Modular Synthesizer Demo for Purim

Purim is the “most synthesizer-y” of Jewish holidays, given that one of it’s central rituals is noisemaking. This year we created a synthesizer demo running sounds from a gragger through several modules.

The demo uses a mixture of pre-recorded gragger on the QuBit Nebulae and live sound via the Mikrophonie and Make Noise Echophon. The full list of modules used in the Purim demo is:

  • Make Noise Echophon
  • Qu-Bit Nebulae (v1)
  • Rossum Electro-Music Morpheus
  • Mikrophonie
  • Make Noise Maths
  • Make Noise Tempi
  • Malekko Heavy Industry Noisering

I do wish I already had a Qu-bit Nebulae v2 for this project.  You can see our review of v2 from NAMM 2018 here.

Purim is a holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from the king’s wicked advisor Haman, as told in the book of Esther. Traditionally, the gragger is used to mask the name of Haman when said out loud during readings.

CatSynth Video: Make Noise Morphagene + Rhodes piano + Poes the cat = weird music

From Andor Polgar on YouTube, via matrixsynth. Rhodes, Make Noise Morphagene and cat, what is not to love?

Things used in the video: vegan sausage for taming the cat (that’s her favorite), Make Noise Morphagene eurorack module, Rhodes Mark I electric piano, Expert Sleepers Disting mk4 for the reverb effect.

http://andor.cool
https://instagram.com/andorgram

It may be time to experiment again here at HQ with the Nord and some Make Noise modules…

Outsound & VAMP Present A Holiday Pop-Up Benefit Show

Recently, John Lee, the creator of bayimproviser.com donated a portion of his extensive record collection to Outsound. And our friends at VAMP are helping us sell them to fund our continuing mission of promoting new music in the Bay Area and beyond. To launch this effort, Outsound held a benefit concert at VAMP on December 1.

I performed a solo set with my trusty Nord Stage EX, modular synth, and Casio SK-1.

Amanda Chaudhary setup for show with Nord and modular

As with most of my current solo performances, I try to combine both idiomatic jazz and funk elements with more experimental electronics. I opened with White Wine (instrumental) with the extended solo section morphing into a more free-form electro-acoustic improvisation that also included the garrahand drum. It moved from sections of disco and bossa nova rhythms to noise to complex harmonies from the drum and Make Noise Echopon module. It was a fun set with an appreciative audience of both attendees and record-store patrons.

Amanda Chaudhary

After my set, Tri-Cornered Tent Show took stage. Anchored by bandleader Philip Everett on clarinet and electronics and Ray Schaeffer on bass, the band explored a variety of sounds and styles from noisy electronics and percussion to R&B grooves to psychedelic serenades featuring Valentina O on vocals. Anthony Flores rounded out the band on drums.

Tri-Cornered Tent Show

It was interesting to see how both sets explored the intersection of avant-garde electronic and acoustic sounds with more familiar idioms. Soul, funk, and R&B were present in both sets, but then we each veered off in different directions. Between us, we might have covered many of the genres in VAMP’s record bins!

It was a fine night of music and fellowship, and it’s great to see an independent (and idiosyncratic) store like VAMP flourishing in downtown Oakland. You can find out more about them here. And please visit Outsound’s website to find out about upcoming programs and how you can help support our work bring new music to our community.

CatSynth Video: Silent Strike – Modular Cat

From Silent Strike on YouTube, via matrixsynth.

https://www.facebook.com/silentstrike…

Winter Modular Eloquencer is the main sequencer with all 8 tracks used for: bass from Verbos Harmonic Osc, 4 drums from 2 Erica Pico Drums.
The chords are formed by Intellijel Shapeshifter, Mutable Instruments Elements and Braids, through Makenoise Erbe-Verb and Erica Black Hole DSP.
The lead and blips are from Tiptop Z3000 and Malekko Anti-Oscillator, triggered by the Varigate 8+.
Other modules, vcas, mixers etc: MI Veils, Doepfer A-132-2, A-143-2, A-134-1, A-138b, A-138p/o, Waldorf KB37, Low-Gain Submix7, Makenoise Maths and Optomix.

That cat is too adorable 😻

CatSynth Video: Cat In Modular Synthesizer

Happy #caturday 😻🎛 #synthcat #catsynth 🔊

A post shared by Matt Levy (@machew) on

From Matt Levy (machew) on Instagram. Watch the full video for the cat 😸.

A lot of familiar modules in this modular synth, including Make Noise Rene and Tempi, some TipTop audio, and more.

Banana Slug Synth Pic

Yes, it’s not a cat, but how often does one encounter a banana slug-and-synth picture? 😸

By Ryan Page on Facebook.

We occasionally have banana slugs that sneak into our house. Before releasing it back into the wild I let it spend a minute jamming on my synth using the touchplates on the Rene. (Please note that it was treated very gently and was allowed to crawl onto the synth rather than being picked up or pushed.)

In the 5 years I lived in Santa Cruz, I never actually had a banana slug visit HQ…

CatSynth pic: Cat on Modular Synthesizer

Cat on Modular Synthesizer

From flohrdumal on Instagram.

“Cat on Synthesizer #synthcat #catsynth #modular #synthesizer #cat #catsofinstagram #gato #chat #katze #kätzchen #tabby #tabbycat #tabbycatsofinstagram #wunwun”

A few of the modules are identified in the tags, but we leave full identification as an exercise to the reader.

NAMM 2016: Booth 5000, Part 2 (more modular synths)

We opened this year’s NAMM coverage with a visit to the embarrassment of riches among modular synths at Booth 5000, so it is feeding that we return there for our final article. You can read the first installment (with a separate article devoted to the new offerings from Rossum Electro-Music).

We at CatSynth are fans of Make Noise Music and their modules. This year they introduced the TEMPI.

Make Noise TEMPI

The TEMPI is a “six channel, polyphonic time-shifting clock module” that allows to create and store clock-signal arrangements using both algorithmic and manual techniques. The channels can be linked to do classic clock-divider and multiplier patterns, as well as manual entry. The divider/multiplier are continuous so can go beyond integer ratios. And it has storage for 64 6-clock configurations. I often complain about my current lack of clock sources (especially for driving the Make Noise Rene), so this would be a potential great addition.

Make Noise also released standalone synth, the 0-Coast.

Make Noise 0-Coast

Like the offerings from many manufacturers this year, the 0-coast is intended to be an integrated full synthesizer voice, complete with CV and MIDI control. As one would expect, it’s a bit more esoteric than the equivalents from Roland and Moog. The parameters remind me a bit more of a Serge or Buchla synth.

Pittsburgh Modular also released a new standalone modular system, Lifeforms.

Pittsburgh Modular Lifeforms

The Lifeforms is a single-voice unit with oscillator and Pittsburgh Modular filter plus integrated controls. It can be paired KB-1 pressure-sensitive controller to make a fully autonomous instrument. You can here a bit of my attempt to play it in this video.

@pghmodular Lifeforms in action! #namm

A video posted by CatSynth / Amanda C (@catsynth) on

The Lifeforms does seem like a rebrand. While the sound character reminds of me of existing Pittsburgh Modular synths and it retains the iconic knobs, the stenciling on the faceplates is different – the old “typewriter” look of previous modules has been replaced with a more contemporary style. The system would make a good entry to more advanced modular synthesis.

Endorphines was presenting their own colorful line of modules.

Endorphines

The heart of their system is the Furthrrrr Generator, a complex VCO reminiscent of Buchla synthesizers with its simple functions based on harmonic relationships. Similarly, the Fourierrrr module provides waveshaping using harmonic relationships. These are complemented by a serious of function and control modules, including the Shuttle Control that converts between USB, MIDI and CV. You can hear a bit of fun with their modules in this video featuring our little mascot.

WMD presented the new Aperture Filter, a full-module version of their existing Aperture Filter card for Black Market Modular’s ColourCV system.

It is described as “a variable width bandpass Butterworth filter (designed by Tyler Thompson).” You can hear a bit of this filter, along with WMD’s new Performance Mixer.

We conclude with the Haken Continuum, which was on display amonst the modular madness. Not a new instrument by any means, but one that is always fun to return and play. The control surface feels liquidy and comfortable, but familiar enough for an experienced pianist.

Amanda C on the Haken Continuum keyboard

The demo included an iPad synth with a string patch that took advantage of the Continuum’s multi-dimensional degrees of freedom. But sitting among the modular synths, one can contemplate other possibilities. To this end, Haken has introduced the CVC that allows direct analog CV control from the fingerboard without the need for a MIDI converter.

There really was a lot at the show that I couldn’t get to, or did not fit into an article. It can always be a bit overwhelming, but very rewarding. In the end, NAMM visits are always a mixture of wanting the new instruments I see, and reaffirming things I wanted from previous years. I will be working on my list…

CatSynth pic: Cat and Modular Synth

Cat and modular synth

Cat showing if his modular synth (featuring Make Noise modules) and Eletro Harmonix 45000. From mees feesh on Instagram.

Wordless Wednesday: Modular Synthesizer

Modular Synthesizer