My main focus last month was composing, performing, and otherwise documenting a pair of modular synth performances: the angst-ridden Fear Itself for our local New Mexico modular meetup, featuring my gigging system The Tardis, and the longer-form, more cinematic Ash Tree Window for the Colorado Modular Synth Society’s October Skies “space music” online festival, using my studio system The Monster. 

After getting a chance to step back from both of those now, I wanted to share some of the overall thoughts about composing music with modular synths that went into the creation of these pieces. I also have a few other updates, including a presentation I’m giving online in mid-November, and the latest book by my good friend Kim Bjørn.


  • featured articleSome of the approaches I use to make my modular performances more human, and hopefully more interesting to listen to.
  • new videos & postsIn addition to the extended space music/Berlin School piece that was the focus of the featured article, I also created another one of my quirky beats + text pieces.
  • course updatesA video breakdown of the sounds and performance details in Ash Tree Window has now been added as a bonus chapter to my Level 1 and 2 courses.
  • Patreon updatesIn addition to detailed explanations of the two performances mentioned above, I’ve also been diving into the early history of electronic music.
  • upcoming eventsOctober Skies & SoundMit 2020: Virtual Edition.
  • one more thingPatch & Tweak: Moog.

New Videos & Blog Posts

In addition to the piece Ash Tree Window shared earlier in this post, I also composed and performed a shorter, quirkier, edgier piece called Fear Itself, which is above. I think it was a subliminal reaction to the lack of stability many of us are feeling between the upcoming US elections and the freshly-spiking pandemic.

Also see the notes on October Skies below, which I participated in under the name Alias Zone – my musical name from around 20 years ago that I’m reviving now for my modular work.

Modular Courses Updates

I want my modular synth courses to contain not just theoretical information, but also information you can apply to your own music. Therefore, I’ve added my performance of Ash Tree Window as well as a lengthy breakdown of each patch plus other tricks to my Learning Modular Synthesis Level 1 Comprehensive Starter Course as well as Level 2 Eurorack Expansion courses. Everyone who previously purchased the courses also have access to these new movies – look for them added to the bottom of the course curriculum.

Patreon Updates

WDR Electronic Music Studio

I always treat my Patrons to detailed patch and performance notes for each piece of music I release, on the two pieces above were no exception:

  • Track Breakdown: Fear Itself includes lengthy text notes for each of the patches, sounds and techniques uses. (+5v subscribers and above)
  • Ash Tree Window: Brief Patch Notes includes the video of the piece, and a list of modules used to create each sound, linked to the time in the movie where they were introduced. (all subscribers)
  • Track Breakdown: Ash Tree Window includes a long video where I walked through each of the sounds and demonstrated how I built each one. It also includes sections on sequencer tricks, mixing & effects, and the polysynth parts featuring my new Waldorf Iridium. (+5v subscribers and above)

I also wrapped up my recent run of nostalgia for the early days of electronic music by posting in October:

  • a series of resources for those interested in using analog computers and electronic test equipment to create electronic music, and
  • a history of electronic music from the creation of the tape recorder to just before the first modular synths appeared.

(both are available to all of my subscribers)

Upcoming Events

October Skies event

This event already happened, but it was announced after the last newsletter, and is one you shouldn’t miss the replay of: Ash Tree Window was created to be part of a nearly three-hour online space music festival called October Skies, presented by the Colorado Modular Synth Society. It was an absolutely brilliant concert that showcases uses of modular synths (plus other instruments, including voice) in different styles than the more common noise and EDM modular genres. Although that said, IIITAIII absolutely burned the house down with his closing set!

SoundMit 2020As I mentioned last month, the Italian synth & pedal show SoundMit is having its 10th anniversary edition online – and it will also be free to all virtual attendees, streaming on SoundMit’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. I will be giving a session that further expands on the wave crossfading idea I discussed in last month’s newsletter, with a live question & answer period. The event takes place the weekend of November 14 & 15; it is looking like I will be presenting at the end of Saturday’s festivities (evening in Europe; morning in the US).

One More Thing…

Patch & Tweak with Moog

My good friend Kim Bjørn – who I co-wrote Patch & Tweak with – has a new book coming out: Patch & Tweak with Moog. In this solo effort, Kim discussed Moog’s semi-modular synths: the Mother-32, Drummer From Another Mother (DFAM), Subharmonicon, Grandmother, and Matriarch. In addition to a history of Moog Music and interviews with both musicians and Moog engineers, this book includes a lot of patch and sound design tips using those instruments. It was announced several weeks ago, and starts shipping this week (November 6). You can buy it direct from Kim’s publishing company Bjooks, from Moog, or from many of your favorite modular retailers.

November should see me return to creating module videos – I already have one set recorded and awaiting editing, with plans to cover one or two more this month. I also have a few synthesis techniques I want to share with you. But I also have to be honest and admit that if another chance to perform comes up, that will move to the foreground, as I like to compose and record a new piece each time the opportunity arises. Either way, I’m having fun; I hope you are too.

best regards –