....but am very new for this and want to really learn everything there is about it, ... i do have Sylenth1 VST plugin, and others, plus the hardware Behringer Neutron Semi-Modular. I did came across videos on youtube, mainly the 'Intro to Synthesis Part 1 - The Building Blocks of Sound & Synthesis' by Dean Friedman, still going through and trying to get a grasp of it.

Now what is the best way i can learn the Behringer Neutron Semi-Modular? I know if i fiddle around and get a sound, which i can record on a DAW and start creating a music track, but the next time i want the same sound i cannot go about creating it, am lost, trying to figure out. For me it's too technical, and am trying to grasp it, but i want learn everything there is to about Modular. Tomorrow i get my hands on any modular hardware, i should be able to use it and create sound without any doubts or confusion on it, so how do i go about it?

Hope you guys understood what am looking for. Have a nice day people.

User avatar
gryfon1
The Chaos Acres Home for Electrons
Posts: 476
Joined: Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:52 pm
Location: Lansing, MI

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by gryfon1 » Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:41 pm

In many ways, it’s like how you get to play at a Carnegie Hall — practice, practice, practice.
No snark intended.
I would recommend against setting your goal as ‘complete understanding’ at least as your first goal. Learn the sound of the basic waveforms, learn low pass filter behavior, then lpf with varying degrees of resonance. Learn the effect of the controls on the envelope generator as applied to the filter, and as applied to the vca. Does it make a difference if you use the same or different envelopes for filter and vca? Then explore lfo modulations of pitch, cutoff frequency, and resonance. Use mixers to combine multiple oscillators — learn about mixing at unison, then different harmonic and non-harmonic relationships between the oscillators. Experiment with using different waveforms at different frequencies to build more complex sounds before filtering. Then other filter types ( band pass, notch, hi-pass).
Make notes, make patch diagrams, make recordings of sounds you’ve patched, then try to recreate after a day or week.
Consider getting the book Parch & Tweak.
Strongly consider getting the VCV Rack software so you can explore more things without spending more money ;-)
But always remember the rule for eating an elephant — one bite at a time.
Best wishes on the journey! It’s a lifetime of fun, sweat, and occasionally tears.

Jd1979
Common Wiggler
Posts: 103
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:57 pm
Location: Madison

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by Jd1979 » Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:51 pm

gryfon1 wrote:
Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:41 pm
In many ways, it’s like how you get to play at a Carnegie Hall — practice, practice, practice.
No snark intended.
I would recommend against setting your goal as ‘complete understanding’ at least as your first goal. Learn the sound of the basic waveforms, learn low pass filter behavior, then lpf with varying degrees of resonance. Learn the effect of the controls on the envelope generator as applied to the filter, and as applied to the vca. Does it make a difference if you use the same or different envelopes for filter and vca? Then explore lfo modulations of pitch, cutoff frequency, and resonance. Use mixers to combine multiple oscillators — learn about mixing at unison, then different harmonic and non-harmonic relationships between the oscillators. Experiment with using different waveforms at different frequencies to build more complex sounds before filtering. Then other filter types ( band pass, notch, hi-pass).
Make notes, make patch diagrams, make recordings of sounds you’ve patched, then try to recreate after a day or week.
Consider getting the book Parch & Tweak.
Strongly consider getting the VCV Rack software so you can explore more things without spending more money ;-)
But always remember the rule for eating an elephant — one bite at a time.
Best wishes on the journey! It’s a lifetime of fun, sweat, and occasionally tears.
Excellent insights into learning synthesis. In addition to this, I would also recommend checking out YouTube as well. People like Todd Barton have made incredible videos and tutorials that help to break down the fundamentals of modular synthesis, in a lot of cases, one module at a time. There are a lot of videos that explain topics like wave folding, fm and am synthesis technique, filtering, gain staging, and much much more. In addition, asking lots of questions on the forum is also a great way of learning different components. Also never and I mean never give up on exploration and don’t get too comfortable with one thing.

KSS
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1211
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:28 am

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by KSS » Sat Mar 21, 2020 7:23 pm

When synthesizers were a brand new cutting edge technology in the 60s and 70s, there were a whole lot of people just like you. And because of that, the owners manuals, magazine articles, and books from that time had to explain synthesizers in very basic terms. Muzines website has many or most of the old magazines available to downoad. The ARP2600 owners manual is available many places, including Korgs website to support their re-release. It's a very good start from zero about synthesizers. Other vintage user manuals have lots of good informtion too.

The down side of this approach is that there is a lot that's happened in the 50 years since synths first came to the general population. But that doesn't mean the old stuff has no value. Only that the whole field is much larger. The old stuff is still a solid starting point.

In the middle , there is a large number of articles in Sound on Sound magazine by Gordon Reid which cover a great many topics. Be aware that some find his writings, beliefs and approach lacking in some way. I'll say you can still learn a LOT from reading his series of SoS articles.

Take the same idea and apply it to the newer products. They also have manuals -Doepfer especially good- and youtube has replaced many magazines.

There's no shortcut, and you're never going to know all there is. Agree that you'll treat yourself kindly by choosing a smaller target goal. At leat for now.

Be careful of 'falling into the rabbit hole'. It's extrememly easy to get sidetracked and waylaid. Don't try to learn it all from reading, looking or watching. You will learn more about synthesis by doing synthesis along WITH the outside additional study. A clear set of minor and major goals -written down!- can help you keep focus.

One relatively new member here -Pelsea- is a retired professor of electronic music, and has authored a book written from his experiences. I have not read it but others have given it good report.

Welcome! and Enjoy!

User avatar
Pelsea
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 660
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:46 am
Location: Santa Cruz CA
Contact:

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by Pelsea » Sat Mar 21, 2020 7:29 pm

Self promotion time: I have published my class lecture notes on Lulu. Follow the link in my signature.
Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
Patch responsibly-
pqe

User avatar
BananaPlug
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2544
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:37 pm
Location: PHL USA

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by BananaPlug » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:16 pm

I would just add that learning about the acoustics of musical instruments (traditional ones) can be very useful. A non-rigorous familiarity with the physics of instruments can be helpful because analog electronics in modulars mostly are analagous to those same mechanisms.

User avatar
robotfunk
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 613
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 4:55 pm

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by robotfunk » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:32 pm

Almost 20 years ago I followed a course in modular analog synthesis by Rob Hordijk and learnt some nice tricks. He wrote the manual for Nord G2 and has a website aimed at the G2 but generally applicable to modular analog. https://rhordijk.home.xs4all.nl/G2Pages/

User avatar
bwhittington
Terrifying Brain Secret
Posts: 5721
Joined: Thu May 21, 2009 11:48 pm

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by bwhittington » Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:56 pm

An oscilloscope (software or cheap vintage) can be helpful. You can hear a lot of things, but sometimes seeing what happens to a waveform (both audio and cv) when you patch can aid understanding.

This forum is a pretty deep resource. When you get to the point of asking more specific questions, you will probably see some pretty interesting responses from people that know a heck of a lot about synthesis. I don't have a Neutron, but I assume there might be a lot of other new users who might find a thread in which its basic function blocks were discussed to be really helpful. Maybe start that thread, if it doesn't exist already. Or throw up your own patch examples in the Nuetron thread when you find its cool sweet spots and ask about how to recreate them. It is quite difficult to exactly recreate very nuanced patches, but you should be able to understand and recreate their concepts in due time.

User avatar
sir stony
Common Wiggler
Posts: 246
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2019 6:09 pm
Location: Bavaria

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by sir stony » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:07 pm

BananaPlug wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:16 pm
I would just add that learning about the acoustics of musical instruments (traditional ones) can be very useful. A non-rigorous familiarity with the physics of instruments can be helpful because analog electronics in modulars mostly are analagous to those same mechanisms.
This latter part (in italic) is, sorry to say, plain wrong. The modern approach of physical modelling is a lot closer to the physics of classic instruments. The analog circuits found in typical analog modules have been created to get something out of them that may or may not resemble the sound of classic instruments, but with the limited possibilities in those early days of electronics, this was mostly hit and miss, and many of the physics that would define a sound's character in a true instrument works in ways the analog modules have never been able to recreate, and hence never been good at making a faithful reproduction of such sounds. Only with modern synthesizing approaches have these barriers been almost entirely torn down.

With the first part, however, I totally agree. To understand the physics of true instruments (and in fact all kinds of acoustic events, airflow, pressure, swing and string motions, harmonics, phase and interference, and what else...) will enable a synthesist to pick out the right modules to recreate sounds more faithfully, and also to get on with own concepts.

KSS
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1211
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:28 am

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by KSS » Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:43 pm

sir stony wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:07 pm
BananaPlug wrote:
Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:16 pm
I would just add that learning about the acoustics of musical instruments (traditional ones) can be very useful. A non-rigorous familiarity with the physics of instruments can be helpful because analog electronics in modulars mostly are analagous to those same mechanisms.
This latter part (in italic) is, sorry to say, plain wrong.
No it's not.

Splitting the hairs a bit thin, aren't you? The word "mostly" in BPs post covers your expanded explanation. Classic analog does indeed have ample means for affecting the three components of sound. Where your words might apply is that the control of those three components was not complete enough in most cases.

User avatar
snevlida14
Common Wiggler
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:44 pm

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by snevlida14 » Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:09 am

I hope this helps:
1. Buy the PODULAR overlay for the neutron from Heinakroon.net
It helps you understand the patching points by color coding them and helps separate the other features as to better understand them. It will help going from the neutron to other modules.

2. Download on Amazon-Modular Synthesizer Mastery - Volume 0
by Darwin Grosse. It’s a great book that will walk you though basic patches for a beginner. It will also help you understand west coast style patching vs east coast style. You can spend a lot of time with just this book. He is also a member of muffs.👍🎹

User avatar
dooj88
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1395
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2017 7:31 pm
Location: VA
Contact:

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by dooj88 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 12:06 pm

if you're trying to learn it all at once, i think you need one of these
524473eb6bb3f7f64d4a8db7.jpg


wait, actually it's been a while since i saw BttF.. that thing didn't work. you'll have to watch tons of videos and read tutorials and manuals.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

User avatar
ehness
Learning to Wiggle
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 3:38 pm

Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by ehness » Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:04 am

There's a nifty piece of software called Syntorial which aims at teaching subtractive synthesis in a hands-on by-ear approach. Sound on Sound's 'Synth Secrets' by Gordon Reid gives more of a theoretical grounding which is then followed with practical examples. I felt they complimented each other nicely as I worked through them. There's tonnes of material online nowadays to suit the way you learn.

Whatever approach you take, just remember to have fun!

P.S. Here's a killer thread that might help you: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=12812

Post Reply

Return to “Modular Synth General Discussion”