Learning Modular Synthesis

Continuing the discussion from Isms is here:

Yes, Bastl’s videos are great.

Here’s Flux’s videos.

I learn a great deal from DivKid’s videos.

FutureMusic has some good stuff

So does Voltage Control Labs

As well as Make Noise Music


Another way to learn is to post your modulargrid links and get feedback on them. I learn a great deal every time I do that.

Here’s my current (completely imaginary, though hopefully for not too much longer) rack on modulargrid:

Would love to hear any feedback about it. Please feel free to jump in with your own rack or just talk about individual modules, etc. There is a lot to absorb, and it takes time.

Thanks for the links. Was on my phone so I got lazzzy. Best way to learn is to read, read, read. Then take a break and watch some videos like the ones above. If you’re starting a system, start super small and patch the hell out of it. Just remember in goes to out. Cv is just a voltage. It can be a gate, trigger, lfo, audio, or even video.


The oldest article in this very long series, “Synth Secrets” is 17 years old now, but I still love reading it.

Not modular-specific, but it’s still full of gold.


This was placed online recently:


Not all of the articles are concerned with learning modular synthesizers, but this seems like a good place to include this.

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I was so impressed with eContact!

The conclusion of the Misunderstanding Modular Synthesizers got me all misty-eyed, made me feel like all this patching might be in service to a higher purpose.

Perhaps at least a part of the resurgence of interest in older
technologies is an expression of dissatisfaction with contemporary
technology and a sense of doubt in the future and of futurism, and it
perhaps also reflects a distrust of those who seek to create and define
the future. We already live in a very different era from the various
optimistic techno-bubbles of the 70s, 80s and 90s, one where today’s
technology, far from liberating us from the drudgery of long working
hours and mindless repetitive labour, have become increasingly
disciplinary, dictatorial and feared. Technology has become powerful
beyond our imaginations, miniaturized and obscure; it has layers and
secrets that its surfaces do not expose or allow us to interact with. We
no longer know what it means or represents, or who owns and controls
it. As we covet and fetishize the objectness of these tools of our own
surveillance and control, we discover they are even increasingly being
turned against us, and we must forfeit any right to privacy we might
once have thought we had from manufacturers and national security
agencies. Of course, nobody of sound mind would suggest that the
resurgence of interest in analogue technologies directly addresses, much
less solves, any of these issues. But let’s at least keep open to the
idea that the re-evaluation of these technologies may come from
something deeper and more sociologically significant than simply a love
of the perfect disco bass line. The second golden age of modular
synthesis is perhaps a reflection upon our relationship to technology in
general and it is evidence, if any were needed, that as artists and
humans we are engaged, that we have choices, and that even
microscopically there are still kinds of intervention, choice and
control we can exert and decisions we can make about our own personal
relationships to the wider technological, political and social forces
that shape our lives.


Although too many menus for my taste, a lot of awesomeness packed in there.
But I think you forgot the envelopes. They’re also a huge part of the hands-on experience IMO.
Also, be sure to check power consumption with the case!

awesome thread btw…

I should add, if one don’t know much about synthesis, ANY synth can help… or BEAP in max…

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Sakul, the envelopes are here:

I also considered Bastl’s CV Trinity, Serge DSG, and Make Noise Maths.

I hear you about menus. I have this maximalist tendency. I’m trying to overcome it, but it seems to take time, and it doesn’t help when someone like Dave Rossum releases such interesting-seeming modules.

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Oh right, sorry! Looks like beast! But still, I bet you’d be happier with something like a quadra :yum:

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Also, a lot of mixer/vca for 2 rows!

I guess we should open another thread for rack discussions :grin:

True, lots of mixer/VCA for two rows, but there’s a lot of audio (4 voices, and more if I could think of a way to squeeze some drum voices and/or DSP voices in there) and a lot of CV (monome modules in addition to CV Forge).

Maybe it needs a new thread, but if more folks started discussing their racks I think it might be educational for the newbies?

Synth Secrets is always worth diving into: nothing has changed, and Gordon is detailed and informative. It’s also a good reminder that, frankly, the modular synthesiser is still just a synthesiser and that anything you’ve learned about electronic sound production will still apply. (I’m always surprised when people can’t draw a link between, say, a subtractive monosynth and what goes on in a basic modular setup).


Another reason for ample mixing capability: I expect that I’ll want to include other sound sources besides those built into this case, at times.

the eurorack video tutorial list can be a good source to both learn about specific modules or modular techniques in general: http://goo.gl/ezebKr

i haven’t updated it since december though so it’s missing all the ones announced at the NAMM…


WOW! That is an amazing spreadsheet. I will absolutely be returning to it.

i agree you probably want to add envelopes/lfos if you’re planning to use it as 4 voice - you’ll want to take advantage of the 8 CV inputs on the 4vox. control forge looks awesome but you only get one continuous voltage out of it (not counting the inverted output) so with sport modulator you have 3 envelopes / lfos in total. maybe consider something like quadra / xaoc batumi / malekko ad/lfo?

alternatively if you don’t need all 4 voices each oscillator in 4vox can be set to lfo or one shot mode, so that’s another option (haven’t tried the one shot mode yet, so don’t know how snappy it is…)

also considering you have built in VCAs in 4vox and poltergeist i’d perhaps replace the befaco with a couple of smaller mixers which would give more flexibility when mixing additional sources.

and for a 4 voice you’d probably want more than 1 filter? morpheus looks amazing though, and i will likely get it once it’s out…

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Really great feedback! Thanks for pointing out the limitations of control forge I wasn’t picking up on. Exactly why I posted this. Will rearrange when I get back to a desktop.

I’m surprised no one has mentioned Allen Strange’s Electronic Music. It’s a little old at this point, but the basics are still the same when you’re working with modular.


That one is new to me. Here’s a link.

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Just remembered that Darwin Grosse has begun writing a book about learning modular.