Executing the modular album



lovvve the track. has a very orchestral feel to it. pre-ordered :slight_smile:


thanks yall :heart:

mangrove of course :slight_smile:


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Sound + Process: a lines podcast (episode #13: Meng Qi)


i’m not sure if i posted in here before but my last tape release/album was all based on modular sketches that i went back through and used as the beginning source material to build an album out of. it certainly is not all modular but it all stems from my responses to my own patching and definitely has all sorts of modular all over it.

as for the discussion of how to make ‘use’ of the modular… ah that is so complicated. often the modular is just a puzzle box or meditative semi musical/semi-automatic music machine, distancing from but not disconnected from traditional muscle memory instruments. certainly more cerebral.

i find my best musically useful modular stuff comes upon combing back through recordings rather than immediately trying to build song structure off of a complicated or elaborate patch. if i approach later i can treat it like any other recording or sample/decoupled from any patch specifics or attachments i may have become entrenched in on initial patch session.

limitations for me this time around are simply a tiny preconceived system that i hope will be an instrument more than a collection-of-modules-ever-changing. when i left modular last time i knew the only way i could reenter would be with a greater clarity/plan and the right room to put it in. those parts have all come together but i had the exact unchanging module plan for years. i approached it like i do tattoos. i love tattoos. but the only way i will go for em is if i have considered it favorably through years and many seasons of life. hopefully i continue the approach with integrity. so far so good…


I’ll take the bait… after over a decade of Ableton as my central environment, I’ve been really enjoying the process of playing with the modular without any thought for recording it…

I also like to pull out all the cables at the end of every session so that th next time I approach the modular it’s a fresh “uncarved block”…

Like some other folks in here, my computer rig is in a different plane from my modular and trying to focus on both at the same time is a buzz kill…

I’ve only started recording to my Zoom handheld a few days ago because of a work project I’m hoping to contribute to.


On an album level, sometimes I have a concept in advance, and sometimes it comes together based on the songs I want to release. I don’t do well with too much advance planning, but general themes are okay.

As I see it, I have four modes:

Experimenting/Jamming: Maybe trying a patch idea or measuring/comparing stuff, or maybe just playing. I don’t record at this point, and only rarely regret it.

Creation: I found inspiration while jamming, and an internal switch flipped – now I’m working on a song, with the intent to record something. Sequencing (if any), setting up performance control, effects, mixing, practice etc.

Recording: No multitracking, submixes, bounces, etc., just a “final” stereo mix. This is a habit from when I worked 100% in software and would do a non-realtime render of a “finished” song – but I find that it helps eliminate endless rounds of tweaking, even if occasionally it does make editing more difficult.

Editing: Cleaning up the start and end, maybe a layer of additional FX, dynamics/EQ adjustments, other sound polish, etc.

I try (and usually succeed) to do all the creation/recording in a single session – and then I unpatch. No going back to tweak things once I have that stereo recording, unless it’s just bad and I want to record a new take.
Editing can happen later, or in two or more stages after I’ve reset my ears and listened in another context.


big co-sign, i’d imagine that’s what lots of people around here do too. i try to record just about everything straight out of the box, though the modular album (and even the modular performance) is something that is way out of reach for me at this point. i make a couple notes on anything particularly cool that i might want to return to, but otherwise i really love the clean slate starting point.

i always sit down with a different thing in mind that i want to accomplish/try. though maybe returning to the old idea isn’t the worst idea…


I love these reflections on the, like, Zen of recording with modular!

I’m also curious to hear more from people about their more superego-led use of modular as well. I mean the times you’re multitracking, engineering more than meditating, working with multiple takes, etc. The Zen of the context-switch, if you’ll let me be fanciful about it.


Just to offer a counter-point.

I totally love and value the ephemeral nature of the modular and treasure stretches where I’m exploring and unpatching after every session. That said, I balance that with stretches of intensive revision and refinement of a patch if I’m working toward something I’m going to share. I was talking to Vance up in Burlington on the tour about this and he was stunned my patch has stayed pretty stable for a couple months leading up to the shows. That isn’t to say I’m precious about it, but over the course of that two months I’m working to dig below the surface and working against common methods and tropes that I find myself defaulting to.

If I leave things unpatched and just start patching in a hurry, it’s fun, but without reflection and revision (which takes time), my patches wouldn’t be nearly as deep as I think they become with that time invested in development. Or at least they’re deeper TO ME :slight_smile:


I tend to leave patches up for a while if I like them to explore the possibilities. It’s usually the ones I’m not so enamoured with that get pulled at the end of one session.

The late Richard Lainhart (he died far too young - such a generous and helpful person) used basically one patch with variations on his Buchla 200e for years. The patch recall abilities of the 200e certainly help with this sort of exploration as you can have a patch you like, save it, and then experiment safe in the knowledge that you can return to the original.


I’ve been struggling with this lately as it would appear everyone does. I’ve had all of the same thoughts and issues. I guess we are all in the same boat.

My usual process is to explore and learn things from my system, usually making sounds or ‘music’ I have no interest in recording. But over the course of a session, I’ll slowly try evolve whatever it is I’m exploring into something that fits in with where I think I’m trying to take my recordings. I then often record a live ‘performance’ of a patch. Over the next few days, depending how the recordings turn out, I listen back in the car/work/etc to look for things I’d like to improve/change if anything. I used to record just a stereo mix, and felt that worked, but I started to find that I would decide that sometimes the best performance would have some sort of technical issue with the mix that could easily be fixed if I were multi-tracking (too much bass, etc. my set up for monitoring/recording is far from ideal) I recently got a K-mix and it hasn’t really changed my process, only now I’m able to record a stereo mix AND multi-track if I feel that I could just touch up a recording.

My first album seemed to really come together under a theme quite quickly, granted, my system was just a Phenol at the time, so it was very constrained. As I’ve jumped in to Eurorack, I find the somewhat ever changing system makes my level of contentment also ever changing. Of course, as the charm with modular is the exploration, I find it hard to go back and edit or compile. I have days worth of recordings, yet the task of editing and trying to put a release together is so daunting, I just keep recording instead.


I’ve been working on trying to make a conceptually complete record recently by creating, recording and then deconstructing a series of patches which have sonic, and melodic similarities. Currently I’m trying to keep my sequencing, similar and incorporate field recordings. I’m enjoying this process and finding that I’m getting good results.

I’ve also taken the approach of trying to record one ‘performance’ of a certain patch, but I’m finding that I will consistently have one or two errors - often very noticeably. C’est la vie.

  1. The long interval between dances.

  2. Turn off the giant TV.

  3. Hear paws hit the carpet.

  4. A lighted match is enough for warmth.

  5. What to bring across into one of the worlds.

  6. Spasms, psalms.

  7. Buzz of earth, buzz of the earth.

  8. More compassionate violence.

  9. “The one on the horse.”

  10. Little soul.

  11. The hot sun all day.

  12. Green and black and blue.

  13. Sow a meager beam.

  14. The inanimate, the homeland.

  15. What about Jerry?

  16. One stirring of the air.

  17. The early times.

  18. Toy worlds.

  19. Hang over an abyss.

  20. A balloon tracking map.


this is honestly the way i prefer recording the modular. my original purpose for modular was to use it as a performance instrument. because for me, modular music is nothing like that of a band, in the sense that if i were to record an album, i wouldn’t be expected to play my album in live modular performance. sure i might borrow sequences or motifs from my recordings, but the results could be radically different. but i’m too much of a perfectionist to just record myself noodling on a performance patch and call it an album.

before i downsized to my current system (and while i was still in school), this was a track i made in this vein of really trying to multritack, arrange, and produce the track. it ended up being this sort of 3 part form that crosses ambient, groovy, melodic and glitchy territories.

fun fact: it took my (at the time 12u) system plus 1.5 school modular systems just to make a snare drum sound i was happy with. also this track is my argument for why i prefer Elements over Rings (although i did use both, but mostly elements :slight_smile: )


I’ve been working with this mindset too lately, sticking with a patch for a while. Once it’s built up, the process feels more like tending to a bonsai tree, carefully considering what belongs and what doesn’t. This has produced a good amount of material that I’m pulling together for a release, hopefully by the end of the year. Once I get into the mastering phase, I’ll probably break the patch down completely and start from the beginning again.


i admire this dedication. :slight_smile:
great track!


Not an album, but I did compose my debut EP on a 6u84hp system. It was recorded live because the tedious DAW arrangement techniques rarely work for me.

I wrote it in about a week - unpatching has never been a issue for me but rather a beneficial workflow. It makes me work more efficient and ‘capture the moment’.

edit: not sure if this answers your question but for me a fast workflow has always worked out best for me and given me the best results… I.e having the mind set of ‘never looking back’. Not over thinking too much

EP Link


I really love the sound of your track that you posted!


Sorry if I jumped over someone saying this same thing, but…

Even if you have a great patch, you don’t have to record it. In fact, whenever I can I give the advice of “Don’t record it”. Don’t write down patch notes. Just REMEMBER it. Sit and study the patch for an hour if you have to, but commit what you did to memory. Once you understand how you got there, even if everything was an accident, you will be able to do it again. Maybe not 100% identical phase-cancels-itself accurate, but you will be able to it again.

One thing I really lament is that over the time that recording equipment has become more affordable is that it’s saddled musicians with also having to be recording engineers - and we really don’t have to. The joy should be in the creation, not in the capture. And, imo, the more you create with the understanding that you’re not doing it just to capture it, the more skilled you get a creating.