There hasn’t been any time for composing “real” tracks lately. I only had time to doddle on this Eurorack modular system on the dinner table. And drinking coffee. But let me tell you a little (not all!) of what’s going on on this patch:
A triangle wave is modulated by a variable shape through linear FM. A digital phase distortion is gently being folded before going to the mixer. A sub also appears there.
A couple of cycling CV curves are generated in a semi-random fashion and feed into a quantizer set to C harmonic minor scale. This is routed as 1 V/octave to the oscillators.
The filter is self-oscillating and tracks the same pitch.
The tempo is set to 90 BPM and triggers straight eights on the quantizer and envelope.
Now this is only a snapshot of a patch in progress. All those patches will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
It’s like building a character in a role-playing video game. You distribute endurance, strength, dexterity and such to make the avatar/modular reflect your play style. Some builds will render an East Coast synth voice, while others are suited for a more experimental kind of noise.
My first iteration of modules was based on dedicated, no frills core functionalities, such as Doepfer’s essential modules. It was good to start with the basics. By doing this I was able to test different routings, patch them in how I wanted and learn the signal path.
I did want to build a complete system, made entirely from one manufacturer’s modules. Because part of the beauty with modular is putting together an own rack made of different modules from different places and with different approaches.
From the beginning I decided for a quite small system, a limited case of 6U, 84 HP. But one or a few function per module demands more space, so after a while I began to replace some with functionally dense modules, in other words, I levelled up. Still I didn’t want to go to far; I don’t want a computer-like module that solves everything – I reckon that would be contra-modular.
For the time being, I run sequencer/clock outside of the system. Maybe it’s a little bit cheating, but this way I save space in the case. Anyway, I’m using my Analog Keys, and with it I can drive two separate sequences, process the modular signals through the synth’s filters, envelopes, effects and so on, and trigger my TR-606. And using all four voices of the synth itself at the same time. The Rosie output module has send and return for external effects, so I’ve my BigSky plugged in there. All in all, it’s quite a powerful and portable little setup.
As for the case, I just cut up a cardboard box and gaffered it together to fit the Happy Ending Kit rails. It’s very slim, very light, maybe not so stylish though.
And the housing is really a project. It’s like a doll house that is defragmented, partly from an interior design thinking. Well, I want it to look nice and neat. Then again, most time is spent researching which modules go in and out, based on functionality and compability with the ecosystem.
Nevermind the patch in the picture, I just needed something so sound and didn’t want to clutter the image too much. The photo is from the kitchen table.
Modular noodling with STO, A-110-1, uFold, A-184-1, Ripples, FUNCTION and some standard utilities. Externally sequenced at Analog Keys, which also generate the drum pattern on one track using sound locks. The modular signal is routed back to the Analog Keys where its processed by effects (chorus, delay and reverb). Recorded and gently mastered/normalized in Ableton Live. The rack itself is constantly changing.
I imagine that most readers of this blog are aspiring producers of electronic music. Its subject are not limited to only electronics, but I haven’t mention the word “flute” or “acoustic guitar” even once since the start of it all.
Anyway, electronic music is such a wide genre and has more to do with gear and techniques rather than a certain style of music.
So I’m into music production and old analog hardware. Here’s the thing, I’m into hip hop, and mostly trapish contemporary shit for the time being. And as a vintage gear head, I feel kind of alone.
Of course I’m influenced by Aphex Twin, Kraftwerk, older Depeche Mode, Warp Records, Hyperdub, Skinny Puppy, Front 242 and so on, but equally so by hip hop producers, such as J Dilla, DJ Premier, Timbaland, RZA, The Neptunes, Dr. Dre, DJ Shadow, RJD2.
And right now, I think my favorite producers/songwriters are Noah 40 Shebib and PartyNextDoor. And Noisia, and Zomby, and Burial, and perhaps Datsik around 2011.
Many electronic producers don’t seem to appreciate or understand hip hop production. I’m not talking about these people mentioned above, but about hte generic bedroom electronic music producer. They might think of hip hop as turntables and loops. But modern hip hop production uses the same gear and share many point of contacts with electronic music. (Of course, it’s kind of banal, because so do all popular styles of music.)
I don’t know, I don’t have an agenda here, I’ve just been thinking about this when browsing through different forums and groups. Most connoisseurs and nerds of synthesizers make techno, electronica, house, synthpop, industrial, edm or synthwave, not many make hip hop.
In lack of a real article here’s the corner of the bedroom. Not much have actually changed sinced the last man cave shoot. (I’ve bought and sold some gear, such as another SH-101, another Juno-106 and a Kick Lancet.) The latest addition to the setup is the mighty Analog Four. I’ve also made a couple of tracks in this corner of the world. The item on the far left of the desk is a sewing machine – not mine though.
If you’re reading and following this blog you ought to be interested in bass. And because of that, I’m giving you two – not so obvious – techniques on how to accentuate your synth bass sound.
Using the high-pass filter to boost bass
Okay, so you know what a high-pass filter is right, and that its cutoff frequency is the point at where the filter limits the low frequencies and lets the high pass.
You also know about resonance, and that it’s generally used to give a brighter/thinner sound. (And when the resonant setting is cranked to max, some filters go into self-oscillation and which make them scream.) But when high-pass resonance is added, the note and overtones near the cutoff are boosted – in other words, this is lifting the bass.
Just use keyboard tracking to make the resonant peak follow the pitch of the note and cutoff to follow the keyboard. The fundamental note will now be boosted while the surrounding spectrum is unaffected.
Use two filters in series if possible, set the other to low-pass filter and reduce harsh elements of the sound.
Get bigger bass by focusing on midrange
To get louder bass it’s not always necessary to pump up the level or to boost the lower frequencies, no you could just draw more attention to the bass element. Add midrange to it – it’s almost a mindtrick, and it shouldn’t make the bass any muddier.
So saturate the overtones of the bass or sculpt the thud of the kick drum. This is also valuable when there are several sounds competing for room in the low end.