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Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

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originalanon
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Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by originalanon »

Hey all,

Am sorry if this question is repeatedly being asked, or that i came across this question, and did not get the answer am looking for.

Music is my hobby, Design is my profession, currently and am working on creating my own music under electronic music genre, i want to have my own sound in my music. For this i got addicted to Modular, after looking at videos and also watched live performances and the amount things you can do with it,....but am very new for this and want to really learn everything there is about it, ... i do have Sylenth1 VST plugin, and others, plus the hardware Behringer Neutron Semi-Modular. I did came across videos on youtube, mainly the 'Intro to Synthesis Part 1 - The Building Blocks of Sound & Synthesis' by Dean Friedman, still going through and trying to get a grasp of it.

Now what is the best way i can learn the Behringer Neutron Semi-Modular? I know if i fiddle around and get a sound, which i can record on a DAW and start creating a music track, but the next time i want the same sound i cannot go about creating it, am lost, trying to figure out. For me it's too technical, and am trying to grasp it, but i want learn everything there is to about Modular. Tomorrow i get my hands on any modular hardware, i should be able to use it and create sound without any doubts or confusion on it, so how do i go about it?

Hope you guys understood what am looking for. Have a nice day people.
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gryfon1
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by gryfon1 »

In many ways, it’s like how you get to play at a Carnegie Hall — practice, practice, practice.
No snark intended.
I would recommend against setting your goal as ‘complete understanding’ at least as your first goal. Learn the sound of the basic waveforms, learn low pass filter behavior, then lpf with varying degrees of resonance. Learn the effect of the controls on the envelope generator as applied to the filter, and as applied to the vca. Does it make a difference if you use the same or different envelopes for filter and vca? Then explore lfo modulations of pitch, cutoff frequency, and resonance. Use mixers to combine multiple oscillators — learn about mixing at unison, then different harmonic and non-harmonic relationships between the oscillators. Experiment with using different waveforms at different frequencies to build more complex sounds before filtering. Then other filter types ( band pass, notch, hi-pass).
Make notes, make patch diagrams, make recordings of sounds you’ve patched, then try to recreate after a day or week.
Consider getting the book Parch & Tweak.
Strongly consider getting the VCV Rack software so you can explore more things without spending more money ;-)
But always remember the rule for eating an elephant — one bite at a time.
Best wishes on the journey! It’s a lifetime of fun, sweat, and occasionally tears.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by Jd1979 »

gryfon1 wrote: Sat Mar 21, 2020 6:41 pm In many ways, it’s like how you get to play at a Carnegie Hall — practice, practice, practice.
No snark intended.
I would recommend against setting your goal as ‘complete understanding’ at least as your first goal. Learn the sound of the basic waveforms, learn low pass filter behavior, then lpf with varying degrees of resonance. Learn the effect of the controls on the envelope generator as applied to the filter, and as applied to the vca. Does it make a difference if you use the same or different envelopes for filter and vca? Then explore lfo modulations of pitch, cutoff frequency, and resonance. Use mixers to combine multiple oscillators — learn about mixing at unison, then different harmonic and non-harmonic relationships between the oscillators. Experiment with using different waveforms at different frequencies to build more complex sounds before filtering. Then other filter types ( band pass, notch, hi-pass).
Make notes, make patch diagrams, make recordings of sounds you’ve patched, then try to recreate after a day or week.
Consider getting the book Parch & Tweak.
Strongly consider getting the VCV Rack software so you can explore more things without spending more money ;-)
But always remember the rule for eating an elephant — one bite at a time.
Best wishes on the journey! It’s a lifetime of fun, sweat, and occasionally tears.
Excellent insights into learning synthesis. In addition to this, I would also recommend checking out YouTube as well. People like Todd Barton have made incredible videos and tutorials that help to break down the fundamentals of modular synthesis, in a lot of cases, one module at a time. There are a lot of videos that explain topics like wave folding, fm and am synthesis technique, filtering, gain staging, and much much more. In addition, asking lots of questions on the forum is also a great way of learning different components. Also never and I mean never give up on exploration and don’t get too comfortable with one thing.
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KSS
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by KSS »

When synthesizers were a brand new cutting edge technology in the 60s and 70s, there were a whole lot of people just like you. And because of that, the owners manuals, magazine articles, and books from that time had to explain synthesizers in very basic terms. Muzines website has many or most of the old magazines available to downoad. The ARP2600 owners manual is available many places, including Korgs website to support their re-release. It's a very good start from zero about synthesizers. Other vintage user manuals have lots of good informtion too.

The down side of this approach is that there is a lot that's happened in the 50 years since synths first came to the general population. But that doesn't mean the old stuff has no value. Only that the whole field is much larger. The old stuff is still a solid starting point.

In the middle , there is a large number of articles in Sound on Sound magazine by Gordon Reid which cover a great many topics. Be aware that some find his writings, beliefs and approach lacking in some way. I'll say you can still learn a LOT from reading his series of SoS articles.

Take the same idea and apply it to the newer products. They also have manuals -Doepfer especially good- and youtube has replaced many magazines.

There's no shortcut, and you're never going to know all there is. Agree that you'll treat yourself kindly by choosing a smaller target goal. At leat for now.

Be careful of 'falling into the rabbit hole'. It's extrememly easy to get sidetracked and waylaid. Don't try to learn it all from reading, looking or watching. You will learn more about synthesis by doing synthesis along WITH the outside additional study. A clear set of minor and major goals -written down!- can help you keep focus.

One relatively new member here -Pelsea- is a retired professor of electronic music, and has authored a book written from his experiences. I have not read it but others have given it good report.

Welcome! and Enjoy!
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by Pelsea »

Self promotion time: I have published my class lecture notes on Lulu. Follow the link in my signature.
Books and tutorials on modular synthesis at http://peterelsea.com
Retired academic.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by BananaPlug »

I would just add that learning about the acoustics of musical instruments (traditional ones) can be very useful. A non-rigorous familiarity with the physics of instruments can be helpful because analog electronics in modulars mostly are analagous to those same mechanisms.
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robotfunk
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by robotfunk »

Almost 20 years ago I followed a course in modular analog synthesis by Rob Hordijk and learnt some nice tricks. He wrote the manual for Nord G2 and has a website aimed at the G2 but generally applicable to modular analog. https://rhordijk.home.xs4all.nl/G2Pages/
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by bwhittington »

An oscilloscope (software or cheap vintage) can be helpful. You can hear a lot of things, but sometimes seeing what happens to a waveform (both audio and cv) when you patch can aid understanding.

This forum is a pretty deep resource. When you get to the point of asking more specific questions, you will probably see some pretty interesting responses from people that know a heck of a lot about synthesis. I don't have a Neutron, but I assume there might be a lot of other new users who might find a thread in which its basic function blocks were discussed to be really helpful. Maybe start that thread, if it doesn't exist already. Or throw up your own patch examples in the Nuetron thread when you find its cool sweet spots and ask about how to recreate them. It is quite difficult to exactly recreate very nuanced patches, but you should be able to understand and recreate their concepts in due time.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by sir stony »

BananaPlug wrote: Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:16 pm I would just add that learning about the acoustics of musical instruments (traditional ones) can be very useful. A non-rigorous familiarity with the physics of instruments can be helpful because analog electronics in modulars mostly are analagous to those same mechanisms.
This latter part (in italic) is, sorry to say, plain wrong. The modern approach of physical modelling is a lot closer to the physics of classic instruments. The analog circuits found in typical analog modules have been created to get something out of them that may or may not resemble the sound of classic instruments, but with the limited possibilities in those early days of electronics, this was mostly hit and miss, and many of the physics that would define a sound's character in a true instrument works in ways the analog modules have never been able to recreate, and hence never been good at making a faithful reproduction of such sounds. Only with modern synthesizing approaches have these barriers been almost entirely torn down.

With the first part, however, I totally agree. To understand the physics of true instruments (and in fact all kinds of acoustic events, airflow, pressure, swing and string motions, harmonics, phase and interference, and what else...) will enable a synthesist to pick out the right modules to recreate sounds more faithfully, and also to get on with own concepts.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by KSS »

sir stony wrote: Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:07 pm
BananaPlug wrote: Mon Mar 23, 2020 3:16 pm I would just add that learning about the acoustics of musical instruments (traditional ones) can be very useful. A non-rigorous familiarity with the physics of instruments can be helpful because analog electronics in modulars mostly are analagous to those same mechanisms.
This latter part (in italic) is, sorry to say, plain wrong.
No it's not.

Splitting the hairs a bit thin, aren't you? The word "mostly" in BPs post covers your expanded explanation. Classic analog does indeed have ample means for affecting the three components of sound. Where your words might apply is that the control of those three components was not complete enough in most cases.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by snevlida14 »

I hope this helps:
1. Buy the PODULAR overlay for the neutron from Heinakroon.net
It helps you understand the patching points by color coding them and helps separate the other features as to better understand them. It will help going from the neutron to other modules.

2. Download on Amazon-Modular Synthesizer Mastery - Volume 0
by Darwin Grosse. It’s a great book that will walk you though basic patches for a beginner. It will also help you understand west coast style patching vs east coast style. You can spend a lot of time with just this book. He is also a member of muffs.👍🎹
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by dooj88 »

if you're trying to learn it all at once, i think you need one of these
524473eb6bb3f7f64d4a8db7.jpg
524473eb6bb3f7f64d4a8db7.jpg (23.97 KiB) Viewed 1407 times


wait, actually it's been a while since i saw BttF.. that thing didn't work. you'll have to watch tons of videos and read tutorials and manuals.
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ehness
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by ehness »

There's a nifty piece of software called Syntorial which aims at teaching subtractive synthesis in a hands-on by-ear approach. Sound on Sound's 'Synth Secrets' by Gordon Reid gives more of a theoretical grounding which is then followed with practical examples. I felt they complimented each other nicely as I worked through them. There's tonnes of material online nowadays to suit the way you learn.

Whatever approach you take, just remember to have fun!

P.S. Here's a killer thread that might help you: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=12812
originalanon
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by originalanon »

originalanon, gryfon1, Jd1979, KSS, Pelsea, BananaPlug, robotfunk, bwhittington, sir stony, snevlida14, ehness, dooj88 - haha, no, trying to learn one at a time ..... Thank you all so much for the reply people, Lemme go through each of them and understand/figure out those, note them down, and come back here with questions :)

keep Covid outside, create Music inside, have a great week ahead ya'll :)
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by synth.void »

ehness wrote: Sat Mar 28, 2020 5:04 am There's a nifty piece of software called Syntorial which aims at teaching subtractive synthesis in a hands-on by-ear approach. Sound on Sound's 'Synth Secrets' by Gordon Reid gives more of a theoretical grounding which is then followed with practical examples. I felt they complimented each other nicely as I worked through them. There's tonnes of material online nowadays to suit the way you learn.

Whatever approach you take, just remember to have fun!

P.S. Here's a killer thread that might help you: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=12812
+1 for Syntorial. It got me hooked on modular in the first place. However, I’ve never finished it.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by DrReverendSeance »

I found this article today which summarizes the basics of modular synthesizers pretty well. I especially liked the section on building a block diagramme to document a patch.
https://econtact.ca/17_4/austin_synthesis.html
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by Voltcontrol »

Also: Trying out and playing with VCV Rack will learn you a ton.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by KSS »

DrReverendSeance wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:28 am I found this article today which summarizes the basics of modular synthesizers pretty well. I especially liked the section on building a block diagramme to document a patch.
https://econtact.ca/17_4/austin_synthesis.html
Unfortunately, the figure for bipolar signal near the top of this document is incorrect. It shows a clipped signal and calls it the 'same' but unipolar. No. Farther down under offset is a figure correctly showing the same signal unipolar and bipolar.

I didn't keep reading after seeing this so near the beginning. If it's an example of lack of knowledge rather than poor editing, one should research beyond this document. That's generally good advice for any plunge into learning something new.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by DrReverendSeance »

KSS wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 5:29 pm
DrReverendSeance wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:28 am I found this article today which summarizes the basics of modular synthesizers pretty well. I especially liked the section on building a block diagramme to document a patch.
https://econtact.ca/17_4/austin_synthesis.html
Unfortunately, the figure for bipolar signal near the top of this document is incorrect. It shows a clipped signal and calls it the 'same' but unipolar. No. Farther down under offset is a figure correctly showing the same signal unipolar and bipolar.

I didn't keep reading after seeing this so near the beginning. If it's an example of lack of knowledge rather than poor editing, one should research beyond this document. That's generally good advice for any plunge into learning something new.
The article is called “A Generalized Introduction” and that was the light in which I read it. Being an introduction suggest that concepts are kept simple and straightforward.

How would you explain unipolar in a different way? I didn’t see what is wrong with the explanation as if I pass a bipolar signal through a processor that is unipolar the signal output will be as in the illustration. Or is it just the use of the word “same” that is troubling? Please clarify your opinion.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by pingu »

Hi,
I am new here, cheers... :party:

Just wanted to mention that i was virtually introduced to modular through an Android App. called Caustic 3... It is free for PC. :miley:
https://singlecellsoftware.com/caustic
it has a Virtual Modular Rack that is super for learning the basics. ;)
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by Lux A Turner »

dooj88 wrote: Fri Mar 27, 2020 12:06 pm if you're trying to learn it all at once, i think you need one of these

524473eb6bb3f7f64d4a8db7.jpg
Or maybe a...
morbius krell machine 01.jpg


My Soundcloud - - - - - My Bandcamp - - - - - My Freesound - - - - - My Eurorack
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by KSS »

DrReverendSeance wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:28 am How would you explain unipolar in a different way? I didn’t see what is wrong with the explanation as if I pass a bipolar signal through a processor that is unipolar the signal output will be as in the illustration. Or is it just the use of the word “same” that is troubling? Please clarify your opinion.
KSS wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 5:29 pm Unfortunately, the figure for bipolar signal near the top of this document is incorrect. It shows a clipped signal and calls it the 'same' but unipolar. No. Farther down under offset is a figure correctly showing the same signal unipolar and bipolar.
DrReverendSeance wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:28 am The article is called “A Generalized Introduction” and that was the light in which I read it. Being an introduction suggest that concepts are kept simple and straightforward.
Simple is fine, incorrect is not. Especially when the person the writing for is a beginner who will not see the errors and the writer is an established 'expert' according to theri bio.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by DrReverendSeance »

KSS wrote: Mon Apr 27, 2020 12:04 pm
DrReverendSeance wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:28 am How would you explain unipolar in a different way? I didn’t see what is wrong with the explanation as if I pass a bipolar signal through a processor that is unipolar the signal output will be as in the illustration. Or is it just the use of the word “same” that is troubling? Please clarify your opinion.
KSS wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 5:29 pm Unfortunately, the figure for bipolar signal near the top of this document is incorrect. It shows a clipped signal and calls it the 'same' but unipolar. No. Farther down under offset is a figure correctly showing the same signal unipolar and bipolar.
DrReverendSeance wrote: Sun Apr 26, 2020 6:28 am The article is called “A Generalized Introduction” and that was the light in which I read it. Being an introduction suggest that concepts are kept simple and straightforward.
Simple is fine, incorrect is not. Especially when the person the writing for is a beginner who will not see the errors and the writer is an established 'expert' according to theri bio.
So my question above was : How would you explain unipolar in a different way? I didn’t see what is wrong with the explanation as if I pass a bipolar signal through a processor that is unipolar the signal output will be as in the illustration. Or is it just the use of the word “same” that is troubling? Please clarify your opinion.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by KSS »

I already answered that question in the first reply. The second figure is correct for same signal, but unipolar. The "different way" is the second figure.

Your comment about passing a signal through something else has no bearing here. Unipolar and bipolar exist separate from that. Especially in a
beginners glossary of terms, as seen here.

Yes, since same was also listed in my reply -and even called out with scare quotes- it's part of the problem with the original text. Either change the words or change the figure. Leaving both in place is inaccurate. If the words are changed then your processed change becomes relevant. If the words stay the same, the figure from below needs to be used here as well. The latter is the better choice for a beginners aid to understanding synthesis.
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Re: Where or How to learn everything about modular synthesizer?

Post by DrReverendSeance »

KSS wrote: Tue Apr 28, 2020 1:26 pm If the words are changed then your processed change becomes relevant. If the words stay the same, the figure from below needs to be used here as well. The latter is the better choice for a beginners aid to understanding synthesis.
Thanks this is what I hadn’t understood. What your saying makes sense - the caption is incorrect when shown with the illustration (or the illustration is incorrect with that caption!).

While working with my modular I’ve often been slow to understand what is happening when I send a bipolar signal as a CV and I only get “half” the expected response. While I understand the offset concept in theory, in practice I struggle to offset a signal in my modular. I am not sure how I would offset a signal practically? I think this would be possible by sending a straight voltage and my bipolar signal through a mixer? But I am not sure about that.

I am learning (or trying to!) which is why I am asking questions.
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