Audiobus: Use your music apps together.

What is Audiobus?Audiobus is an award-winning music app for iPhone and iPad which lets you use your other music apps together. Chain effects on your favourite synth, run the output of apps or Audio Units into an app like GarageBand or Loopy, or select a different audio interface output for each app. Route MIDI between apps — drive a synth from a MIDI sequencer, or add an arpeggiator to your MIDI keyboard — or sync with your external MIDI gear. And control your entire setup from a MIDI controller.

Download on the App Store

Audiobus is the app that makes the rest of your setup better.

Can someone help me demystify MiRack/the intricate details of modular synthesis?

Okay, so I was originally going to post this in my other thread here.

https://forum.audiob.us/discussion/50269/my-current-journey-for-fulfilling-my-lust-for-ambient-soundscape-creation#latest

But I've reached the point with this post that I decided to split it off into its own separate thread.

In short - I am utterly baffled and confused as to how to create modular synthesis with MiRack. :lol: I'm not complaining about MiRack, as it's an amazing app. Rather, I want to learn how to use it to create generative music and drones.

A bit of background - I've studied basic modular synthesis in college and learned how to create a subtractive synth patch with the Arp 2500. (Not Arp 2600, Arp 2500. https://www.vintagesynth.com/arp/2500.php )

I've also had fun in SunVox, in Caustic with its modular synth, in Drambo, and in the predecessor app to Wotja (the name of which escapes me).

So I watched this video here...

...and I'm even more lost now than ever before. I can't for the life of me explain what isn't clicking with me. Maybe I don't understand what MIDI clocks do, or how the connections work in this particular modular environment. Or maybe it's intimidating to me? Or maybe the Arp 2500 was a good way to learn the bare bones basics of how modular synthesis works, but wasn't enough of a deep dive? (Then again, I never got on with Reaktor back when I had Komplete 4 or 5 or 6 back in 2007. So maybe that's what's throwing me for a loop.)

Does anyone know of any good resources, tutorial videos, and such that can demystify MiRack for me? Or on a more macro scale - the intricate details of modular synthesis I may not have learned in a shortform way an idiot like me can grasp and understand? :lol: Thanks mates.

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Comments

  • edited June 15

    Watch Omri Cohen videos about VCV, start with the ones from 2-3 years ago. Same modules in VCV1 as miRack so all the same concepts apply. Also, learningmodular.com, reading the glossary helps a lot.

  • The Krell patch is what I started with to learning more generative stuff. I’m not sure how much it would help learning it for you but researching that and dissecting what it’s doing helped me understand a lot about at least the generative stuff. I did already have some knowledge with modular though but mostly basic stuff like just building a mono synth using the components available. Looking at that might help or at least send you down the rabbit hole to find something that would be helpful for you

  • I've had a fairly large Eurorack system for over 15 years and I struggle with miRack. IMO software that is designed to look like hardware often ends up being more difficult to use than it should be, especially with the maximal approach taken with some of the modules in there.

    The Nord Modular editor had virtual wires and worked well, but somehow 20 years later the virtual wires aren't better even with a touch interface and a pen.

    Gripes aside, one strategy is to stick to one developer with enough basic modules to get started. The Mutable clones are an interesting playground.

    Each time I dip into miRack thinking I'll build a patch that'll get me where I'm trying to go, I end up frustrated by UI issues and wondering if I might be better off tackling the Drambo learning curve. Drambo doesn't bring the baggage of hardware simulation but offers a completely modular environment.

  • edited June 15

    Trick is you need to really understand basic synth modules (oscillator, lfo, envelope, filter), how modulation works, what is control signal and audio signal flow in synths - with this understanding, any modular synth will be easy for you .. so concentrate to improving your general synthesis knowledge rather than modular topic in particular .. modular factor itself is easy, there is just subtle (but important) difference - in classic synth all modules are hard-wired, in modular synth you connect them exactly like you want (which may me also same connection like in standard synth, just you combine different types of oscillators, filters, etc)

    But it may be also that modular synthesis is simply not for you. It's not for everybody, it's mostly for those of us who are interested in deeper elaboration with synthesis and sound design. MiRack is really great because it provides almost 1:1 user experience like real modular HW (at least for me it's basically same), and as you know - not everybody lusts for big modular racks :)

    So ask yourself if this is really something with what you want to spend significant amount of time ;)

    Also start with small. Try just simple connection (one oscillator, one filter, then add one LFO, modulate something - for example filter cutoff) .. and slowly add more .. try to make concrete things (start with simple idea what you want to do, and try to realise it in modular environment) - because other way, like "i just put here some random modules, try to connect them to see what it does" usually doesn't work, especially not for beginners ..

  • also mirack has some pretty cool modules which sounds very good, you can start with just one module and use it as AUv3 plugin in daw of your choice .. there is for example pretty good sounding reverb, which i use often just as plugin, this simple connection:

  • edited June 15

    Congrats on getting into modular! MiRack is flippin awesome, mate! Some good suggestions here and I’d also like to add another one. Take a look at Dean’s work @Junebug over at Electronisounds on Youtube. If you search Electronisounds MiRack, a load of old stuff should show up. He started off with MiRack and made a lot of tutorials including drones. I learned a ton of good stuff from him for MiRack. Then he moved onto Eurorack and built a huge system and has collabed with Trovarsi. Really good stuff. Once you’ve got the basics down with MiRack, your mind will be blown at the possibilities! Good thing is we can share patches for it via email too. Good luck, mate!

    MiRack has some drone and noise generators to get started with. Loads of filters and reverb fx, and LFO’s that can be slowed down to cycles that last for literally hours! Great for slow evolving modulations. Loads of good sequencers with random possibilities and the clocks can be slowed down a lot too. Stick a few Bernoulli Gates in the chain on a few things for triggering things on probability settings. Endless fun and variation!

    It may take some patience and time to dig in and learn, but I think it’s totally worth it. Once you get a basic setup going, you can save time by saving it as a template, like an init patch, and work on variations from there. It’ll save you time in building everything from scratch each time.

    You can also mark your favourite modules to make a favourites list. That’ll save you bags of time searching for them in all the menus, as there’s hundreds of them!

    Keep me posted on your progress and feel free to inbox me with any questions.

  • @Spidericemidas
    Congrats on getting into modular! MiRack is flippin awesome, mate! Some good suggestions here and I’d also like to add another one. Take a look at Dean’s work @Junebug over at Electronisounds on Youtube.

    This reminds me funny thing - for years i though that you and Dean are same person :-D Dunno why, don't ask me, but for very long time i though Spidericemidas is literally Dean :lol:

  • @Spidericemidas said:
    Congrats on getting into modular! MiRack is flippin awesome, mate! Some good suggestions here and I’d also like to add another one. Take a look at Dean’s work @Junebug over at Electronisounds on Youtube. If you search Electronisounds MiRack, a load of old stuff should show up. He started off with MiRack and made a lot of tutorials including drones. I learned a ton of good stuff from him for MiRack.

    +1 for Dean Electronisounds' videos. I was entirely clueless in MiRack and after watching (and rewatching!) his vids (pausing many times to check cable connections etc) I am now competent with the basic modules nd modular approach. It's still occult and cryptic, but I can feel my way around and go in the right direction.

    It's definitely a marathon rather than a sprint....repetition is key. I set myself goals like patching a simple subtractive synth without checking notes, and building from there.

    Good luck and enjoy the process!

  • @dendy said:

    @Spidericemidas
    Congrats on getting into modular! MiRack is flippin awesome, mate! Some good suggestions here and I’d also like to add another one. Take a look at Dean’s work @Junebug over at Electronisounds on Youtube.

    This reminds me funny thing - for years i though that you and Dean are same person :-D Dunno why, don't ask me, but for very long time i though Spidericemidas is literally Dean :lol:

    Lol I wish! 😅 We did collab on a few things and he used some of my stuff in his demos, so I can see how you might have got confused between us.

  • @Spidericemidas said:
    Congrats on getting into modular! MiRack is flippin awesome, mate! Some good suggestions here and I’d also like to add another one. Take a look at Dean’s work @Junebug over at Electronisounds on Youtube. If you search Electronisounds MiRack, a load of old stuff should show up. He started off with MiRack and made a lot of tutorials including drones. I learned a ton of good stuff from him for MiRack. Then he moved onto Eurorack and built a huge system and has collabed with Trovarsi. Really good stuff. Once you’ve got the basics down with MiRack, your mind will be blown at the possibilities! Good thing is we can share patches for it via email too. Good luck, mate!

    MiRack has some drone and noise generators to get started with. Loads of filters and reverb fx, and LFO’s that can be slowed down to cycles that last for literally hours! Great for slow evolving modulations. Loads of good sequencers with random possibilities and the clocks can be slowed down a lot too. Stick a few Bernoulli Gates in the chain on a few things for triggering things on probability settings. Endless fun and variation!

    It may take some patience and time to dig in and learn, but I think it’s totally worth it. Once you get a basic setup going, you can save time by saving it as a template, like an init patch, and work on variations from there. It’ll save you time in building everything from scratch each time.

    You can also mark your favourite modules to make a favourites list. That’ll save you bags of time searching for them in all the menus, as there’s hundreds of them!

    Keep me posted on your progress and feel free to inbox me with any questions.

    Yeah, my advice is the same, don't start with Omri Cohen videos. They are amazing, and the best online resource for learning advanced techniques, but his introductory videos aren't as comprehensive as the ones created by Dean.

    Thanks to him, I was able to learn the basics in miRack.

    But most importantly, learning the basics in modular / miRack will make you much better in any other type of synthesis or sound design. You will learn concepts that then will apply not only to virtual software instruments, but also to effects, and how they work to process the audio.

    I started to learn music production in Spring 2021. When I started, I didn't know what the hell was a LFO or an ADSR curve.

    The most gigantic step in my learning process was starting to use miRack. Then, everything that I was using and trying to figure out, suddenly clicked on my mind.

    Now I use a desktop computer and jumped to VCV Rack 2 Pro. But starting with an iPad also helped a lot, because this implied a lot of limitations respect to desktop.

    And limitations forced me to to try to figure out solutions for things like MIDI or audio routing.

    An iPad with AUM and miRack is one of the best introductions for learning the basics of music production and sound design.

  • edited June 15

    @jwmmakerofmusic
    I bow to the advice of those master/practitioners above. Humble additional suggestion (which you probably already tried, being a deep practitioner yourself): go to Patchstorage, download something that interests you (synth, effect etc) and study it. Screen shoot it, screen wipe between the photo capture and the app itself and rebuild the patch. Reverse engineering/copycat style.

    Also each module has its own manual, accessible with a double tap.

    @suboptimal: Nice to hear a mention or the Nord modular. Was/is super cool, I have the software and micro hardware one attached to an old 32bit Scope system

  • Try to limit the modules you start with. Then add new modules slowly.

    One good way to approach this is to try and build a system you either know well, or to build something you'd like to explore (e.g. west coast style).

    This is also good:
    https://infinitesimal.eu/modules/images/5/5e/The_book_of_bad_ideas_V2.pdf

  • The benefit of Omri Cohen's videos regarding the OP is he virtually always creates a generative patch in the process of the video. Sure, he might be showing the intricacies of something like Audible Instruments Segment Generator or Befaco Rampage, but he always puts them to work, and almost always in a generative patch.

    I really recommend his videos to satisfy what I think is the OP direction. Sure, you'll get lost in some of the basics that he glances over, but those are jumping off points to look elsewhere to get the basics.

    fwiw, I love miRack, but I only use it to scratch a generative itch. When I feel like putting together a synth or FX modularly I use Drambo. It's polyphonic without jumping through hoops, and just quicker to string together the basics.

    Omni's channel was what took miRack from being a curiosity and a way to play with different oscillators and sequencers, to being something truly satisfying when I feel like exercising abstract ways to generate atmospheres.

  • Lots of amazing advice here. :) I'll answer everyone individually tonight after my gig. Meanwhile, thank you all for the advice and suggestions!

    Meanwhile, while Dean's video about "building a simple synth" confused me, I just watched THIS video over lunch...

    ...and now it clicked in my scattered brain. :lol: I guess it took watching a video pertaining to the "genres" I want to produce (Drone, Ambient) to make it click in my head. Now I somewhat understand what a MIDI clock does. It sets the BPM so that LFOs can do their thing and sequencers can do their thing.

    And yes, that Plateau reverb sounds fucking amazing! :lol: Then again, there are several reverbs available, so I'll probably route to a more mundane reverb first and then into Plateau in order to get hella massive sound when I build my first MiRack drone patch.

    (That reminds me, I STILL have yet to post my Flip experiment to Soundcloud. I also want to do that tonight! :lol: )

  • You have, literally, tons of hours on Youtube and posts on muffwiggler about modular.

    After that, you will have the best tool for the music that only amuse who play it

  • I went down the slippery slope that started with VCV Rack, then Omri Cohen videos, and eventually eurorack hardware modular. Has been a blast and I’m still trying to learn every day! For me, I made a bit of a mental separation between the components of music making which I’ve found helpful. I think of traditional instruments as things that make noise, and you — the performer — use these instruments to turn that noise into music, with more or less success. I think of modular as both the instrument and the performer, so I’m not making music directly, but rather building a machine that makes music. This feels particularly the case with generative and drones, where you construct a system with parts that produce sound, and other parts which choose and modulate the notes that are played. Of course, you can perform with this machine by turning knobs and adjusting settings as it goes, but you could also walk away and it would continue to evolve on its own.

    With this separation in mind, I go back and forth between thinking about the noise making part, which may just be a traditional subtractive synth type architecture — oscillator(s), filter, a few envelopes, some LFO modulation of parameters — and the note making part — a traditional sequencer, Turing Machine, noise into S&H. I started by programming a few sections of Pachelbel’s Canon into a sequencer, then focused on all the different ways I could produce different sounds attached to this sequence. When I had sounds I liked, I’d then focus on the ways I could chop up Pachelbel, adding notes, skipping notes, overlapping sections, running things backwards. Once I had both bits automated and modulated, I now had a Pachelbel music machine. Learned a lot with that exercise.

  • @JohnInBoston said:
    I went down the slippery slope that started with VCV Rack, then Omri Cohen videos, and eventually eurorack hardware modular. Has been a blast and I’m still trying to learn every day! For me, I made a bit of a mental separation between the components of music making which I’ve found helpful. I think of traditional instruments as things that make noise, and you — the performer — use these instruments to turn that noise into music, with more or less success. I think of modular as both the instrument and the performer, so I’m not making music directly, but rather building a machine that makes music. This feels particularly the case with generative and drones, where you construct a system with parts that produce sound, and other parts which choose and modulate the notes that are played. Of course, you can perform with this machine by turning knobs and adjusting settings as it goes, but you could also walk away and it would continue to evolve on its own.

    With this separation in mind, I go back and forth between thinking about the noise making part, which may just be a traditional subtractive synth type architecture — oscillator(s), filter, a few envelopes, some LFO modulation of parameters — and the note making part — a traditional sequencer, Turing Machine, noise into S&H. I started by programming a few sections of Pachelbel’s Canon into a sequencer, then focused on all the different ways I could produce different sounds attached to this sequence. When I had sounds I liked, I’d then focus on the ways I could chop up Pachelbel, adding notes, skipping notes, overlapping sections, running things backwards. Once I had both bits automated and modulated, I now had a Pachelbel music machine. Learned a lot with that exercise.

    I share this perspective. Modular is fun for building machines that seem to come alive on their own. Very often I get that happening, turn a knob or two, and then it dies and won’t come back to life.

  • edited June 16

    @auxmux
    I'm going to check Omri Cohen's vids about VCV tonight. I also bookmarked the glossary. That's a massive help! :) Thanks mate.

    Edit: Actually, I'll finish watching Dean's videos first, and then I'll dig into Omri's vids. :) Others have mentioned that Omri's are a bit more advanced, so best to get the basics down first and learn/revisit things.


    @Fingolfinzz
    I'll take a look at the Krell patch once I'm done with typing this reply. :) I've learned a lot over the years from dissecting things. I'm the same as you that I have some basic knowledge with modular.


    @suboptimal
    Yeah, software designed to look like hardware often doesn't work out. It's why skeuomorphism (is that the correct spelling) in the early days of iOS went to the wayside by iOS 6.

    And yeah, the UI of MiRack seems to me to be the biggest hurdle in understanding how it works, even though the UI is beautiful, whereas with Drambo it took a while to click, but it's a lot more optimal with its wireless modular interface. And while Drambo doesn't seem to have its own generative sequencers, I do believe it can load MIDI AUv3s, so an AUv3 like Rozeta's Particles can be loaded to drive the output of whatever synth (whether Drambo's internal synth or an AUv3) you use.


    @dendy
    Hmmm, good food for thought mate. I actually do want to dive into modular synthesis, and I feel it's right for me. I've managed to build some serviceable modular patches with Drambo prior to 2.0, and I just redownloaded it to my new 12.9" iPad Pro.

    I think the hurdle for me is the UI rather than the lack of knowledge of modular synthesis. Then again, I don't know everything there is to know about modular synthesis either, so I'm far from being an expert in the field. :lol:

    Starting small sounds like the best way to go about building patches. Like, I can build a small patch in MiRack standalone and then access my patch in the AUv3 to feed into Gauss within AUM. Later on, I can craft more complex patches in MiRack to play directly in AUM and let it run for an hour or two, lol.

    And yes, Plateau sounded amazing in Dean's video. ;)


    @Spidericemidas
    Thank you so much mate. :) I'll let you know what questions I may have if questions do arise.

    I saw Dean's "simple synth" tutorial, and it didn't click right away. However, Dean's "ambient drone" tutorial demystified a lot of things for me. I'll be checking more of his videos tonight and tomorrow after I reply.

    I had no idea MiRack can save templates and favourite modules. That's super cool!

    I'll look into those Bernoulli Gates as well! Thanks again mate. :)


    @Pynchon

    Okay, so I'll continue watching Dean's videos and then Omri Cohen's videos. :)

    Your journey on learning synthesis via MiRack is pretty cool. :) That was only 12-14 months ago, around the time I started getting back into Gadget. If it only takes a year to get on better with MiRack, then I'm more than willing to dive deep into it.

    And oh yes, the iPad has a lot of limitations compared to a desktop, but those limitations have spawned better creativity from me since 2019.

    In fact, I'm not sure if you saw/commented in another thread I created, but I lusted after the OP-1 Field for a bit last month simply because I was looking for even more limitations to spawn even better creativity from myself. :lol: But that synth is so damn small, so I invested money into a new 12.9" iPad Pro which I'm currently using for my productions.

    I've been learning how to produce live Ambient in AUM and Loopy Pro for the past 3-4 weeks, and now I feel it's time to dive into modular synthesis with MiRack.


    @Littlewoodg
    I...actually didn't consider using Patchstorage for MiRack. :lol: I used to use it for Obsidian and Drambo patches, so why not for MiRack, right? (Proof that I'm scatterbrained, lol.) And using the screenshot method sounds like a winner of an idea to me. :)

    I once recreated the beat to Post Malone's "Rockstar" in Gadget using only the gadgets that come with it, not any IAPs/Gadget-compatible apps.

    https://www.facebook.com/100000993944035/posts/pfbid0q3TcxUZq7ek7NMjwB3bh6nub5QFogSeWJfQrrQzYBAXrvKyKYVjKZKua5idvZF1Xl/

    (Of course Facebook compresses the hell out of a video, lowering audio quality immensely, lol.)

    So I'd say I'm pretty good at reverse engineering things. Just gotta apply it to patches from Patchstorage. ;)


    @Zhuangzi
    I'm going to check out this PDF after I reply! :) Looks very interesting.

    And you and @dendy are correct in that starting small is the best way to go about learning.

    Also, what is "west coast style" and "east coast style" I keep hearing about? :)


    @wim
    I'm definitely going to deep dive into Omri's channel once I'm done checking out Dean's channel. :) Dean's channel is like MiRack 101, and Omri takes it over from there it seems.

    I absolutely love Drambo. But right now, I too have the generative itch. I may actually dive into Wotja and pay for the monthly Pro subscription for all devices (even though I only use mobile devices) to support Intermorphic once I'm done deep diving into MiRack. :)


    @OnfraySin

    That was the problem though. There are tons of hours on Youtube about modular, so where was the best place to get started on my journey to deepening my knowledge about modular?

    Then again it was already answered above, and the gist of the replies above is to start with Dean's channel and move onward with Omri's channel.

    And it's not about trying to cater to an audience or amuse anybody. If I wanted to amuse the laymen and make money off of it, I'd just keep producing EDM and apply myself to Fiverr and send demos to labels.

    I want to satisfy the creative itch I have to make Ambient and challenge myself to use tried and true methods and workflows others have used that are new and exciting to me personally, and then start inventing my own methods and workflows.

    I'm going to google muffwiggler and see what's there.


    @JohnInBoston

    In regards to your first paragraph, that's exactly what I want to do is to "build a machine" from scratch that makes music in the way I want it to or even have "happy accidents" that add or enhance what I have in my mind. In a way that's what I've been doing with the second part of my Ambient live performances. I find/make a couple loops, twiddle some knobs as the loops play back, and post whatever I make to Soundcloud. :lol:

    That sounds like an amazing exercise to try once I get better with modular synthesis actually. :) (Then again, I could just take a recording of Canon and chop it up in Koala to play back. :lol: But I'm looking to synthesise my own sounds at the moment rather than do sample-based Ambient. ;) )


    @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr

    That can actually happen if you turn a knob a bit too far mate? Like the whole sound dies out? Oof, I'll have to keep that in mind.

  • @JohnInBoston, hell yeah. Modular can definitely be a slippery slope. Mirack and a desire to do more with a werkstatt ended up convincing me to start on a euro setup. Now my basement is covered electrical component debris cos it went from just playing with synths to diy kits and now just doing mad scientist shit with electricity cos I can no longer stop thinking about voltages and what they sound like. This time next year I’ll have enrolled back into school for an electrical engineering degree I feel like lol. It’s a money sink but a highly rewarding path for my brain and my ears

  • @jwmmakerofmusic said:

    That can actually happen if you turn a knob a bit too far mate? Like the whole sound dies out? Oof, I'll have to keep that in mind.

    Yeah. Some generative patches are very sensitive. For example the logistic equation patch gives great output, but only when you get it set just right.

  • @Fingolfinzz said:
    @JohnInBoston, hell yeah. Modular can definitely be a slippery slope. Mirack and a desire to do more with a werkstatt ended up convincing me to start on a euro setup. Now my basement is covered electrical component debris cos it went from just playing with synths to diy kits and now just doing mad scientist shit with electricity cos I can no longer stop thinking about voltages and what they sound like. This time next year I’ll have enrolled back into school for an electrical engineering degree I feel like lol. It’s a money sink but a highly rewarding path for my brain and my ears

    At some point you realize you’ve spent enough money to buy a car just to make boops and beeps that annoy the pets but you can’t stop dreaming up patches in your head.

  • @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr said:

    @Fingolfinzz said:
    @JohnInBoston, hell yeah. Modular can definitely be a slippery slope. Mirack and a desire to do more with a werkstatt ended up convincing me to start on a euro setup. Now my basement is covered electrical component debris cos it went from just playing with synths to diy kits and now just doing mad scientist shit with electricity cos I can no longer stop thinking about voltages and what they sound like. This time next year I’ll have enrolled back into school for an electrical engineering degree I feel like lol. It’s a money sink but a highly rewarding path for my brain and my ears

    At some point you realize you’ve spent enough money to buy a car just to make boops and beeps that annoy the pets but you can’t stop dreaming up patches in your head.

    You speak the truth!

  • @jwmmakerofmusic
    Also, what is "west coast style" and "east coast style" I keep hearing about? :)

    @Wrlds2ndBstGeoshredr said:

    @Fingolfinzz said:
    @JohnInBoston, hell yeah. Modular can definitely be a slippery slope. Mirack and a desire to do more with a werkstatt ended up convincing me to start on a euro setup. Now my basement is covered electrical component debris cos it went from just playing with synths to diy kits and now just doing mad scientist shit with electricity cos I can no longer stop thinking about voltages and what they sound like. This time next year I’ll have enrolled back into school for an electrical engineering degree I feel like lol. It’s a money sink but a highly rewarding path for my brain and my ears

    At some point you realize you’ve spent enough money to buy a car just to make boops and beeps that annoy the pets but you can’t stop dreaming up patches in your head.

    it depends on if you foind workflow which actually leads to something usable for real music .. i like for example Deadmau5 approag - he simply hits record in computer and then henfor 2-3 hours plays with modular, patches cables, tweaks - just do all kinds of stuff - meanwhile everything is recorded into audio .. then he cuts recorded material and searches for interesting parts / loops which then he uses for building track ..

    this approach defimitely works also for me

  • On the other hand there's Steevio:


    This is the other approach to modular - where you essentially build an instrument around what you like to do, then learn that instrument as thoroughly as you can.

  • @jwmmakerofmusic East Coast synthesis is your Moog and probably what you're familiar with. Essentially the idea is that you create a complexish sound with your oscillators, then shape it with the filters and envelope. In other words subtractive synthesis.

    West coast is when you take pretty basic waveforms (typically sinewaves), then manipulate them to make complex wave forms using waveshapers, FM, AM, etc. They don't tend to use filters, but instead use a LPG (Low Pass Gate) which is a combination of a filter and an envelope, which actually better represents how analog sound tends to work (Buchla's LPGs sound amazing incidentally). West coast also tends to use a lot of function generators, sequencers, etc - to manipulate different parts of the timbre, gates, etc. Also you'll see a lot of use of random generators, but often routed to multiple places, which are then further manipulated so you have random signals that are all related in some fashion.

    Obviously you can combine both approaches, and people tend to these days in modular. But if you want to use modular to its full 'potential', I think exploring west coast synthesis ideas tends to get you to interesting places faster.

  • FWIW: the east coast /west coast terminology is something that seems to have sprung into being relatively recently (maybe the aughts or even later).

    In the 60s and 70s or 80s, no one called it that. @jwmmakerofmusic track down Tony Rolando’s video about the topic which you’ll find on YouTube is pretty good.

    But the “west coast means no filter and only low-pass gates” is wrong—an artifact of oversimplification. Serge is also considered west-coast style and Serge was into filters.

    [by the way most ”east coast synths” we’re also from California: ARP, Oberheim, Sequential Circuits]

    The more important distinction between the Buchla take and everyone else was de-emphasis or rejection of the piano keyboard as the paradigm for note generation. Buchla was very interested in untethering music from keyboards which he felt were limiting influences on musical creation.

  • @jwmmakerofmusic : the biggest mistake, imo, people that find modular confusing is trying to jump straight to complexity without all the basics.

    Knowing how to patch an arp 2600 is a start. But if clock is confusing, the next step is focusing on learning understanding gates, clocks and dividers and a simple step sequencer. Don’t jump past it.

    It is straightforward, but really learn it and be comfortable with it. Tons of interesting stuff can be done with that plus an oscillator, filter, vca and a couple of envelope generators.

    After that , it is generally a matter of learning a module at a time to understand their features and to explore what happens when you control their various inputs with signals coming from sequencers.

  • @espiegel123 said:
    But the “west coast means no filter and only low-pass gates” is wrong—an artifact of oversimplification. Serge is also considered west-coast style and Serge was into filters.

    I didn't actually say that. Maybe there's a slightly less abrasive way of writing what you wrote?

    Serge are a hybrid of both styles and have a very different philosophy to Buchla (Buchla is more of an instrument/interface, Serge was kind of the ancestor of Eurorack).

    West coast refers to the style of synthesis that emerged from the San Francisco Tape Music Center. The connection to Buchla is due to the close relationship between Buchla and that center (and pioneers like Morton Subotnick). You could argue that 'east coast' emerged from Moog's focus on commercial music making.

    The terminology is relatively recent, but it just gives a name to a very distinct philosophical style of synthesis. East coast could just as easily be called 'mainstream synthesis' - and west coast 'experimental synthesis'. Or even psychedelic synthesis, given what else was going on in California back then.

  • @Zhuangzi said:

    @espiegel123 said:
    But the “west coast means no filter and only low-pass gates” is wrong—an artifact of oversimplification. Serge is also considered west-coast style and Serge was into filters.

    I didn't actually say that. Maybe there's a slightly less abrasive way of writing what you wrote?

    Serge are a hybrid of both styles and have a very different philosophy to Buchla (Buchla is more of an instrument/interface, Serge was kind of the ancestor of Eurorack).

    West coast refers to the style of synthesis that emerged from the San Francisco Tape Music Center. The connection to Buchla is due to the close relationship between Buchla and that center (and pioneers like Morton Subotnick). You could argue that 'east coast' emerged from Moog's focus on commercial music making.

    The terminology is relatively recent, but it just gives a name to a very distinct philosophical style of synthesis. East coast could just as easily be called 'mainstream synthesis' - and west coast 'experimental synthesis'. Or even psychedelic synthesis, given what else was going on in California back then.

    I am sorry if it came across as abrasive. In my opinion, the "west coast" terminology is treated by many as being more specific and meaningful than it is. I.e. it has been adopted as a way of capturing the ethos of Buchla/Serge synths which is different from how people approach predominantly subtractive synthesis, but it has led many to believe that filters weren't a part of the toolbox in use by the practitioners of what later was called west coast synthesis.

  • I’d just like to echo/emphasise a few things:

    1) Dean's series of introductory videos is superb for getting you into MiRack, especially starting you off on generative patching. What’s great is that he’s starting from a similar point to the viewer, so it’s not madly complicated and he’s finding stuff out as he goes along. Omri Cohen's stuff can be really useful, but maybe once you’ve worked through Dean's series. I particularly like Omri's series on the Mutable modules, highly enlightening.

    2) MiRack (and VCV, too) is a gateway drug! I started out with MiRack about 18 months ago (still barely scratched the surface of many of the modules), and ended up buying a set of Moog semi modulars just after last Christmas. Am now fighting GAS for a Mavis, and “just a small rack of utilities etc”. Yeah, right… Jakob Haq's video from Thomann Synth Reaktor where a guy from Moog tries to convince him about modular by patching a Mother-32/DFAM setup is what pushed me towards the Moogs.

    3) There’s a lot to be said for using a limited system and delving into that set of modules. I’ve had a huge amount of fun with a small rack based on something I saw on YouTube (I think the channel is Simone Salvatici or similar) where the guy was doing lovely meditative generative patches with a few Mutable modules. I set it up as a template in MiRack and it’s great fun seeing what I can squeeze out of it. The same applies to using my Moog setup. You have to get creative in how you patch, and sometimes wonderful happy accidents happen when you plug some stuff together “incorrectly” (no such thing, really, as long as you don’t blow anything up).

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