MATRIXSYNTH: Search results for Hack Modular

Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Hack Modular. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Hack Modular. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Talking With Tom Whitwell (Music Thing Modular)

video upload by Hack Modular

Hack Shop:

Talking With Tom Whitwell - Part 2 (Music Thing Modular)

video upload by Hack Modular

Hack Shop:

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Modular Patch/Performances by Mike Thomas

Published on May 14, 2017 Mike Thomas

Notes for each further below.

Modular Jam : Lords of the West : Rings, Elements, Clouds, Peaks
Modular Melody: Church of Meta Q - Tides (Parasite), Function, Clouds
Modular Jam: SynthTech E350/E355/E440, Mutable Instruments Elements/Clouds, Pittsburgh SV-1/KB-1
Modular Patch/Performance: Slow to Go
Modular Patch/Performance:- The Big Build
Modular Patch/Performance: Sargasso
Modular Patch/Performance: Fair Winds
Modular Patch/Performance - Over the Clouds
Modular Patch/Performance: March of the Shift Register
Modular Etude #1


Saturday, June 13, 2020

SynLimb live modular set as aired on Ep 3 (June 13 2020)

"Live modular performance with our SynLimb arm-prosthesis-to-CV hack. I've been practicing a lot and am slowly getting there. The modular is sequenced by the Winter Modular Eloquencer in the first half; I then transition to the Toraiz Squid. It was a lot of fun to play this in our living room. Thanks to my husband Daniel for filming. This was aired on on June 13 2020 with a Q&A afterwards:"

Modular World-Ep. 3-Bertolt Meyer, Probbie, Death Whistle, Eden Grey and Hawthorn

Modular World

"Featuring: Bertolt Meyer (Germany), Probbie (U.K.), Death Whistle (Spain), Eden Grey (U.S.) and Hawthorn (U.S.)"

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Hack Modular at Machina Bristronica Synth Festival!

video upload by Hack Modular

Hack Shop:

Friday, March 29, 2024

"The Chromed TONTO" - MASSIVE Live Modular Synthesizer w/ P-Thugg from Chromeo

video upload by Anthony Marinelli Music

Like a modern day TONTO - "The Chromed TONTO"

"Discover the unbelievable as Anthony and co-host Rob Rosen, synth tech to the stars, team up with special guest Patrick Gemayel, also known as P-Thugg from electro-funk duo "Chromeo," to unveil and construct the world's largest touring synthesizer - a towering 18 feet long and 8 feet tall, featuring 6 keyboards, all fully CHROMED! Dive into an epic unboxing and building session, culminating in an electrifying improvised synth jam.
In this captivating video, witness the step-by-step assembly of four colossal custom chrome modular synthesizer towers, drawing inspiration from iconic sources like Stevie Wonder’s TONTO synth, 1984 Bang & Olufsen speakers, and Seventies space-age furniture. Crafted and chromed by the legendary Roger Arrick from, these towers house cutting-edge modular synths with a unique behind-the-modules patching system, ensuring seamless performances with quick sound changes and full MIDI compatibility for patch cord free audience views.
Delve into the meticulous live performance setup of P-Thugg and his duo mate David Macklovitch (aka Dave 1), showcasing their mastery of Ableton Live and AbleSet for music playback, set lists, and lighting cues. Experience the behind-the-scenes magic as you join the conversation with the funk maestro "P" in his warehouse, where dreams of a chromed synth spectacle turned into reality. Don't miss out on this unforgettable journey into the heart of electro-funk innovation!

00:00:00 Intro (music)
00:00:55 Meet P-Thugg
00:01:11 Building the Modules / Jam 1
00:02:53 The MIDI Keyboards
00:04:53 Building the Tiers / Jam 2
00:06:33 Custom system by (
00:12:15 Custom Tuner Module
00:13:10 Synthesizer Tuner Hack
00:14:10 Modular and Poly Synth Output Configuration
00:15:50 Look Mum, no patch cords - Hard Wired Presets
00:17:34 Culmination of a Modular Dream / Monster Polyphonic Dream Next
00:19:07 Building the MIDI / Jam 3
00:22:44 Fully Built Instrument (after 3 hours setting up)
00:24:05 Preset Patching System
00:29:47 Bypassing the Preset Patches
00:30:21 Switching Presets on Stage
00:33:40 Spontaneously Programming Sounds on Stage
00:34:42 P-Thugg's Favorite Sound
00:35:25 Presets Switch between Live Panel Settings
00:36:39 Re-creating the Album in a Live Setting
00:37:35 Changing The Face Panel
00:40:09 Patching the MIDI Polyphonic Synthesizer Keyboards
00:43:15 Tuning Drifting Oscillators - Custom Tuner Module
00:43:51 Connecting All 4 Modular Instruments
00:45:59 Cleaning the Chrome
00:46:35 MIDI Interface Routing
00:48:47 Moog Modular Flexibility with Minimoog Speed
00:49:14 Front Panel Tour
00:51:20 Overriding the Presets with Patch Cords / Multi-Mode Filter
00:53:34 AbleSet by Leolabs - Set Lists, MIDI Patch Changes, Ableton Live Playback connection (
00:56:10 Ableton Light Cues
00:57:02 DAW Software - Cubase, Pro Tools, Ableton Live
00:57:50 Adapting the Show to the Song
00:59:37 Chromeo's Mission
01:01:20 Conclusion
01:01:47 Logo (music)"

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Synthesized Festival 2023 - Cambridge Centre For Computing History & Making Drums For Modular Synth

video upload by Hack Modular

"Synthesized Festival

If you'd like exclusive access to projects you can subscribe on Patreon!

00:00 Intro
00:20 Museum Tour
01:02 Vintage Synth Room
01:23 Hack Setup
08:03 John with the Nascom-2
09:33 Sheila with the MIDISID and e-ther
14:33 Jonathan with Windows 98 PC sound
18:54 Outro

Making Drums For My Modular Synth!

video upload by

Synthesized Festival:

Tindie Store:
Reverb Store:
Etsy Store:


00:00 Intro
01:33 Laying Out The Big Components
09:00 Making The Individual Drum Voices
12:15 Testing The Completed Drums
13:35 Final Bits Of Advice

Monday, January 12, 2015

New DSM02 Character Eurorack Module from Dave Smith Instruments

Published on Jan 12, 2015 Dave Smith Instruments

"Additional audio samples on Soundcloud:

The DSM02 Character Module in Eurorack format is the newest addition to Dave Smith Modular. With 5 digital effects with true stereo operation, the DSM02 offers extremely flexible tone shaping and sonic possibilities. More info available at"

And the official press release:

"Dave Smith Instruments Introduces DSM02 Character Module Legendary Synth Designer Debuts Second Eurorack Module for Modular Systems

San Francisco, CA—January 12, 2015—Dave Smith Instruments today introduced the DSM02 Character module, their second offering for modular synthesizers. The Eurorack-format module provides an eclectic assortment of five digital effects, ranging from subtle to aggressive for shaping, twisting, and mangling sound. These effects, Girth, Air, Decimate, Hack, and Drive form a significant component in Smith’s acclaimed Pro 2 and Prophet 12 synthesizers.

'The Character section of the Pro 2 and Prophet 12 is a fundamental part of what gives those instruments their unique sound,' says Smith. 'As our users know, those effects can take you from nice to nasty with the turn of a knob. We wanted to make it easy and affordable for modular users to inject some of that character into their rigs.'

'Girth' and 'Air' provide sophisticated low- and high-frequency harmonic enhancement, respectively, for polishing and refining a sound. 'Decimate' performs sample rate reduction for adding lo-fi grunge. 'Hack' is a bit crusher capable of trashing an otherwise clean signal nearly beyond recognition. And lastly, 'Drive' adds overdrive and saturation, with warmth at one end of the knob and intense harmonic overload at the other.

The DSM02 module is a 14HP wide, standard Eurorack-format device with interconnections made using 3.5 mm phone jacks. A carefully designed set of inputs allow individual voltage control of effect levels. The module provides two independent audio inputs and two independent audio outputs with shared control, allowing for either mono or stereo operation. The digital signal path provides full 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution for superior audio fidelity.

As DSI’s Andrew McGowan puts it, 'The modular scene is exploding with possibilities. We’ve got a lot of really creative and expressive tools to offer musicians in that world. Our Curtis Filter module was our first contribution and users snapped it up immediately. This time we wanted to do something a little more esoteric—but still fundamental to the Dave Smith sound. We think the modular crowd is going to love it.'

The DSM02 module is available now with a MAP of $259."

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Hack Modular Talking About The Uniselector Sequencer amongst Others

video upload by

Uniselector Sequencer - Build

video upload by Hack Modular

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Modular Jam : Much Ado : Rings, Elements, Clouds, Peaks, TipTop ONE

Published on May 21, 2017 Mike Thomas

"More patching with my smaller, Mutable Instruments-focused case. Loving it! Constraints can be a good nudge to your creativity.

Much Ado: Patch Notes

Involved modules
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

KOMA Christmas present: A very special SVF-201 Backlight hack/mod!

Published on Dec 19, 2012 by KOMA Elektronik

"As a Christmas present we want to offer our customers and friends a special hack this year! Normally the backlight of the SVF-201's Cutoff knob is constantly on and you can only turn it off by removing a jumper on the board, this hack makes it possible to control the backlight behind the Cutoff knob corresponding to the Control Voltage you send into the Cutoff CV Input! Yes! To get more information on the hack:

Until Christmas (25/12/2012) the SVF-201 and KOMMANDER are on sale in our webstore at in a special modular bundle, grab it while the offer lasts!

Happy holidays from the KOMA Elektronik Team!

DISCLAIMER: By executing this mod you are VOIDING YOUR WARRANTY. When you are not sure about your soldering expertise, please ask an experienced solderer to do it for you!"

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Make A Modular Synth Lunchbox Case CHEAPLY

video upload by Hack Modular

Hack Shop:

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Making music by DRAWING - Oramics Reinvented

video upload by Hack Modular

Hack Shop:

See the Oramics label below for related posts.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Synth Artist Interviews via I♥SYNTHS

You might remember the I♥SYNTHS interview with Richard Devine previously posted here. Jim Smith of I♥SYNTHS has been sharing new interviews on The MATRIXSYNTH Lounge.  There are currently a total of nine artist interviews.  The following is a list of each with with one pic, one quote and one link to the full interview.  You'll find some great synth spotting throughout and of course you'll get some insight and perspectives on the synths and more from each artist.  You can also find I♥SYNTHS on Facebook.

009: Shawn Rudiman

"I♥SYNTHS: What was your first synthesizer?

Shawn Rudiman: My first synth was a Yamaha b200 M. That was what started me on this wild ride. It was a Prosumer FM 8 voice / 4 op poly. I got it for Christmas in 1990. I believe I was 18 and It was my first real love. That poor synth has had a lot of flight time hours on it. They keys have started to degrade and melt and the buttons are all in need of serious replacing as well. I still love it and pull it out sometimes. The next day after that Christmas, I went out and picked up an HR16b, with whatever money I had saved. I still have that as well and it’s been modified now with the patch bay-hack that scrambles the 16-bit data lines which makes the sounds totally into something new."

008: Custom Synth

"I♥SYNTHS: You’ve done some custom synths for celebrities and famous musicians. What was your most unique or original project?

Custom Synth: One of the most unique projects was for Tom Rowlands (The Chemical Brothers studio). I built a midi controller keyboard to sit in the bumper rail of a large SSL mixing desk. It has a detachable cover to match the rest of the desk and two modular cabinets. One was for the Serge modular system in a two piece metal arch and the other was a MOTM system to match the Roland 700 system."

007: Kebu

"I♥SYNTHS: What was your first synthesizer?

Kebu: A new Kawai K1 II, which I hated because it didn’t have a decent piano sound and the black keys were harder to press than the white keys. I probably would appreciate it now for what it is, but back then I would have needed a PCM-based workstation, like a Korg M1 that I lusted for, but couldn’t afford back then. Soon after, I found a used Roland SC-155 (Sound Canvas module), which I really liked but realized that I really need the patch storage capability for live use, which the SC-155 lacked. I then realized that synths are VERY different from each other. Not in terms of nuances, like with different types of guitars, but more like apples and oranges. I also realized that by learning and trading on the second hand market I could try many different synths without loosing too much money. So the Kaway K1 was the first and only new synth I ever bought. After that, I’ve had over one hundred different hardware synths."

006: Soft Lighting

"I♥SYNTHS: What’s your go-to piece of gear that defines the Soft Lighting sound?

Soft Lighting: I usually choose a different set of tools for each album because I think it helps give that body of work a uniqueness. The first album, “Slow Motion Silhouettes” was all done on the Juno 60 and the drums where a lot of old Casios so it has a real washed out lo fi vibe. “Portraits” was made with the DX7, Juno 106 and Roland drum machines so it has a cleaner more digital sound. Now I’m working a lot with my Virus TI which is taking the sound out of the realm of vintage 80s and taking it to a more contemporary place."


"I♥SYNTHS: What was your first synthesizer and how old were you when you started collecting? I still remember exactly what my first synthesizer was, the Yamaha TX81Z. It is a rack module so I had to buy an extra midi keyboard, that at that time wasn’t even velocity sensitive. It must have been around 1987 when it was just released. So, I was 17 I guess. That adds up, since I bought it from the money I got to buy a moped from my parents, when I didn’t smoke until my 16th birthday. I guess their trick worked since I still don’t smoke. I also still have the TX81Z with my original sounds I made back then. I can also remember well, that FM programming was not easy and still isn’t easy."

004: Richard Devine

"I♥SYNTHS: What is your go-to synthesizer when writing music? Is there one synth that defines the Richard Devine sound?

Richard Devine: My go synth would have to be the Nord G2 modular. This is hands down one of my favorite synthesizers. The concept is that its a virtual modular software environment where you can create basically anything you want. You then can assign multiple pages and knobs over the the synthesizer for all your patches. So ahead of its time, and I wish Clavia would bring it back."

003: Dallas Campbell

"I♥SYNTHS: When did you start collecting gear and what is your prized possession?

Dallas Campbell: This dude I knew in college let my roommate and I borrow a four track cassette recorder. I was pretty much hooked on gear and music after that. I started buying synths about 10 or so years ago. I’m guessing the rarest thing I have is a Yamaha SY20. I don’t think it was ever released outside of Japan. All the writing on the synth is in Japanese! My favorite synth is probably my SCI Pro-One for mono and the Korg Polysix for poly. As for favorite fx units, I would say the Dimension D Chorus, Multivox Multiecho Delay, the Eventide Space Reverb, and the Roland SBF-325 flanger."

002: RetroSound

"I♥SYNTHS: What is your favorite synthesizer that you can’t live without?

RetroSound: My absolute favorite synthesizer ever is the Oberheim OB-X (not the later OB-Xa). The raw sound and the power is pure sex. It’s really the best!"

001: FM Attack

"I♥SYNTHS: If you were stuck on an island with one synth from your collection, what would you bring?

FM Attack: That’s a tough question. I think I would probably go with the Sequential Circuits Prophet 5"

Monday, May 08, 2023

New Kaona Eurorack Modules Coming to SUPERBOOTH

video upload by Kaona modular music

Handcrafting of Skippy by Kaona

Mumack first test

"First sound of Mumack"

Switchy for Eurorack

video upload by

"Three switches to control the power supply of three Eurorack modules or three flying bus."

Transpos Eurorack

"Transpos is both a transposer and a three channel voltage adder or subtractor for Eurorack modular music"

Skippy is a matrix and non-matrix polyrhythmic sequencer (linear and logarithmic) which offers four completely independent tracks with a very simple interface: one button per track, one function per screen, no sub-menus.

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Unusual Modular Synth Experiments - Patch Notes

video upload by Hack Modular

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dave Smith Instruments DSM02 Character Eurorack Module

via this auction

"From the DSI site:

Give Your Modular Some Character

Dave Smith strikes again with a new offering for modular synthesizer users — the DSM02 Character Module. It’s a sound designer’s tool kit of five unique digital effects for shaping, twisting, and mangling sound in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. These effects, Girth, Air, Decimate, Hack, and Drive form the Character section of DSI’s acclaimed Prophet 12 and Pro 2 synthesizers and contribute to their distinctive tone in a big way.

“Girth” provides low-frequency harmonic enhancement for adding weight and density.
“Air” provides high-frequency harmonic enhancement for adding definition and presence.
“Decimate” performs sample rate reduction for adding lo-fi grunge.
“Hack” is a bit crusher capable of trashing an otherwise clean signal nearly beyond recognition.
“Drive” adds overdrive and saturation, with warmth at one end of the knob and harmonic overload at the other.
Plug It and Play It

The DSM02 is a 14 HP Eurorack-format module with interconnections made using 3.5 mm phone jacks. Two independent audio inputs and two independent audio outputs with shared control allow mono or stereo operation. A 24-bit, 96 kHz resolution digital signal path provides uncompromising signal fidelity.

Inject Some Mojo into Your System

If you’re looking to take your modular system into new sonic territory, the DSM02 may be just the ticket. It’s a fast and affordable way to inject your system with some serious mojo from two of the world’s most in-demand synths.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Synthesizers com Dual Envelope Filter Hack

video upload by Synthesizer Reviews // Tips // Patch Tutorials

Time Index

00:00 Introduction
00:13 Modules needed
00:15 Patch Description
01:15 Start with basic synth patch
01:48 The patch
02:51 Advantages of the patch
03:56 Patch variation
04:56 Module Recommendation

"This basic patch is meant for those who are new to modular synthesis.
It illustrates a modular synthesizers ability to be stretched further than you think it can.

This patch is limited to the modules found in the Compact 11-Space Box11 System Bundle. Substitute any module with one from a different manufacturer if that is what you have.

Modules Needed


The patch illustrates the power of modular synthesis to use one module for several things. in this case using an Envelope Generator to both shape the VCA and the VCF at the same time. Allowing for the filter to be modulated by two Envelopes at the same time

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

New Studio Electronics MIDIMini V30

Studio Electronics Midimini V30 Demo With Patches [No Talking] Published on Dec 24, 2019 VCO USA

Note this post has been updated a few times. Original post below.

"A collection of 10 patches w/ Preset Templates for the Minimini V30. Time stamps below for the specific patch and the patch sheets appear at the last 10 seconds of each clip.

0:03 - The Impossible Drum 'Kit'
1:48 - Aggro Bass
2:35 - FM Sync Lead
3:48 - Screamin' Triangles
5:11 - Filter FM Shark Bass
6:26 - 4th Wobble Bass
7:58 - Bigger Than Yours Bass
9:00 - Classic Sync
9:51 - Pluck You (Arp)
10:57 - Dreamy Drone Chord

You can download the patch sheets here"

"30 years later and here we are... glorious sound makes that possible. All honor and praise to the geniuses at R. A. Moog Co, especially Bill Hemsath, and Mr. Moog himself, a person with whom I (MSR) shared a lunch space at NAMM in the 1990s—it's something folks.

Some internal patching on "Registered Pulses", "Voo R U", and "1st Midimini V30", not that I can remember what went where. No FX however, (with the exception of a wet channel on Rach of Ages 2), no compression, limiting, only a touch of some spot normalizing on several tracks. Essentially raw and un-pestered, synth and factory direct honesty—still such a lonely word.

Oh yes, and I created a few stereo tracks from multiple takes; who could resist? I'm sure you can spot them.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas,
Marc St Regis 12/24/19"

Details via Studio Electronics:

MIDIMINI V30 - $2999

"Many can recall dialing up Midim-g/Midimini patches that fit a song so perfectly that they inspired even greater creativity; shapely, sometimes sinuous sounds whose essense called out to you; emotive sounds you never wanted to change; sounds you lovingly tracked, notated and revered; sounds as vital as the lyrics or lead vocal—that solid, insistent, articulate bounce, bravado, and twangy bang. Was there another sensible, MIDI-driven rackmount choice for immaculate synth-bass and lead lines?

November 2019 brings the SE Midimini V30 to the table, and nothing has been lost in the translation of this end-of-decade Analog essential. A raft of brand-new hardware features, extensive software sweetening, and modular connections open the window even wider to an already stunning Analog view.

It's highlight time again:

Through-hole build: Every. Single. PC board.
Classic 4-pole, 24 db/oct, voltage-controlled Lowpass Ladder Filter, with voltage-controlled Cutoff.
Semi-Modular Mini: Standard issue CV & Gate, and # OutsToOuts-friendly patchability of voltage, amplifier, and key tonal mastering tap points (1/8" Eurorack Connections).
Classic Midimini Cross Mod and Boomstar-perfected Ring Mod.
Amp Drive: Boomstar Modular AMP saturation and overdrive imported into 'V30 world.
Output Feedback loop and gain control—the old Low Output to External Input hack—hardwired and fine-tuned—interacts expressivley with Amp Drive.
MIDI-syncable, AFM*-capable, multi-waveform LFO, routable to VCF and VCO.
LFO Out patch point for deep modulation or oscillation creation.
LFO Gate (LFO pulse of VCF/VCA) from the SE-02.
OSC 1 Triangle Wave to amplifier (bypasses VCF) for high Resonance setting/low frequency compensation.
Sweepable OSC Oscillator 2 to Oscillator 1 Sync.
Handy Boomstar Drone feature.
Envelope 2 Master Mode: ENV2 (VCA) assumes control of Filter (VCF) Envelope.
Expressive Linear and Exponential Glide.
Front Panel-mounted External Audio input with level control.
Independent Release control of Filter and Amplifier.
Boomstar MIDI Learn feature for MIDI, Aftertouch and Modwheel.
Low/Last/High Note Priority, Env 1 inverting, VCF/VCA dynamics, and VCF Envelope Multi-trigger."

Click the images for the full size shots. Had to shrink them down a bit to format the page.

Original post:

This one was spotted and sent in via Soviet Space Child, via Studio Electronics Instagram feed.

The MIDIMini as you all likely know is Studio Electronics rackmount Minimoog. They originally converted vintage Minimoogs to the MIDIMoog and then followed with their own designed MIDIMini. You can find pics of a MIDIMoog here and an original MIDIMini here.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Offgrid Shuffle in Eurorack: LoFi Hiphop with Stolperbeats

video upload by Making Sound Machines

"Here's a modular lofi hiphop patch that came out so leftfield it was too fun not to share! It's built around #Stolperbeats and Befaco's fantastic Percall Quad Drum VCA, with Stolperbeats sequencing the shuffled gates and a wooden baseboard amplified and routed through our #TausenddB and #Multiplikand patched as a texture control.

Stolperbeats, 'beats tripping over themselves' in German, is our upcoming drum trigger sequencer designed to create shuffled beats influenced by artists like Flying Lotus, Hiatus Kaiyote and J Dilla. We really love those beats and used to reconstruct them for our tracks in the DAW, so we ended up digging deep into the techniques how real-life drummers like Questlove from The Roots or Perrin Moss from Hiatus Kaiyote play these shuffles.

This patch is almost a little hack as it uses Stolperbeats' clock outputs as a musical signal. Subdiv outputs the swung clock or a related set of tuplet subdivisions, perfect for syncing up cartesian sequencers like Make Noise Rene that advance one step per clock tick. Sync plays a straight unswung metronome ranging from once every four bars to 24 ppq, great for keeping a Delay or LFO in time.

Here, Stolperbeats' clock signals are patched to trigger Percall's VCA envelopes, shaping the sounds picked up from the board with piezo contact mics, and creating groove from the offset flams of the shuffled and straight clocks. Enrica is performing the drum rolls by changing the subdivisions on the fly. It's all held together by the lovely blips from Winterbloom 's Juno-inspired DCO Castor & Pollux on kick and a Patching Panda Hatz patch on snare duty.

We'll be showcasing this setup tonight at Muelheim Modular's lovely synth shop in Köln Mülheim. It's part of Mülheimer Nacht 2022 so if you're in Cologne, swing by and say hi! You will be able to try out the patches and modules hands-on. If you want to build our synth #DIY kits, we're hosting a workshop at Superbooth in Berlin, 13.05.2022, 17:00. If you are unable to make it to Berlin, kits are available at Muelheim Modular and Exploding Shed (EU), Thonk (UK) and (US), or visit our website and mail us directly."

Sunday, June 12, 2022

ReSynthesizer (Autonomous Synthesizer Installation at MIT's PSFC, Spring/Summer 2018)

video upload by ParadisoModular

"In December of 2017, as part of the 50’th anniversary celebration for MIT’s CAVS (Center for Advanced Visual Studies), I was invited to install my large, custom built-and-designed modular synthesizer system into the experimental hall where Alcator C-Mod was residing, MIT’s most recent tokamak reactor used in plasma fusion research. Known as being a pioneering melting pot for art and technology during the 60s, 70s and 80s, the CAVS was a place where scientific fields like physics would commune with performance and music. Modular synthesizers, as used there by early adopters like Paul Earls, were part of the Center’s original vernacular, and after many decades they are being enthusiastically re-discovered, re-embraced, and in many way re-invented by the current young generation of electronic musicians. Such reflected synergy into the present led to my invitation (as well as this installation’s name), as did the match between the aesthetic and technical grandeur of a large heavily-patched modular synthesizer and the huge mélange of custom, elegantly-kludged electro-mechanical systems that surrounded the tokamak. Similarly, the researchers’ quest to manage the chaotic nature of an energetic plasma (as expressed inside the tokamak’s torus during the peak of plasma confinement) resonated with my efforts to ‘sculpt’ my autonomous and likewise chaotic huge synthesizer patch into a definable aesthetic.

As I have my PhD in high-energy physics (having worked at CERN at various times between the late 70s and early 90s) in addition to having designed, built, and used electronic music systems of various sorts over the last 45 years, I was anticipating having access to actual Alcator data and using it in the patch that I would compose when the installation would go live in late March of 2018. My plasma physics colleagues resonated with this idea, and I was provided with several waveforms coming from various sensors on the tokamak acquired during its record-breaking run from a few years ago, when Alcator C-Mod had attained the largest recorded plasma pressure. Listening to this data as audio, I was immediately transfixed. This didn’t sound like bland digital noise, but instead felt alive – some strange kind of muted rattlesnake here, burbling life forms on a weird water planet there, perhaps other samples evoked the barely scrutable control room of an alien spaceship. These sounds, played at various rates and filtered into audible bands, were strongly otherworldly. This dictated the flavor that I’d strive for in my patched composition. Accordingly, I loaded banks of Alcator’s waveforms into an array of Eurorack samplers that I could control from processes running in my synthesizer. While most of these signals were used as direct audio, some were adopted for modulation envelopes and slow control – the tokamak cycle exhibited a variably noisy build-and-release structure as the magnetic fields were ramped up to concentrate the plasma before it went terminally unstable, which worked well here.

My patch evolved considerably during the installation, which ran from late April through late August of 2018. I worked on it weekly, and it achieved its ultimate balance between form and complexity by the beginning of July. At the end, I used every patch cord that I owned (on the order of 700) and nearly all modules in the synth, in addition to an assortment of outboard effects and commercial Eurorack modules that I coaxed to work with my system. Towards the end, when I was starting to run out of cords and hardware capacity, I resorted to kludging in simple wires and electrical components hanging in the air between modules to attain effects and sounds that I still wanted but didn’t have the modules available to make. This was the most extensive and ambitious synthesizer patch that I’ve yet composed – it pushed me to extremes of being simultaneously a composer, synthesizer musician, engineer, and scientist. Having designed, built or custom-modified nearly everything in my setup creates a special rapport for me that goes deeper than interaction with commercial synthesizer equipment – my system has its own unique capabilities and quirks that reflect my personal audio nuances and what I want to achieve with them.

At various stages during the 4-month run of this installation, I digitally recorded the patch’s stereo mix – in all, I have archived probably on the order of 60 hours of audio. The excerpts provided in this video all came from different sections of this long set of recordings. Aside from cross-fading between different excerpts, there was no manual intervention or overdubbing in these clips – the sound was made entirely from the patch running on its own after I set it on its way, with updates and augmentations I made every week or two based on ideas I got while listening to it stream online. The video also features a brief example of some of the raw plasma data sounds that I used."

And in the studio:

Synth Patch For Chaos Unit, Sitar Pedal, and NightSky'ed Keyboard (August 2021)

video upload by ParadisoModular

"In the summer of 2021, I put in a synth patch to test out my newly-arrived Sitar Pedal as well commemorate the tweaking/repair of my voltage-controlled chaos module. This was a very simple patch compared to my usual - nothing too deep or thought out, and the master sequence is a bit shallow - but it has its vibe. Plus, at 2:30 in, I added a keyboard line over what the patch was doing. This was all live - the synth patch ran autonomously and I just recorded as I played - no preparation, overdubbing, or refinement here - hence it's raw and not even close to what I'd term finished or a 'demo' - but I kinda like its intrinsic 'hopeful' feel.

The basic sequence is running through the sitar pedal, which locks on fine (it can separate the drone sounds and re-synthesized lead into separate channels). I'm running a fixed tone also through my chaos generator, which I move in a complex way into and out of stability - it locks onto subharmonics or devolves totally/partially into noise as it sweeps. This sound goes through several signal processing paths that periodically fade in, involving filters, unstable phase-locked loops, and a Boss guitar synthesizer pedal (which does wonderfully noisy gyrations as it tries to lock onto the chaos signal between stable moments).

At that time, as opposed to collecting Eurorack modules, I was slowly accumulating and modifying pedals - pedals are all about modifying an input sound in interesting ways, and which generally appeals to me (I hack them, of course, to accept voltage control in different ways).

The only keyboard sound here (aside from one chord and arpeggio at the end) is from the little cheezebox Casio 'toy' that the Minskys gave me at a Media Lab event some years ago - I abandoned my more sophisticated synths for this one in this piece, as it fits easily on your lap (that's how I played it in the excerpt here) and it sounds amazing if you feed it through one of the new complex reverb/echo/delay pedals like the NightSky or Micropitch (those pedals can put any sound into an evocative space).

The video is indeed of this patch and me playing atop it (shot while I was holding the phone in my other hand), but it's not the live segment that you hear in the piece, so pardon if things don't line up entirely, but you get the vibe.

OK - I figured I'd let this one get a bit of air in case it hits some resonance... It radiates a bit of melancholic positivity, which is something we all relate to these days."

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