MATRIXSYNTH: Adventures in Synthesis: Patching on the Deck

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Adventures in Synthesis: Patching on the Deck

Published on Oct 20, 2016 Chris Beckstrom

"An extended video: Usually I patch before hitting "record," but I thought it might be interesting to some folks to see the process of actually creating a patch, then playing it.

The groove gets going around 10:28

I'm no modular virtuoso by any means, but just as with any instrument the key is practice... so here I am!

I've been practicing and preparing for my very first live performance on my modular this Saturday. A part of that practice is transporting it, setting it up, patching it, then tearing it down. I used to play gigs every week on saxophone and keyboards and I know setting up unfamiliar gear in a dark room can be difficult! To practice, I've been moving my synth throughout the house, patching it in all sorts of different locations.

We're just about at peak color here in West Michigan; what better time to take the synth outside and do some patching.

No super detailed patch notes for this one, partially because I forgot what I did, and since I've already moved the modular I can't refer to the patch (it no longer exists!).

Basically, a drum machine I built in Pure Data is running on the fantastic MobMuPlat iOS app, which is sending drum sounds out one side and 16th note clock out the other. The clock goes through an amp and runs the sequencers and a shift register, which is sporadically causing some VCAs to open up. Later on I play with a saw wave being modulated by a few different things, those things routed through my matrix mixer.

I also make use of my arduino digital oscillator, which now has CV control of frequency, wave type, and wave tone (crossfades between different waves). It's a bit quieter because it's only 5 volts but I think it sounds pretty cool... I'm using small wavetables to get a lot of that delicious aliasing, which I happen to think sounds fantastic going through analog circuitry.

The drum sounds from the iPhone are built in a very similar way to the hardware analog circuits on the rest of the synth: basic waves are being generated (in numbers instead of voltage), then used to modulate each other in the software. I also find myself inspired by the stark limitations of an analog-style workflow, so that's how I code as well. That said, I also have a few samples from a TR-909 in there... cause they sound so good!

You can grab the drum machine here (FREE! iPad only for now):

The output of the modular goes into an Alesis Microverb for that 90's digital reverb goodness, then right into a recorder."

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