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The inherent dumbness of drum modules
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next [all]
Author The inherent dumbness of drum modules
snakehead
This is not an anti-techno or even a total anti-drum module post, BUT I am circumspect about the variety and number of drum modules and their inherent non-modularness. That is to say, that drum modules in general are not modular in spirit; they are limited in the number of sounds that they can make--again, in general. And, more to the point, you can make all of the sounds with more general-purpose synth modules.

That being said, if I had unlimited and space, I would buy a bunch of drum modules. In Euroland the Basimilus Iteras and Mungo P0 look interesting because they seem to have a lot of versatility and are not just variations on a very repetitive theme.* (Come to think of it, are drum modules mostly a Eurorack thing?) And maybe a hexinverter Mutant Bass Drum and Mutant Hi-Hat because you always need those sounds.

But since I don't have unlimited money, these things are not on my IRL radar.

Does this resonate with anyone else, or am I just you kids get off my lawn and you're not this shit again


* Again, I'm not anti-minimalism. But I am anti-module that doesn't do many things.
aethersprite
I think the advantage to drum modules is not the modules themselves, rather, the interesting and different ways to trigger them within the modular realm, a freedom from the constraints of x0x.
kisielk
The hexinverter mutant drums seem crazy versatile. Definitely more than most other Euro drum modules. Check out the sounds in the new mutant clap demo video for example, especially the latter half:



It also lets you send in external audio sources for processing, or just use it as a noise oscillator. Very "modular".
KrisM
I can see your point, but at the same time, if someone wants percussive sounds in their modular, it would seem that it's easier/cheaper to buy one module for a voice than individual component modules if you want a lot of them.

I won't be buying any myself as I pretty much do ambienty stuff, and valued versatility in all my gear even before getting into modular, but if Audio Damage made Axon chances are high that I'd buy it as soon as it was released. I actually asked them about Axon as hardware once, before they started releasing Eurorack modules, and was told something about them getting into hardware back then.

I can dream :(
kwaidan
Kris M beat me to the punch.
CJ Miller
I would say that they are not so much "dumb", but more rather "limited by design". Drum machines and modules have typically been marketed towards non-synthesists. So the features and settings have been limited to always be within a reliably drum-like range of sounds. Some of this limitation can be smart use of more modest subcircuits and lesser cost in money and hp. Making a single drum voice from $1500 of modules is certainly posdsible, and sometimes even desirable. But there appears to still be a market for the limited, stand-alone drum voice module.

But when I read the criticism of these modules, many people slag them off for not being able to dial in the sound the want quickly enough, or that the sound palette is more diffuse than the dynamics-squashed 909 kick they hoped for. Then consider the degree of kvetch one would hear about the release of a nicely patched-out drum module of 20hp for a single voice. There is no pleasing everybody with these things.
ym2612
If you have a sound that you find yourself patching up a lot for your style of music, and you have limited space, and especially if you perform live, it makes sense to abstract that patch into something that doesn't take up a lot of space or work to get it up and running.

To me the beauty of modular is not in simply having flexible, low-level tools available at all times. It's in having such a huge variety of tools available for a variety of tasks, be they low-level or high-level.
mckenic
I had a look at my system during the summer and saw the modules I liked - Wogglebug, Turing (expanded), Maths, PEG, Grids, Timetable - SO many triggering options & flavours!

So to complement/enhance them I got a DreDrum, Liquid HiHat, Barton BD (on the way) and I'd love the Basimilus. Added to that Im after a CV to midi module for Stroke Machine on the iPad...

In short - with SO many fantastic trigger sources - ANYTHING but standard kick/snare/hats is of interest! A 606 is great for those sounds - I want Alien Percussion - feck bog-standard fare!
maudibe
This is what I thought and sold all my TipTop and MFB drum modules. I wanted control by knobs so got a Vermona - i.e. moved the actual drum sound generation out of the rack. All my triggering still comes from the rack though as I enjoy the possibilities offered.

The control aspects of the TipTop are minimal and the MFB slightly better... the Vermona has no cv control of parameters...but LOTS of knobs to wiggle.

So yea. To the OP I totally agree: the modules are in general a little limited and should you always find yourself using reasonably 'standard' drum sounds perhaps best as an addition to the modular and not an integral part.

Then use the modular to craft novel percussion tones. thumbs up
melodydad
Disappointed - from the topic title I was hoping for a thread of drum module jokes hihi
eolianmollisol
I've making my way through all of hexinverters DIY drum projects. I'm definitely not a hardcore beat maker either. I use them non-traditionally quite often, running through various modules, tweaking, and shaping, you can get some pretty awesome happenings. I think the biggest thing for me is that they are easily synced and triggered. I personally love my drum modules and I'm a pretty hardcore droner-er/ambient type of player. In my opinion, its in the spirit of modular to have something sonically versatile! It's motherfucking bacon yo

But, from the perspective of buying ready made modules, I probably wouldn't go out and buy drum modules... Dead Banana
snakehead
kisielk wrote:
The hexinverter mutant drums seem crazy versatile. Definitely more than most other Euro drum modules. Check out the sounds in the new mutant clap demo video for example, especially the latter half:



It also lets you send in external audio sources for processing, or just use it as a noise oscillator. Very "modular".


This was the demo that inspired me to write this post. It has some cool sounds, but it is still kind of dumb. Albeit less dumb than a simple triggered clap with only a pitch CV to speak of.
extra testicle
it just depends on what i want to try and figure out. it's like, i'll patch up filters, but i'll use premade ones too. is that really different than a drum module? it's up to you what you get out of it.

sometimes i want to play with how certain sounds interact. i have 4 handclap drum "modules" outside euro. ime you can't easily separate the envelope from the sound. they were easy enough to mod to get more interaction and change the sound. i still patch up claps, but euro i don't really find to be the best way to do all types of synthesis and interaction. mostly i'd rather spend my time on other stuff where i can get more complicated or feel like i can push. it'll be cool when 3d printing gets more advanced and you'll be able to encapsulate patches into small modules.

the "interesting" complex drum modules are less appealing because for me it'd take more work to figure out how to articulate them well and get a personal sound vs something i patched up and made the interface for, or had a pre-designed interface.

classic drum sounds make me laugh because i totally had to open up the 808 when i used one & 909 i think people made that work in spite of the sound, probably because they could work the sequencer like a mother fucker! tbh, disconnecting those sounds from their interface has potential to do tons of cool stuff if someone is motivated to do cool stuff with them, just like anything else. smile

i feel like eurorack is kinda like a new dx7, really capable, but still a lot of people just want good brass, electric piano, strings presets on hand! smile it is funny to me, kinda turning modular into like a rompler, but it doesn't seem bad or dumb. some romplers are wicked synths. smile it's an interesting evolution.
snakehead
aethersprite wrote:
I think the advantage to drum modules is not the modules themselves, rather, the interesting and different ways to trigger them within the modular realm, a freedom from the constraints of x0x.


The crazy ways of triggering things is definitely one of the cool things about modulars, and you could be triggering fart noises and it'd still be pretty interesting (in turn deriving triggers from said synthetic flatulence etc.)

I think it could be I'm just jealous because I don't see a row of drum modules in my future. It wasn't my intention to slag-off the fine people like hex inverter who make drum modules--especially because of the dumb wishy-washy people like me who demand them in the first place.
rezzn8r
Dedicated drum modules may be a mostly Euro phenomenon, as you suspect. I can't think of any in 5u off the top of my head, but I have a few in my Frac rack.
I have 2 Metalbox 8008 BDs because I got tired of tying up all my LowPass filters making bass drum sounds, and nothing ties a patch together like a good Bass Drum
I also have a Cynare and a Liquid HiHat, and neither one of those modules feels limited to me. They are both very diverse, flexable modules.
I guess it depends on the particular drum module.
extra testicle
nord modular has drum modules too. haha.

i think that mutant clap actually seems pretty cool and usable in that it gives you the envelope to run anything into. and pseudo random noise as a bonus. wink
Reese P. Dubin
Try a Bugbrand Drum Major and get back to us.
snakehead
Reese P. Dubin wrote:
Try a Bugbrand Drum Major and get back to us.


I would if I could! Eel Power FTW!
Zenn
I think we need Ray's opinion. Author of "Drum Programming: A Complete Guide to Program and Think Like a Drummer"

sduck
Did someone say 5U?

There this: completely unavailable however - diy only.

Thomas Henry Mega Percussion Synthesizer front by sduck409, on Flickr

It's pretty badass, although I use it very rarely. The problem I see with drum modules in any format, but especially larger ones like this is the amount of space they take up for as compared to the "return" from that space investment. Investing 2U (in MOTM format terms) for a module that goes "Boom" and/or "Bang" is ok I guess, but when you feel compelled to follow the format rules and it bloats out to 5U like this -



-that's a bit too much, at least for my limited space.
rezzn8r
I've always wanted to try a TH MPS
thresholdpeople
ym2612 wrote:
If you have a sound that you find yourself patching up a lot for your style of music, and you have limited space, and especially if you perform live, it makes sense to abstract that patch into something that doesn't take up a lot of space or work to get it up and running.


I agree with this. And not only in a live context.

I think it's works the same way in a non-modular context too -- sometimes you use a drum machine, sometimes you make percussion patches on your synthesizer. There are advantages to both. Of course don't forgot that you can also use your drum machine/modules to make awesome sounds that aren't only snappy snares or bass drums or something.

I think the biggest downfall of drum machines and modules is that they obscure the under the hood synthesis that it takes to make that sound on a different synthesizer.
DiscarnateEntity
Hmm, drum modules.

I mostly favour drum software VIs over drum modules, except for the pair of Basimilus Iteritas I use for cinematic stuff.

While they sound great and do the job for which they were intended, my Tip Top x0x clone modules have now been consigned to the growing pile of unused modules that will probably end up for sale on here when eventually I have over 100 posts...

… that could be some time. whistlin'
synthysynth
I wish I had a eurorack modular version of my pearl syncussion. It's such a versatile and tweakable little box.
Smokey
What's up with the inherent dumbness in modulars? seriously, i just don't get it

I mean, all that shit comes in one unit, with a keyboard, and it's called a synthesizer.

wink
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