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Genres suited to modular
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Modular Synth General Discussion Goto page 1, 2  Next [all]
Author Genres suited to modular
stickman
Hey so I've discovered that I tend to like music that plays with repetition such as minimal, and have been building a setup around that.

I've found with other styles of music that are more progressive, or more frenetic, I end up sampling/sequencing via a DAW perhaps having some parts on the modular.

Most purely modular pieces I hear are more esoteric and loosely structured. Ofc there are always exceptions (£££).

Are there particular genres modular is strong at, and weak at? Are there lessons to be learned in genres that are hard to achieve in modular?
lisa
I'd say that purely modular based music can cover any genre but generally it's a bit of a challenge to create B and C parts in a modular rack. So any type of pop music is uncommon.

Personally I find it tedious to make elaborate chord progressions with full control using my rack. I have several digital modules with chord modes and even a Triad expander for my Arpitecht but sequencing the base note and the chord type for a longer piece is just dull, imo.
starthief
This is a question of artificial limitations on one side meeting artificial limitations on another side...

I mean, a lot of genres are defined by the set of instruments they use (and some instruments are to a large extent defined by the genres they play...)

But in any genre where synths can work, there's no reason why modular can't work too.

Modular does tend generally, to lend itself to forms that are either more repetitive or more freeform and improvisational, than "song" structured -- but you can do it if you spend enough money and/or effort on it.

Look what was done by Wendy Carlos, Isao Tomita etc. with just modular synthesizers and tape.

Of course if you don't impose the arbitrary restriction of "pure modular" you might have an easier time... MIDI to CV conversion works, polysynths and software don't have to be out of bounds, etc.
Keltie
Both of the above make good points, imo.

Structure is tough as Lisa says, although the more complex sequencers can get there. Imo, midi to cv is the way forward for that.

My experience, and the direction my rig takes, is to make repetitive but evolving ( mainly) 4/4 based EDM. I’m not a fan of excessive genre labelling, but I guess you could say my stuff is somewhere in the confluence of house, techno and trance. I’ve just started to play out, and do semi improvised/ improvisationally evolved sets.

This style comes easily to me, and always has, so I might be biased, but I think modular does this easily and effectively. To be able to improvise and arrange EDM in real time from a blank slate start was the reason I got into modular to begin with.

By its nature, too, abstract, drones and ambient is “ home plate” territory for almost any rig, and I often do that as a layer over beats, bass lines etc.

TLDR... almost any form of EDM and/ or ambient soundscapey type stuff appears to me at least, to be fairly straightforward to set up on a modular. Complex arrangements with key and chord changes a little less so.

No doubt there are modularists that could prove me wrong...YMMV
Dragonaut
I do downtempo and ambient with my modular synth but just about anything with a lead or bassline can be achieved. I use Expert Sleepers modules to sequence from my laptop so I’m not constrained by the limitations people often impose on themselves when using modular synths. If you don’t mind sampling what you create downstream there’s no reason you can’t use modular synths to create complex dubstep, idm, or neurofunk, etc.
rublev
Quote:
Most purely modular pieces I hear are more esoteric and loosely structured. Ofc there are always exceptions (£££).


It's so hard to not get lost just jamming, much less hitting the record button while doing so.

Quote:
Are there particular genres modular is strong at, and weak at? Are there lessons to be learned in genres that are hard to achieve in modular?


Isn't the whole point to build a rack around what you want? Although I guess it's strongest at sound generation. I use mine mainly as an effects unit for my acoustic instruments.
wackelpeter
One of the very few genres i can think of, where modulars may be not fit in or may be a bit off, is acoustic folk music…

Apart from that i think modular sounds will fit into any other genre Pretty well, sometimes more as a accompanying element or even as the solely or main Instrument as in jazz for example.

To create something less repetitive it's just a matter of having enough choices to Control and Change the sounds… like having a massive amount of logic, dividers, gate sequencers, switches, burst Generators, faders and panners, etc.


I also tend to patch up very repetitive stuff… and mostly to have some changes throw too much stuff/sounds into the mix at once… initially meant as making sounds/music more complex and challenging it Ends up mostly with a mess, because of too much sounds Fighting against each other playing the dominant part...

A great example of how it's very well done to use a modular/synth in a accompanying way for me is Roxy Music's Virginia Plain with it's great Synthi "solo" in between… When Hearing this song i'm always waiting for this relatively small/short Special Moment with it'S gorgeous Sound and get exited every time i hear it.
rublev
wackelpeter wrote:
One of the very few genres i can think of, where modulars may be not fit in or may be a bit off, is acoustic folk music…


Welp I know what I'm doing all day now!
wackelpeter
rublev wrote:
wackelpeter wrote:
One of the very few genres i can think of, where modulars may be not fit in or may be a bit off, is acoustic folk music…


Welp I know what I'm doing all day now!



lol... haven't read your post… hope you're not offended. well i was more referring to something like folk music in a merely acoustic and unplugged way…

When you do work on your Instruments with effects and modulars, i think there is an Point where i would tend to say it's rather electronic music then acoustic/classical or folk music…

As an example, to Show what i mean, take Kosugi's Album Catch Wave. It's violin (normally some would say classical/contemporary) played through a lot of effects and electronic circuits (mostly ring Modulators) where i would say this crosses the border to electronic music, and it's more on that side as on the classical/contemporary/improvisation side because of the heavy Impact those effects and manipulations have to the Overall sound. Contrary Kosugi has also some wokrs which are more classical/contemporary/Improvisation style, which i wouldn't consider electronic music…

Anyway… Do you have any links to some of your music, would like to listen to it, as i sometimes do like "uncommon" sounds and combinations.
Yes Powder
HEY GUIZE I JUST BOUGHT A GUITAR WHAT KIND IF MUSIC CAN I MAKE WITH IT KTHX
Rex Coil 7
r modulrs gud 4 metal n dubstep? djent?
Mikeyg3k
I hate the notion that modular is to be used for a specific kind or style of music. I do understand the thinking and sure some things do lend themselves to certain types but you can really do (almost) anything with modular. And I suppose if you combined modular with live music / musicians then you really could do anything?
lisa
Mikeyg3k: well, try to perform a Wagner opera with your modular system and then get back to us. wink Or even a simple pop song. It can be done, no doubt. It just isn’t very convenient.
naturligfunktion
U make cool techno ofcourse cool
j_dowe
noise jams ... although i am tempted to make pop w/ a computer & modular combo.
Rex Coil 7
Mikeyg3k wrote:
I hate the notion that modular is to be used for a specific kind or style of music. I do understand the thinking and sure some things do lend themselves to certain types but you can really do (almost) anything with modular. And I suppose if you combined modular with live music / musicians then you really could do anything?


lisa wrote:
Mikeyg3k: well, try to perform a Wagner opera with your modular system and then get back to us. wink Or even a simple pop song. It can be done, no doubt. It just isn’t very convenient.
It comes down to how a person has configured their modular synth. If configured and built with fast patch changes in mind, the modular synth is perfectly capable of being used in many forms of live performance music. The use of trunk lines, switched routing, semi-normalization, and attention to module placement and overall layout lends greatly to live performance use. I'd add that 5U systems are more "convenient" to use in live performances due simply to the far less cluttered control set.

Edgar Winter, Keith Emerson, Josef Zawinul, and a number of others used the modular synth in live performance to great success. Clever performers embraced the deeply expanded capabilities of the modular synth to their needs, musical styles, and preferences harnessing the power of these devices.

Properly configured, the modular synth is no more clumsy in live performance than a Minimoog or Odyssey (et al).

cool
rec.Koner
Rex Coil 7 wrote:

Edgar Winter, Keith Emerson, Josef Zawinul, and a number of others used the modular synth in live performance to great success. Clever performers embraced the deeply expanded capabilities of the modular synth to their needs, musical styles, and preferences harnessing the power of these devices.


Using modular as solo/rhythm/etc. instrument in band/collab

vs

using modular as self-contained solution

Different tasks
JakoGreyshire
From this thread on music standards in modular:

https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=198737&postdays=0&po storder=asc&start=50

chrisj wrote:
Hmm, some good answers. Since I'm a writer let me have a go, because I certainly do recognize some 'standards' in modular.

"Drooooooooooooo" - get a droney note going. Sort of 'most basic patch', and primitive versions of this won't seem like music. I omitted the 'ne' on the end, because nothing happens, just oooooooo

"O-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o" - that, but with a thump. Typically a weak modular-style kick where all the weight comes through way behind the beat due to the pitch release envelope being slow. Refined, or with better drums, this can be minimal house. It also doesn't change, and also nothing happens.

"Space" - A bunch of drones in a whole bunch of reverb. Something probably happened, but you didn't notice because it was too slow.

"Berlin School" - There is a sequence. There had better be a Moog. Notes are harmonically related to the sequence to make THE NICE MUSIC! Very disciplined. Points for amateur guitar playing, which had better be drowned in reverb. The guitar had better not try to act like the point of the exercise, in fact everything had better step aside for The Sequence. No fair getting all FM on The Sequence, either! And it must be an even number of steps, preferably 8, and no rests allowed!

"Berlin Techno" - Not to be confused with classic Berlin School, Berlin Techno probably also demands eight steps… or four… or two… but must have no notes at all. Beats must be loud and hammeringly ferocious, and beats can be noises can be zlorches can be anything, so long as it's not playing a tune. Less of a modular genre, mentioned because of its proximity to Berlin School, which definitely is a modular genre.

"Slow Painful Death Of R2-D2" - Tempo is actually quite fast, the 'slow' is because this can go for hours. Really fast sample and hold nonsense, ideally without pitch quantization or any real structure to it. This is 'Chopsticks' for sample and hold, and equally maddening. It can also be mixed with Berlin School to provide contrast, because you can use the Berlin School patches and just crank up the tempo and go random-note. If you're buried in reverb, this can also be a Space.

"Decorative Houseplant" - Rings into Clouds. Should be played against a background of a modern and very clean apartment, showing a decorative object and a window, with nothing happening in the window, but it looks really nice. Implemented either with exclusively Mutable Instruments modules, or any other type of digital module running at 16 bits internal buss or less. This genre mustn't produce harsh grindy edges, which is where the 'digital modules at 16 bits or less' helps define it: when you combine mellower tone generators with spacey ambient processing you get a more soft and abstract texture that combines with distinctly modular melodic structures to produce ambient music in the classic Eno definition. Interestingly, there are purely digital modules such as Noise Engineering that don't work as well in Decorative Houseplant, because they produce textures that don't meld with the overall slight abstraction. Plunks and very abstract twangs are key here.

"Mulch" - You might be a bit Berlin School, you might be a bit Houseplant, but nothing consumes you so much as old school grunge, softness, distortion, noise: by the time you've finished tape flangulating and re-wobbling your stuff, it sounds like an old Walkman where the batteries are leaking that acidic crust you shouldn't touch. You're best heard on vinyl. You have issued limited cassette releases of everything you've ever done, and/or had the general releases mastered OFF a cassette tape.

"Woking" - From the Douglas Adams book 'The Meaning Of Liff', standing in the kitchen wondering what you went in there for. This is the area of Decorative Houseplant where your melodic stuff is less structured: rather than just sit on a modular-generated and very limited set of notes so it seems like you're just arpeggiating a chord endlessly, you're including notes that can travel to other places. However, you're still based on sample and hold, so what happens is, your chord just wanders about without any obvious destination or source. So, you can step into a Woking at any point, or skip around on the timeline, and you'll always be exactly as confused as you were when you started.

"Dave Stop Stop Dave" (or just "Dave"?) - like Woking, but with such a wide range of notes (or no quantization at all) that you can't even make out a scale or tuning. This will resemble Slow Painful Death of R2-D2, but it's even slower. It may also include randomization of triggers, so you can't even guess when a note will hit. They do have to have attacks, otherwise it's a form of Space, but though there are distinct notes the tnuing of htem sggustes coherncey is snoo depatrng, and electronic brain death is innmmnet.

"Lacquerhead" - from the Primus song. In Lacquerhead, you're aware that endless Woking is dull, so you're really REALLY interested in throwing in changes, but you're still determined that the modular system must compose the music. So, you lean in the direction of sample and hold, but you're applying it to levels other than melody. Noise Engineering stuff works great here because of its edginess, and you're extremely proud of using all-modular percussion because each drum sounds completely different every bar… in fact all your noises are full of surprises. The aggressiveness and the surprises are cranked up to such a point that the hapless listener's brain tends to melt and leak out their ears. You do a video parodying Decorative Houseplant to accompany your music, in which the houseplant is on fire. Your tempos are impossible to dance to (otherwise, this is a form of Berlin Techno) and you have seventeen listeners/followers. They, however, are your cult and will march out to do battle upon your command, so that's pretty cool.

"Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost" - You're determined to stay generative while going up a level from Woking, so you've got an elaborate switching system in place to implement chord progressions. That said, your modular purity is unsullied so you're doing the chords as sample and hold. The result can come off as alien, inexplicable harmonic movement, or it can just seem like you're forcing things into a series of new root notes as you go. Curiosity factor can be high, because happy accidents pop up surprisingly often. You've got eighteen listeners/followers, because one is the teacher grading your graduate dissertation on aleatoric harmonic progression.

"Gone Ibiza" - Instead of trying to get modules to compose music themselves, you've gotten fed up and have programmed some digital modules to repeat a chord sequence such as the Four Chord Song, or better yet an eight chord sequence where most of the chords are one step up from the previous chord. You're not allowed to use five, or seven chords, much less a sequence of five or seven, but you can use three if you repeat the last one! Your sounds are completely on point, mellow when they need to be and edgy when they serve your purposes. These purposes are to exactly fit within a popular genre like Big House or Progressive House or Tech House. You've got eighteen million views. You've got eighteen thousand followers, because you're a bit interchangeable, largely because you're that good at cloning stuff that's become popular.

"Mau5" - This isn't strictly a modular genre, it's a post-modular-genre. You have eighteen billion views and a wall of modular stuff serving the same purpose as Decorative Houseplant. You've got a much smaller bay of modular stuff to play with. Sometimes you do that, but at least half the time you're composing on your laptop because you're trying to do a specific thing, and there's no special reason you'd have to hook up all those cables in order to do it. You did that already and sampled it and filed it away where you can find it if you need it… but you're still able to be excited about your next module acquisition. It's a second modular wall of everything by the same manufacturer. When you get it, you will in fact get a track or three out of it, and then it'll become another Decorative Houseplant and category in your sound libraries.

Mr. Green
Yes Powder
lisa wrote:
Mikeyg3k: well, try to perform a Wagner opera with your modular system and then get back to us. wink Or even a simple pop song. It can be done, no doubt. It just isn’t very convenient.


I can't perform any Wagner and any instrument, period!
ersatzplanet
I have thought more than once that playing abstract modular would fit beautifully in Regge music. Regge sound effects and echo feedback stuff would be great done by modular. If there were a deep Regge band locally I would love to jam with them.

Jazz of course pops to mind. The first band I was in out of collage with my first synth (a VCS3) was in a jazz quartet where the guitarist plugged into his amp and my rig and I would modify his sound and do echoplex tricks along with classic "ray guns from mars" sounds.
Rex Coil 7
rec.Koner wrote:
Rex Coil 7 wrote:

Edgar Winter, Keith Emerson, Josef Zawinul, and a number of others used the modular synth in live performance to great success. Clever performers embraced the deeply expanded capabilities of the modular synth to their needs, musical styles, and preferences harnessing the power of these devices.


Using modular as solo/rhythm/etc. instrument in band/collab

vs

using modular as self-contained solution

Different tasks
A "self contained solution" to what? What on Earth are you talking about?

I wasn't saying that a modular synth may be used as a 16 channel music workstation with 128 note polyphony (such as a Korg M1). Member *Lisa said that a modular was too inconvenient to be used in pop music performances. I simply countered her statement.

You're misreading my comment, and taking it out of context.

Besides that, a modular synth IS a "self contained solution" ... depending on what problem needs solving, as well as how well the modular synth is configured towards solving the given problem.

A modular synthesizer is nothing more than a tool box. Like any tool box, how well it is outfitted will determine how well (or poorly) it will assist in solving any given task.

cool
rec.Koner
Quote:
What on Earth are you talking about?


I'm not sure if i sounded like what i was going to say. I suggested that while some people would use modular as "element" to add into mix...

...other would use it as one and only sound source for project (whether you use real time sequencing/playing or messing with overdubbing or arranging)
Rex Coil 7
rec.Koner wrote:
Quote:
What on Earth are you talking about?


I'm not sure if i sounded like what i was going to say. I suggested that while some people would use modular as "element" to add into mix...

...other would use it as one and only sound source for project (whether you use real time sequencing/playing of messing with overdubbing or arranging)
AH! cool

Ok, now I understand. Thank you! thumbs up
nikmis
I make sort of pseudo classical music which of course is similar to the idea of classical music with modular like Wendy Carlos and Isao Tomita, but in all honesty I could easily just use some standard monosynth and achieve the same results

But that wouldn't be nearly as fun
WisdomWriter
I tend to do a little sound design based around a bass line or a drone and see where the character of the sound pushes me. Sometimes a dirty bass sound or a interesting bird tweet. Very variable. No expected genre to fit really.
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