Modular Diary – 088

Robert Syrett has posted an updated version of the O-Toast, his Audulus clone of the Make Noise O-Coast. An attempt to make a version both more CPU efficient and closer in sound to O-Coast, as well as reflect his growth in understanding how to design things like looping function generators.

Along with the new 1-Toast, he’s also included µModular versions of the basic O-Coast building blocks, something that I think makes a lot of sense in the Audulus context. As he points out, there are also certain bits (such as the attenuverter) that are better out of the box – elements that benefit from being copied and used in multiple places.

Treating the component parts as separate modules is also a direction that Make Noise have taken with expansions on O-Coast core elements in their Contour and Dynamix modules.

Modular Diary – 086

Following on STS’ Harmonium, jjthrash, creator of an Audulus Game of Life, has posted a Hymnotron. It’s based on the Dewanatron Hymnotron, which is basically an ingenious instrument for playing justly intoned chords. Taking a look at some of the other instruments the Dewans have built is a little like coming across the Ciat-Lonbard instruments for the first time. They certainly present a very specific (beautifully handcrafted) world of their own. They received some attention a few years back with articles in The New Yorker and New York Times (and a nice portrait on Rhizome) after Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails used their Swarmatron on the soundtrack for The Social Network.

The technique of stacking sine tones (and in the case of the Hymnotron adding harmonics through a process of wavefolding) reminded me of the Telharmonium, which I’d come across while taking a look at the Make Noise tELHARMONIC, and the still somewhat unusual appearance of triadic harmony in the modular world.

Modular Diary – 058

Mark Boyd has posted an Audulus Digital-Analog Hybrid Guide on with some thoughts on the advantages of mixing the limitlessness of software with the focus and sound that hardware might offer.

Interestingly Darwin Grosse recently interviewed Make Noise Music’s Walker Farrell on a recent episode of his Art + Music + Technology podcast, also discussing, amongst other things, what it is that computers might offer in modular contexts.

Modular Diary – 048

Today a look at STS’s Neo-Riemannian Chord Transform – another Audulus clone based on a section of the ornament & crime Eurorack module.1

As before I found it useful to take a look at the Voltage Control Lab video demonstrating these functions. I also found it interesting to take a look at the o_C user manual, something I hadn’t previously gotten round to, which STS has used as the point of departure for his Audulus modules.

Triadic harmony is not something I normally associate with modular patches – it’s unusual to find polyphonic set-ups simply given the number of modules required to create multiple voices. Two examples that come to mind though are Mylar Melodies achieving polyphony with the help of the Expert Sleepers ES8 module and Silent Way software, and Richard Devine’s beautiful Harmonic Symmetry patch, using the Make Noise tELHARMONIC.

“…a new approach to handling music theory in the modular context,” as Make Noise explain on their site.

  1. See also the accompanying Chord Inverter and Arpeggiator

Modular Diary – 003

I wasn’t in a position to get hold of an O-Coast though, and as much as Robert Syrett’s Audulus ‘O-Toast’ provided a fascinating look into how the MakeNoise synth was put together I found it frustrating to play with – at least when attempting to recreate O-Coast patches from the MakeNoise manual or their series of video tutorials. (One can get a lot out of the O-Toast, but it is perhaps better approached as a thing on it’s own.) Fortunately around that time Bram Bos’s Ripplemaker appeared and I turned to it as a software version to play with.

The Ripplemaker is well made, clearly layed out, and easy to patch. The inclusion of a sequencer along with having all controls comfortably visible on a single screen makes it a lot of fun to play with. (It also integrates nicely as an Audio Unit within an apps such as Jonatan Liljedahl’s AUM.) One can also adjust more than one control at a time, which is an advantage over Audulus’s lack of multitouch control on iOS, and having the workings of the softsynth thoroughly taken care of means that one can get on with exploring its sounds.

Modular Diary – 002

For a long time I’d shied away from looking at the modular world more closely simply because the cost of the hardware put it out of reach. Discovering the MakeNoise O-Coast on the Audulus forum a few moths ago awoke my interest – it was affordable and manged to pack enough into its compact form to get going with some generative patches. And that was what I found myself longing for – spending some time directly involved with sound without the implied direction of a keyboard or DAW. An instrument to listen to and interact with: ‘Watching’ the sound and making adjustments to steer its course.