patchable 0027

VOICE

Our modular and our voices. A rare combination, indeed.

Think of a band. One of the beauties of modular is that it allows us the ability to effectively perform the music of multiple members of a band without looking like this:

Mary Poppins GIF - Mary Poppins Bert - Discover & Share GIFs

None the less, the modern modular musician rarely embraces their inner vocalist and brings a voice into the mix. This of course does happen on occasion, but it’s pretty uncommon. It’s understandable that some modular artists don’t have a five octave range and prefer not to be the singer. There is no shame in that. However, this shouldn’t stop us from using our voice in alternative ways, perhaps even as a tool.

There’s lots of interesting ways to use your voice in modular, be it as vocals, or otherwise.

THE CHALLENGE

Use your voice! However you’d like. Of course, this Patchable welcomes singing – but it also will celebrate alternative methods to integrate our voices into the modular performance. We encourage you to make your voice an integral aspect of the performance; feel free to also explore more than one of these techniques if you wish. 

Here are some ideas to get started: 

  • Pre-record & sample! Read a poem out loud, tell us a story, hum a tune, sample and enjoy. Fine tune to taste. Chop it up, process it, sequence it. Go HAM.
  • Modulate it! Some lucky few of you have vocoders or talk boxes, but there are other ways to bring your voice into your machine in interesting and creative ways. A Ring Mod for example will get your voice sounding pretty alien. Mic into the signal input, then use an oscillator output into the carrier and before you know it things will start sounding like robots, aliens, haunting radio transmissions and more. Walker Farrell and Make Noise made a really fun video about this process about a year ago – check it out
  • Real time processing! Very similar to sampling, but challenge yourself to do it all in real time. Send your voice right into the modular, and as you talk and sing, experiment with different ways to manipulate and morph it. A granular module would certainly be a fun starting point.
  • Turn into a modulator! Turn your voice into a modulation source, envelopes, with a simple envelope follower. Lots of modules have envelope followers which allow you to turn the relative volume of your voice into modulation. Between Maths or Disting I’m guessing most reading now already have the ability.
  • Sing! Obviously! What a strange and unfamiliar notion! 

HOW TO PLAY

THIS PATCHABLE RUNS THROUGH THE MONTH OF JUNE.

  1. Create an original piece of music using the framework above. For normal Patchable submissions, please detail about what times in the performance you implement each step, and what they are.
  2. Include the suffix PATCHABLE-0027 in the track title and the number of the patchable you chose. A completed track title would look like this: NICEVICE PATCHABLE-0027
  3. Upload your track to Soundcloud. 
  4. Include a link to your track and patch notes in the comments below.

PLAY YOUR PATCH LIVE

If you would like to play a performance on Patchable Performers, please contact @saddleuptherobots or @vcloki on Discord to apply for a time slot.

Don’t forget to press record (!) and then post your set after the show.

PATCHABLE 0026

STEREO

Have you spent any time on Modular Grid looking at new modules recently? I know you have. Don’t lie. It’s unflattering.

I’m sure we’ve all noticed there’s no shortage of stereo modules now available. In fact, stereo has been a common module feature for at least the past year.. It may actually be more bizarre to see a big module released nowadays that’s mono only. 

There’s a reason for this: stereo in modular is seriously freaking cool! Patches are more immersive, making it easy to discover new textures not feasible in mono. Your tracks simply become much more varied and unique, setting you apart from other modular artists. It creates a much more active listening experience for your audience. 

There was a time when stereo wasn’t all the rage in eurorack. For many years most modules released did not prioritize stereo patching. Around 2018/2019 the field widened – but chances are most of the modules you have in your rack weren’t explicitly designed for stereo use. 

You know the drill. It’s time to get creative and change that. 

THE CHALLENGE

Build a stereo patch – optimally without using modules inherently designed for stereo (dual L&R outputs). That said, we here at NYMS really, really dig stereo patches – so we won’t explicitly forbid the use of stereo out modules, (especially if it means we get to hear some really cool music or sound design as a result), but that’s not really in the spirit of a Patchable. With some creative patching, mono modules can be patched for stereo output. Take charge and find ways to create stereo patches from modules that were not explicitly made for this task. 

Here are some neat tricks to help you accomplish this: 

  • To set up the audio chain you do not need much – it’s as simple as duplicating a single VCO output. A buffered mult, or normalled VCA works fine. Send those to a dual (or more) VCA which can be fed into the left and right of your mixing board / audio interface. 
  • Now, make things interesting by using unique envelopes with different timing to feed into the VCAs. If you time your gates to have them fire at opposite timings, or use something like the EOC on Maths to fire a gate over to Envelope A once Envelope B finishes, you can very quickly and easily recreate the classic “ping-pong” effect! 
  • Another fun way to get a stereo patch going is to use multi-output modules, like a VCO with 2+ waveform outputs, or a filter with LP & BP outs (or any combination…HP & Notch, whatever). Send one to Left VCA and one to Right VCA and you have diversified sound already. This can get dizzying and unsettling for a listener on headphones if the two sounds are high frequencies or really unique from one another – so take caution…unless you actually want to make your listener uneasy. You sadist. 
  • One way to correct for some of this instability is by using mid-side processing. It is a technique for “widening” your stereo field and creating a fuller stereo image by taking 2 channels of audio and creating two new channels – the Sum and the Difference. iZotope explains the concept better, but essentially the Mid = the sum or overlap of L+R inputs, and the Side = difference of the L+R inputs. To achieve this you need a module that can give you the sum and difference outputs of any two unique inputs. Kinks, LRMSMSLR, SumDiff were all made to do this…but what about a module that nearly all of us have🤔

HOW TO PLAY

THIS PATCHABLE RUNS THROUGH THE MONTH OF MAY.

  1. Create an original piece of music using the framework above. For normal Patchable submissions, please detail about what times in the performance you implement each step, and what they are.
  2. Include the suffix PATCHABLE-0026 in the track title and the number of the patchable you chose. A completed track title would look like this: SurroundedSound PATCHABLE-0026
  3. Upload your track to Soundcloud. 
  4. Include a link to your track and patch notes in the comments below.

PLAY YOUR PATCH LIVE

If you would like to play a performance on Patchable Performers, please contact @saddleuptherobots or @vcloki on Discord to apply for a time slot.

Don’t forget to press record (!) and then post your set after the show. Needless to say, we recommend watching this one wearing headphones.

PATCHABLE 0025

REPETITION

The pleasures of sequencing.

Sequencers are an absolutely essential tool for the aspiring and established modular musicians alike. One of the main draws to modular is the variety of seriously cool and unique sequencers. There’s no shortage of our lovable HP hogs out there, each offering their owner an ability to craft a rhythm, pattern, riff or melody all their own.

Unfortunately, there’s the downside to sequencing. More often than not, phrases can become repetitive, really, really repetitive. You may start with a nice sequence but as it plays while you proceed to build your track it can begin to feel less interesting, and a lot more irritating. And while there’s even some science to prove that we as humans really like repetition in music, the modular musician may want greater variation and complexity.

Patchable encourages learning by means of embracing challenge, head on. So this month we’re going to learn about avoiding repetition by creating a whole lot of it.

THE CHALLENGE

This month’s challenge tasks the performer to use just one sequencer track to perform an entire composition. Build it, mult it, then slice, sample, modulate, divide, and do whatever it takes to keep things fresh. Here are some ideas to get you started: 

  • Switch things up: Use a switch (or better yet, a sequential switch) to move the phrase around your system, into and out of different modules
  • S&H the result: Send your sequence into a sample and hold; use it to create a new derivative of the original
  • Remember your sequencers built in functionality: Bust out the manual! Transpose, retrigger, set conditions, change the run length, fill, divide, anything and everything
  • Apply logic: Use gate logic to give your sequence an entirely new feel
  • Vary the sound itself: Push your pattern using filters and effect modules, create feedback loops, distort and destroy, build a sound bath with endless reverb and delay, use that Beads you inevitably just bought and granularize it into something entirely new…
  • Modulate it!: Duh. Your 1V/Oct input may be repetitive, but that doesn’t mean the other CV inputs need to be
  • Reset: Don’t forget about your reset functionality. Using that in creative ways and with unique timings can lead to interesting new variances on your existing sequence

HOW TO PLAY

THIS PATCHABLE RUNS FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL.

  1. Create an original piece of music using the framework above. For normal Patchable submissions, please detail about what times in the performance you implement each step, and what they are.
  2. Include the suffix PATCHABLE-0025 in the track title and the number of the patchable you chose. A completed track title would look like this: AgainAndAgainAndAgainAndAgainAndA PATCHABLE-0025
  3. Upload your track to Soundcloud. 
  4. Include a link to your track and patch notes in the comments below.

PLAY YOUR PATCH LIVE

If you would like to play a performance on Patchable Performers, please contact @saddleuptherobots on Discord to apply for a time slot.

Don’t forget to press record (!) and then post your set on Soundcloud after the show.

Patchable 0017

RE:DRUM MACHINE

Drum machines are technological paragons of rhythmic production and exploration.  While it is easy to credit the beautiful design behind the beat boxes we adore, the real genius lies in the application by artists.  Abstracting the idea of the drum machine further and placing focus on the artist is what this Patchable is all about.

THE CHALLENGE

For this Patchable we challenge you to create your own drum machine using modular components.  Create each drum voice using any modules that are not drum modules. Using this drum machine make a song that is percussion based. You are free to use any modules except the following:

  • No drum modules
  • No samplers
  • No voice modules which require a trig input to emit sound – VCOs with a trig in are permitted, so long as the trig is not used

Other things to note:

  • no sampled drum loops or sounds
  • Using a delay, looper or sampler to effect your drum voices in real time, is allowed.
  • Using a single cycle waveform to create a VCO from a sample is allowed.

HOW TO PLAY

THIS PATCHABLE RUNS FOR THE MONTH OF AUGUST – DEADLINE AUGUST 31

  1. Create an original piece of music. It does not have to be a complete track. Ideas are welcome.
  2. Include the suffix PATCHABLE-0017 in the track title.  A completed track title would look like this: Spiral Vortex PATCHABLE-0017
  3. Upload your track to soundcloud by end of day, August 31st.
  4. Include a link to your track and patch notes in the comments below.

Patchable Performers

This month’s Patchable Performers, on Aug 27th, is based on this Patchable. The live show will incorporate a twist on the concept. If you wish to perform this Patchable, live, on the show, please message @saddleuptherobots, or @VCLoki on discord for information. 

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re interested in performing the patchable live, do NOT post a recording to the site, until after the show. We want the performances to be a surprise.

Patchable 0017 – RE:DRUM MACHINE by DYSONANT, video by Photonbath

PATCHABLE PERFORMERS

Encouraging new performance behaviors via utilization of arbitrary constraints

PATCHABLE PERFORMERS is a curated electronic music live streaming show run by New York Modular Society.  

For almost a year now the New York Modular Society has been pushing it’s member-base to think outside the box via a patching challenge we call Patchable. On a regular basis our members are challenged to compose a piece of music using some sort of constraint, or common perspective.

These often fall into 5 common themes: 

  • Theory
  • Patching Technique
  • Environmental
  • Sound Design
  • Setup 

We want to use these themes to challenge NYMS members to think differently about performance art, as well as music composition in it’s own right. Patchable Performers exists to offer NYMS members a new way to think about performing live, and showcase their new techniques to an impassioned audience.

Philosophy 

Challenge yourself.

Format 

A monthly show which runs on the 4th Wednesday of every month. Each month will feature a variety of performers all taking on the same patchable challenge for that month. The Patchable for the performance show will possibly be different than the Patchable in the #patchables channel on the NYMS discord server. Set length, Show length, and Artist count will depend on community interest in each monthly challenge. Artists will likely be required to use a modular, or semi-modular synthesizer for each challenge (again, unless the scenario dictates otherwise). 

Curators

  • Saddleuptherobots
  • VCLoki
  • Mr William

Booking

Artists interested in playing live should first join us on the NYMS discord server.

Artists must also read and understand the following:

The information contained within How To Stream MUSIC TO Twitch From your Computer is extremely important, as Artists will not be allowed to stream if they are not following the instructions contained within. Should an Artist need assistance in setting their streaming settings as dictated above, please reach out in the #streaming channel on the NYMS discord server.

Feel free to reach out to a curator with any questions.  

Other Reading

Arbitrary Constraints

Past Performances

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