Welcome to Learning Modular: a site for musicians and sonic dabblers alike who want to learn more about modular synthesis. Here you will find my online courses, the book Patch & Tweak, a glossary, and additional useful information.
Below are select posts from this web site on fundamental concepts that will hopefully help your modular explorations. This site also contains additional blog posts on trade show reports, excerpts from my courses, and more; click here for the full list.
A perennial question is “do I really need a buffered multiple to connect to my oscillators?” The correct answer is “it depends” because there’s so many variables with the way different modules were designed. I figured it was time to flesh out those details so it didn’t seem like so much voodoo.
Many semi-modular synths have just one VCO. They usually feature a square wave with pulse width animation, but if you want to use the sawtooth wave instead, the sound can be rather static. A common addition is a second oscillator; an interesting alternative is a “waveform animator.”
Ratcheting is a Berlin School sequencing technique where an individual note in a sequence has its envelopes retriggered multiple times, usually at a musical subdivision of the sequence’s tempo – such as playing 1/32 notes in the middle of an 1/8 note sequence – to create a roll. Although used since the 70s, not everyone knows how to create a ratcheting patch on their modular. In this article I demonstrate creating and performing several typical ratcheting patches.
The thought process that went into building a compact yet comprehensive starting modular synth system for my Learn Modular Synthesis course that covered a wide range of both East and West Coast techniques.