Driving something other than audio with modular systems

People often use modular systems, whether Eurorack, Buchla, Serge or micromodular like Kastle etc. to drive audio. That’s all fine and good – we all love air pressure vibrations in the audio domain.

However a modular system is arguably an analog computer, a cybernetic machine, a neural network, a chaotic system… and anyway a function generator. Taken at face value, control voltage is control voltage. So what else have you witnessed/heard rumours of/dreamed of driving with modular systems other than sound, or what are your science fabulations that you are making on the spot.

Here on llllllllines we have the Video Synth Thread and a few more specialized threads.

Gauthier Déplaude has some posts on Instagram about driving a mechanical clock with Eurorack triangle LFO.


I could quite easily imagine attaching pens to motors driven by Eurorack and drawing on paper or sand. Or some pneumatic balloon installation? Lasers in a space? Not very imaginative I know I know. What about doing your home-economics calculations with modular instead of Excel? A friend wrote a non-linear computer algorithm telling them when to smoke and they ended up hating it so much because of the inconvenience they decided it’s just easier to drop the habit forever – it worked. I could imagine this a job for Eurorack.


I wonder if an old school polygraph could be driven by CV, like an ink oscilloscope.



I spotted this on Twitter recently: “Making a cpu using an analog modular synthesizer:exploding_head: Uses VCV Rack. Next step is presumably to build a computer in VCV Rack that can run VCV Rack.


SOMA has a thing called Illuminator to drive LED strips, apparently.

They are thinking what I was thinking when writing the OP:

[…] It can drive anything that accepts DC 12V with a current up to 0.5A. You can hook up anything from motors, electromagnets to old-fashioned filament bulbs.


Just received a SOMA Illuminator as it is finally in international distribution.

I love the idea to augment soundscapes and engage other senses additionally to hearing. Amplifying the experience.

Right now I’m driving it with the envelope followers of my Zlob VC F3DB and Cold Mac (which is really cool already).

I wonder if anybody has knowledge with setting up effect-full light with relatively simple means as provided by the Illuminator and LED strips. — Distributing the LED strips in space as well as the actual triggering.

Are you aware of any literature, examples or best practices?

Grateful for any pointers.


Still audio related , but my friend Eric Souther uses his modular to drive animations inside of touch designer.
Here’s his latest.


4ms has a a blog dedicated to their projects and describe a super nice installation there. an immersive yet minimal light setup visualising the sound of a percussion performance.

separating 3 drums with 6 degrees of dynamics using an array of fluorescent bulbs.
the light spreading through the room according drum played and volume.

something similar can be done with the soma illuminator.
multing the incoming cv to 2 channels and dialling the sensitivity of one of the channels down via the trim pod. makes 4 channels with 2 degrees of dynamic response.

now i wish didn’t just have a tiny studio corner. :smiley:
but limitations make creative …

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i have a small illuminator example here (disclaimer: sponsored by soma)

i find starker, more rhythmic approaches most compelling. if too many different things are happening at once then each individual effect gets a bit lost. if a light is following a parameter like, say, pitch, the effect is much more subtle since it’s about the difference between many values of brightness rather than a simple on/off (or in the case of my example above i was sending drum envelopes to illuminator - so more like “on, quickly fading to off”).

in terms of placement, there are only 3 led strips in the above example but i took a different approach with each:

  • red (kick) - wedged around the perimeter of the pulsar-23 for an indirect effect.
  • green (hi-hat) - strip is directly visible.
  • blue (snare) - suspended a distance above to cast light on the whole setup.

i like how dynamic it is when mixing these approaches. when i have time to put up strips around my larger setup i’m imagining i’ll also experiment with rim lighting and more spatial play (left / right / ceiling / floor), plus i’ll be considering what will be effective for multiple camera angles, as well as how i as the performer would be lit whenever i might appear in frame.

hope this sparks some ideas!