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WIGGLING 'LITE' IN GUEST MODE

First solo modular show - freaked lifelong guitar player
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Play Out! Performance Modulars  
Author First solo modular show - freaked lifelong guitar player
909one
Hey There,
I'm really in deep with modular, well I wouldn't be here if I wasn't. Ha!
I've been playing guitar for about 25 years, played hundreds of shows, ranging from straight up rock to complete free improv. I've also played everything from bass, keys, even was a lead singer in a band too. But, I've got my first fully solo modular performance coming up and I'm starting to freak myself out, almost more than any performance I can remember. I've played modular out as a duo, in few combinations, with a drummer, while i'm playing guitar, but not totally solo. I'm finding the more I practice for this show, the worse I'm sounding, and the worse I'm liking what I'm doing. Initially I was drawn to modular because of its complete freedom of being able to sit down and create a whole world of your own, but now I'm not liking this world with the thought of having to doing it in front of other people. Hahah! I have a loose structure in my head of what points I want I get to, but every time I try to make these transitions they just sound forced to me. Also, I don't have a ton of gear, so I'm having a hard time creating enough interesting voices to have on tap to last 20 minutes for the set. I bought a few things leading up to this performance, but I don't want rely on buying more gear. I think what I'm noticing is that as I think about playing out solo that i'm realizing I'm no where as proficient on modular yet as I am on guitar, and its tripping me up. Not doing the show is not an option. I want to conquer the fear, but looking for some advice from you that are playing solo modular coming being a band person.

Any advice?

ps: Also must add that since I've started this journey I've recorded probably ten hours worth of music, almost all improv-ed, and I like a lot it of it, enough to put out two albums worth. I think I'm just freaking out.
Ypsi Kid
Hey man,

great that you get to play a live show, something I'm hoping to do soon as well. Like you, I'm working on a way to play live and have the set be almost all improv outside of a couple of things. The big breakthrough for me was when I was able to build the framework over which the live set will be built (based on Steevio's approach, Mylar Melodies also did a video on this approach/framework). How are you approaching your underlying framework/concept for sequencing? If you do have that thought-out and implemented, it's then understanding the 'points of failure' so you can minimize/reduce/remove most of the the unwanted or bad pieces to your set. I'm finding now that I have to take notes to make sure I understand & remember where are the points in the framework which I need to be careful with, what are the options I have for moving the set along (different drums/percussion, modulation, voice routing, trigger/gate routing) and what tools do I have that can help change the context of a sound so I can use this for different parts (ex. FM).

Breakdowns are a bit tough, I'm still having some trouble getting what I want for breakdowns, but try to adjust envelopes/filters and use alternate or additional percussion/percussion patterns and maybe try messing with the clock (make sure you have a reset so everything can be reset when the breakdown ends) - even better would be having different voices/sequences that you can change the tempo with (so some elements can slow down or speed up during breakdowns).

Anyways, hope this helps. I am just getting there with my live set, goal is a 60min live set that has a lot of improv content. I'm at about the 20min mark and am looking at different ways of moving to different sections or songs so I can hit that 60min mark (switched multiples have been key to this). And funny enough, there are times I think the stuff I'm doing now doesn't quite sound as good as when I first began with this approach/framework several months back - but I think this is a general rule with anything in life, your creativity goes in cycles, sometimes it just isn't there as much as you'd like so your content, to you, doesn't sound good. But like all cycles, this eventually will turn around (sometimes this is days or week or months).

Cheers.
909one
@Ypsi Kid Thanks! This is very helpful. Lots more to think about. I'm going to look at hose videos too.

I think my problem might be that I'm trying to allow for all voices to be mutable for more options, whereas I should probably hone in specific ideas for each voice. That's what I do when I sit down to play, I should probably stick to that.

For example, I have about 4-5 voices available, 3 VCO's, a noise source, and Filter I'm using like an Oscillator. Usually I set one for each function, ie, sequence, melody, drone, percussion, etc... But I've been trying to allow these voices to have different functions in different sections, so I think that may be the problem.

The other thing I didn't mention is that this is for Modular on the Spot, and there seems to be this silly rule about not using outboard sequencers. All I have are outboard sequencers and I'm not about to buy racked stuff just for this show, so I'm trying my hardest to squeeze out ideas without the sequencers.
Ypsi Kid
No problem at all man, love talking about this stuff!! Definitely check out those videos, gave me a ton of food for thought. I'm still thinking about them today - powerful stuff.

In terms of using voices for particular functions, this is something I've been thinking about a lot, how to get voices to change functions through a set - like you say though, this is a lot easier said than done. If you can do this, it opens the doors right up for a longer set given that your tools/voices can change functions throughout a set. This has lead me to microtonal scales (never thought I'd get close to looking at this stuff). The reason being is that microtonal scales are a bit more conducive to what I'm trying to do as the ratios they tend to use work a bit better when you are trying to use 2 different pitch CV sources to create a 3rd pitch for your voices (this is where I'm using a precision adder). So I'm still early in this exploration, but I think it does sound better to my ears when I'm adding/subtracting several sequences of pitch CV. This is also how I plan to re-contextualize voices for other duties throughout a set (this along with FM I think is the best approach that I have found so far). So I can take a voice that is a lead or string and by flipping a switch on the precision adder, this drops the pitch and I can then look to use this as a bass or low tom. That's the idea anyway! Like I said, lots of good info in those videos, definitely check them out!

May start out by having those voices dedicated to what you want to do, get that down nice and tight and then look at methods for re-contextualizing those voices to other duties using either FM and/or the precision adder technique. I should probably try this myself - haha!

Ah man, that is a pretty crappy rule about the external sequencer! How are you planning on using those voices with no sequencer? I'm guessing you have a mixer where you can pull the voices in and out? Wondering what you'll use to trigger envelopes and such?

Glad to discuss man, I'm going down this road myself and have no one to really bounce ideas off, so definitely happy to chat man!

Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions or whether you come up with any good approaches for your set.

Cheers!
Navs
Keep it simple, be yourself and have fun, especially if you're making music in front of like-minded friendly folk. 20 minutes pass quickly.

On the sequencer issue, of course it depends on the music you want to make, but I've never used one live. That's just to say, work with what you've got.

Lots of good videos on the Powwow modular Youtube channel to see how some people play.

One piece of golden advice I got from Hainbach is to always have a second instrument, not just as a back-up but also to provide a change of focus or context, e.g. tape loops, a looper, a mini keyboard (OP-1, if you must razz ) ... and bring a delay or be damned! SlayerBadger!
909one
Ypsi Kid wrote:
No problem at all man, love talking about this stuff!! Definitely check out those videos, gave me a ton of food for thought. I'm still thinking about them today - powerful stuff.

In terms of using voices for particular functions, this is something I've been thinking about a lot, how to get voices to change functions through a set - like you say though, this is a lot easier said than done. If you can do this, it opens the doors right up for a longer set given that your tools/voices can change functions throughout a set. This has lead me to microtonal scales (never thought I'd get close to looking at this stuff). The reason being is that microtonal scales are a bit more conducive to what I'm trying to do as the ratios they tend to use work a bit better when you are trying to use 2 different pitch CV sources to create a 3rd pitch for your voices (this is where I'm using a precision adder). So I'm still early in this exploration, but I think it does sound better to my ears when I'm adding/subtracting several sequences of pitch CV. This is also how I plan to re-contextualize voices for other duties throughout a set (this along with FM I think is the best approach that I have found so far). So I can take a voice that is a lead or string and by flipping a switch on the precision adder, this drops the pitch and I can then look to use this as a bass or low tom. That's the idea anyway! Like I said, lots of good info in those videos, definitely check them out!

May start out by having those voices dedicated to what you want to do, get that down nice and tight and then look at methods for re-contextualizing those voices to other duties using either FM and/or the precision adder technique. I should probably try this myself - haha!

Ah man, that is a pretty crappy rule about the external sequencer! How are you planning on using those voices with no sequencer? I'm guessing you have a mixer where you can pull the voices in and out? Wondering what you'll use to trigger envelopes and such?

Glad to discuss man, I'm going down this road myself and have no one to really bounce ideas off, so definitely happy to chat man!

Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions or whether you come up with any good approaches for your set.

Cheers!


Super interesting with the microtonal stuff and the adder, that's really cool!

So, without a sequencer, I send a variety of gates to different envelopes from the 4ms Shuffling Clock Multiplier. I wouldn't be able to survive without that module. I have the expander portion too, so I can constantly manipulate the shuffling amounts among other things, so I can create some pretty interesting polyrhythms. With a delay that's clocked to that as well, it gets really interesting. Being a guitar player, most of my effects at this point are just pedals, and I have a Carbon Copy Deluxe analog delay that has this really cool feature of being about to except external clock. It works flawlessly. It gets really interesting when things are shuffling because the delay time changes with the shuffle and its usually in pitch as well. So that can create a really interesting sequence if you get it right. I also started doing this thing where I tune each VCO to a different note of a chord. So for a example I was working on something last night, tuning to Dom7 b5 chord, and you can get some really gnarly chords when everything is droning, but various combinations yield different harmonies. I play lap steel as well, and it reminds me a being in a lap steep tuning, where you are just pulling our different chord shapes with the bar in one position.

I also built the Penrose quantizer kit recently so the I am getting a sequence from that, I have a Turing Machine sending voltages to that.

This all sounds fine and dandy when I mention all this stuff, but I practice it gets frustrating trying to not sound boring to my ears.

I do agree that delay pretty much helps everything too!
aokjoey0
A bit off topic, I'm just curious how one gets the on the spot gig. Do they have some sort of process.

Also did they have a problem with an external mixer?

Thx
909one
aokjoey0 wrote:
A bit off topic, I'm just curious how one gets the on the spot gig. Do they have some sort of process.

Also did they have a problem with an external mixer?

Thx


I would imagine it may be different in every city, as it’s not one national entity. All I did was DM the organizer from the one on in my city. It did help that I did already know someone that had played. The show never happened actually, it may still before the end of the year but uncertain. This whole thing was good exercise in learning what I would do though.

I finally ended up coming up with a patch that I liked which was around 20 minutes. I’ve since. Torn that patch down, but I took a bunch of notes. I think the anxiety surrounding it was just me being able to pull it off. Once I did it once, listened back to the recording and was fairly happy, I stopped worrying.

One thing I did discover, is that a patch for a live show is much different than one for a recording, for me. For the live show I was trying to have it be a generalized version of the things I’ve learned and liked in moduLar this far. For recording or just jamming at home, which are one in the same for me as I record everything, it’s about starting with a kernel of idea and just letting that blossom. it doesn’t need to cover a lot of ground.
dave999z
Maybe post a dry run here sometime.
xenosapien
Hey 909one,

I have a similar background (bass player for close to 20 years now) and recently had my 2nd ever "solo" Gig - in any fashion, really.

The 1st solo show (like 2 years ago) was really a back-to-back type of thing with a friend and we both heavily relied on pre-programmed sequences performed live... I was using an octatrack and 6U of modular at the time.

Now, recently I had gotten an invitation to open up for an italian noise/industrial artist in a more abstract style of show, at a local "institute for new media"... so I decided to go for a less pre-programmed route:

6U of modular and a Boss RE-20 space echo pedal.
that was it. and no sequencer (only wogglebug and turing machine for pitch CVs, so no chance to pre-plan ANYthing)

needless to say, my nerves were freaking SHOT wink

Especially since I couldn´t do any real test runs, since the sequences would obviously be different every time.

So I learned a new trick: listening to what my machine is doing, and reacting to it.

In the end, I think it went over rather well, did a 40min set entirely out of improvisation, and most of it seemed to work okay for the crowd (well, it was 10 people more or less ^^).

I´m not sure how applicable that is to you, but maybe a more general tip:

turn your knobs slowly.


no really, this may sound dumb, but the biggest mistake I made before this was that I always wanted snappy transitions... not always a great idea, since I was essentially just cranking knobs from one extreme to the other and completely swept past any sweet spots in the CV ranges etc...

ultimately, almost everything sounded way cooler when I gave the sound time to develop and carefully (=slowly) turned modulation sources up etc. to find new sweet spots.

then let that new sweet-spot/groove ride out for a little bit while you think about your next move...

and I think yeah, you´re just freaking out. you´ll be fine. wink
909one
Thanks for the continued responses!
@xenosapien Excellent ideas!

I ended not having the opportunity to play that solo show after all, haha. But, I will soon hopefully! In the meantime I've been doing a bunch of duo performances, with other synthesists and drummers. Its way easier with another person! However with just a drummer, its sort of like playing solo because you alone have to be the sole source of the melodic content. With that said, none of these have been strictly modular, I've been playing guitar and lap steel as well. I'm so much more proficient on these other instruments that if I get stuck in the modular realm I can just quickly switch to those. I think the idea of modular only still does scare me a bit, which is why I'd like to do it soon.

Its interesting because the while modular has many freedoms, its easy to be constrained by it too, by the sequencer especially. I've been recording a lot at home (just released a new record actually Mr. Green See signature ) and this one specifically I've been trying to play it more, rather than let it play me. Using it for gestural things a little more. And yeah, less locked sequences and more random evolving sequences. Have something like the Pressure Points really helps with this stuff.

Thanks again guys! Keep the discussion going, I'm really interested in this topic.
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