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what makes a performance modular
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Play Out! Performance Modulars  
Author what makes a performance modular
strettara
I'm pretty new here - this'll be post #9, I think. I come from an acoustic instrument background - piano when I was younger, more recently recorder (for baroque ensemble music) and tin whistle, mostly low whistle for pseudo-shakuhachi noodling, and playing along to tabla and tanpura backing.

So when I decided to get into the modular thing, I really wanted to get a setup that would be a playable instrument, but not just a more elaborate electric organ. I don't know if I've achieved my goal, I have a pretty flexible beginner's setup I think, but I'm curious what you all think makes a modular a "performance modular" per the title of this forum? I see such a variety of setups in members' pictures of their gear (mine is much more basic, mostly a load of Doepfer utility modules and a couple of voices, plus a keyboard I mostly use to transpose sequences).

So, what's the common thread? Is there one?
Hi5
Control interface.
strettara
That's obviously the right two word answer. But one thing I've noticed is that a lot of you have very densely featured modules, like maths, which don't look as flexible to me in performance as modules which do just one thing, although you'd need more of those. Most of my modules are more dedicated to just one function. So that was one thing I was curious about.
Matos
Well performance cases tend to be smaller, which lends itself to dense, multipurpose modules. Maths gives you tons of outs to route to everything which is great in performance. Two pressure points will give you 8 presets of sorts which allows for great flexibility.
RealDudes
joystick
edit: specifically the flight of harmony choices for it's wide throw and manual gate button
Hi5
Personally I dont like things like a Maths due to their excessive size and even though they are multi-purpose I find when space is a concern I'd rather have focused modules.

Instead of a Maths for example, if all I need are 2 eg and an env follower I would rather get those and save space.

It really comes down to how focused of a rig you will have. My performance patch has been essentially the same for the past couple years and all i've really done is replace VCO, Filters, etc..
Hi5
RealDudes wrote:
joystick
edit: specifically the flight of harmony choices for it's wide throw and manual gate button
'

You know, I've tried several joystick and have never been able to click with them. I guess I just love both of my Doepfer ribbon controllers and DIY pedals too much. love
goiks
the performer smile
DonaldCrunk
in the question re: multi-use modules vs one use, i think your preference really depends on the extent that youre willing to physically patch while performing. i want to do things with minimal rerouting, so i tend to prefer isolated simple function blocks combined with wide-ranging modules with lots of normalizations.

certain sorts of modules are easy to repurpose - an oscillator to an LFO only requires a twist of the pitch knob, whereas converting something like the maths from a dual EG to a mixer would require a little bit more extensive repatching. i find that if i delve too deeply into my preplanned patch while performing, things start to get more unpredictable (not always bad!).

but i have seen others do sets with multiple repatches on 9u or more, so in their case multi-purpose modules will work well.
strettara
Does anyone simply start with a naked set of modules and start patching them as he/she goes?

About control surfaces, the most flexible one I've seen - that doesn't go into computers - seems to be the Buchla tactile controller affair. I haven't seen anything quite like that for other systems, except for some folktek pieces. Do most people end up going through computers with pad controllers and all?

BTW - that quote of Goike's remark about folk instruments is thought provoking. I've often thought that what makes the modular synthesizer unique - apart from being the instrument of an economic and technological elite - is that it has no repertoire, in any normal sense. There are styles, genres and so on, but no pieces. It's mainly improvisational. Folk instruments are usually closely bound to a specific repertoire. Of course this is part of what makes the instrument so fascinating.
mono-poly
strettara wrote:
Does anyone simply start with a naked set of modules and start patching them as he/she goes?


That's how i do it.
Hainbach
A good digital delay and reverb with saveable presets can make all the difference for transitions between patching tunes. I use the Strymone Timeline for that and will someday get an Eventide Space.
strettara
I was looking at both of those...
bryantcheramie
If your doing something very musical and less on the experimental noisy side, I would recommend modules with switches. For example, if I'm playing a sequence with a doepfer envelope, I'll usually switch the envelope type from medium to short after a transition in the song. Or, if I'm using a Morphing Terrium, I will switch banks at the transition. I prefer the sound of an immediate change when using the module for a musical song, as opposed to sound you get from slowly dialing in the right cutoff frequency value of you filter, envelope curve, etc. If you are doing the experimental noisy music then do the opposite.

The autocorrect on this website keeps taking all my doepfers and turning them into deepers.
Hi5
strettara wrote:
About control surfaces, the most flexible one I've seen - that doesn't go into computers - seems to be the Buchla tactile controller affair. I haven't seen anything quite like that for other systems, except for some folktek pieces. Do most people end up going through computers with pad controllers and all?


I don't like bringing a computer to shows so I am all about the Doepfer ribbon controller and some gaming pedals I re-appropriated for using with the modular. Unlike a regular volume pedal, these have springs and go back to zero unless I push on them. Super useful for more expressive gestures with my feet. It is essentially 2 extra variable controls that I dont need to use my hands for.

The Buchla surface has been something I have wanted to try for some time. To be honest, it is the only thing about Buchla that I find interesting really. I wish I could see a manual for it though because the controller seems to have more zones than there are outputs on the module. i'm sure one day I will just get a small boat and the controller to interface with my other gear.

strettara wrote:
that quote of Goike's remark about folk instruments is thought provoking. I've often thought that what makes the modular synthesizer unique - apart from being the instrument of an economic and technological elite - is that it has no repertoire, in any normal sense. There are styles, genres and so on, but no pieces. It's mainly improvisational. Folk instruments are usually closely bound to a specific repertoire. Of course this is part of what makes the instrument so fascinating.


Very true. The thing to remember about folks musics is that a lot of them heavily incorporate improvisation in a variety of ways. I perform free improvisational music with my modular and both, free improv and the modular, have always felt closer to traditional/folk musics to me. When you create/design the instrument in a very personal and individual way and then play a new/unique music with it, you are essentially doing the same thing that early musicians did. It is great to make pop, dance, etc.. music with a modular but the exciting part for me is the new types of music than can come from the instrument. With a very limited history we are in a wild west so to speak with these instruments. There is so much exploring still to be done!
Hi5
bryantcheramie wrote:
If your doing something very musical and less on the experimental noisy side, I would recommend modules with switches.


Traditional or experimental, switches are always a good idea!
BugBrand
Everything I do is informed by what I want to play! Engineering meets art - theory with open-ness - stabilty with surprise. I always start unpatched.

I am fascinated by how a system (inc. a few external machines) comes somehow alive and presents you with a rolling play flight (my approach to life)

Saying that, I wouldn't in any way claim that my system is a good/right approach and it is somewhat personal...
BugBrand
Also for me, portability comes into it - you have to be able to move with your machines!
Hi5
Its always personal, or at least should be to get the best results Mr. Green
anthonybisset
I was big into switches and still think they're useful for CV sources, but have mostly moved on to crossfaders/panners... When playing on a nice sound system the clicking brought on by switches (depends on the patch of course) was just uncomfortable and unnerving depending on the gain of the system.
Navs
For me, it's the fact that I build the system for the night - the patch I intend to play determines which modules make it into the case.

I could get dogmatic and say "no computers, no keyboards" too wink
anthonybisset
Navs, the definition of what you've just described fails to pass the "acceptable ideas of social discourse" test. IOW terminally cool, just outside the language park.
Navs
Just keeping that electricity basic hihi
John_Chowning
i'm inclined to think that blinkenlights are a big part of a live modular rig. i was thinking of getting an oscilloscope for this reason alone.
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