I’ve taken another shot at a micro version of my Audulus scale bender. I decided to do away with the knobs and only provide the 1-volt-per-octave inputs on the front panel, along with a knob on the side (easily duplicated) that can be connected to the particular step(s) one would like to bend. The knob is calibrated so that one can set precise deviations by hand within a range of + or - 50 cents, with its output scaled to 1/o so that it can be connected directly to the inputs. One can still open up the patch and set ratios or fractions under the hood as well as see a numerical display of the precise deviations for each step. It feels a little more elegant than my previous attempt.
The unlabelled look of the ever growing Audulus µModular collection got me thinking of the early Serge modular synthesizers.
Originally, the module configuration for Serge systems could be selected by the user. …These were originally arranged by applying paper graphics to the metal panel… Early systems could have custom graphics—or no graphics—depending upon the whims of the artist.
Serge adopted a series of geometric designs denoting signal types, input, outputs, and triggers. Colored 4 mm sockets were used for most connections - blue, black, and red jacks for (unipolar) control voltages, bipolar signals (NOT necessarily AC coupled) and pulse/gate signals respectively, although these were not rigidly enforced. Later, other colors were introduced, e.g. yellow for triggers.
Ben Edwards (aka Benge) used one of these early ‘paper’ systems for his Works On Paper, the second track of which is a favourite among the modular pieces that I’ve come across during the last few months. Here are are some images of his system. And here some images of someone getting creative with theirs.
I finally got round to a first take on creating a micro version of my Audulus Scale Bender. The main idea was to have the set of ratio inputs readily available under the hood – that one could open up the module and quickly change the configuration should one want to.
Choosing what to include on the front panel and how to set it up in a way that’s both compact and clear turns out to be quite a challenge though and I’m not sure if I’ve found the most elegant solution, but at least it’s a start.
The general absence of text in the µModule UIs paradoxically means that there’s a need for some explanatory text along with (or inside) them. A clear set of general conventions for the collection helps balance that out though.
I’ve been working my way through the µModular thread on the Audulus forum, trying to catch up with all that’s been added during the last few days. It’s wonderful to have so many modules available in a single, easy to overview, patch and be able to pick out a filter or an amp as one would colours on a palette.
One little detail the caught my eye was STSchoen’s novel approach to a set of µQuantizer ‘presets’ in which a decimal number is converted to a binary representation of a scale. I had to look up how those conversions work – fortunately there are some online converters.
Mark Boyd started a µModular Collection (tiny modules that are simple to use and as light as possible on CPU) on the Audulus forum a few days ago and the thread has exploded with the addition of more than 100 modules within the space of a few days. I think it might be a real game changer, especially when using Audulus on an iPad where space is limited (focussed). Robert Syrett’s comment in the thread that the little modules made him think of Sushi got me thinking of an iA Writer post a few weeks ago describing the raw and the cooked aspects of developing their app over the course of the seven years since it was first introduced. With the Audulus µModules the space and processing constraints seem to have sparked a process of creative distillation of many of the inspiring modules that having been appearing on the forum recently.
That also got me thinking back to another aspect of the Rob Hordijk video that I recently came across – how he attempted to reduce the number of controls on his Benjolin as much as possible while still maintaining a high degree of functionality and variation.