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Abstract, improvised performances, setups, module tips
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Play Out! Performance Modulars Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Abstract, improvised performances, setups, module tips
korhanerel
Hi everyone,

I am new here and also in the world of modulars. I have owned a very small system of Doepfer modules for sound processing since 2005 and have used that for sound design and occasional live performance. I am primarily a computer musician who performs non-idiomatic free improvisation: no beats, no melodies, no harmonies... I play very often with musicians who play acoustic or electric instruments. More info here: korhanerel.com

I have recently decided to build a computerless setup, after performing with computers for more than 10 years. At the moment, the modular part of it includes:

Mutable Instruments Elements (hasn't arrived yet)
Doepfer A-119 External Input
Doepfer A-143-3 Quad LFO
Doepfer A-172 Maximum Minimum
Doepfer A-132-1 Dual VCA
Doepfer A-124 Wasp Filter
Doepfer A-116 Waveform Processor
Doepfer A-180 Multiples (will probably replace this with the 2HP version soon)

I have a QuNexus that I will use to play the Elements and the Quad LFO will simply be the modulation source for Elements. I may also get a Koma Kommander for extra CV input during performance.

What I'd like to ask you is suggestions on modules that are good for live performance: modules that generate interesting, complicated CV streams that are controllable. At the moment, I am interested in three Make Noise modules: Pressure Points and Maths or Function. As I have limited rack space (2 x 48HP) and I intend to keep it that way, modules should be as small as possible. And please remember that I will not be making beat-based music with this setup, so no drum module or trigger sequence suggestions. On the other hand, I could get suggestions for CV sequencers with memories to store patterns.

Thanks
Korhan
korhanerel.com
Hi5
If you are going the free-improv route I'd avoid seq in general and develope a more dynamic interface for your synth. QuNexus is a great start and I'd add at least one or even two Doepfer A-177-2 to get your feet to work while playing.

Especially if you are playing with acoustic performers, being able to react quickly and not in a preset fashion will be essential. Having a couple hands-on CV sources and the right patch will provide plenty of timbral variety that you have very direct control over.

When I was more involved with free-improvisation I used the Doepfer ribbon controller and 2 foot pedals for 4 variable CV sources which when routed to a variety of parameters was more than enough to dynamical interact within any context.

A noiser example with 2 modulars
[bandcamp width=100% height=42 album=4161468670 size=small bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5]

A more tonal example with modular, clarinet and contrabass
[bandcamp width=100% height=42 album=3535782008 size=small bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5]
Opus110
Maths is great to create complex cv because of the self-patching possibilities.

If you are looking for lots of functionality in a small package, you could replace the A-172 with Intellijel's uMod II (which has max/min). It's one of the most versatile cv processors out there. With the Maths you can generate complex cv, with the uMod II, you can make two simple cv complex.

STG's .shn would give you random (you could then use Maths as slew).

A mixer is also essential in creating more complex cv sources. You can use channels 2 & 3 of Maths. There are also some small mixers available. Intellijel's uFade could be a good option for you - there aren't that many cv mixers around (only has two inputs, but that's not a drawback since you don't have that many cv sources.

In sum, think Maths, but slso think small cv modifyers. You can take two cvs from LFOs and send them, via mult or stackable, to a bunch of modifyers. You'd be surprised at the amount of variety and complexity you'd come up with.
korhanerel
Many thanks for the responses. I'll look into some of the modules you guys mentioned that I hadn't heard of before (STG, for example), and I'll report back.

I'd like to think that I am a pretty experienced free improviser and my principle has always been functioning like an instrument on stage: fast and limited (in frequency range, layers, etc). This is what I want to achieve with the modular/hardware system, too. The system will also include a Volca Keys, Volca Sample, Microgranny, some effects processors like Boss RDD-10, miniKP2, Kaoss Pad 2, and an iPad running Samplr (I'll also use Borderlands but that's for solo playing - not good for free improv). I plan to control these hardware units over a QuNeo except for the iPAd apps.

The Volcas' sequencers will be used more or less only for parameter locks. The nice thing is that the sequencers also record MIDI CC data you send them, so using two XY pads on Lemur, you can send four different parameters and record them on the sequencer. Leads to very creative live playing.

Is there any way of driving the Volcas by gate/trigger signals?
korhanerel
This is how my modular will look like, by the way. At the moment, only Elements is missing. If I get something like Maths, I can definitely get rid of the Waveform Processor.

korhanerel
And would I really lose too much if I get Function instead of Maths? I'd like to spare some space for future expandability, but not get larger than 48HP x 2.
clarte
You could swap the a-143 for a batumi, which add functionality and save you a mighty 4hp which is the exact hp required for a disting.
korhanerel
Thank you. I did look at Batumi yesterday. Looks like a terrific module, but it's too expensive for me. And I don't think I need that many functions from an LFO. Would prefer to get a Function, which is cheaper and with the Quad LFO, could be a great tool.

I should have also said that I will not be spending a fortune on this. Modules are generally very expensive and I do not want to get into that spiral of wallet-destruction. I need a small, efficient, cost-effective system.
Opus110
korhanerel wrote:
And would I really lose too much if I get Function instead of Maths? I'd like to spare some space for future expandability, but not get larger than 48HP x 2.


Do get Maths. The added functions offered by channels 2 & 3 - to process and mix waves from your A-143-3 are really worth the space.

you won't loose much by getting rid of A-116. I love Doepfer modules and have quite a few in my rig, but this one I just don't get. Had it twice, never could figure out what to do with it - and judging by the few results you get when you use the search function for this module, I'm not the only one.
clarke68
Welcome...it's nice to have another free improviser on Muff's!

I agree with everything Hi5 said. One of the most fundamental needs is a way to make your modular *stop playing*...so don't skimp on VCAs and means to control them (I use the Doepfer A-177-2 foot pedal as a volume controller).

korhanerel wrote:
What I'd like to ask you is suggestions on modules that are good for live performance: modules that generate interesting, complicated CV streams that are controllable.


I highly recommend the controller modules from Sound Machines: the LS1 and LP1. I use 5 of the LS1 in my rig, they give you instant tactile control over anything, and in REC mode are basically a complex LFO that you can program in real time (you can record up to 8 seconds of finger movement).

Here's one with said rig, a randomly-drawn trio from a monthly workshop I've been attending in Oakland, CA:

richard
Yo Korhan

For my money that Quad LFO is a pain in the ass as it has no voltage control and therefore is not really modular. Two or three modules that could function as VCLFOs - for example Maths or Doepfer Serge Universal Slope generator would be way more fun IMO
korhanerel
Hey Richard,

Thanks for finding me here and responding. What's that Doepfer Serge Universal thing?
korhanerel
Thank you for the interesting suggestons, clarke68. The soundmachines modules look really good. I plan to use an actual volume pedal on the output, so I think I'll skip the foot controller modules.
korhanerel
So, no one recommends Function? I cannot afford Maths at the moment and Function is a slew generator/VCLFO?
clarke68
Function is great...I was going to get one for my live rig but then the QuBit EON came out. The EON isn't as good an EG as Function or Maths, but it does everything I need an envelope to do (VC control over decay, EOR trigger out) in 2hp.

The main thing you're missing is that Function (or even a pair of them) doesn't have the attenuverters or SUM/OR outputs that Maths has.


korhanerel wrote:
I plan to use an actual volume pedal on the output, so I think I'll skip the foot controller modules.

Perfectly fine plan. One thing not to overlook is foot pedals as triggers/switches. The Doepfer A-177-2 has space for two foot switches as well as a potentiometer pedal (which you don't have to use for volume). Also, check out the Monome Walk:

PK808370
korhanerel Nexus Instruments makes the "cv_looper", which seems to fit what you're asking for. You can record 4 separate tracks of cv. There is a cv in to record from, or, you can use the onboard knob. It can quantize the cv on the way in, or leave it free. You can tap the tempo in, or clock it from somewhere else, in your case, it seems you would just tap it, or leave it as it is when it turns on.

You can actually record multiple tracks at a time, but there's only one input, so the tracks would be identical, you can overdub them in sections later. It's pretty "playable" live. In your case, you could leave your quNexus hooked to the in, record one track (it will play through as it's recording), then switch on pass-through on another track and keep playing.
korhanerel
I did purchase a 2nd-hand Function and will get it on Friday. So that's settled.

The Nexus CV looper is interesting, but I have a feeling that a 4-channel CV recorder is too much information to track in real-time for my style of playing, at least what I imagine to be my style of playing. Soundmachines LS1 is simpler, takes less space and is cheaper... also more tactile.

I did do some experiments with the existing modules. I must say that the Maximum Minimum by Doepfer is very useful with its four inputs and creates really complicated CV sequences. The QuNexus also works well as a simple CV controller. I plan to use it also as a CV-MIDI converter to control some of the external synths (microgranny, volcas)

The Qu-Bit EON I have already seen, but Function gives me the looping EG functionaly anyway. The random gate output could be very interesting to use with Elements, but I'll keep that for later. I must be careful with money.

Actually, I think I won't be buying any other modules for the time being until I receive the Elements and actually see what I really need.

I may still come with questions though, as not buying modules does not mean not doing research on them.

Many thanks to all those who responded and made great suggestions and advice! More soon.
korhanerel
And please do not assume I won't follow this thread. Keep those suggestions and advice coming!
MindMachine
I too would suggest the Doepfer A-198 Ribbon Controller.

I use mine with a Synthwerks SP-1 slider/fader to adjust volume and kill sound. Footswitches would also be good as suggested in lieu of the SP-1. It would likely really shine with the Elements as well.

I like using the ribbon with Lo Pass Gates on the gate out and in tandem with Sample and Holds or similar to control pitches.

Not sure how you would use the Min/max in that set-up. Maybe as an audio processor.
korhanerel
Hello MindMachine. Many thanks for your input. The Ribbon Controller is on my list of considered interfaces, but I will make decisions once I start using the Elements. I need to have a feel of it first.

I plan to use an actual volume pedal.

Min/max is great at creating interesting CV modulations by using several LFOs and a CV output from the QuNexus. I'd use it to modulate one or more parameters on the Elements. The Waveform Processor is the module that is likelier to be left out, actually.

And I should remind commenters who came later that I will not be building a large modular system. So, rack space is limited. It's 96HP at the moment, but I may go for a small Doepfer Beauty Case later. But that will be the max limit.

Finally... what do you think of using a Microbrute in a modular setup? I know it's used by people, but are there any downsides/upsides? I think it sounds nice and for 300 Euros, gives you a versatile-ish oscillator, a good sounding filter (matter of taste), an LFO and a step sequencer with 8 memories, and perhaps most importantly a CV patchbay.

Thanks!
clarke68
korhanerel wrote:
The Ribbon Controller is on my list of considered interfaces, but I will make decisions once I start using the Elements. I need to have a feel of it first.

Not sure if you're following the Muffwiggler group on Facebook, but this just got posted today:

Heavenly match: Elements with Doepfer R2M Ribbon Controller
korhanerel
Thank you clarke68, but the link seems to be broken...

Elements has arrived a few days ago, but I haven't had enough time to spend with it. Next week... smile
Little Otik
I think your choice of a volume pedal is a stellar choice. That's my favorite module. (!)

I'm a free improviser as well as doing other things, but I don't tend to use my modular for shows; more for recorded music.

The most important thing you can have as a free improviser is a way to turn off all sound immediately. Tools that don't have that capability feel ponderous to me.

That is one of the thing I think electronic musicians commonly miss. As well as most piano players, who don't understand the idea of breathe/silence in music....

Shaddup already zombie
sean process
+1 on the Doepfer A-198 Ribbon Controller, but the most useful thing I find in playing free improv with acoustic instruments (or electric ones too) is a volume pedal. I use a Boss FV50L. It's light weight and does stereo. I actually use another one just as a CV controller, although you have to route a 5V or 10V source through it.

Spring reverb is a cool thing too - I've modded my Doepfer to include phono sockets on the front panel so I can easily change over between the internally mounted tank or an external Accutronics tank that I can manipulate much more.

+1 on Maths too, especially for the retriggering option. One of the key things you might need is some kind of switch. Speed of changing things in improv situations is quite important, especially when the situation demands it.
sean process
Quote:
The most important thing you can have as a free improviser is a way to turn off all sound immediately.


Absolutely!
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