MATRIXSYNTH: 3 Modules #1: Maths, STO, Rings

Saturday, April 15, 2017

3 Modules #1: Maths, STO, Rings

Published on Apr 15, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"My current eurorack setup looks like this:

Disregarding the 1U row, there are 10 separate modules. This means that there are a total of 120 different three-module combinations possible with my setup. In this video series I intend to explore each and every one of those combinations.

To start it all off: Here’s a drone piece featuring Maths, STO and Rings. I’m using a feedback loop through Rings, which is in «sympathetic strings» mode, over a low drone from the STO. And, of course, Maths provides some complex modulations of the sounds.

Patch illustration:

In principle, each patch will consist of only the three modules in the given combination. HOWEVER, the 1U row is «fair game». Some combinations may necessitate mixing, attenuation or an input clock signal, and this is why I won’t count the bottom row of utilities as separate modules. I’ll be happy to take requests as to which combinations to try out next."

3 Modules #2: uScale, Brain Seed, Branches

Published on Apr 17, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"This is probably the silliest three module combination I can put together: none of these modules produce any kind of signal on their own, and even with external input they're not really meant to produce sound.

Patch notes:
Patch #1:
Noise tools generates an audio rate pulse wave, which feeds into Branches. Branches produces two signals from this input: a pulse wave at an octave below the input (ch. 1) and a sporadic series of triggers (ch. 2).

The pulse wave is then fed into the slew limter, as a basic low pass filter to smooth it out a little. It then passes to the uScale V/oct, which functions as a kind of bit crusher (disabling steps leads to a lower "bit depth"). The output from uScale is the audio signal we hear.

The triggers from Branches are used to step through a sequence of random values on the Brain Seed. These values are then sent to the uScale shift input, which causes the audio signal to sputter and jump around to different pitches and tones.

Patch #2:
I actually made this one first, but it felt a bit "cheaty" because of the heavy use of the shimmer reverb and filtering via the noise tools slew limiter, and also the uScale didn't really contribute much. Anyways, here's what's up:

Once again, the noise tools provides an audio rate pulse wave. Branches and Brain Seed are used to divide the signal into different sub-harmonics, and uScale is used to bitcrush one of the waves.

These three drones are mixed together in the Quadratt, which is what I'm tweaking most of the time, and then the sum is sent through the slew limiter/LPF on its way out to the Big Sky reverb."

3 Modules #3: Rings, Peaks, Brain Seed

Published on Apr 17, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"Wanted to go with a simple and pretty one to follow up the messy episode 2. This is one of my favourite patches.

Patch notes:
Peaks ch. 2 produces a simple, skewed ramp wave LFO which feeds into the Brain Seed seed input. Brain Seed treats this kind of like a sample and hold signal input, and samples the ramp wave to produce V/oct CV for Rings.

However, unlike a regular sample and hold module, Brain Seed doesn't react to a trigger signal. Instead it stores the 8 most recently sampled values, and moves between them as directed by the Cycle CV input. In this case, I'm using a smoothed random LFO from Peaks ch. 1 to modulate this movement. Since it's a random signal, the sampled values are output in random order. But since it's smoothed, it "strums" through adjacent values to get from one point of the sequence to another.

By switching on and off "ReSeed" on the Brain Seed, I can choose to lock down the 8 sampled values (ReSeed off - cycle LED flashes green) which leads to somewhat repeating patterns, or allow new values to be sampled (ReSeed on - cycle flashes red). I'm using this to create movements and repetitions as I see fit."

3 Modules #4: Clouds, Ears, Ripples

Published on Apr 25, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"Wow, this one turned out to be a lot of fun! As you can hear, this patch is capable of a wide range of craziness – all without using any "support" modules, and without any added reverb or other out-of-the-rack effects. (show more)

I figured the "obvious" way to go here, would be to use Ears' contact mic as a sound source, filter the audio through Ripples, and tag on the Clouds as a delay/reverb effect at the end. So, naturally, I decided to do something completely different. :)

Patch notes:
This is basically a feedback loop, from Clouds' output via Ears, through Ripples' 4 pole LPF, and back into Clouds. For most of the patch, though, Ripples' resonance is at full, which means it produces sine tones – the audio input is virtually inaudible at max resonance.

However, by using Ears' envelope follower output to control the gain on Ripples, there's still a feedback response, even when the audio input is drowned by the resonance peak. I think it's easy to forget that Ears is more than just a contact mic/external audio input. Its envelope follower and gate makes it ideally suited to control feedback loops in this manner.

The sine tones/fed back audio is passed from Ripples to Clouds, which chops it up into grains, pitch shifts those grains, and adds reverb. I'm manually modulating the grain size, density, texture (i.e. grain envelope shape) and reverb mix level. The pitch is modulated with an audio signal from Ripples BP2 output. However, since the pitch is set 'per grain', the result is more akin to a S&H pitch modulation than audio rate FM."

3 Modules #5: Maths, STO, uScale

Published on Apr 29, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"Someone requested a patch with STO as the only sound source, so that's what this one's about. I wanted to show off all the different waveforms, including the variable shape parameter (and that seriously awesome, raw sub!). FM and sync will have to wait. :) (show more)

Patch notes:
I've patched the EOR/EOC gates from the function channels on Maths into ch. 3 and 4, and I'm mixing those with the ch. 1 function to create a combination of stepped and slewed movements. The sum signal is sent to the uScale V/oct input, and ch. 4 function is sent separately to the shift input. Together these produce a pentatonic ostinato that is played by the STO. And since the cycle rates of each channel is independent, the melody is gradually changing due to phase drifting between the functions.

Maths is also modulating the STO shape parameter, by way of the inverted sum output. This means that the shape is modulated in time with the melody, but it doesn’t correspond exactly to what note is played, since Maths ch. 4 is excluded from the sum output (by going directly to the uScale shift).

Each waveform from the STO is sent to its own channel on the Quadratt, and I’m using this to blend between the different sounds. You may notice that the sine channel (C) is switched to polarized mode. This is because the variable shape and sine wave outputs are actually running in opposite phase to each other (if you’re clever, you’ll realize that this can be exploited to for some «pseudo VCA» shenanigans – I’ll make sure to show that in a future video).

Thanks for watching!"

3 Modules #6: Branches, Peaks, Ripples

Published on May 8, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"A fairly short and simple one this time – a kind of "Krell patch". Using the Ripples as a straight sine oscillator without any audio rate FM or other tricks to spice it up makes for a pretty monochrome palate (I've added some delay about halfway through here, though). But the interesting thing about this patch, I think, is how it regulates its own tempo.

Patch notes:
Ripples is the sound source, functioning as a simple sine wave oscillator + VCA. The amplitude is controlled by channel 1 on Peaks (tap LFO mode, producing a slanted triangle wave with a sharp attack and a longer decay), pitch is controlled by Peaks' channel 2 (four step sequencer mode).

The tempo is determined by tapping the trigger input for Peaks' channel 1. This is patched in a feedback loop with its own output, which normally would cause the tempo to rise uncontrollably until it reaches a maximum. But in this case, the feedback path leads through Branches channel 1. Whenever Branches receives a "ping" from Peaks, it "flips a coin" to determine whether or not to feed that ping back into Peaks' trigger input. In other words: when the tempo rises higher, it also becomes more likely to slow down.

Branches' channel 2 uses the same input as channel 1 (by default), and does a similar "coin flip" to determine whether to advance the pitch sequence by one step (output A into Peaks' channel 2 trigger), or to offset the current pitch by a fixed amount (output B, into Ripples' FM input).

Thanks for watching!"

3 Modules #7: STO, Ears, Brain Seed

Published on May 15, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"This one is pretty basic, but uses a neat trick with the STO to create amplitude modulation without the use of a VCA.

Patch notes:
Ears is used as a manual trigger. The gate output (which only fires on extra hard hits) is connected to the Brain Seed, cycling through a random eight step sequence. This sequence is quantized to a minor scale, and sent to STO's V/Oct input.

Ears' envelope output is sent to STO's "shape" input. When this parameter is at 0, the output is a sine wave in opposite phase of the dedicated sine wave output. This means that the two outputs cancel each other out when mixed directly. As Ears' envelope moves the shape parameter, it produces a change in amplitude as well as timbre, because it adds harmonics that aren't cancelled by the sine wave.

I'm using a Strymon Big Sky for some added delay/reverb.

Thanks for watching!"

3 Modules #8: Maths, Peaks, Clouds

Published on May 21, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"I call this one 'demented drummer'. Clouds and Maths means you know this is going to be intricate and unpredictable. I love how the results can shift wildly by the slightest adjustment of the controls here, and how tweaking one knob on Maths can affect multiple parts of the patch in different ways.

Patch notes:
The sound source is Peaks’ secondary drum mode, the digital drum synth, which has four controls (from top to bottom): pitch, FM/pitch sweep, decay time and tone color (from tonal to noise). I’m manually changing these parameters to tweak the sound. Peaks’ channels are triggered by Maths’ EOR and EOC gate outputs respectively.

Maths is also modulating itself, to create some interesting "drum patterns". The EOR/EOC gates each trigger cycle mode for the opposite channel, and the sum and inverted sum outputs modulate the cycle rate for channel 1 and 4 respectively. This means that as the rate of one increases, the other decreases.

Peaks’ outputs are mixed together in the Quadratt, and the mix is sent to Clouds, which is in "looping delay" mode. Delay time (position) and loop size (size) are modulated by Maths’ unity function outputs from ch. 1 and 4 respectively. Freeze, which loops the delay buffer, is engaged by the OR output from Maths. I’m manually tweaking Clouds’ dry/wet mix, feedback and reverb amounts, as well as the input filter (texture) and pitch shift to create changes in the patch.

No external effects are used this time. :)

Thanks for watching!"

3 Modules #9: Rings, Branches, Peaks

Published on Jun 2, 2017 Comparative Irrelevance

"I'm pretty happy with how the "mood" turned out in this one. It feels cinematic, in a way, with heavy brass bass and dramatic bell stabs.

Patch notes:

Noise tools only provides a steady clock to get the patch started. Branches takes that clock as input, and channel 1 randomly flips between outputing a static voltage to (A) Rings' frequency input, and (B) Rings' structure input. In effect, it jumps between to "preset" states on Rings.

Branches' channel 2 uses the same clock input, and randomly chooses whether to forward each trigger to Peaks' channel 1 (A) or 2 (B).

Peaks' channel 1 is in the alternate drum mode. The sound it produces is sent into Rings' input, to be further processed by the resonator. Rings is in the alternate inharmonic strings mode (flashing red LED), which has a built in reverb. No external effects were used in this patch.

Peaks' channel 2 is in tap LFO mode, producing a stepped random voltage. This is sent to Rings' V/Oct input, controlling the fundamental of the resonator. Because Branches will randomly omit triggers sent to the LFO tap input (or rather, send those triggers elsewhere), the LFO tempo changes continually. However, it's still related to the master clock, and so it stays "in time" with the patch. The result is kind of like a randomly changing clock division. Pretty cool interaction between Branches and Peaks there, I think.

Thanks for watching!"

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