switching cases

Last May I replaced my old Doepfer cases with nice Mission 9 from Monorocket. At the time I thought it would be such a great idea to record the entire process, speed the whole thing up and put it to music. So, I did the first part of that but until this week I never got around to completing the job.

Here’s the result. The music was made in December and features the two missing modules (Hertz Donut and Z8000) as well as a Pittsburgh Modular Vilfo that I didn’t have then, and have already traded out as well. Moving along.

The first half of the movie, the taking apart part, was filmed as video and sped up in the editing. The second half was a series of many many photographs taken every five seconds or so and stitched together. It has a jumpier quality to it. Enjoy!

three videos

En lieu of me actually having anything to post that I made (it’s been a month of drawing) I have these three videos I’ll put up instead. The first two I found about a year ago and were instrumental in my getting into modular synthesizers. One is Charles Cohen working his Buchla Music Easel. I saw Charles at a synth meet-up here in Phailadelphia about the same time and he’s just great. The second is The Subliminal Kid working a big Macbeth M5 with a Moog sequencer. I really like how the beat just kind of appears out of no where. The third movie here I just found today. It’s Keith Fullerton Whitman playing his modular. I have a couple of cds from KFW (Generator is my fave) and I just have no idea how he’s pulling the sounds and sequences out of this thing.

a soundtrack for crossing a bridge

Made a little time-lapse movie and a tune to go with it.

The tune is a snip of one of these ten-to-fifteen-minute long recordings I make while messing about with knobs and switches on the modular. I’ll record these things, then go through and steal bits and pieces that work as loops and phrases and samples that I play around with in Ableton Live. The percussion here is just some simple clicky stuff with a filter delay on it.

a good Z8000 video

I’ve been planning to sit down and write a post about some of the new additions to my modular synth. One of these is the Z8000 sequencer by Tip Top Audio. It’s a matrix sequencer and while incredibly simple in concept and design, it’s incredibly rich and complex in practice and use. Just the two or so hours I’ve spent with it made my head spin, and I’ve been jotting down all sorts of patching ideas in my notebook when I’m away from the synth. One thing I’m really looking forward to working on is clocking the Z8000 with my Machinedrum’s triggers at different intervals and steps.
I acquired this sequencer with having seen only a couple of decent videos, and after reading a long thread on the Muffwiggler’s forum about it. Today I noticed a new video from Tip Top with Stretta putting the Z8000 through some paces, with a good explanation. Take a gander.

testing 142

I’m constantly figuring little things out about this synthesizer and I feel, in many ways, that in the five months I’ve had this modular thing I’ve learned more about synthesizers and sound than in the years and years previous working with software.

I recently added a Doepfer A142 to my system. This is a voltage controlled decay/gate. What it does is takes a trigger input, like from a LFO or in my case the MFB Seq02, and creates an envelope that consists of a very quick attack and a voltage-controlled and adjustable decay. What I was looking for was a way to create steps of different lengths from the sequencer to add some movement and, you know, funk. I could do this with my Model 10, but I like using the Model 10 so much that I figured I’d like to have something that is dedicated to sitting next to and serving the sequencer.

Soon after plugging it in, I started noticing that something wasn’t right with the A142. It didn’t have a “quick” decay, only a really muddy longish one. This was especially the case with manual control. When I plugged the CV in, I could get sharp clicky envelopes, but in manual they were anything but short even with the knob at 0. I discovered that on the PCB of the module there was a small trim pot, but I didn’t know what it did as the Doepfer site didn’t seem to refer to it.

So, as I do at times like this, I turned to the internets and started a thread at the Muffwiggler forum. I immediately got some help and much of it was quite thorough and technical. Just having others tell me that their A142’s work as expected at least narrowed it down to a problem with my particular module. One or two readers actually got deep into it and with this information I at least got the thing usable. The trimmer on the back adjusts the offset, which means that it adjusts the point at which the envelope starts getting longer. By turning it about a quarter-turn, it’s now set to where from 0 to 1, the envelope is about 1ms long. This is a good thing. A new problem begins at 1, because by 3 the envelope is more than 12 seconds. This in theory should take place at nearly a complete turn, like around 9 or 10. So the entire range of the envelope is now between 1 and 3, which means that very very small nudges to the knob result in very large changes to the length of steps from the sequencer. From incredibly staccato to very very legato.

To illustrate this, I made a video. It includes captions for clarity, but basically I set up a simple sequence in the Seq02 and make adjustments with the A142. You can see the minor little changes to the knob and hear the major adjustments to the step lengths. The advice from the forum was to solder a new resistor onto the PCB. I’ve been meaning to learn to solder…