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Letting go
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Synth Noise  
Author Letting go
What do you do when it sounds too good to unpatch?

I'm serious. I'm sitting here with this patch I absolutely love but I need to move on.

Any things that people do in this situation like take notes on what you did? Take pictures? What?
Record the audio for a while and then just move on.
I've been thinking about trying to come up with a way to digitally recreate some of our patches using Visio. At work, I've used that program to map out entire networks, and digitally label/route every lan cable connection and port... so it can definitely work for a modular. Just need to create the graphics for it somehow.
Just think...the next patch may be better
How wacky is your rack? Could you screenshot your setup in Modular Planner and print out copies to make log sheets? If your non-modular it gets hard, sadly. Pedal spaghetti isn't conductive to logging.
RetBody wrote:
Pedal spaghetti isn't conductive to logging.

That's the truth.

I find if I'm not ruthless in tearing down a set up, my momentum gets bogged down when it all turns stale. I'm the same way with music, I'll sometimes just delete stuff outright if I let it drag on too long with little gain in the intervening fiddling about phase.
waah And she's gone.

Thanks for the advise. I just captured a ton of raw audio.

As far as documenting patches. Thinking of working on a way to use rack planner images and a Flash app to visually build patches and save then, kind of like the way patch cords work on the back of Reason's rack with real physics. Iwould think you could patch your rack and then annotate it using some dial and switch markers.
Check out this site and then grab and move a patch cord. Takes awhile to load.
I usually take a picture when I love the patch too much to tear it down, but then my system is very small - only two racks - so it's easy to get all modules in one photo.
Pro: fast!
Con: if using a huge pile of patch cables, it can be a bit difficult to see. Solution: take a couple of photos in different angles.
For me I just try and retain, as best I can, how everything is patched, and more importantly, what is doing what so that I understand the principles of what's making what sounds (or changes to it) so that I don't have to necessarily know exactly how each cable was patched and what each knob was set to. This way I can closely recreate it, or even make it better, some other time.

I always tear it down though, many times not recording audio. There's a very zen-like thing about it.
i just pull it down after recording loads of audio of the patch with various tweaks. i tend to remember basic principles of a patch rather than specific settings so i can get similar results if i want later.
the temporary nature of sounds is one of the reasons i like modulars though.

when i'm patching, i generally have "core" configuration that i start with that's the real soul of the sound. then i tweak it out, adding modulation or filtering or controls to tune it just right. the resulting patch can be kind of nightmarish to document, but the key configuration isn't usually more than a dozen modules.

if it's real sweet i will sketch out just the core into my notebook, in pretty schematic form (similar to the diagrams in the allan strange book). this gives me the critical information, but if i go back to work with that idea again i usually tweak it out differently, which keeps it fresh. i don't usually want to replicate every detail precisely.

the exception is for recording, if i'm making multiple passes of of essentially the same sound. in that case, i'm just motivated to get it all on tape before i can move on, which helps with the procrastination thing i'm so prone too.

felix, sandyb & fluxmonkey really summed it up well.

I think the work involved in notating a big patch to the Nth degree is not really time well spent, you'd have to take note of knob & switch settings as well woah

Thats time you could spend patching! or recording.

Taking notes on the core of the patch is a great idea, if I get a patch I really like, had one this time yesterday but I had to pull a machine out to take it to the lab for testing, almost didn't want to - these patches I like to play awhile & really try to understand what it is thats doing it for me.

A really good way I've found of shaking that 'i'm ruining it' feeling is to 'reverse-engineer' the patch. Keep listening to it as the patch cables come out & try a game of audio Jenga, like how many of these cables can I pull out before it falls apart, this is a great game for really analysing the patch.

The next one will always be better grin
it's hard, I definitely know the feeling.
what I do is:
a) grab a loooong recording of it with little or no tweaking
b) tweak things a bit while recording, and then tweak it back, if possible (sometimes it really isn't, hehe)
c) do what DGTom suggested; try unpatching/repatching some things, while still recording. And what Felix said: try to get inside the functions of the patch, see if you can't find the core of what makes it work.
d) tear it down - slowly - and savour the zen-like aspects of that action.
e) clear your mind of the previous patch and move on to new work.
Make an I/O table.
X-axis has inputs, Y-axis has outputs. Large tick marks to separate modules, small tick marks to subdivide individual I/O. When you want to record a patch, you could just print this off and check off the connections made.
For further detail, you could make a set of unfilled circles placed radially around a knob image for each module and fill in/check off which position is used. Or just draw the knob itself, unfilled, and draw in the pointer by hand.

You could also do the table with an HTML form, using radio buttons instead of table cells. MS Word & Excel have form control embedding ability.
Thanks everyone for such thoughtful responses. Really enlightening.

Obviously this is an experience everyone has gone through.

I do like the fact that reconstruction is a process that almost always will lead you in another direction. Truly a creative process.
I had a long winded answer all composed, but the hell with it. Usually on a modular, these moments of serendipity come after hours of playing around, and after I've totally lost track of the the signal paths and modulations, etc. It's hitting that place that I would never have arrived at solely by intent, since obviously if you could do it on purpose, there'd be no need to do stuff like photograph the patch, etc. I don't know - I've never tried to recreate these. Somehow it wouldn't seem the same if, instead of stumbling on it, I created it on purpose. And I kind of doubt that even with photographs of the patch, it would wind up sounding the same anyway.
droolmaster0 wrote:
It's hitting that place that I would never have arrived at solely by intent, since obviously if you could do it on purpose, there'd be no need to do stuff like photograph the patch, etc.

I agree!

This is exactly why I wanted a "real" modular. I have memorised Nord Modular patches that have been loved, cherished, used and reused many times over the years (must introduce you to the indigenous peoples chant system sometime) but I found increasingly that when you can save and reproduce everything it takes something away from the process of making.

There is a spontaneity and physicality about using real cables to route real voltages and responding to what results, knowing that what you have is just of now, for this moment only. Catch a recording and let it go. The impermanence is the price of your entry ticket.

The downside is you might never find the same sound again. The upside is you will find something else instead.

And have a blast doing it.
I studied synthesis with Paul Lehrman back in college, and we learned additive synthesis on an ARP 2600. After walking us through all the functions he told us:

"Now, the most important thing to remember about the ARP is that if you find a sound you like, recording something with it RIGHT NOW because you'll probably never get that sound again."

If you think about how tweaky the response is on a complex patch just being 1% of on each knob across the board means you'll probably never reproduce something no matter how carefully you log everything. My album is all really delicately balanced ARP drones, and while I logged many of the patches I have no illusions of ever being able to get everything to hook back together into something recognizable as the original piece.
I used to make diagrams and take pictures sometimes. Specially when I had a system wide patch that I would re-create/use to play live. Tahts easy enough with EuroRack

now with the fucking Serge..... learning how to let go more easily cause that ain't easy to notate
Reese P. Dubin
I came up with a way to transcribe signal and control paths, make some notes maybe about the fundamental knob positions, and cry bitter tears as I tear it down.

I made a patch on the Fenix about 5 years ago, an endlessly evolving mellow random thing. I left it go for about 5 days nonstop, always in the background while I ate, slept, went to work etc. Just loved the hell out of the patch. wrote it up and pulled it. Went back to my notes a few weeks ago and tried to redo it, same idea but the magic had slipped away. The infinite resolution of our voltages makes for nightmares of re-creation. But I kinda prefer it this way, exact repetition of experience provides dimishing returns I think.
Hi Barnone,
I think the very title of this thread is proof that you already knew the answer:
Create and let go! That is the flow of modular synthesis.
(Had you titled it "Holding on", it is likely that you had posted that in a Nord Modular forum Mr. Green )
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