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how to strategize your patches for a dance music set
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Play Out! Performance Modulars  
Author how to strategize your patches for a dance music set
I'm practicing and preparing for my first live set and the biggest thing I'm stressing over is how to be building patches while I'm playing others. At 125bpm I'm finding I want to get out into the next patch at around 5min, which means my hour set should be about 12 "tracks".

I can recycle a lot of percussion but I want to be able to be constantly moving over to new stuff. What do you all do about this? So far I've been practicing bouncing between two patches, but not building others while I play...

Here's an example from practicing today:


right now circadian rhythms is the heart of the system as running in preset loop mode gives me 8 good long drum sequences to work with. drum modules are running off that, plus rene clocks on two of the channels. melody chains right now are metropolis sequencing bass (with QCD triggering gates) and also being fed into arpitecht for the leads. rene as secondary CV sequencer, and drumdokta 2 as secondary drum sequencer/sounds. another cv option in the form of o_C in copiermaschine to [/s]get twirly polyphonic lines off of the output of arpitecht with gates again being triggered round with two clocks from QCD with their div/mult being cv'd by things like the sidechain envelope or an lfo.

I guess I'm worried I'm going to paint myself into a corner if I get distracted jamming out on a patch and don't have a good strategy for prepping the next thing....
I do a live psytrance set with a Rytm, a BSP and a 6u Modular. Not the msot limited set up but it's portable. When I was planning it these are a few of the thought processes I went through:

There were 2 main things I had to take into consideration for people to recognise different tracks and keep them interested: timbre and composition (pretty standard stuff).

Timbre - make your patch as timbrally variable as possible with a few attenuators or switches. I can change each of my patches from soft sine-wave style leads to distorted guitar-like sounds to fm-style squelches and beeps with a few quick twists of a knob (aiyo). Timbral variation is really important to create a vibe for each track. For example, I'd think "oh track 3 is the one with the fm leads and track 6 is the one with that cool guitar melody". I also use conceptual patches to make a track, for example track 2 is the one based on the lead using the Rytm's looping sampler.

Comp - This is the big one and I cheat massively for this. Finding the ba I'd have prearranged breakdown sections, which were 32/64 bar long pads/risers/whatever that I'd trigger from the Rytm with some modular noodling over them. Having prearranged sections gives you a fallback for when you're worried everything is falling apart. Become INCREDIBLY comfortable with them, they are your centre and if you do get stuck you can start again by triggering one of these sections. They also serve a purpose to create tension and release in the set. I also had a Kaosspad to do a similar thing, but I got rid of this because it was becoming too obvious (hipass filter anyone?).
I play live pretty regularly. Industrial-ish techno, usually 60 or 90 minute sets.

When I'm playing in my own city I'll just generally bring a large modular setup and a BSP, which mostly handles drum sequencing. By large I mean Monster Base + 9u and 12u Monster cases. Obviously, this facilitates as much variety as I would need for a set via lots of patching.

When I play out of town I will bring less modular and rely on the BSP's sequencers to handle CV that would usually be in the box. Requires me to be a bit more hands on with tweaking as I can program in less tail chasing and CV feedback. I also will, depending on the mood, use my machinedrum for percussion duties. Obviously a lot of variety there.

1010 Bitbox was a big game changer for modular percussion in my sets. Lots and lots of variety with a relatively small footprint.
And also, if possible I will spend two to four hours at the venue patching, tuning, and tinkering before a set. Helps iron out any wrinkles. Plus, I patch everything before I play. I don't like pulling cables during a set.
And finally, I run my phone's stopwatch while I play so I can gauge phrases and passages as well as when to wrap it up. I find it impossible to keep track of time mentally while playing.
I find transitions from one patch to another can be made easy by switching between beat driven, and ambient non beat driven stuff, and back again. Sometimes with a full ambient contrasting change, you can even change up the tempo and drop in a fully different genre beat (DNB to Ambient to Dubstep to ambient to hiphop to ambient etc..) By changing tempo it makes it easier to adjust a patch slightly but sound like a different song.

I also like to use envelopes to make changes. If you have them running long, and melodic, and then all of a sudden clamp everything down so that it is clickey and snappy.

And then there is also random CV hidden behind attenuators. As soon as you want to change up the sound, you turn up the attenuators and let lots of random S+H modulation through. Giving everything a different / non repetitive feel. Let that run for a while, and then (turn down your attenuators) back to smooth, an repetitive grooves.
To me the most important thing to keep in mind is contrast. And making changes that are very different from each other. So instead of focusing on different patches, I like to just focus on the next contrasting thing I can do to the sound. Build up tension for a while, then release. Then do it again.
I would highly advise against live patching in front of an audience. You need to focus on what’s coming out of the speakers and not what’s going on in your headphones. Richard Devine’s live rig for example is essentially one big patch, but it’s been carefully designed to give him enough flexibility. Same goes for Surgeon or Steevio. You say that you are bouncing between two patches so I would just stick with that and make those patches a little more interesting (some good suggestions above) if you are finding that things are getting a bit repetitive.
Setup a Patch with lots of modulation CV through mixers and attenuators and feedback. Endless possibilities.

Use a cue mix for different drum beats etc you want bring in through a mixer..
Ypsi Kid
Hey man,

I'm going through the same questions myself. One of the big things I've found, and I think folks have mentioned already is using different modulation sources and then mixing them together - a modulation matrix (I'm using the Doepfer 138m for this). I'm kind of blown away with the range of sounds you can get with this. Combine this with using different envelopes for your sound sources and you can get a pretty wide range of sounds.

I'm trying to figure out now how to flip sound sources in terms of what they do. R.U.Nuts gave a good patch example of using the DPO and then being able to change from a bass sound to a percussion/bongo sound. I'm just having too much fun with the modulation matrix, triggers/envelopes and using precision adders and quantizers for melody type stuff (this in conjunction with good envelopes is another world unto itself!).

Big thing I'm struggling with is beat variation. I'm currently using different patterns with Winter Modular Eloquencer and using the BitBox to change 'drum kits'. Works well, but feels like there should be more there.

Good luck and most importantly, have fun!!!
The Grump
Sampling is the key for me to not have to bring out a ton of gear, and still have a wide variety of tones. Most of my sound does't come out my modular, it comes out of my MPC, Mofo, Evolver and my Q Rack. I just bring a skiff with a few choice pieces and my Cocoquantus, which I try to keep my hands off of most of the time, lest my set devolve into a full blown mess of self-indulgent wankery and nonsense. Dance music, whatever flavor you care to name is about one thing: keeping the ladies' booties moving. If you don't, you fail.

What Mike Banks told me years ago was this: "If you bring the ladies to the dance floor, then the fellas will follow, they'll buy the ladies drinks, and daddy brings home the bacon."
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