What do I want?

Cwejman, Livewire, TipTop Audio, Doepfer etc... Get your euro on!

Moderators: Kent, luketeaford, Joe.

JedTheFish
Common Wiggler
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:35 pm
Location: Pasadena, California
Contact:

What do I want?

Post by JedTheFish » Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:06 pm

I am waiting for module developers to collectively realize that what musicians want is not more options. Nerds want more options, musicians want fewer. Very few of us are actually both, though we love tricking ourselves into thinking so. Do you think certain manufacturers cater to the nerd in us, and certain manufacturers strive to serve musicians? Rather than a poll, I’m interested in what pops into your mind.

I think of myself as a musician who wants to play live. But I can’t stop collecting modules. I must budget time to make music.

What is easily forgotten is that my rig is not an instrument. It is a collection of instruments. Each module is it’s own instrument. If I am constantly deciding on which instrument, I don’t become expert at any. At that point, I am a collector. Not a musician.

Here is my live rig that does not have enough power.
Attachments
CFAE2C7D-C1B7-4E2D-948E-1B402F822EC9.jpeg

User avatar
Muff McMuff
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 913
Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2018 7:20 am
Location: CNX and MAN

Re: What do I want?

Post by Muff McMuff » Wed Jul 21, 2021 11:49 pm

Its up to you build a rack with less options, less complexity. Its modular so you can fine tune your preferences to extremes if you want. There are thousands of modules so it must be possible?

Recently my rack was full and i had a small collection of modules that were removed to allow something new to come in. They were like the waifs and strays. Decent modules like mini rings and plaits, VCA's that i would not miss, utilties, an underused mixer, filter etc. It had no thought given to its design other than i was ok with removing these modules from my main rack but it was functional rack. I experienced for myself the less is more because i got all sorts of fresh sounds out this rack. I had less options and discovered new appreciation for these modules. Less is more and constraints is well known and good advice but its not the absolute answer. The next feeling i got from this mini rack as enjoyable as it was is i wanted these modules back in my main rack so i need a bigger rack!

I think part of a rack as instrument is getting it right in your mind and some kind of contentment with what you have and thats not easy. You need synth knowledge and hands on experience to get there and the answer will be personal to you rather than one machine suits everybody. I am three years in and i feel i moving in the right direction towards contentment, settled rack, a 95% fixed instrument maybe?

User avatar
thelowerrhythm
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 900
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:45 pm
Location: Corvallis, OR

Re: What do I want?

Post by thelowerrhythm » Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:21 am

What's a musician? What's an instrument? Modular has made me really unsure, and that's what I like about it. I'm not sure I feel the nerd vs. musician thing, or at least in this context the vast majority of people I know who are into modular are both. Just as it is when you learn to build your own guitar, there's an investment in understanding and intelligently tweaking what's going on. This seems like an issue of nature. When it comes to design, there are for sure philosophies that lean more towards physical Play vs. Programmability, but I see a lot of different vectors at play that bend, twist, and mutate the way concept meets hardware. I'm not convinced the two terms I used represent a real dichotomy, it's just the way this makes me think about it. Most manufacturers seem to do a little of both. Intellijel would be a good example, looking at Planar and then Rainmaker. Make Noise seems more traditionally music performance focused, albeit in their own novel way. But the truth is that it's less obvious than that, because everyone interacts with this stuff differently.
"Ah yeah, you’ve got that strange blend of apathy and self-flagellation that somehow gets you where you want to go."

User avatar
megarat
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 660
Joined: Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:09 pm
Location: PNW

Re: What do I want?

Post by megarat » Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:38 am

JedTheFish wrote:
Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:06 pm
What is easily forgotten is that my rig is not an instrument. It is a collection of instruments. Each module is it’s own instrument. If I am constantly deciding on which instrument, I don’t become expert at any. At that point, I am a collector. Not a musician.
I can’t say that I agree with this bit. Many (most?) modules are useless on their own. Take a VCA, or a logic module, or a wave folder. These modules only become an instrument once you combine them into a critical mass that you can actually play. And as @Muff McMuff said, the complexity of that instrument is up to you.

That said, much of what you said resonates with me. For me, the nature of modular makes me always think about optimizing and tweaking and upgrading, and there have been times when nearly all of my modular playtime involved having a screwdriver in my hand. Thankfully my modular rig has basically settled, with no major changes in the past 6+ months (but still some minor changes occasionally), and I feel like I can actually focus on it as the instrument and workstation that I want it to be. But up until recently, I was consistently struggling with its limitations and annoyances, and trying to solve those problems with my wallet.

ljwall83
Common Wiggler
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:41 am

Re: What do I want?

Post by ljwall83 » Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:19 am

JedTheFish wrote:
Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:06 pm
... Nerds want more options, musicians want fewer. Very few of us are actually both, ....
Not sure I buy this as I can think of a few musicians with very large modular setups. Or maybe they're just part of the very few who are both.

ljwall83
Common Wiggler
Posts: 84
Joined: Tue Sep 17, 2019 2:41 am

Re: What do I want?

Post by ljwall83 » Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:30 am

Also, I agree with the thelowerrythm: distinguishing nerds and musicians is maybe a bit of a false dichotomy. Speaking pesonally, like many interested in modular, I am definitely a bit of a geek, and it's not like you can just set your personality aside as you approach making music.

User avatar
Katherine Alicia
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 424
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2021 8:00 am
Location: England
Contact:

Re: What do I want?

Post by Katherine Alicia » Thu Jul 22, 2021 3:29 am

Try not to get bogged down with non essentials, whether it`s One instrument or Lots of them it doesn`t matter really what you call it, it`s just a label. take the MC 101 or Novation circuit, is it One instrument or 4? Answer: Who Cares!
Also get rid of the idea that you need to be "an expert" all you need to really know is what module is best suited for making the sound you have in your head, if you can quickly access the sounds you want then that`s all you ever need to know, I have plenty of sound modules and know how to get the sounds out but not a clue how to program them! (the D-05 for instance), but I don`t care, it makes the sounds I want and that`s all I need to know.
Very often if I can`t be bothered choosing a sound I`ll compose using nothing but sine waves! and spend the time afterwards changing the voices around to suit (sometimes I even leave them as sine waves! ;) )

Putting all this needless pressure on yoursef is robbing you of the pleasure of Music, the clue is in the name, we PLAY an instrument we don`t do`t Work one or Think one, we Play!
*Peace, Love, Unity, Respect*
https://www.youtube.com/KatherineAlicia

User avatar
cinnatoastg
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 475
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2020 10:31 am
Location: Ann Arbor

Re: What do I want?

Post by cinnatoastg » Thu Jul 22, 2021 3:35 am

Caveat: if you’re making music, you’re a musician.

But...

I’d have to agree that I’m not sure the musician or nerd comparison holds. Id say the vast majority of people fall into both categories your talking about. They would just be somewhere on a spectrum, but I think the spectrum you set up is false.

In fact, MOST obvious musicians I know/know of would fall into your nerd category as well. It happens in every other facet of music.

minus the bear enters the chat

I guess my question back would be what’s your experience that lead you to believe this and is it more than just people GASing for modules online? I’m having a really hard time thinking of anyone I know personally who would only fit in the nerd category.

The black/white thinking should be avoided whenever possible imho. Especially when categorizing people.

LunaticSound
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 685
Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2018 3:50 pm
Location: Hamburg

Re: What do I want?

Post by LunaticSound » Thu Jul 22, 2021 4:44 am

Nerd is the wrong term. Being a (good) musician without being a nerd regarding your instrument/style/scene is nearly impossible, I would say.

Collecting is not necessary at all though, one nice instrument is all you will ever need. And the fact, that you will never properly learn, as in master, your instrument if you buy a new part every month, is a pretty vital realization, in my opinion.

RolandoBlanca
Common Wiggler
Posts: 74
Joined: Tue May 04, 2021 7:33 am

Re: What do I want?

Post by RolandoBlanca » Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:42 am

I'm definitely both, I plug stuff into my oscilloscope, marvel at the wonders of electricity, then plug it into the mixer and jam the **** out. Both of these activities stem from the same source.

User avatar
starthief
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 5508
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2016 10:39 am
Location: St Louis, MO
Contact:

Re: What do I want?

Post by starthief » Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:44 am

I don't think you can really speak for everyone in this way. I'm definitely a nerd and a musician, and those things overlap and influence each other a great deal. Many of the musicians I've known have been nerds -- some of them about music itself, if not the science of sound then the theory or history or biographies of musicians -- and many of them about other things (anime, politics, biology, whatever).

I like simplicity and a removal of extraneous choices in some areas, and variety in others. I have one good LPG, but I have a whole roster of oscillators to draw from.

I dislike monster, multitimbral, multiple page software synths and appreciate a nice simple one (software or hardware) that still offers a lot of possible outcomes. I kind of feel that way about individual Eurorack modules too, but my tolerance for having to navigate different modes and options varies a lot with the implementation and the nature of the thing.

I really like modules that have one simple concept at their core, and yet the usage is extremely flexible (like a function generator).

transistorresistor
Veteran Wiggler
Posts: 600
Joined: Mon Apr 27, 2020 9:38 pm

Re: What do I want?

Post by transistorresistor » Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:07 am

if you are struggling with this, perhaps a 18u system is not best approach...

Comparative Irrelevance's 3 module challenge is a wonderful dive on what can be done learning three modules in a smaller system if you need some inspiration on reducing your rig. A smaller rig can very easily be streamlined into an instrument which perhaps one can get good at operating like a musician.



But also its modular, and half the reason many of us are here is the presence of the near infinite of possibility that exists. Were it me thinking along the lines you are with the need to "make music like a musician not a nerd", Id be looking at a moog subsequent not a modular, but thats me... This very philosophy after all, was a huge part of foundation that led to a minimoog's creation as a commercial product in the first place.

User avatar
moremagic
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1424
Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:45 pm
Location: NC
Contact:

Re: What do I want?

Post by moremagic » Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:40 am

megarat wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:38 am
JedTheFish wrote:
Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:06 pm
What is easily forgotten is that my rig is not an instrument. It is a collection of instruments. Each module is it’s own instrument. If I am constantly deciding on which instrument, I don’t become expert at any. At that point, I am a collector. Not a musician.
I can’t say that I agree with this bit. Many (most?) modules are useless on their own. Take a VCA, or a logic module, or a wave folder. These modules only become an instrument once you combine them into a critical mass that you can actually play. And as @Muff McMuff said, the complexity of that instrument is up to you.
i was thinking this then i saw OPs case, which imo is sorely lacking in modules that dont feel like entire instruments

if there were more boring utilities in there like basic mixers and vcas and whatnot a lot of the separate instrument type modules would be easier to tie together into a whole instrument, seem like

BlinkyLights
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1129
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:16 am

Re: What do I want?

Post by BlinkyLights » Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:14 pm

Bah.

Build your system your way.

You do you, boo, I'll do me.

auspice
Common Wiggler
Posts: 68
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:43 pm

Re: What do I want?

Post by auspice » Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:25 pm

op's tl;dr - "I wish these designers had not successfully convinced me to spend all this money on cool shiny things."

User avatar
BananaPlug
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 2812
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2007 10:37 pm
Location: PHL USA

Re: What do I want?

Post by BananaPlug » Thu Jul 22, 2021 1:34 pm

saw OPs case, which imo is sorely lacking in modules that dont feel like entire instruments
That’s part of it. Lots of whiz-bang mega-module there but to make them an INSTRUMENT you might need half a row of carefully chosen basic utility modules. Try to clear a little room, then while experimenting with patches, imagine which cheap little modules would open doors for you. That small stuff matters and does a lot for playability.
“We have to articulate ourselves. Otherwise we would be cows in the field” Werner Herzog :nana:

User avatar
Pelsea
Super Deluxe Wiggler
Posts: 1300
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:46 am
Location: Santa Cruz CA
Contact:

Re: What do I want?

Post by Pelsea » Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:25 pm

thelowerrhythm wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:21 am
What's a musician? What's an instrument?
A musician is someone with something musical to say and the skills to say it. The best musicians have the ability to enter a flow state where they react to and generate musical signals without the kind of linguistic thinking we use for everyday life. This is coupled with an unconscious dexterity on the instrument. The flow is a direct connection between the musical impulse and the fingers and lips. Some postulate the music arises in a dedicated part of the brain. Whether that is true or not, it is a useful metaphor.

An instrument is a tool a musician uses in their performance. In the case of modular synthesis, the musician must assemble his own instrument, which is a skill in itself, requiring study and analytical thought. Calling it "nerd thinking" is not too far off the mark inasmuch as it indicates a practical state of mind and attention to detail. It also require experience, both in patching for interesting sounds and for elegant performance.

The problem arises when the two types of thinking conflict. Many musicians have confirmed my experience that if we think about what we are doing (or even what we are going to have for dinner) everything goes to hell. That means that playing the modular and patching the modular are conflicting activities, at least until you have practiced changing that patch to the point of doing it in your sleep. So my suggestion is that you separate the two activities. Spend a day developing a patch, but don't try any ambitious performance. Leave the patch up and come back the next day and just play. If you notice anything that could be better, don't repatch it, just make a note and fix it tomorrow. This way you can design your patches or work on developing proficiency without the other mode of thinking getting in the way. Eventually you will learn to place your mind where it needs to be for what you are doing at the moment.
Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
Patch responsibly.
pqe

User avatar
noisewreck
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 467
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:51 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Re: What do I want?

Post by noisewreck » Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:56 pm

Looking at the pic of your case I see why you think that way. There are a bunch of “cool” complex modules and not enough simple utilities and modulation sources to bring them to life.

User avatar
Wavtekt
Common Wiggler
Posts: 239
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2021 12:33 am
Location: Canada West Coast
Contact:

Re: What do I want?

Post by Wavtekt » Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:07 pm

I think it is hard to not become a nerd to use modular. You need to have a technical, systematical understanding of the module in order to use/mis-use it for music.

Of course, I blame some manufacturers mystifying modular synthesis and uses fancy jargons to persuade the general public to buy their 'special' module. Eurorack market competition is fierce.

Anyways, Eurorack is just one way of making music, there are millions other ways.
Last edited by Wavtekt on Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
noisewreck
Wiggling with Experience
Posts: 467
Joined: Fri Jan 13, 2017 7:51 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Re: What do I want?

Post by noisewreck » Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:25 pm

I am a nerdy musician. Which is why I gravitated towards things like Kurzweil VAST synths and Reaktor early on. Modular was a natural extension of this. I enjoy making contraptions in Reaktor as much as I enjoy making music for example.

User avatar
thelowerrhythm
Ultra Wiggler
Posts: 900
Joined: Sat Jan 06, 2018 11:45 pm
Location: Corvallis, OR

Re: What do I want?

Post by thelowerrhythm » Thu Jul 22, 2021 8:33 pm

Pelsea wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:25 pm
thelowerrhythm wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:21 am
What's a musician? What's an instrument?
A musician is someone with something musical to say and the skills to say it. The best musicians have the ability to enter a flow state where they react to and generate musical signals without the kind of linguistic thinking we use for everyday life. This is coupled with an unconscious dexterity on the instrument. The flow is a direct connection between the musical impulse and the fingers and lips. Some postulate the music arises in a dedicated part of the brain. Whether that is true or not, it is a useful metaphor.

An instrument is a tool a musician uses in their performance. In the case of modular synthesis, the musician must assemble his own instrument, which is a skill in itself, requiring study and analytical thought. Calling it "nerd thinking" is not too far off the mark inasmuch as it indicates a practical state of mind and attention to detail. It also require experience, both in patching for interesting sounds and for elegant performance.

The problem arises when the two types of thinking conflict. Many musicians have confirmed my experience that if we think about what we are doing (or even what we are going to have for dinner) everything goes to hell. That means that playing the modular and patching the modular are conflicting activities, at least until you have practiced changing that patch to the point of doing it in your sleep. So my suggestion is that you separate the two activities. Spend a day developing a patch, but don't try any ambitious performance. Leave the patch up and come back the next day and just play. If you notice anything that could be better, don't repatch it, just make a note and fix it tomorrow. This way you can design your patches or work on developing proficiency without the other mode of thinking getting in the way. Eventually you will learn to place your mind where it needs to be for what you are doing at the moment.
I personally wouldn't clamp down on these things (or anything as contemporaneously fluid) with such authority, nor do I agree with much of it lol, but I really appreciate the post. These are certainly wise words for a certain mindset and I think they'll resonate with the OP. Great example as to why I love this forum.
"Ah yeah, you’ve got that strange blend of apathy and self-flagellation that somehow gets you where you want to go."

User avatar
eb00
Common Wiggler
Posts: 54
Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:57 pm
Location: NYC

Re: What do I want?

Post by eb00 » Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:27 pm

I think modular can be whatever you want! If you wanna get mad geek and weirdo about 9bazillion controls and cv holes, go for it. You want simple, thats rad. Do what YOU want.

SquidboatCommander
Common Wiggler
Posts: 69
Joined: Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:56 am

Re: What do I want?

Post by SquidboatCommander » Thu Jul 22, 2021 10:40 pm

I am a nerd. I just found that out tonight.

User avatar
Nonlocal
Common Wiggler
Posts: 239
Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2021 8:42 pm

Re: What do I want?

Post by Nonlocal » Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:27 pm

I’ve seen so many people express a similar feeling about modular since I’ve joined this site.

The way I see it, making music takes a lot of work and can often be very tedious up until you have something you’re happy with. Meanwhile, buying stuff when you have enough money to do so can be fun and gives you a dopamine rush. So it makes sense that so many people are naturally inclined to spend more time on the latter. I don’t think that relationship necessarily determines whether or not you’re a musician (whatever you think that means).

That being said I personally like the huge range of options, particularly with equipment like modular where each unit generally offers a very specific niche in a system. It allows for a wider diversity among musical outcomes, and that diversity is what catalyzes growth in the art form and inspires creativity.

JedTheFish
Common Wiggler
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Oct 11, 2020 8:35 pm
Location: Pasadena, California
Contact:

Re: What do I want?

Post by JedTheFish » Sat Jul 24, 2021 3:57 pm

megarat wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 12:38 am
[there have been times when nearly all of my modular playtime involved having a screwdriver in my hand.
This, beyond development’s obsession with options — and options for the options — was the thrust of my post. :sstorm:

Post Reply

Return to “Eurorack Modules”