So, who's using a modular in a band?

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JES
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So, who's using a modular in a band?

Post by JES » Wed Feb 27, 2019 10:44 am

What's your experience like? What issues have there been and how have you overcome them? What advantages have you found?

--

Here's my story.

I've started, as part of a 3 piece where I usually play bass. My bandmates love it, but I'm not sure whether it's worth it in the end. I'm use a 3U 104 setup built around an Intellijel Atlantis, Warps and Echophon, plus a bunch of utility modules, controlled by a Linnstrument.

It's tonal music, with songs and stuff, not a free form drone improv.

The interface is unmatched and my ability to quickly adjust tones and make wild sounds is like night and day compared with a computer. It's much more in the moment. And I love that I can quickly tweak the timbre as I'm playing.

BUT, here are some of the issues:

--it's more sensitive to bad electricity, as I've discovered in our practice space
--I have to tune and calibrate VCOs, which also means 10 minutes of warmup (not always practical when playing with other bands and not playing first). Tuning is actually surprisingly fussy -- the fine tune is too sensitive.
--I use a piano sound on a couple tunes that bandmates are really invested in, so I need an iPhone or computer and the ES-8 to make it work, so that's a bunch more cables and ways for things to go wrong.
--greater possibilities for something to go wrong -- bad cables, connections, etc.
--obviously, no presets, but given that the rest of the time I play bass with mostly analog effects pedals, this isn't a big issue for me. I know my way around on the synth.

I've also wondered whether a hardware synth with DCOs (or an auto-tune feature in the OG meaning of auto-tune) but analog filters might be a decent compromise.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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kineticturtle
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Post by kineticturtle » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:47 am

Yo I'm not doing this regularly now, but I have used small modular rigs in bands before. I think you're doing brave and important work!

I played a really great set with a band where we did a bit of a Boris/Merzbow thing, so that was all noise and junk with a weird old DIY buchla-ish system.

I'm building my current Euro rig partly with a mind to use it live. It's much simpler than what you have going on, but I'm always the multi-instrumentalist so I couldn't manage a 3U system like that. I'm more likely to use it to manipulate other sound sources in a way that's complex and reactive.
FS/T: Getting out of Euro!
I wrote a song every day in January, April, & July of 2019, all of them are on YouTube, but here are the best ones from January, I think.
Some bands I've been in, High Five Spirit & The Mineral Kingdom.
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Post by ReturnCodeZero » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:01 am

Yeah, I am (just started to be honest) and its really fun and quite challenging at times but most of the time I cant wait to get back in the rehearsal room! I tend to work on the modular/comp stuff at home and then present it to the band and jam around that until we find a structure,riff or whatever, (IMO) its much harder to fit modular into an established song.

Set up wise I've got Ableton clocking a Mother 32 via MIDI from a focusrite audio interface and have the drummer playing to a click (sent from ableton) on some tracks. The M32 drives the rest of the rig via gate out. I don't tend to do 'traditional sequencing' as such, just do a lot of filtering on oscillators that are free running, creating builds/dives etc and trying to add some different timbres/atmos. Its cool but can get messy quickly so try to keep things as simple as possible and easy to stop/end/ change.

Negative sides - A lot of cables and set up time, I have to be close to the drummer and if Ableton were to freeze (touch wood it hasn't) we'd be fucked.

Having a drummer that is able to play to a click is (IMO) the key to using modular/computer with a band.

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kineticturtle
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Post by kineticturtle » Thu Mar 28, 2019 7:32 pm

Yeah, I played drums in a band that sync'd to LSDJ on a gameboy, a clicktrack wasn't even really an option, it was all good monitoring, careful arranging, and a lot of practice. It's a very particular skill!

I just ordered a bunch of Tendrils - those little right angle cables. I'm finding myself already making a few of the same patches every time I use the system, so I'm going to go ahead and make them semi-permanent - something like that might be a benefit for you in terms of setup time! I'm planning on using a few 1u gaps between modules to run cables behind the modules and keep the faceplate nice and clear.
FS/T: Getting out of Euro!
I wrote a song every day in January, April, & July of 2019, all of them are on YouTube, but here are the best ones from January, I think.
Some bands I've been in, High Five Spirit & The Mineral Kingdom.
Maths is hard, let's go shopping.

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Post by JES » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:32 pm

This is a great thread, let’s keep it going.

I got my first set of tendrils last week and it makes a huge difference in terms of panel access.

I’m playing in mono because I figure for the kinds of clubs we play, stereo doesn’t really make a huge difference. I’m going to add a DI box — just out of my mixer into that. The ground lift has been huge for eliminating ground loops. I’m also finding a linear supply has been playing better in terms of noise from wonky electrical, though it’s possible when I get my Intellijel power supply back from them it will be fixed and usable.

I started with 3U but since that case is in for repair anyway, I’ve been using a 6U Monorocket case, which is getting me thinking about using the extra space for control: something like the Ladik 6 channel fader mixer, and some larger knobs or faders (maybe synthwerks) which would allow big timbre changes in a semi-predicable fashion (with CV scaling and the like).

In terms of actually, you know, playing, I have taken to treating it more like a monosynth on steroids. I control it from a Linnstrument, and use my FH-2 for tap tempo. From there I can play lines, arpeggiate or do simple step sequences. That’s about all I need for rock.

I am, however, thinking about using my Clouds or Nebulae to add sampling, both of my guitarist (using an aux line out from one of his pedals) and bringing in samples that I can mangle for texture. But nothing too rhymic. The problem I’m having with Clouds is it is often too quiet to pull this off. my problem with the Nebulae is I want it set up in my “home rig.”

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Post by Roni » Sat Apr 13, 2019 7:58 pm

I've played a few times with a band. No MIDI, click tracks etc, just doing tap tempo off the drummer lets you swing with the band. I manually trigger eg's, some looping, twiddle knobs and sliders, fading in and out, it's about as improv as you can get on the modular really and it's quite fun. Really feels like you're "playing" in the same way a guitarist strums their instrument I'm sure with a bit more practice doing that in that band scenario i could work out some leads that will shine.

Some things I learned:

1. Small system is better than bigger system. You are part of a band, just one instrument. No need to bring your whole orchestra. Nobody expects the guitarist to have limitless sounds, so you don't need to either. Small system helps you focus on producing your single instrument sound without distractions. At least I've had better jams that way.

2. Don't change your system around on the day you are about to play. You don't have the luxury of doodling your way thru working out a patch. When the band goes, it's time to go, have your shit sorted. Familiarity with your current setup/layout is important to spontaneity.

.

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Post by maulofamerica » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:35 pm

I second keeping it simple, I use a Make Noise 0-Coast and a Korg Monotron Delay along with a Nord Electro 6 with everything funneling into an EarthQuaker Avalanche Run. There are a massive amount of sounds I can pull together with just this rig. I need to get some Tendrils for sure before I start breaking jacks/cables on the 0-Coast.

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Post by fruitsnake » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:53 pm

I've been playing my modular with my live band for a little over a year now. We're a four-piece: baritone sax, bass/vocals, drums/keyboards, and myself with either a 100hp or 208hp kit.

My 100hp kit is mostly a bunch of delays and filters (Clouds, Rings, Tyme Sefari, etc) plus CV utilities. The 208hp setup is a Folktek Mescaline with and extra Motion unit, plus BIA and W/.

I run all my bandmates audio through my eurorack while also doing synth improv nonsense. The two kits are so I can have one setup geared more towards external audio processing and one that's more for beatmaking, depending on the vibe I'm going for.

I agree that it's good to keep your setup small. I find it's also really helpful to have some redundant modules in your kit so that, on stage, you can keep your current patch running while you set up another one.

Also, I just ordered Nebulae because Clouds' buffer isn't long enough and W/ doesn't have enough controls, not that I'll ever stop using either of those. Never enough sampling.

Here's the latest recording we put out... straight live improv...

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Post by oozitron » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:20 pm

I was in a four piece band with three dear friends for years. We always played a whole hour of Pink Floyd (Dark Side and Wish You Were Here tracks) and we always did On the Run where I would use a small Blacet modular setup.

And following that was Time which was awesome; had the Prodigy for the low notes at the beginning :-)

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Post by parasabda » Thu May 09, 2019 3:06 am

I play two small 104hp modular racks with several bands. These are new additions to my usual contribution, a mix of live dub mixing and live looping the other members of my band. I use the racks in two ways.

1. external effect rack
- using 4ms dual delay and and rhythmic triggers to create glitching effects and phrase looping effects as an aux send effect on my mixer.
- using clouds and rings and etc to add ambience and transform into new instruments.
~curious about audio effects like the new pan-harmonium module to recycle loops and melodies from other members.
~curious in using env and pitch followers to make my modular more dynamic.

2. rhythmic rack
- heavily reliant on erica tap-tempo clocks and dividers to add rings, karp, and some ladik drums to whatever grooves my bands get into.
- running some of the longer sounds in my band (keyboard pads etc.) through filters modulated by my own rhythmic envelopes allow me to add to the band with out fear the sounds wont fit in so well.

Enjoy hearing about other's approach esp. anyone working with tuning and dynamically moving around scales (improvising with other scaled instruments.)

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Re: So, who's using a modular in a band?

Post by ersatzplanet » Thu May 09, 2019 10:59 am

JES wrote: --obviously, no presets, but given that the rest of the time I play bass with mostly analog effects pedals, this isn't a big issue for me. I know my way around on the synth.
**Self promotion alert** Though there may be a lack of presets, there can be programmers in use for tonal "presets" by having a set of biasing CVs to add to the settings of a patch. The PGM-4x4 is useful for this in allowing four sets of four control voltages to be preset and applied manually or automatically to a patch. They can easily be expanded to have more rows and columns if needed. Combined with a switch matrix to do patch cord swapping, a small simple preset setup can easily be made.
JES wrote: I've also wondered whether a hardware synth with DCOs (or an auto-tune feature in the OG meaning of auto-tune) but analog filters might be a decent compromise.
There are many Digital VCOs to choose from. The problem is that some still use analogue CV input sections that will drift and be compromised by temperature. You would have to do some research for that. You can also do a "hybrid" system of a cheap rack MIDI voice module with a very basic patch, playing into your modular adding the VCF/VCA and other analogue treatments. Use a MIDI>CV converter to give the needed gates and CVs for the analogue side. I have done this with old E-mu Proteaus synths and it works great. You can layer voices on them and really get a fat sound through the modular -paraphonic too.
-James

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Post by fruitsnake » Thu May 09, 2019 5:15 pm

parasabda wrote:I play two small 104hp modular racks with several bands. These are new additions to my usual contribution, a mix of live dub mixing and live looping the other members of my band. I use the racks in two ways.

1. external effect rack
- using 4ms dual delay and and rhythmic triggers to create glitching effects and phrase looping effects as an aux send effect on my mixer.
- using clouds and rings and etc to add ambience and transform into new instruments.
~curious about audio effects like the new pan-harmonium module to recycle loops and melodies from other members.
~curious in using env and pitch followers to make my modular more dynamic.

2. rhythmic rack
- heavily reliant on erica tap-tempo clocks and dividers to add rings, karp, and some ladik drums to whatever grooves my bands get into.
- running some of the longer sounds in my band (keyboard pads etc.) through filters modulated by my own rhythmic envelopes allow me to add to the band with out fear the sounds wont fit in so well.

Enjoy hearing about other's approach esp. anyone working with tuning and dynamically moving around scales (improvising with other scaled instruments.)
Sounds like you've got basically the same style setup I've got, and using it in a similar way! Super cool.

My little bit of advice if you're looking into pitch/envelope following.... the only pitch follower that works well enough to track live instruments on stage (guitars, vocals, etc) is the external input section of the MS-20. I've tried a good number of pitch to voltage conversion situations, and the MS-20 is the only one that works fast and easily enough to use live. It's all about the bandpass filter on the input, and the tracking is really smooth cause it's an analog circuit. You'll need to convert the Hz/V control signals into V/Oct in order to run your eurorack stuff off the MS-20's CV, but that can be done with a Disting.

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Post by Severed head » Sat Sep 28, 2019 7:24 pm

I perform/play in 2 bands only using a euro rack,
-1 free formed 100% improv
-2 a traditional “band” play a variety of genres & songs

I don’t use a controller (I.e keys or pads) just modules and sequencer as the main “controller”

The biggest obstacles I face,

First was learning to program/save things In modules so they can be recreated for “songs” only cuz I’m not a big fan of saving

-with module that don’t have a way to save the setting, resetting the control to sound the same, we all know w/ some modules a hair width can be a million miles away in the sound parameter.

Other than that tempo is a bit of a problem when it come to playing songs because humans aren’t machines and are less steady in timing so if there’s song where the modular isn’t the intro to set the timing coming I. Can be a bit daunting. As it’s easy to sound like it’s a mistake or off tempo. So I feed a headphone click to one of my band mates

The only other thing that’s tougher than being being part of a band with a traditional instrument lineup is the writing process.
As often with a modular synth that’s not using a key board or pad controller the created sound has come from an evolution of patching but it’s something that one gets the hang of and the band mates have to be an open minded few

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Post by b9 » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:12 pm

I play a majority MN setup in a metal band. Morphagene for the odd audio sample here and there. dpo and cursus iteritas through a double andore into the qpas... It screams and moans like a dying banshee, when it's called for. I can tune the rene to the guitar notes fairly easily on the fly. The music is so loud and violent that the modular, with all of it's outlandish unpredictability, sounds right at home in the mix. I haven't been this excited about making music in a long time. My next trick is to trigger notes, filters, and effects with tom and kick triggers from the drummers kit.

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Re: So, who's using a modular in a band?

Post by black_label » Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:09 am

I sit in with a lot of bands and it’s funny to see them blown away when I pull out the modular. Most have no idea what to make if it.

I play regularly in a 4 piece band with my whole modular setup. I use an Intellijel 7u sequenced by a Beatstep Pro. With the BSP I can clock everything and save out my basic songs and only have to worry about patching the sounds, which turn out a little different every time. The 7u setup is built around an Akemie’s Castle & an Atlantis with a Squid Salmple for samples and loops. I was clocking everything with Pams New Workout but I’ve got to be able to tap in tempos with a drummer. I also usually bring my Matriarch and clock that out of Pams, via the midi expander.

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Re: So, who's using a modular in a band?

Post by ZargZorg » Mon Mar 09, 2020 8:51 pm

I've tried the whole tonal band thing and I never got fully satisfied with it because it ended up limiting both the modular swell as the rest of the members. Using it in a more improvisational context with real instruments now that was fulfilling.
I suppose you can use it in a more controlled context but the composition aspect will play a huge role because it's not like simply adding a 2nd guitar or even another drummer.

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