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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

Playing through a patch
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Play Out! Performance Modulars  
Author Playing through a patch
DrIanMan
Because I'm silly and n00bish, I posted this first in the wrong forum. I'll repost it here where I think it belongs (correct me if I'm wrong!):

Quote:
I'm new screaming goo yo , so I don't really get the idea of playing modular synthesizers yet.

I mean, I watch videos where, during a live session of bleeps and bloops, the performer is fiddling with nobs here and there. But on the system I have, I want to be able to set something up and then maneuver through it in a way that feels like an instrument.

How do any of you do this? hmmm.....

Any suggestions? we're not worthy


I'm interested in the performance mode I described...where a "piece" is played through nob turning and not necessarily using a keyboard or relying super heavily on sequencers.
saldiamond
Interested in hearing opinions about this as well.
abelovesfun
It sounds like you have a goal - now you have to play around and figure it out. Modular is a great opportunity to experiment and find your voice within constraints, which you've already identified for yourself.
If you don't want sequencers or a keyboard, it sounds like you want drones (or at maximum - manually triggered envelopes and gates) so listen to modular music like that.
Here is an example of a drone: [soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201965901" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_use r=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
And here is a song where I have the modular producing the kick and a polyphonic chord, with the notes manually controlled by mixing them into a filter [soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/201967294" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_use r=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height="450" iframe="true" /]
DrIanMan
Hey, thanks for these tracks! They're really great. I think you've gotten to what I mean to some extent.

However, I don't mean to exclude keyboards or sequencers entirely. It's just that I feel like most of the patches I come up with inevitably involve me setting up my sequencers or attaching keyboards reaching two extremes — either the modular runs off on its own or it becomes like a piano. I've tried experimenting with the first situation, changing envelopes, pitches, or the like; I've tried the second to the same effect. I realize I'm a beginner, so I realize I might just not have the most clever ideas.

This isn't to say there's anything wrong with the sequencer. It seems like a really powerful tool, although, like a drone, inevitably static if left to do its own business.

So maybe you could talk through what you do with a patch once you've made it — how you do your live gigs if you do those, whether patching from scratch represents a track or whether you start with a full patch, or things like that or other things.

I don't mean that the synthesizer as an instrument should be like any other instrument, also. It's not that it should, although it could — and sometimes, sure, it should — sound like a piano, guitar, etc. I just want to know more about how to interact with a modular system in a productive way.
abelovesfun
Happy to talk through the creative process:

I tend to write in two distinct ways: Either I'm starting at the modular in pure experimentation mode, and recording the results to hopefully get something worth building on or capturing (in the case of the bass drone) or I'm actually starting from a purely compositional frame, which may not even involve the modular yet, as the modular can sometimes force the mind to be more engineer than artist (not always, but sometimes). The compositional frames will often include "easy" instruments, meaning my Moog Minitaur, Minibrute, and Ableton instruments - things I won't need to troubleshoot. Some of those parts may then get transferred to the modular.

Obviously, I'm not tied to the modular, it just happens to be my favorite instrument (mine is large format 5U and a joy to play and touch).

When I play live I bring three rows of 5U modular, my lappy running live (off to the side - I use push so I don't need to look at it ever) a Kenton pro-2000 midi to cv converter, and usually one other synth (minibrute, ambika, or moog). All mixing happens in Ableton, and there are sometimes some pre-recorded things, but not too much - only what I can't do live).

When it comes to patches, I choose not to record them. I used to be very into memory on synths and making patch sheets, but then I realized that if I just stuck to a set of instruments, I could learn them well enough to not need them. The minibrute for instance, doesn't need memory - it's easy enough to program in a lead or bass or whatever in no time at all, and you might get a better result than one you would have "saved" on a synth with memory. I operate in the same mind frame with the modular - I try to learn my modules well enough that I don't need to remember them. I arrive at the show with no patch cables in and patch in what I need. Practice makes prepared. That said, I am definitely slacking off on getting to know the full potential of my Voltage Controlled Slew and quite a few other modules - those don't go into my "live" case yet.

I actually think the modular is very much like other instruments, at least in the way I approach it. You have pitch, timbre, time, and volume, just like any other instrument, the only difference is you have an unparalleled method to control (or not control) those values. That said, I am definitely coming from a mix of "west" and "east" coast philosophy, tending towards the "east." I like songs, I like (trying) to have a point when I ask for an audience's attention, I like composition, and I like some space between sounds. So take all of the above with a grain of salt - there are many (many) others on this forum that are coming from an opposing mind frame, and more power to them. I very happily play along side my "pure west coast" friends all the time.

I hope that insane rant helps. As far as being productive - have fun and always remember - it's never the gear. My best lesson came from working at a musical instrument store fresh out of college. A member of the Ventures (the 60s surf rock band came in) and tested a crap Korg D12 recorder using a $75 guitar, crap cable, and going straight in to the D12's laughable DI. He played Walk don't run and it sounded like the album. Music is people, never the gear.
DrIanMan
Yeah, definitely. Thanks a lot for the rant — much appreciated! I like the East/West distinction since it speaks to the "people not the gear concept". It seems the synths follow the people, their performance modes, and then the people follow the synths, guided by the technology. It's a great circle.

I think one of my issues is I'm very interested in the west coast mode, but my instrument was designed with the east coast in mind. This is not to diss the instrument! It's amazing, eye opening, a dream come true. So I think you're right, and my problem is with people — namely myself — as, overwhelmed, I look for variety without the knowledge of how to find it.

Do you mind if I ask what your system looks like?
abelovesfun
No problem. This is older, I have more modules now, but it gives an idea:


You should be able to do east with west and west with east, at least in some capacity. In the end, it's all just triggers, audio rate, control rate, etc... my "east" coast methodology is made with lots of "west" tools - My system is probably 30% Ken Stone - it's all about how you patch it.
DrIanMan
That's awesome. I hope one day I have a room in my house that looks like that. Thanks for the inspiration!
RGB
Resurrecting this post from the archive as I thought the subject aligned with some things I have been thinking about recently.

The concept of how everyone thinks of playing through their modular set. How you might lay out the patch and intend or plan (or not) on moving through your setup.

Do you move from left to right in your rack... do you start dry and slowly progress to a wet sound... use a foundation of presets and improvise within those?
Navs
What I've learned so far is that there are as many different approaches to playing live as there are styles of music. There's no right or wrong, which is great.

I don't have a single patch but try to play in terms of stories and make my way from one to the next. A small, secondary instrument is helpful as a bridge. I use a Clavia Micromodular and I've seen a lot of OP-1s sitting next to modulars on stage.

I don't move from left to right but I do patch live - the last couple of gigs I have played, the only cables that were pre-connected were the audio outs to the mixer. That seems to suit my style of playing.

On the OP's broader question, though, for me it's about structures: it is possible to make patches that will do musically interesting things with the turn of just three knobs. Again, the Nord Micromodular is great for enforcing this sort of discipline. It also has patch re-call lol
authorless
Navs wrote:
What I've learned so far is that there are as many different approaches to playing live as there are styles of music. There's no right or wrong, which is great.

I don't have a single patch but try to play in terms of stories and make my way from one to the next. A small, secondary instrument is helpful as a bridge. I use a Clavia Micromodular and I've seen a lot of OP-1s sitting next to modulars on stage.

I don't move from left to right but I do patch live - the last couple of gigs I have played, the only cables that were pre-connected were the audio outs to the mixer. That seems to suit my style of playing.

On the OP's broader question, though, for me it's about structures: it is possible to make patches that will do musically interesting things with the turn of just three knobs. Again, the Nord Micromodular is great for enforcing this sort of discipline. It also has patch re-call lol


Similar to my approach. I patch live from completely unpatched. I can usually get two to three elements going in my system at a single time. Patching for me is across my system as a whole. I have one 6u case that is mostly audio, one 6u that is mostly CV, and on 3u that is more CV and some controllers. Modules are grouped by primary function, more or less, or modules that get used together a lot.

I don't have patches in a complete sense, but I definitely have smaller sub-patches that are generally control voltage generators. I can use these as a starting point, or easily add them to a patch that is already up and running.

Also: loopers.
BananaPlug
Quote:
I patch live from completely unpatched. I can usually get two to three elements going in my system at a single time.

I'm experimenting with keeping three semi-permanent patches setup and putting time into improving them and getting good at keeping them interesting. People using acoustic instruments find that there instrument is pretty much the same every day. That seems to work fine so I decided to try it. Because it's a modular synth, it is pretty easy to change things (imagine a horn player soldering in another valve). While playing I don't hesitate to jack in an LFO or add a delay or something but I'm intentionally not starting from scratch every day.
This is a nice change from what I used to do, which was to start over and add more and more until it was a big mess and I was frustrated by it. The clean slate approach probably is at its best when you keep the patches fairly simple.
RGB
Yeah, I am trying to think of my rack as an "instrument" as well. I just recently downsized to 6U for this purpose. I am finding that do to how dense and robust some of the modules are that getting to know them through and through can take some time.

I am trying to hone in on (in some way) "composing" or "constructing" a performance over time, and achieving this successfully in a somewhat smooth way. Granted the unexpected will arise and that is the beauty of this format but at the same time knowing what to do in that moment to make adjustments with out having to just pull a cable out, etc..
atte
First: I don't feel like I figured it all out, I'm still very much learning and finding my way. But I'd like to share what I like to do, you can do what you want with it hyper

I like to do melodic stuff within an almost song like structure. I'm using an eloquencer and a beastep pro to give me a stream of pitches. Both can induce randomness into a sequence, which means a loop, pattern or part will keep changing instead of being statically looped.

But I also like modulating the "sounds controlled by this stream of pitchrs" so they keep changing. Two general things I found that work well for this is using radio music with long samples as basis for a sound. For instance instead of building a hihat from white through filter and enveloped basically any long loop can give the same result, but since the source is not static the hihat will keep varying on every hit. Also modulating stuff either with clocked random (love the Turing machine for this) or slow, continuous voltage (sloth or cross modulating lfos) will open the sound sources up. Especially important is envelopes with cb over attack and release.

The best moments I had while playing my modular was when I managed to have this ever varying system setup, that just jams without me even touching it. The fun begins when I start to navigate through the structure (a-part, b-part etc), mute parts to create dynamics and builds, and have a handful of "entry points" that might make the clouds go crazy/quiet, randomize a clock multiplier, shuffle stuff around with a switch, stuff like that.

Sounds lame when described like that, but to me it's a nice way of working, almost like directing a band og really skilled musicians that will come up with great ideas on their own, but I get to control the contour of piece.

I do other things as well (for instance a krell is always fun) , and try to explore new ideas in every patch, so I'm noway near set on this or any other approach.

My next challenge is to patch from scratch and record 30 mins every day, not sure what it will bring, but it should be fun...

Stuff I did can be found in my signature...
RGB
atte wrote:
First: I don't feel like I figured it all out, I'm still very much learning and finding my way. But I'd like to share what I like to do, you can do what you want with it hyper

I like to do melodic stuff within an almost song like structure. I'm using an eloquencer and a beastep pro to give me a stream of pitches. Both can induce randomness into a sequence, which means a loop, pattern or part will keep changing instead of being statically looped.

But I also like modulating the "sounds controlled by this stream of pitchrs" so they keep changing. Two general things I found that work well for this is using radio music with long samples as basis for a sound. For instance instead of building a hihat from white through filter and enveloped basically any long loop can give the same result, but since the source is not static the hihat will keep varying on every hit. Also modulating stuff either with clocked random (love the Turing machine for this) or slow, continuous voltage (sloth or cross modulating lfos) will open the sound sources up. Especially important is envelopes with cb over attack and release.

The best moments I had while playing my modular was when I managed to have this ever varying system setup, that just jams without me even touching it. The fun begins when I start to navigate through the structure (a-part, b-part etc), mute parts to create dynamics and builds, and have a handful of "entry points" that might make the clouds go crazy/quiet, randomize a clock multiplier, shuffle stuff around with a switch, stuff like that.

Sounds lame when described like that, but to me it's a nice way of working, almost like directing a band og really skilled musicians that will come up with great ideas on their own, but I get to control the contour of piece.

I do other things as well (for instance a krell is always fun) , and try to explore new ideas in every patch, so I'm noway near set on this or any other approach.

My next challenge is to patch from scratch and record 30 mins every day, not sure what it will bring, but it should be fun...

Stuff I did can be found in my signature...


Thanks for the insight into your current process. It is very helpful to hear how others work. You touch on a few things that I have been thinking about recently in my workflow.
atte
I should add that so far I've more or less done one patch, pre-patched sets. I recently got the ms-matrix which I'm planning on using for my next performance (in less than a month) to "repatch" at the flick of a button, enabling me to (hopefully) to several patches in a performance...
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