Learning Modular Synthesis: The Comprehensive Starter Course

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Tweaking a typical East Coast patch

Tweaking a patch on the Learning Modular Synthesis system

This is my original “Learning Modular” course, created for those just getting into hardware modular synthesis. I start with a brief history of synthesis, and review basic concepts such as voltage control as well as harmonics and sound. I then introduce the major module formats available, and discuss the core modules you might consider for your system, including cases, power, getting notes in, and getting sound out. Then comes the heart of the course where I show you how to create the most common subtractive synthesis patch, then go over each main module in a typical modular synth, demonstrating how it works as well as what common synthesizer sounds you can create with it. I cover both East and West Coast Approaches to synthesis, so you’ll learn how to craft a wide variety of sounds.

A complete outline of this course is shown at the bottom of this page; here is the introductory video for the course:

The Eurorack-format “teaching rack” for this course (click here for more information on how and why I chose the modules I used for this course) is based on the widely available Roland System 500 Eurorack-standard synthesizer modules, complemented with modules from numerous other manufacturers. As most modules as well as many synthesizer keyboards and plug-ins are designed around the same principles, this course will be useful to all musicians wishing to get further into synthesis and programming their own sounds, regardless of the specific equipment you own.

There are three ways you can watch this course:

•     Click here to go the Learning Modular Synthesis course on Lynda.com. If you don’t already have a Lynda.com account, register through lynda.com/trial/chrismeyer and you’ll receive your first 30 days free before your credit card is charged. Hundreds of music and audio courses are available there in addition to mine, all for one monthly fee.

•    Become a member of the Learning Modular Patreon tribe! My 12v and 24A patrons get access to all of my modular synth courses hosted on LearningModular.com, including this one.

•     Register & buy the course below for a one-time fee, and view it for years streaming from this web site. Fill out the form below, choose your preferred method of payment, and then click the Pay & Register for this Course button. If you chose Stripe, this page will refresh – scroll back down to here and fill in your credit card info. If you chose PayPal, you will be taken to their site to complete payment.

After paying, look for an email confirming your username and giving login instructions; save it. (Look in your Junk folder if you don’t see it shortly after registering.) If you have already paid & registered, but are not logged in yet, click here or in the main menu select Training > Training Login.


Still undecided? I’ve created a couple of other posts featuring free-to-all sample movies from the Learning Modular Synthesis course; feel free to peruse these first:

Some of the feedback I’ve received on this course includes:

“This is a fantastic course.  I would LOVE more.  I’ve been waiting a long time for a course like this THANKS Chris!” – LDC

“Holy cow this is awesome!!!! I had no idea this would be so nice…” – JH
“I checked out the previews and was really impressed at how in-depth it is and how much new knowledge I learned. I’ve already started recommending it to friends…” – EP
“Looks really good, very professional, very well presented; the way it’s broken down into chapters/sections is definitely a help.” – JO

“These are some of the best newbie tutorials for modular synthesis…” – SR


“Thanks a lot for your videos. Perfectly clear explanations for people starting out in modular synthesis.” – BF


“Really informative and clear. Better than most other vids about modular. Thanks!” – AN


“You’re an excellent instructor. Thanks!” – BW

Table of Contents for Learning Modular Synthesis

Module 1 Introduction
Unit 1 Welcome
Unit 2 How We Got Here
Unit 3 Fundamental Concept: Harmonics
Unit 4 Fundamental Concept: Voltage Control (CV+Gate)
Module 2 Putting a System Together
Unit 1 The Standard Modular Formats
Unit 2 The Core Building Block Modules
Unit 3 Playing Your Modular Synth
Unit 4 Getting Sound In and Out
Unit 5 Case and Power Supply Issues
Module 3 Learning Subtractive Synthesis
Unit 1 Patching a Typical Synthesizer Voice
Unit 2 Tuning Voltage-Controlled Oscillators (VCOs)
Unit 3 The Basic Analog Waveforms
Unit 4 Sine Waves and Drum Sounds
Unit 5 Digital Wavetable Oscillators
Unit 6 The Voltage Controlled Low Pass Filter (VCF)
Unit 7 The Differences Between Filter Slopes
Unit 8 Resonance (Feedback or Q)
Unit 9 Other Common Filter Modes: HP, BP, and Notch
Unit 10 Envelope Types: ADSR, AD, AR, and DADSR
Unit 11 Linear vs. Exponential Envelope Shapes
Unit 12 Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) Waveshapes
Unit 13 Pulse Width Modulation (PWM)
Unit 14 Vibrato with LFO Sync and Delay
Unit 15 Tremolo and Voltage Controlled Amplifiers (LFOs)
Unit 16 Some Alternate Modulation Sources
Module 4 Exploring Alternate Techniques
Unit 1 Oscillator Sync
Unit 2 Exponential Frequency Modulation (FM)
Unit 3 Linear Through-Zero FM
Unit 4 Amplitude and Ring Modulation
Unit 5 Waveshaping
Unit 6 Low Pass Gates (LPGs)
Unit 7 Introducing Randomness: Sample & Hold
Unit 8 Phase Shifting
Unit 9 Analog and Digital Delays
Unit 10 Effects Loops
Unit 11 Processing External Sounds
Unit 12 Other Synthesis Techniques
Module 5 Conclusion
Unit 1 Onward


  1. Mayen

    Hi Chris,
    Great info in your videos by the way. I just recently started building my modular synth. And, I have the following question:
    What would the benefit be of having a Quantizer?
    Do I need one if I’s sequencing notes from Logic Pro or Elektron Octatrack midi out?
    Thank you,

    • Chris Meyer

      A MIDI to CV converter is already quantized, so no worries there.

      Quantizers come in handy for analog sequencer modules, where you just have a continuous control to dial in your pitches – you either need to have a very precise, steady hand, or you just need to get somewhat close and let the quantizer correct it to the correct semitone (and if you like, note in a scale etc.). They’re also handy when you are using non-standard modules to generate your pitch voltages – such as a random output from a sample and hold – and want the notes played to be actually part of a scale etc.


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