I’m in the finishing stages of 2 records (a duet and a solo album) and after 2 years on modular and little more than a year working on these recordings I’ve noticed some huge failures of my workflow and modular approach, both which have me given me quite the scares while playing live.
I’m an avid Ableton user and the use of a DAW was never a limitless black hole of creation where I couldn’t carve my ideas into immutable pieces. That being said, where I took a wrong turn was in setting up my modular to work within this process.
With Live being my sequencer/processor/recorder I failed to ever assemble a proper way to control the modular in an intuitive of way.
The biggest problem was that without a midi controller I always had to pretty much compose by keyboard and mouse at the computer and then play on the modular, which led to a lot of “over analysing” before playing, meanwhile I was still pushing back the idea of a dedicated modular sequencer due to my love for non-grid recording.
Amidst this back and forth, another hiccup arrived which was my love for creating huge patches that essentially controlled one complex sound leading me to record everything in layers and fuelling the fire of the overthinking workflow.
Adding smalls details or parts that complements the piece is one thing but building music by creating a patch, recording, clean it out and repeat process can be exhausting after some time.
The last major attrition to the process was (and I believe most beginners felt this one way or another) a general lack of experience in the aural characteristics that I actually enjoyed working with and that made sense for my sound output. I love filters for everything, as voices, percussion, equalising, stereo widening, distorting and I only have two filters, 3 sisters still only counts as one. Plus, samples, all day, every day.
As It pertains to the performing aspect of it, the act of using a computer is both extremely rewarding, due to the fact that I can create huge changes from piece to piece, don’t have to stress that much about knob position because presets and allows me to, in certain types of performance, react to the crowd with a lot more versatility, while being quite ungrateful in the sense that without dedicated controller you end up face stuck to it, plus, depending what you’re running (and in my case ALOT since I’m not playing a “holistic patch” on the modular) you need a capable computer to avoid complications. Last show I played was in the afternoon and even in the shade I could fry an egg on my macbook. Ended having to put the computer on top of a metal rack with ice bellow.
Right now, as I got some funds, I’m on the verge of redesign or in some cases, just doubling down on my creative choices and my no1 priority is streamlining the Ableton–>Modular workflow. I thought about going OTB for a while but that wouldn’t solve all the issues and I actually love the Ableton workflow I refined over the years so the plan is quite simple:
- Get new computer.
- Get controller, possibly push2, since it seems to work fairly well with live to use as a sequencer.
On the modular side, I’ve been using the ES-8 for a while now and I do enjoy modulating most of my synth from the box saving space for modules that produce sound instead. The problem with this was that without any type of hands on control, I can’t begin to explain how EXCRUCIATING it became to deal with. So on to part 2:
-Get small midi controller full of knobs.
-Get more ES expanders.
-Replace most (not you just friends, not you) modulation sources with modules that I enjoy and produce sounds I can’t create inside the box.
Finally, I’ve been thinking about the ER-301 as a way to have a modular inside a modular and to help with my tendency for huge 1sound patching mentioned before.
I’ve seen the videos and I find it to be extremely straightforward to work with and I don’t mind at all the programming since you can save and use them at will later. My doubt is the redundancy it might happen due to the fact I’m using Ableton.
Apologies for my sudden burst of words to the forum, but I kinda need to expose my thoughts as it makes it cleared then when I’m simply talking to myself.
I would appreciate any and all the advice on those decisions, or just similar stories and dilemmas around bridging your systems with your creative ideas.
Have a good weekend