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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

The process of making a modular album
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Eurorack Modules  
Author The process of making a modular album
atte
I spend february making an album almost entirely with my eurorack. I'd like to share a bit about the process here. Feel free to ask any questions (or totally disregard this post if you find it utterly boring) hihi

I knew upfront that I was going to do stuff with song-like structures, although a bit more abstract than "real songs". I also decided that I didn't want to spend time wishing I had this or that module or trouble shoot the setup. Basically just try to use what I have and get the best out of it. Also I wanted to make it as pure modular as possible, getting the warm, random, glitchy thing that was the reason I got into modular in the first place. But I decided that if I had an idea that was out of reach within the modular, I wouldn't restrict myself if the idea could be realized in the DAW (renoise). So tried to keep a pretty pragmatic, loose, and positive attitude along the way.

Almost everything is sequenced with the BSP. Most tracks started out as a one or two section groove with only the BSP and my modular (no drum machine). This would have the main elements going, drums, bass, some additional noises, some melody-ish thing. I especially love the random features in the BSP. After working that out, I recorded each part (mostly 1-4 bar loops, sometimes just single hits of some modular noise) as samples my DAW (renoise), typically 6-10 tracks, with the BSP synced to renoise. I recorded lots of variations on each part, having the BSP do its random stuff, and maybe wiggling a few knobs along the way. These "alternatives" were stacked and are selected randomly from renoise to preserve as much randomness as possible.

Then I did some arranging in renoise, laying out the basic structure of the track (they are quite song-like in structure, hence the album title), stuff like intro, a, b, solo, build, interlude, outro. Then I added more layers, little details, additional melodies either syncing the BSP to renoise or by sequencing from renoise, using the BSP as a midi-to-CV interface.

The chopped up beats on a few tracks are breakbeats mangled in renoise (which is great for this) and the piano is me playing my acoustic piano, recorded into renoise "live". Besides that almost everything else is coming from the modular.

Some modules especially shined in the process:

Synthrotek APC: When I get bored with the plainness of the sound, the APC is always up for a nice surprise. Syncing it to a oscillator through CV2 makes it play in tune. It has this thing where you can make it play a 4th (or other intervals) below what you're syncing it to, the bass on the first track "APC walk" is the APC doing this, skipping around intervals in a nice, random way.

Penrose/MA CVP combo. Sending random voltages from either the nanorand or the A148 through the penrose obviously gives you random melodies. But the CVP makes it possible to control the range and shape the melodies. Often a drum trigger with some randomness from the BSP is driving the rhythm of the melodies. On the track "resets" I played a jazz-ish solo with the combo. No input to the CVP, but just changing the voltages going to the penrose with the offset knob. The trig input of the penrose was getting a steady clock of 16th notes to keep everything in time, and the in/out of the key is done by modifying the scale on the penrose in realtime. So much fun.

Wasp filter. Although is a pretty recognizable sound, I just love how you can make the wasp growl when you find that sweet spot on the frequency.

Ladik rom-players. These are loaded with custom sounds. It's great to have them select randomly between samples, and I love the aliasing and the fact that you can have them cut the sound of with the length of the trigger (which is also randomizeable on the BSP)

Grains: I wrote an alternative firmware that does CV-able clock multiplier/divider. I was soo close to getting the A160-5 in january, but the grains kind-of covered some of the same territory.

In general it has been a really pleasant month of music making. The usual doubting the quality of my musical ideas naturally crept in. I threw away almost 10 songs along the way that I didn't feel were going anywhere good.

I also leaned a lot about what modules I need next, to cover more sonic territory.

The next step up for me would be to be able to multi-track record a more or less finished tracks in one go. This is partly a question of buying moar modules, but mainly a personal challenge, since I'm used to going back and forth with a lot of decision both regarding the compositions, the arrangements and the mixing.

In case you want to check it out, the album is here:
https://a773.bandcamp.com/album/songs-from-my-modular

The "official" muffwiggler album anouncement is here:
https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=156811
peripatitis
I am not sure there is such a thing as a modular synth album,
even if you are getting your motif's , structures, etc directly from the modular one could easily claim that you made an album itb using renoise as a daw and getting your material from a modular synth...

Btw this is my biggest gripe with modular synthesis (having a small to medium system myself), i always hated sampling, always prefer synthesis, but i seem to be doing it daily since i started composing with the modular smile
AAG
Thanks for sharing (both the process and the result)!
theruins
listening to the album now, very cool sounds (still at track 1 atm). thank you very much for this post, i've been planning to use a very similar process (just with bitwig for daw and e2&rene for sequencing).
glad to hear it worked out so well for you!
msegarra
wow some really good stuff in that album, if i may.. what modules are you using for rythem? i really like the speed of the rolls and stuff
mdoudoroff
Thanks for sharing!

Quote:
I am not sure there is such a thing as a modular synth album, even if you are getting your motif's, structures, etc directly from the modular one could easily claim that you made an album itb using renoise as a daw and getting your material from a modular synth...


I’d counter-argue that any collection of music in which modular process plays a significant/influential role fits into a spectrum of “modular synth albums”. I would absolutely include virtual synths in that mix.
mcpepe
Listening right now. The 2nd track is very nice!
phosfiend
This is rad. I've been spooling up to try and do something similar, recording little bits here and there when time allows.

While the 'sample now, chop up later' thing might feel for you like more itb - it might be more productive overall as it puts less pressure on the patch to be an entire track? And jeez, you've got a whole album to show for it, whereas I have a bunch of monster patches that get built up and up only to eventually get dissolved (which now I'm in the habit of recording more regularly).

Anyway, killer stuff.
atte
peripatitis wrote:
one could easily claim that you made an album itb using renoise as a daw and getting your material from a modular synth...


I don't feel defensive, but here are a few thoughts

1) I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make something I would qualify as finished music without recording it multi-track and mixing in out side of the modular. I know I'm gonna be listening for that snare that's just too loud or that mud in the bass track, wishing I could go in and change it. I don't see myself buying an analog multitrack recorder, since it's too expensive and give me to options I'm used to.

2) I know some people here hate it when they are forced to turn on a computer, and I honestly 100% respect that, and kinda see their point. However I don't hate my computer, it's just so predictable. A of what makes this album "modular" to me, is embracing the happy accidents and the randomness that my computer just doesn't throw back at me.

Hope that makes sense hihi
peripatitis
atte wrote:
peripatitis wrote:
one could easily claim that you made an album itb using renoise as a daw and getting your material from a modular synth...


I don't feel defensive, but here are a few thoughts

1) I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make something I would qualify as finished music without recording it multi-track and mixing in out side of the modular. I know I'm gonna be listening for that snare that's just too loud or that mud in the bass track, wishing I could go in and change it. I don't see myself buying an analog multitrack recorder, since it's too expensive and give me to options I'm used to.

2) I know some people here hate it when they are forced to turn on a computer, and I honestly 100% respect that, and kinda see their point. However I don't hate my computer, it's just so predictable. A of what makes this album "modular" to me, is embracing the happy accidents and the randomness that my computer just doesn't throw back at me.

Hope that makes sense hihi


Perfect sense and i am not a purist in any way smile and mdoudoroff has me covered when talking about the modular process....
esko997
High quality post, really awesome stuff, thanks for sharing and talking about your creative process. The album sounds great. I think others have touched on it, but what really brought it together for me (in regards to your album) was the great rhythm arrangements.
PolarIceCaves
Very cool sounding album. I love it!
I think I saw your name in the list of Ladik roms.

I would love to know more about your clock software for grains also.
WaveRider
atte wrote:

1) I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make something I would qualify as finished music without recording it multi-track and mixing in out side of the modular.



you can record multitrack direct from your modular....

I think you produced your album the right way, that is, if you want interesting music (to your tastes) and do not have a giant modular, it is the way to go... AND it opens up tons of creative possibilities.

...but, listening to it, I get the computer music feel rather than a modular synth feel. Personally I enjoy sparse modular melodic sequences that do not interest anyone..... Guinness ftw! ...and who wants to do that kind of music anyway
somatikon
You leave the best for last in imho......track 9, stop counting is stunning and stands as great piece of music modular or not.

The thread title caught my attention as this is my desire to make a modular album and I have given much thought to it. I will say that I do compose entire pieces of music as one patch in my modular and record it straight into the computer as a stereo two track.

Thought about going to 2 track tape but still I would have to go back into the computer for editing. Suppose one could send the tape out to be mastered so it would be at that point the music would go digital.

I am still putting together my system to get it to where I have multiple events occurring with lots of modulation to create long evolving ambient pieces.

Thanks for sharing.
subdo
I really liked it. Good job on not "wishing I had this or that module or trouble shoot the setup". That is an easy trap to fall into when you're trying to actually record music. Right now I have a sequence/patch that I really want to record but it really needs one more EG, which I ordered and am now waiting on... not recording music.

Also, great chops on the piano.
modernage
somatikon wrote:
You leave the best for last in imho......track 9, stop counting is stunning and stands as great piece of music modular or not.

I totally agree. The rest of the album was really good, but this song is amazing. I had the album playing in the background, while I was doing some other things, and once this song came on I knew right away that this must be the song you were talking about. I could see this track being used in a movie.
cosmikwolf
sweet. this sounds great grin
cosmikwolf
Your song Swoop sounds like a CirclonT6A off Syro, its got the same vibe. Love it! This is fun!
dumbledog
I'm just about to drop my RPM challenge album in the mail (not noon yet here). Not all Eurorack but plenty of it, along with some other stuff. I'll do a write-up myself later.
trove
nice tunes! applause
taintedsun
Fine jams here! Going to give the whole album a listen this morning. thumbs up

atte wrote:
I don't see myself buying an analog multitrack recorder, since it's too expensive and give me to options I'm used to.


You've just got to get on that cassette 4-track bandwagon. w00t
moloque
Thanks for sharing! Good sounding groove in there!
geecen
peripatitis wrote:
I am not sure there is such a thing as a modular synth album,
even if you are getting your motif's , structures, etc directly from the modular one could easily claim that you made an album itb using renoise as a daw and getting your material from a modular synth...

Btw this is my biggest gripe with modular synthesis (having a small to medium system myself), i always hated sampling, always prefer synthesis, but i seem to be doing it daily since i started composing with the modular smile


Dude when they record a rock band they do one instrument at a time and then chop it up to find the best bits. Doing anything else would constitute a live album as far as I'm concerned! Rockin' Banana!
Zube
First I gotta say, great work and track 9 is dope.

atte wrote:


1) I'm not sure I'll ever be able to make something I would qualify as finished music without recording it multi-track and mixing in out side of the modular. I know I'm gonna be listening for that snare that's just too loud or that mud in the bass track, wishing I could go in and change it.


Welcome to making records! Even without the modular involved you'll always find something nit-picky wrong in everything you do. This is a sign you both care about what you're doing, and wish to improve, two things every musician should do but in reality few do it. But sometimes though doing something live to 2-track is really freeing. I've been writing a few songs that started 100% as live to 2-track, then once it hit the DAW I started adding overdubs and now they've changed completely, for the better. A few others started in the DAW all worked out and now I can play them live to 2-track and it feels a lot less structured and much more free and interesting. I find a mix of both frees you up.

atte wrote:

2) I know some people here hate it when they are forced to turn on a computer, and I honestly 100% respect that, and kinda see their point. However I don't hate my computer, it's just so predictable. A of what makes this album "modular" to me, is embracing the happy accidents and the randomness that my computer just doesn't throw back at me.


I learned on cassette 4-track and tape, so I've always kind of thought of my DAW as a big tape recorder. Just because there's a grid and plug-ins and quantizing, doesn't mean you have to use it.

And if you want to work out "song structure" as you did in the DAW, you can alway grab a pen, a piece of paper, and work out the "structure" of the song ahead of time, then "play" it live...

For me I find records that I start out thinking: "This one is going to be all live no overdubs" or "This one will only have analog or real instruments" or other similar dogmas, quickly become boring to myself AND the audience listening. Or, they become less restrictive, and then more creative and interesting.

We've all heard of those 1-take, 1-microphone, all-live, etc. records that are AMAZING. For every one of those that is amazing, there are 1000+ with the same exact dogma but zero inspiration or interesting sounds. I'd rather hear a good song with a computer involved, than a mediocre song without.
shredsickgnar
Great sounds! I really enjoyed the whole album. It's some of the best stuff I've heard on here! I think "Swoop" was my favorite. It is very inspiring to hear, as I want to do something similar once I get a more complete setup. I'm hoping to do maybe a 4 song EP.
peripatitis
geecen wrote:
peripatitis wrote:
I am not sure there is such a thing as a modular synth album,
even if you are getting your motif's , structures, etc directly from the modular one could easily claim that you made an album itb using renoise as a daw and getting your material from a modular synth...

Btw this is my biggest gripe with modular synthesis (having a small to medium system myself), i always hated sampling, always prefer synthesis, but i seem to be doing it daily since i started composing with the modular smile


Dude when they record a rock band they do one instrument at a time and then chop it up to find the best bits. Doing anything else would constitute a live album as far as I'm concerned! Rockin' Banana!


I never said otherwise, but modular music doesn't mean anything to me unless there is something that defines the music as such. You can use the modular to make techno, you can use it to make rock, you can use it to make thrash metal. Nothing of the above is 'modular music' because you used a modular synth, that is my point. If on the other hand by using the modular you ended up in music that is what it is because of the nature of the modular synth, then that is a different discussion...If for example one says i made a piece for clarinet, that does not mean that you composed a piece for piano and let the clarinet play it, but that you as a composer made a piece thinking about the special characteristics a clarinet has (range of sounds, extended techniques, etc).

Now taking into consideration the almost unlimited options one has with a modular, it would be very difficult to define a modular music..
atte
PolarIceCaves wrote:
Very cool sounding album. I love it!
I think I saw your name in the list of Ladik roms.

I would love to know more about your clock software for grains also.


Yeah, I have four custom roms, three public (bd, sd, hh) + one "private" (glitches) with my favorite sounds that I send VJ. I haven't had the hh rom installed yet, since I like the other ones so much. I should get another rom player for that rom soon...

The grains firmware is here:
https://github.com/attejensen/grains
PK808370
atte - Great album! Seriously fun to listen too.

Now, to the banter hihi I must first say that the idea of music being "modular" or "not modular" is nonsensical to me. With that out of the way, Atte's album here is most definitely modular music:

1. It sounds good, it has "meat" (technical term), and sounds like it was composed thoughtfully. This makes it "music" (somewhat rare in the modular world).

2. Precisely because of the recording/mixing method used, it is more modular than most other music: Atte first used his modular synth to make discreet sound samples; let's call them "modules". He then [expertly] mixed these modules of modular sounds to modularly make modular music.

Dead Banana

Atte, once again, I was happily surprised by the album!
Daisuk
Thanks a lot for sharing! Very interesting read, and the result is very good, in my opinion. smile I've been trying a similar process myself over the past few months, but I have a long way to go when it comes to arranging stuff in the DAW. Inspiring to read your story!
dumbledog
And not to steal atte's thunder, but I just hit 'publish' on my RPM album after some light mastering work:




Most of mine was done with my Eurorack, half of which actually arrived two weeks ago so it was some real on-the-job training. My Moog M-32 had a huge role as well.

Sequencing was mostly done software-side. I bought Numerology a few months ago and never really put it through its paces, but now... damn I love that thing. Other stuff used were a couple Roland Boutiques, a bunch of Moogerfooger pedals (the phaser in particular), a D-50 and a small bit of VST.

Probably my proudest moment on it was sequencing "Flyover," where I wanted the sequence to represent New Horizons going over Pluto. I fed my rack the sequence via Numerology through the M32's MIDI-->CV converter, which went into Maths' channel 2, then Disting in quantizer mode before going to a Dixie II+. During the track, I ever so slowly turned Maths CCW to make the sequence go from hi-low, to stopped, to low-hi. That's something that would have been real difficult for me to pull off in a non-modular environment.

Anyway feel free to give a listen and I hope you enjoy. (Please let me know if this should be a separate thread -- I know this place isn't too keen on new threads being made too often)
weskline
Enjoying your album! Cheers!
wiggler81929
@atte, great work on this record. "Stop counting" has a lovely cinematic vibe. Very pretty, indeed.
thx2112
Nice! Listening to it now.
Old-TimeyWimey
This is great stuff! Each song covers a lot of ground and goes lots of places. I admire your very successful work in structuring these.
atte
Thanks for all the listening and the kind words, really means a lot!

Thanks also for those (few) that decided to support it by buying the album, I'm really grateful!
Edenmononym
Quote:
I spend february making an album almost entirely with my eurorack.


Very cool sounds in here.

I also tend to multi-track. Mostly mixing live improvs from the Buchla Easel, as I prefer layered sounds without having to use a looping pedal. (sometimes I do)

I'm making the dive into Eurorack too, and see no wrong with the virtual world either, considering the amount of digital modules available now. (To me its like the analog/digital argue aeons ago).
grannie
Congrats on the album, it sounds really good and the diversity of styles is much appreciated for this kind of gear-oriented music!
yetee
Thanks for sharing, I've been looking to find a new workflow now that I've gotten into modular... also that last track is great
asteraster
Haven't listened yet, but will definitely check it out. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing your process.

It's not like, ground shakingly original (no offense!) but I've been wanting to try to do something similar as far as recording parts intentionally for separate parts of a 'song' structure.

My main process in the past has been recording a mass of material - different loops, beats, textures, melodies, etc. - just stuff that comes out of experimenting with my instruments - and then using that material as a source for collaging in the editing process. I think it's worked well (check out the bandcamp for examples), and it's definitely something I'll continue to do, but after doing it for a while I'd like to try something more like what you're describing.

Cheers!
jasev
Nice album
Upright
Awesome post, I'm listening to the album now and I have a comment-

I'm in the process of making a "modular album" as well and in many ways I'll be using some of the sample processes as you (i.e. Using DAW and structured loops, multitracked) but my comment is - I've noticed most modular compositions seem to have longer arrangements, songs that are often 10 mins +, it's refreshing to see that you've done shorter pieces that are well structured but full of modular experimentation.


Track 6 is epic! :-)
Upright
Double post.
moofi
Found out about it just now, haven´t made it through the complete album yet (currently track 6), still went for it after starting song two lol thumbs up

Very well done w00t
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