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The Psychological Effects Of Modular(?)
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion  
Author The Psychological Effects Of Modular(?)
userfriendly
Hi peoples.

I'm wondering what you guys think about the possible psychological repercussions of modular synthesis? Or any experimental synthesis for that matter.

I am new to the eurorack thing. I've just finished filling a 12u 104 rack...And I only just started about 8 months or so ago. I am certainly moving wayyyy too fast... But it seems like everyone kind of finds there own path with this sort of thing. Some of us start small and learn allllll the things about the modules that we have, and some of us build a monster and then poke it to see what it does. I would say I am more in the latter category. Which I am very happy with because I got into this to liven up my musical thoughts as so to speak.

ANYWAY, it seems to me like modular has very strong roots with both ambient and experimental music. It seems to me that when you get started the easiest and most interesting thing to do is to make wack ass, out of this world noises. Especially noises with darker undertones. Screechy, droney, thumpy, dark and uncomfortable sounds...that have loose rhythms or completely chaotic sonic births. I know for a fact that I am not the only one that has sat there staring at a patch and feeling like I am hearing something that I shouldn't be hearing. But its amazing.

Yet, I cant help but wonder what the effects of listening to these sorts of sounds could be. I know that there is no REAL answer to this question. I'm sure it's different for everyone. But still...some of these sounds are the sort of thing that sound (to me) like what a schizophrenic person might hear or even feel...Maybe the sort of thing that might enhance the onset of some sort of nervous breakdown? I have no idea what I'm talking about...I feel like that is pretty clear at this point. I suppose I just have a hard time believing that I am the only one that has walked away from my system with a bit of an uneasy feeling about me....Not always. Surely, these sounds are often mesmerizingly gorgeous. But other times they're just...Cthulhu?

Heck I don't know.
captjrab
Hypnotic with the potential for good or evil. When patching I am usually in some kind of escapsist alpha state trance where time speeds up.
Makeing outrageous noise has its place for sure. It helps break up the more left brain aproach of making melodious music. Bringing the two together is the challenge. More of an odious melodiuos kinda thing.
JakoGreyshire
Psychoacoustics have been a topic of research and study for quite a long time.
There are many scientific studies that have shown a change in brain states due to sound frequencies..

Like most things, it can be used for one side of the coin or the other.

A balance of both hemispheres of the brain is always recommended. Like captjrab stated, "Bringing the two together is the challenge."




Taken from TK's ABR website:
---------------------------------------------------
delta (0.5 – 4 HZ). Associated with deep levels of relaxation such as sleep

theta (4 – 8HZ). Associated with tranquil states of awareness in which vivid internal imagery can often occur

alpha (8- 12 HZ). Relaxed nervous system, ideal for stress management, accelerated learning and mental imagery

beta (12-30 HZ). Associated with waking/alert states of awareness k-complex (30 – 35HZ). Clarity and sudden states of integration, the “ah-ha experience”

super high beta (35 – 150 HZ). Psychodynamic states of awareness

-------------------------------------------------------




pbear :(
lisa
userfriendly wrote:
it seems to me like modular has very strong roots with both ambient and experimental music.

Yeah, especially ambient. Every other "help me put together my first eurorack"-thread states that the OT is aiming to make ambient music.

I'd say that this is down to the nature of composing using a modular system. Most folks want to use their modular on its own and many doesn't have (much) in terms of percussion related modules so most tracks will be drumless or very scarce in this respect.

Add to that the hard task of creating different sections to switch between when you're going full modular as the same time as modulating stuff is easy. This makes for tracks where the patches, with tons of modulation, just keeps going. There are no sections but there's timbral movement.

Add tons of reverb, record 10 minutes and you have a decent ambient track. This can be done by people with no formal musical training, not much practice, not much interest in or understanding of the gear (or music, really) and it will still sound decent. Reverb/Clouds is the key.

What I'm not at all sure of is whither people who like ambient are drawn to modulars of if modulars make people like ambient. I'm leaning towards the latter, though.
gonkulator
All I know is, now I find the sounds of an MRI quite interesting.
Yes Powder
Obviously modular synthesis and experimental sounds will inevitably driver a person to madness.
Why else would we spend thousands of dollars putting together machines to make sounds so easily produced with a hand and an armpit?
Peter GrenaderMetasonix!
cretaceousear
If you started by finding ambient the easiest thing to do I think you were all missing some tricks.
Lfo on a slow cycle into a sample and hold - use s/h output to drive vco or filter - use s/h clock to drive envelope shaper. Env shaper can either shape level as per normal or feed it back onto VCO. With some fine tuning you can get stuttering rhythms with a fairly simple setup. Ambient needs at least three VCOs, maybe more.
Cthulhu meets kittens - if you were drawn to modular it's already too late Cthulhu
dubonaire
Electronic instruments can certainly replicate the sense of paranoia, they provide the sonic equivalent of th dolly zoom.

https://boingboing.net/2015/01/26/watch-23-of-the-best-dolly-zoo.html
cptnal
Effects like you're talking about - none at all. It might seem like it has a mind of its own but remember - you're in control. If you think you aren't, try turning it off and see how much noise it makes on its own.

That said, what you produce will reflect your mood. If it makes an evil noise and you choose to keep it, that suggests you're in an evil mood. Otherwise you keep wiggling until it makes a noise you do like. This is fun!
Cybananna
The type of sound you’re talking about is exactly why I got a modular. Can’t readily be done without one. Dark, bizarre sounds are what does it for me. I know my music has creeped people out but I’m not aware of giving anyone any lasting brain damage. Although it’s still something to strive for.
dooj88
I've had a thought along these lines... These sounds are not made with physical objects and so we're hearing things as a product of a realm we don't normally have access to. Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness? Maybe. There are tones and scales that are certainly extremely difficult if not impossible to make outside of electronics. But at the same time if we can perceive it, then it can't be all bad. A loose gutter resonating with strong wind can sound like pulse width modulation. Not common, but not unnatural either.

Perhaps that's the distinction. Is it natural? Yes, we're doing it. Is it possible to replicate with physical objects like wood, metal, foam, glass, bones, water, fire, etc? Maybe if you work hard enough.

I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.

My approach, as others said, is a kind of 'in the moment flow' mix of intention and instinctual improvisation. Ego and superego? (not sure, freud always seemed like a nutter to me..) Anyway so in that sense, it's an extension of our own mind enhanced with and made easier to access by electricity. It's an evolution of music through human ingenuity. Now can evolution make mistakes? That's a different discussion.

Cool thread!!
cptnal
dooj88 wrote:
Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?


No. Now go and make some tunes.
dephonator
dooj88 wrote:
I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.


If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds twisted

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

thumbs up
starthief
I made some crazy experimental stuff before I got into modular. I got a little more experimental with my music in my first few months with modular... but since I have a habit of recording a lot and critiquing it later, I realized: that wasn't my best work. And neither was the percussion-heavy stuff I was making with VST plugins, for the most part.

So I went for about a 50-50 darkish ambient/"abstract electronica" split, more or less. The album I'm about to release (gotta doublecheck my master) is darker and dronier, but also has some almost-industrial-techno elements to it.

As far as my mental health, well. I'm fighting with anxiety and irritability, but I don't think music gets the blame for any of that; often it calms and soothes me (whether it's Cocteau Twins, Vivaldi, or Skinny Puppy).
Yes Powder
cptnal wrote:
No. Now go and make some tunes.

This.

We're at the point of electronic instruments where the original experimenters like Stockhausen, Sala, Varèse, and Schaeffer have grown old and died— and generally with their sanity well intact.

Also, not to invoke Godwin's Law here but talking about experimental electronic music like this has echoes of the Reichsmusikkammer, which attempted to spread fear of the experimental electronic music of the time (among other forms) by linking it to mental illness and calling it "degenerate music."
I'm assuming this wasn't your intention. Just throwing it out there, though.
cptnal
Yes Powder wrote:
cptnal wrote:
No. Now go and make some tunes.

This.

We're at the point of electronic instruments where the original experimenters like Stockhausen, Sala, Varèse, and Schaeffer have grown old and died— and generally with their sanity well intact.

Also, not to invoke Godwin's Law here but talking about experimental electronic music like this has echoes of the Reichsmusikkammer, which attempted to spread fear of the experimental electronic music of the time (among other forms) by linking it to mental illness and calling it "degenerate music."
I'm assuming this wasn't your intention. Just throwing it out there, though.


Indeed. It's also unappealing to take a serious and debilitating condition like mental illness and use it impart some kind of tortured-soul-ness to your work. Music can move us, but it can't make us ill.

I also assume this wasn't the intention. Hug
Cybananna
starthief wrote:
often it calms and soothes me (whether it's Cocteau Twins, Vivaldi, or Skinny Puppy).


Same here. Dark, hard, noise, etc. is therapeutic
BTByrd
If you buy a 5U instead of Eurorack, it tends to make prog rock and Berlin school techno in all the major and minor keys. Whatever the other psychological effects, it can cause buyers to chose to grow a ponytail.
Shledge
Inb4 432hz nonsense
zengomi
Gateway to hyper-sanity
dooj88
dephonator wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.


If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds twisted

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

thumbs up


i was referring to sounds that are so loud they are physically damaging your ears, like uncontrolled feedback. it's easier to do on a modular that a prophet 8 or whatever canned synth.

cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?


No. Now go and make some tunes.


i was just having a bit of fun with this. you took the hardline position 'no' in what is a talking out of your ass thread.. perhaps you picked up on something i missed, which is that OP is genuinely concerned.

i should state for the record i do agree music/sounds cannot break your mind. i think most cases of schizophrenia (since this is what op specifically mentioned) are biological and therefore it's a roll of the dice if you're genetically predisposed regardless of what goes into your earholes.
Dragonaut
Sometimes you have to open a portal to hell to throw back what belongs there. Just make sure you have some sweet wavetables morphing to keep the demons at bay. It mesmerizes them into a stupor. Patch carefully my friends. It's no easy trick riding the devil.
cptnal
dooj88 wrote:
dephonator wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.


If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds twisted

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

thumbs up


i was referring to sounds that are so loud they are physically damaging your ears, like uncontrolled feedback. it's easier to do on a modular that a prophet 8 or whatever canned synth.

cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?


No. Now go and make some tunes.


i was just having a bit of fun with this. you took the hardline position 'no' in what is a talking out of your ass thread.. perhaps you picked up on something i missed, which is that OP is genuinely concerned.

i should state for the record i do agree music/sounds cannot break your mind. i think most cases of schizophrenia (since this is what op specifically mentioned) are biological and therefore it's a roll of the dice if you're genetically predisposed regardless of what goes into your earholes.


Sorry if I upset you. It all seemed a bit too frivolous to me.
dooj88
not at all! deciphering the tone of text ain't always easy
userfriendly
cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
dephonator wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
I think unless it is physically painful to listen to, there isn't any harm.


If I were you, I would rather worry about electrosmog than getting ill from "unhealthy" sounds twisted

One of my neighbors is an electrician. When he saw my studio, he said: "You must be crazy to switch that on! You really risk your health..."

So just don't worry, be happy... and... create!!!

thumbs up


i was referring to sounds that are so loud they are physically damaging your ears, like uncontrolled feedback. it's easier to do on a modular that a prophet 8 or whatever canned synth.

cptnal wrote:
dooj88 wrote:
Could it stimulate some latent mental illness? Could we synthesize madness?


No. Now go and make some tunes.


i was just having a bit of fun with this. you took the hardline position 'no' in what is a talking out of your ass thread.. perhaps you picked up on something i missed, which is that OP is genuinely concerned.

i should state for the record i do agree music/sounds cannot break your mind. i think most cases of schizophrenia (since this is what op specifically mentioned) are biological and therefore it's a roll of the dice if you're genetically predisposed regardless of what goes into your earholes.


Sorry if I upset you. It all seemed a bit too frivolous to me.



No, I'm not genuinely concerned. But I think it is an interesting thought to consider. I know if I listen to too much Max Richter I can end up terribly depressed. Which is certainly no surprise seeing as music has been known to make a person feel a thing or two. I guess it just seems like listening to SUCH abstract sounds for sometimes hours on end could make the brain stressed or something as it is constantly trying to make sense of it. I think I am thinking about effects more subtle than straight up bring driven insane.


P.S.
Thanks for all the interesting replies. It really is true that this is great community to be apart of. =)
cptnal
I think there's a case for saying the two are related, but it's unlikely to be causal. There's a difference between feeling down and depression, and with the latter you wouldn't want to get out of bed let alone put a record on.

So, yeah. Obviously a case that mood and music are inextricably linked - that's why we do it. Depression is a physical illness with its own causes, many of which we don't understand. So perhaps music can form a part of that mix - who knows...
oberdada
As a tool for composition and synthesis it makes things a lot easier than programming everything from scratch (as I have done occasionally). In that sense the modular could induce a certain laziness, in particular when paired with the attitude that you can buy yourself out of artistic impasses or general lack of inspiration. Making music that sounds really nice is not at all difficult, but then to make something original and exceptional takes a concious effort.

As for the psychological health effects it's mostly therapeutic to make sounds that you get to influence. There is always the option to turn it off if you don't like what you hear. However, the intense engagement you have when playing an instrument such as piano, guitar or violin is quite different from what you typically experience when playing a modular set up to be controlled by a sequencer or some auto-generating patch. Patching the modular so that you actually have to manually trigger every sound and use controllers for continuously controlling the sound makes it a different, more absorbing experience.
dooj88
i remember when vaporwave was new and vektroid was putting out stuff and spin offs were coming out.. a spent a week immersed in that music and at the end of a binge one day i noticed i was irritable and my normal undercurrent steam of consciousness thoughts were looping and skipping rhythmically like the music does..

of course it didn't last long, the effect was like staring at one of those spinning spirals and quickly looking at something else to watch it morph. but it was a bit of an unnerving realization. i think that was the most striking psychological effect sound has had on me though.
BenignToxicity
Personally, I got into modular to assist me in my search for the elusive "brown note". With that mastered, you shall all kneel before me! we're not worthy

Seriously... a modular is just a tool, and in some ways (as with any tool) it can do whatever you want... with acknowledgement to the fact that a saw is better for cutting wood, and a hammer far more adept at banging nails in.

I don't need a modular to make someone depressed... I just put on some Leonard Cohen. Music by its very nature promotes/provokes an emotional response. For the past few hours I've been listening to a drone I put together... multiple oscillators, slight detuning, multiple LFOs doing multiple things, all weaving around shortwave radio samples processed through the obligatory Clouds. The psychological effect is a simple one... I find order in the chaos as untold intricacies weave throughout the piece. It's mesmerizing... and everything I wanted... today. Tomorrow, I shall string some bouncy baselines together with a bass-drum, snare, and hi-hat churning around driven along by my new best friend... cycling euclidian patterns from four channels of Pamela.

Who's in control... me or the system? I like to think it's me... within the parameters of what's in the box of course. Of course, if I'd just wanted to make happy-slappy funsies... I'd have bought a Ukulele Guitar
sasbom
May I offer a completely different approach to this topic?

When I read "Psychological effects" I didn't quite think of the influence of the sound on the listener, however I think that playing a modular can have
very real benefits!

I think that the modular approach to music and sound design is a huge creativity boost. I work in the 3D field, where a lot of software has gone modular as well. Substance Designer for example, is a software that uses different generators and filters to make images suited for texturing.

Having done semi-modular and modular synthesis, I notice that I'm able to learn to use modular software a lot quicker. I feel like I'm able to "read" the networks of a patch.

TLDR:
Modular makes you smart and efficient.

sorry for my broken english, feeling a bit groggy at the moment.
notmiserlouagain
It´s rather the top40 stuff that´s pushing me toward catatonia. zombie
Panason
Recommended reading: Hazrat Inayan Khan's The Mysticism of Sound

In my experience dissonant electronic sounds especially when played in a loop, can be detrimental to those exposed, especially late at night, but it's a temporary effect. I suppose if it continues regularly over a long period it may eventually result in health issues. But maybe not, I have no idea how people who make industrial/noise can withstand it!

I like to play my drone flutes occasionally, to soothe my soul after all the electronic madness.
Blairio
Acoustically, modular can be genuinely a full-bandwidth experience - from subsonic bass through to frequencies and and harmonics beyond the human hearing range. The effects of subsonic sound on emotional state are well documented (they can induce a sense of unease and anxiety in the listener), as are those of psychoacoustic impacts of ultrasound - remember that sounds beyond the rang of human hearing modulate sounds that we can hear. Both can have a theoretical impact on our emotional state or level of arousal, however we would need a sound playback system capable of genuine full bandwidth sound reproduction to create the necessary conditions, and that rules out all but the most expensive hi-fi's and quality PA systems.

I was finishing a psychology degree as a mature student in the early 90's. Around that time there was a lot of interest in a study that appeared to show that exposure to music (in the original study a Mozart piano concerto for 4 hands) enhanced scoring in subsequent cognitive performance tests. The original findings were rarely replicated, but the point was that someone had come up with an experimental design where the potential impact of exposure to music could be assessed. Substitute emotional state metrics for cognitive performance ones.....

Perhaps the visual aspect of the means of production is a confounding variable when it comes to assessing the impact of modular' music on its listener. Visually, a patched up modular system looks a bit nuts - a bit 'mad scientist' with all those wires going everywhere, and a country mile from the refined image of e.g. a cellist and their cello, or a pianist and their piano. Maybe we are more prepared to believe that the sounds emanating from that chaotic looking instrument have the potential to impact the way we think and feel?
JakoGreyshire
Anyone here ever seen Dr. Masaru Emoto's book?

Here is a simple youtube video highlighting a small part of what the good Doctor did.. Read the youtube liner notes for more info and do some of your own research about his work if you are interested...


This could be related to a part of our conversation... What do you think?




Blairio
Mmm, but was he such a good doctor? His 'doctorate' was the result of a one year distance learning course from an overseas university.

Emoto proposed that emotional intent could remotely influence the state of organic matter through the expression of +ve or -ve emotion such as praise or rebuke. His main paradigm involved influencing the formation of 'beautiful' crystals in water.

This has not been reliably replicated, and in Science (as in many walks of life) if something hasn't happened twice, it hasn't happened. Emoto's grasp of experimental design & methodology appears slight at best, and the myriad of factors that inform the shape of ice crystals was not adequately controlled for in his original study. When they were in subsequent studies, the strength of the 'effect' evaporated.

His idea falls into the general area of Telekinesis (a PSI phenomena) - the notion that humans have the ability to influence their environment, its contents and its state, through thought or intention alone. Telekinesis wilts under laboratory conditions, although there is an interesting phenomena that has been replicated: Under lab conditions, PSI experiments generally yield results around chance levels for the proposed experimental effect. This however changes when the experiments are conducted by declared cynics. Here the results are less than chance. This damping effect is a bit of a conundrum....
sasbom
The water "crystal memory" idea has also gotten way out of hand, and people are now drinking "raw water",
untreated water out of murky swamps and the like.

The psychological effects of drinking water with "bad memories" is just placebo.

and like blairio said, the doctor is indeed a controversial one.

From what I know, if water requires a crystal form to contain memories, it wouldn't have the same properties as regular water.
The experiments reek of confirmation bias as well.
JakoGreyshire
Wow, you seem to know your stuff... You must have studied this extensively..

So, somewhere, someone tried to replicate his findings and could not do it? That's amazing... I wonder who those people were?

Blairio wrote:
the notion that humans have the ability to influence their environment, its contents and its state, through thought or intention alone.


So, it's just a notion then? It's not possible? I have no evidence to support either true or false here. I was just wondering....

So, maybe all the things scientists did that seem amazing are all just lies...
Maybe most of the things they have discovered or reported are lies..

Whoa I'm going off on a tangent here... My mind is blown!! Please tell me Blario, tell me, what's real and what's not real? Are scientists capable of lying? That sucks, now I don't trust anyone! Everybody is a faker! Can we even trust the people who tried to replicate the findings? Maybe they are lying to throw us off the track? Maybe the results were replicated. Were you there to see their findings? Or are you going to trust them instead of the original tests? How do you choose which ones to believe? Written paperwork can be altered... I guess we're all screwed. To bad intuition is probably discredited by scientists too...

Tinfoil Hat Tinfoil Hat

So, if he is not a good Doctor, then is he a bad Doctor? ( I originally used it as an expression. I admit now that I really don't know anything about him. I just like the pretty pictures.... Reminds me of snow on the mountains, and therefore skiing, and hot coco.)

Maybe documentaries are lies too? How do we find the truth?

Blario, you seem to know the truth here.. Can you tell us how to find truth? Where do we go to not be tricked by these charlatans? I was so naive!! I'll never be the same now....

waah waah

help help
JakoGreyshire
Everyone... I'm sorry for posting quack science before researching it for controversies.. Can you forgive me? I didn't know... Sorry!

Here is some more Quack Science to be aware of... If it's controversial then it must be wrong. They must have spent so much money on this! Crazy eh?





Sorry to go off topic here but maybe this thread's topic is a load of quack as well... Do we really have any replicate proof that sound does anything psychological?

Maybe someone can share what does affect the psychology of people? I wonder how many psychologists are into playing with modular synths?
I'm pretty sure that electricity affects psychological behavior... Right? That's why electro shock therapy is still practiced... Er.., wait! Do they still do that? I don't know...

Chemicals!! Yeah! Chemicals affect psychology! There we go... that's the answer...

Okay, we've got electricity, chemicals, emotions (maybe), stress (Probably) that affect us psychologically, but no water or sound..

That's good.. What else? I think I'm learning something here...

Thanks everybody!! Keep it coming...

Edit: Don't drink pond scum! Thanks Sasbom, I'll remember that one...
Blairio
My personal view is that to invoke science to determine the truth of something .. is missing the point of science. It is a methodology (some would argue a belief system) developed to determine the most likely explanation for an event or phenomena, given the state of our knowledge or understanding of the world at any given time. When it comes to Psychology a lot is reliant on robust design and statistical analysis. That stuff is tricky to get right, and prone to manipulation. With Geology a rock does not behave differently when observed, whereas people can and frequently do change their behaviour when they know they are being observed.

There are Paranormal Psychology departments in universities across the globe engaged in thorough & rigorous research of a range of PSI phenomena such as Telekinesis, Precognition, Telepathy. There are also nut-jobs & charlatans trying to invoke science to prop up this or that bogus theory.

And, YouTube is not a peer review forum.....
Blairio
If you are interested in the 'Psychology of Music', the 'Psychophysiological effects of exposure to music', and 'Psychoacoustics and music', there is a wealth of reading out there. The best of it has been peer reviewed. Just google on those strings.
cptnal
Blairio wrote:
With Geology a rock does not behave differently when observed, whereas people can and frequently do change their behaviour when they know they are being observed.


I wonder if the water knows it's being observed. hmmm.....
dubonaire
BenignToxicity wrote:
I don't need a modular to make someone depressed... I just put on some Leonard Cohen.


applause
dubonaire
Blairio wrote:
My personal view is that to invoke science to determine the truth of something .. is missing the point of science. It is a methodology (some would argue a belief system) developed to determine the most likely explanation for an event or phenomena, given the state of our knowledge or understanding of the world at any given time. When it comes to Psychology a lot is reliant on robust design and statistical analysis. That stuff is tricky to get right, and prone to manipulation. With Geology a rock does not behave differently when observed, whereas people can and frequently do change their behaviour when they know they are being observed.

There are Paranormal Psychology departments in universities across the globe engaged in thorough & rigorous research of a range of PSI phenomena such as Telekinesis, Precognition, Telepathy. There are also nut-jobs & charlatans trying to invoke science to prop up this or that bogus theory.

And, YouTube is not a peer review forum.....


I agree with you Blario, one of my favourite thinkers in this area is Rupert Sheldrake, someone I don't consider to be a quack.

That's aside from all the science and technology thinkers who more theoretically underpin you comments about scientism.
Shledge
Anyone can consider themselves as a Doctor - doesn't mean they are qualified to talk with expertise! Like with anyone in the scientific community - let your peer-review evidence and independently repeatable experiments do the talking.

If there is no scientific method to it, it is likely bollocks, like any "New Age" stuff.
pugix
Cybananna wrote:
starthief wrote:
often it calms and soothes me (whether it's Cocteau Twins, Vivaldi, or Skinny Puppy).


Same here. Dark, hard, noise, etc. is therapeutic


It's like riding a motorcycle. People who don't ride think it must be stressful. Actually it is calming to ride.
Cybananna
pugix wrote:
Cybananna wrote:
starthief wrote:
often it calms and soothes me (whether it's Cocteau Twins, Vivaldi, or Skinny Puppy).


Same here. Dark, hard, noise, etc. is therapeutic


It's like riding a motorcycle. People who don't ride think it must be stressful. Actually it is calming to ride.


Absolutely. It’s an interesting thing. Such variety in people drive variety in music (and vehicles!). “Typical” calming music makes me want to throw the music player through a wall. I understand that it works for most people but clearly not all.
pugix
dooj88 wrote:
I've had a thought along these lines... These sounds are not made with physical objects and so we're hearing things as a product of a realm we don't normally have access to.


The sound is produced by speakers, of course, but I get your meaning. I work almost exclusively with oscillators being the signal sources. That is, I don't process live or recorded sound. I like your point, that sounds originating from an electronic realm that we don't have direct access to (like we can with a guitar, piano, etc.) can have an eerie effect. I think that is why people with no understanding of modular synthesizers can't understand what's going on unless they seem someone with a keyboard, etc.. Even if the keyboard triggers an electronic gate, it can seem as if the music is coming from the musician and not from the machine. I'm actually working on patches that play themselves and still sound interesting. I call it automatic music. And that is even more mystifying to people who don't understand the machines. When I 'perform' this sort of thing, it consists of me raising the volume level at the beginning and lower it at the end. (And sometimes even this is automated.) There is no intrinsic length to this sort of music, which is also hard to fathom. I couldn't do this with any other type of instrument.

To the topic: Anything unfamiliar can produce feelings of discomfort. I had to work pretty hard, some years ago, to listen to and try to understand the noise music genre. It paid off. Your expectations can lessen and you can open up to a wider appreciation of possible sounds.
pugix
Cybananna wrote:
[“Typical” calming music makes me want to throw the music player through a wall. I understand that it works for most people but clearly not all.


Yes. I was having some body work done and the therapist was playing some new age ambient stuff with a repetitive melody that drove me nuts. Music is never a background thing for me, I have to pay attention. He thought it would be calming, but it actually stressed me. So I had him turn it off!
mantid
Lots of cool tangents in this thread! Some thoughts:

- My interest in underground/punk/garage is what ultimately brought me to modular. I've always been fascinating by people purging their minds of "darkness" by fearlessly exposing it to sunlight. I noticed early on that the folks into metal/punk/etc tended to be the most sensitive, friendly, and thoughtful. Seems like the ability to articulate, encapsulate, and share pain or confusion at life's challenges is healthy. See also, most good fiction/poetry/visual art.

- Synths for sure make it easy to discover dissonance and other unpleasant harsh tones. To me, these are Not Good and not related to the above. Dark music can be creepy and melancholy, but should also be sublime. This is just as challenging as conventionally "good" upbeat music.

- A hint of dissonance/distortion is a great spice, just like hot peppers in food. It can separate something amazing from something boring, but indeed it would be a noob-mistake to serve a bowl of just hot peppers and call it great art. One of my benchmarks of judicious dissonance is the vocal harmonies between Excene Cervanka and John Doe in X - an algorithmic musical analysis would probably call it garbage, but their slight out-of-keyness transcends conventional vocal harmonies popular at the time and they take it somewhere utterly remarkable as a result.

- Science is a fantastic tool, and probably the best general approach we've discovered as a species for solving and predicting all kinds of problems. We shouldn't discard it so quickly. That said, thinking outside of the constraints of science is also valuable, as long as we remember that is what we are doing. This can stimulate creativity, get past cultural blockers, and ultimately, at least occasionally, encourage scientific institutions to nudge a bit closer to what could be an updated actual understanding. In the meantime, though, it does seem wise to draw a line between speculation, daydreaming, shower thoughts, and repeatable results.

- I've noticed myself that after certain sessions with the modular, regardless of how good or bad the patch sounded to my ear, that I can feel physically charged, depleted, or sometimes slightly nauseous. This seems mostly dependent on the bass notes. As above - this is pure "fun" speculation - but I do feel intuitively that it is possible to discover that certain bass frequencies in unusual volumes and durations of exposure (as in a modular performance) can cause some fairly distinct physical reactions. I do not feel that "insanity" is among the likely outcomes here, but I wouldnt be surprised at all if I could set up an experiment and show that a certain frequency range at a certain volume for a certain period of time makes me feel a bit woozy. And that others might leave me feeling stimulated and energized. Again, this is highly speculative, baseless, and just interesting food for thought.

- To touch back on the above, where I pose that getting negative vibes out of your mind via art is valuable, I might also feel that ingesting this type of art as a consumer is valuable, too. It allows exploration and acknowledgement of a huge part of the human condition in a safely packaged morsel. You can always skip track if you get in trouble. I don't like horror films at all, but I think they serve the same purpose. Play with your fears, confront them, conquer them, all in a safe little playground.

Just a smattering of thoughts - hope some of it is useful to someone out there.
Blairio
With the advent of cd there was considerable debate over whether there was additional cognitive load on the human brain stitching back together digitised slices of sound into a continuous waveform, compared to the output from vinyl or tape. This question wasn't helped by the fact that early consumer DACs were pretty harsh, and mastering for CD took a while to get the best of the new format.

The years went in and the cd / vinyl supporters became entrenched in their positions, with little in the way of scientific research to support the contention that listening to digitised music is, frankly, harder work for our brains, and as a consequence less soothing (if you want soothed by your music).

Then in the mid 90's a psychoanalyst wrote an article which shook things up for a while. This person had a small cassette based library of music pieces chosen for their efficacy. Sessions conducted with that background music yielded better results, compared with 'no music' sessions. Intent on moving with the times (and also some of their tapes were wearing out) the therapist went out and bought CDs of the same pieces (the very same performances) and a portable player of similar quality to their cassette machine to play their new discs on.

I am no therapist and I have no idea what outcome measures they employ, but the practitioner soon found that their sessions were not as effective. Not having a dog in the CD vs vinyl/tape debate, they didn't immediately associate this with the change in music format. After persisting for a few months with the CDs they then reverted back to tape, and normal service was resumed.

What is the relevance of that to this thread? Just this - do our brains react to a sine wave produced by an analog VCO and a Digital VCO in the same way? Does a waveform (simple or complex) have the same emotive effect whether generated by an analog source or a digital one? I frankly have no idea, but it would make an interesting study, maybe for a 'wiggler' in his or her final year of a Psychology degree....
electrohead
woah Merzbow woah
pugix
Blairio wrote:
With the advent of cd there was considerable debate over whether there was additional cognitive load on the human brain stitching back together digitised slices of sound into a continuous waveform, compared to the output from vinyl or tape. This question wasn't helped by the fact that early consumer DACs were pretty harsh, and mastering for CD took a while to get the best of the new format.


What does 'harsh' mean, except that it introduces some high frequency spectra that adds audible distortion. A DAC isn't harsh, a sound is. How sound is heard will be heavily dependent on the playback system past the DAC, especially the transducers, and not to mention the hearing ability of the listener. Maybe some of it would be aliased down to lower frequencies. I don't know for sure. I'm just pointing out that the transduction equipment, the listening environment, and the ears and brain of the individual listener are all factors that shouldn't be overlooked. If your synthesizer sounds too harsh, maybe it's your monitoring system. As everyone knows quite well, not all speakers are the same. Purely analog systems can sound harsh, too, as well as ones with digital components. Every component along the way can add distortion. And there is always an analog transducer at the end, moving air.

I'll add that I discovered that my own ears distort at high listening volumes, such as in clubs. I used to wonder why so many PA systems sounded so harsh. They weren't. It was me. So I wear musician's ear plugs.
Blairio
'harsh' means just that - don't over-think this. There is yawning chasm between the performance of the DAC in a $20 mp3 player and the converter a midrange cd player. It is clearly audible and far from subtle.

I agree with all your other points.

It has been argued that what hits our ear drums is simply kinetic energy in the form of sound waves - transduced through air. In my opinion that viewpoint is to dismiss the cognitive effort required to reconstruct music from a digital source.

Think of a visual analogy: On the one hand we can watch a play or a ball game or the events unfolding in a real life drama. Or we can watch the same thing through the medium of film at 24 frames per second (FPS) or maybe higher. Games regularly employ 60+ FPS. We have to process and interpolate those 24 slices per second into a constant visual thread. We don't see 24 distinct images each second - even though perceptually we are capable of that resolution.

The proposition is that when listening to a digitised sound source, there is a cognitive information processing effort (an overhead ) required to rebuild 16bit 44khz audio into a coherent stream of information, which is missing when listening to the same sound sourced from vinyl or tape. That effort is felt and (say the analog evangelists) makes for an impoverished listening experience compared to listening to an analog sound source - like a cassette or vinyl record.
cptnal
Blairio wrote:
The proposition is that when listening to a digitised sound source, there is a cognitive information processing effort (an overhead ) required to rebuild 16bit 44khz audio into a coherent stream of information, which is missing when listening to the same sound sourced from vinyl or tape. That effort is felt and (say the analog evangelists) makes for an impoverished listening experience compared to listening to an analog sound source - like a cassette or vinyl record.


That's definitely a possibility, but I suspect the difference would be similar to the difference between off-the-peg speaker cable and the £1,000-a-yard gold plated stuff.
Dave Peck
Blairio wrote:
With the advent of cd there was considerable debate over whether there was additional cognitive load on the human brain stitching back together digitised slices of sound into a continuous waveform, compared to the output from vinyl or tape. ..


Anyone who was debating that particular question was someone who didn't understand the fact that the human brain was not "stitching back together digitised slices of sound into a continuous waveform". The DAC had already done that, and the listener was hearing the resultant acoustic/analog waveform that then came out of a speaker, same as any other signal that enters the ear and is percieved as sound.

Now, the question of whether the dac was doing a good job of converting the digital signal back to analog, and how the resultant waveform compared to one that had not been digitized and re-converted to analog, THAT is a valid question. But there's been tons of testing and comparisons between various DACs, and between a DAC and an analog source, and those tests are there to answer that question.
Blairio
cptnal wrote:
Blairio wrote:
The proposition is that when listening to a digitised sound source, there is a cognitive information processing effort (an overhead ) required to rebuild 16bit 44khz audio into a coherent stream of information, which is missing when listening to the same sound sourced from vinyl or tape. That effort is felt and (say the analog evangelists) makes for an impoverished listening experience compared to listening to an analog sound source - like a cassette or vinyl record.


That's definitely a possibility, but I suspect the difference would be similar to the difference between off-the-peg speaker cable and the £1,000-a-yard gold plated stuff.


This isn't about the medium (the speaker cable, for instance), it is about the message - the information, and any artefacts from its encoding & decoding.
Blairio
Dave Peck wrote:
Blairio wrote:
With the advent of cd there was considerable debate over whether there was additional cognitive load on the human brain stitching back together digitised slices of sound into a continuous waveform, compared to the output from vinyl or tape. ..


Now, the question of whether the dac was doing a good job of converting the digital signal back to analog, and how the resultant waveform compared to one that had not been digitized and re-converted to analog, THAT is a valid question. But there's been tons of testing and comparisons between various DACs, and between a DAC and an analog source, and those tests are there to answer that question.


And what proposition did those test results support?
Dave Peck
Blairio wrote:


And what proposition did those test results support?


In general, that some DACs do an accurate job of recreating the waveform, to the point that there is no measurable or perceivable difference between the AD/DA converted signal and the original all-analog signal, and other DACs don't do such a great job and there ARE measurable and/or perceivable differences.

It's also noteworthy that the types of distortion that may tend to get introduced by those less-than-excellent DACs can be different from other types of distortion caused by shortcomings in other types of electronic circuits, and that some of these distortions are of an additive nature (for example adding harmonic distortion at higher-ordered harmonics or creating sideband signals due to aliasing) and some are of a subtractive nature (for example failing to reproduce fast transients or other details in the original analog signal which can result in effects such as degraded stereo imaging).
Cybananna
electrohead wrote:
woah Merzbow woah


headbang Flamey
oootini
lisa wrote:
Add tons of reverb, record 10 minutes and you have a decent ambient track. This can be done by people with no formal musical training, not much practice, not much interest in or understanding of the gear (or music, really) and it will still sound decent.


hahaha, quoted for truth.
userfriendly
I did a thread! yay!
Blairio
Dave Peck wrote:
Blairio wrote:


And what proposition did those test results support?


In general, that some DACs do an accurate job of recreating the waveform, to the point that there is no measurable or perceivable difference between the AD/DA converted signal and the original all-analog signal, and other DACs don't do such a great job and there ARE measurable and/or perceivable differences.

It's also noteworthy that the types of distortion that may tend to get introduced by those less-than-excellent DACs can be different from other types of distortion caused by shortcomings in other types of electronic circuits, and that some of these distortions are of an additive nature (for example adding harmonic distortion at higher-ordered harmonics or creating sideband signals due to aliasing) and some are of a subtractive nature (for example failing to reproduce fast transients or other details in the original analog signal which can result in effects such as degraded stereo imaging).


Understood, thank you. I wonder whether anyone has 'tuned' DACs to generate harmonic distortion along the lines of that introduced by tubes / valves. Or maybe that's a job for a decent valve preamp.
Yes Powder
Blairio wrote:
I wonder whether anyone has 'tuned' DACs to generate harmonic distortion along the lines of that introduced by tubes / valves. Or maybe that's a job for a decent valve preamp.


That'd be a job for a decent valve preamp.
A sub-par DAC would most likely exhibit distortions in the form of aliasing (intermodulation of frequencies above the Nyquist frequency— or half the stated sample rate) and jitter (result of an unstable sampling clock frequency); both are physically and mathematically distinct from any sorts of behaviors you'd get from the saturation an overdriven valve preamp, and therefore no amount of tuning would be able to get you there.
dkcg
I think pop music does far more psychological damage on me than any modular demos I've seen/heard.

Actually, any musical instrument demo that has more talking than it does sounds makes my head implode.
Dave Peck
Blairio wrote:

Understood, thank you. I wonder whether anyone has 'tuned' DACs to generate harmonic distortion along the lines of that introduced by tubes / valves. Or maybe that's a job for a decent valve preamp.


Most DACs are aiming for as much accuracy as possible within their price range and feature set, but there are some A/D converters that offer some intentional coloration during the analog-to-digital portion of the process. Examples:

https://burlaudio.com/products

and

http://www.cranesong.com/Hedd_Quantum.html
Tubefund
JakoGreyshire wrote:




Taken from TK's ABR website:
---------------------------------------------------
delta (0.5 – 4 HZ). Associated with deep levels of relaxation such as sleep

theta (4 – 8HZ). Associated with tranquil states of awareness in which vivid internal imagery can often occur

alpha (8- 12 HZ). Relaxed nervous system, ideal for stress management, accelerated learning and mental imagery

beta (12-30 HZ). Associated with waking/alert states of awareness k-complex (30 – 35HZ). Clarity and sudden states of integration, the “ah-ha experience”

super high beta (35 – 150 HZ). Psychodynamic states of awareness

-------------------------------------------------------




pbear :(


So i can open a whole new experience with my system just by adding a subwoofer. This make me curious if there are any live performances done with a full analog signal path and equipment that reaches below 20hz
sasbom
Tubefund wrote:


So i can open a whole new experience with my system just by adding a subwoofer. This make me curious if there are any live performances done with a full analog signal path and equipment that reaches below 20hz


yeah, its called infrasound

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMSXdCWbRHw

adam neely did a vid on this
Tubefund
sasbom wrote:

yeah, its called infrasound

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMSXdCWbRHw

adam neely did a vid on this


Thanks aka hartelijk bedankt (;
Aleksey
I was thinking modular music helps with my concentration and perception these days. Not the tones but the rhythms and progression make me feel this way.
Shledge
sasbom wrote:
Tubefund wrote:


So i can open a whole new experience with my system just by adding a subwoofer. This make me curious if there are any live performances done with a full analog signal path and equipment that reaches below 20hz


yeah, its called infrasound

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMSXdCWbRHw

adam neely did a vid on this


Not going to happen if the outputs are AC coupled to filter anything below 20hz
cretaceousear
There were military experiments in 50s/60s around using infrasound as a weapon. I even remember seeing the BBC documentary about it maybe 45 years ago - soothing theta waves not!
I got told by someone who knew them that one of the KLF did experiments on this in a workspace unit and found it worked well to upset the neighbours.

And .. new age authors like Mr Sheldrake used to sugggest that infrasound from mega-horns was what made the walls of Jericho come tumblin' down.

(Incidentally movie film projectors have a secondary shutter, in a sort of quadrant shape, that spins in front of the main shutter to produce a double flicker - so what you see is 48 flickers per second from the 24 fps source.)
Pelsea
Of all EM practioners I have known, side effects of working with modular systems include:

Severe— see your doctor immediately:
Hearing loss, ringing ears, any hearing changes
Loss of lease
Loss of job

Moderate— consider adjusting the dosage
Relationship issues
Conflict with neighbors
Difficulty finding time to sleep
Difficulty finding time to exercise
Negative bank balance

Minor— your body will adjust
Loss of weight from skipping meals
Weight gain from snack patching and 3AM pizza
Solder burns on fingers (common only with DIY)
Limited social life
Sensitivity to sunlight

Psychological issues—Not so much. Only what they brought with them.
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