This course has been designed as the logical follow-up to the original Learning Modular Synthesis or Learning Modular Synthesis: Moog Mother-32 courses, and should be helpful to a wide range of modular synthesists.
- Shopping for modules more intelligently, with a better understanding of what features, options, and sound possibilities to look for
- Interfacing your modular with the rest of your studio, including MIDI and sound connections
- Reading waveform and spectrograph displays to better understand what each module is doing in your system, and how that translates to the sound that you hear
- Creating new timbres using and combining both East and West Coast techniques, employing creative waveform mixing, frequency and amplitude modulation, soft and hard sync, waveshaping, and more
- Managing audio levels to balance your desired amount of predictability and fidelity versus instability and distortion in a patch
- Taking advantage of additional MIDI and CV controls to more interactively perform your modular patch, including managing control voltage levels to dial in the desired result
Skill Level Intermediate
- Hi, I'm Christ Meyer or Learning Modular and welcome to Learning Modular's Synthesis Eurorack Expansion. The idea behind this course is you have, or you're thinking about getting a small modular system, maybe a semimodular synth like the Moog Mother-32 behind me and you're wondering what should you get next to expand its capabilities. Well that's a very good question because there's well over 1000 different Eurorack format modules available. Where do you begin? Well I hope to start to pick apart that puzzle in this course. First, I'm going to talk about important glue modules you should consider getting first to help connect to and take advantage of any extra modules you may be thinking about acquiring.
Those include better ways to get control voltages in and sound out, multiples and mixers so you can split and recombine your signals, additional envelopes and VCAs, or voltage controlled amplifiers and multifunction utility modules that will help you fill in the gaps. Then I'm going to talk about different types of voltage controlled oscillators or VCOs that are available. This includes classic analog oscillators that includes features such as pulse with modulation, think and FM, versatile digital oscillators that have alternate wave forms and even alternate synthesis techniques and then what's called a complex oscillator, a design inspired by the Buchla, or so called West Coast approach to synthesis.
Then we're going to dive into some of the different types of voltage controlled filters, or VCFs that are available. I'll show you a favourite of mine that's based on an Oberheim design which sounds completely different than the Moog I'm using throughout the rest of this course, a very edgy one based on the Russian Polivoks synthesizer, and a resonator type filter that will help you emulate vocal formats or room resonances or other natural phenomenon with your synthesized sounds. After filters I'm going to be talking about other sound modifiers, other modules that can change the tone coming out of your oscillators.
These include classics such as Ring modulators, modules that take a so called West Coast approach, such as wave folders, and a very simple module that can take the one VCO that might be in your semimodular synth and make it sound like many. Then I'm going to move on to different types of modulation sources. Things that produce voltages to control those modules. I'll show you the flexible envelope generator with different curves that can help you sculpt your modulating voltages, a digital low frequency oscillator, or LFO, that has alternate waveforms compared to your traditional analog LFO and a random voltage source to help introduce controlled amounts of uncertainty into your patches.
Next we're going to move on to modules that help alter the level of control voltages and audio that's moving around inside your system. This will include a variation on the voltage controlled amplifier known as a low pass gate, as well as a couple different types of mixers that have their own different types of distortion resaturation. And indeed, throughout this course I'll be demonstrating how to control levels to either keep everything nice and clean or to purposely exploit distortion and noise to introduce a harsher industrial edge to your sound. Finally we're going to talk about modular effects, modules for your synth, they're similar to your stomp boxes or outboard gear but which help further treat your sound, make it sound just a bit more special.
My emphasis here will be on taking advantage of voltage control so that you can perform the sounds coming out of them or in general, create sounds that are different than the presets that might be in our rack mount gear. Each chapter on an individual type of module will first start off with a movie that shows you how to patch that module into your system. It will also give you an idea of what general features to look for. Then I'll talk about three different modules inside that class, sharing not just what that module does, but also giving you some ideas of what you might want to look for when you go shopping for modules and also to share various synthesis tips and techniques so you get an idea of what module creates what type of sound.
Now if you're complete new to modular synthesis this course may not be right for you. I've created two other courses that are actually intended to go before this one. First, is the original Learning Modular Synthesis course. That was designed for someone who's just coming into modular synthesizers and wants to see what type of module formats are available, what are the core modules they should consider and then learn how to use each of those modules to create classic synthesis techniques. For those of you who've decided to take a semimodular path, such as by getting a Moog Mother-32 or something similar, I have a separate course on the Moog Mother-32 that will show you how to connect it, go over the basic synthesis and sequencing sections of that module and then show you how to install it in a Eurorack case and to connect it to your first few modules.
Now I happen to believe that understanding the voltages going around inside your modular synth and how your ears are reacting to the sounds those voltages create are essential to help you convert the ideas in your head to the sounds coming out of your synth. Therefore, throughout this course you're going to be seeing I have a lot of waveform and harmonic spectra displays to show you what's going on with each individual module. In the next movie I'll explain those types of displays so they'll make more sense when you see them throughout the rest of this course. Now as I mentioned, I firmly believe the better you understand how your modular synth works, the easier it's going to be to convert the sounds in your head into the music you really want to make.
It'll make the whole experience more enjoyable and less frustrating. So that in mind, let's dive in and have some fun.