Performing Modular Live


I’m sure some folks here are familiar, but Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith is the best example of someone using a modular heavily (exclusively?) live and doing something besides ambient/techno.

I’ve seen her perform live once so far and she is a virtuoso - the amount of control she maintains while repatching AND singing live is mindboggling.

This is just the first video I found, but I’d encourage everyone who gets a chance to see her in person if you can!


Rrevisiting this thread I wanna thank @pheeb for hitting the nail on the head re: the approach I (personally) should be taking. Patching collapses (as of wave equations if you wanna be silly with me) my small system into an instrument that retains several possibilities for change.

Just as practicing a piano is different from building one, so too could I try getting to know a single patch…

Also reading that I apparently don’t want to get bigger than 10U made me laugh :joy: #3Uforever


M83 uses a modular synth on stage


Holy Ghost! took their 5U on tour when I last saw them. Here there are in Cologne

leading into Do It Again with a whole pile of other things going on (amidst all their instruments). When I saw them… it felt a little bit like a prop, but they were definitely playing it at some point on most tracks, usually for texture or processing - it was hard to tell. But when you’re a bit of a small band (as they were then) you don’t drag a Moog halfway around the world without some kind of good reason, I guess.


I did a live set last year. The gear consisted of a subset of my eurorack rig in a 6U case, the Cirklon for sequencing, the Korg Volca Beats for drums, and the Eventide SPACE for reverb. The eurorack provided two voices, provided by the capable Intellijel Shapeshifter and passed through filters, shapers, and delays.

I sequenced the entire set (about 10 minutes long) on the Cirklon, and the performative aspect was “playing” the patch as the sequence played. It was nice delegating the sequencing duties to a machine, so I could focus entirely on the sound design and dynamics of the performance. This did, however, constrain the spontaneity of the set a bit. I could have “played” the sequencer more, disabling and enabling parts, elongating or shortening sections, etc, but I didn’t in this instance.

I did a little re-patching during the set, but not much. I designed the patch to be “playable” as-is, and explored the possibilities of it thoroughly in the weeks leading up to the event.

It was a lot of fun and I’d do it again given the opportunity.

Here are a couple of shots. My gear is in the foreground. Thats’ me in the MakeNoise shirt. :slight_smile:


I played my first modular set last night using my HEK system and it went pretty well all things considered. I only played for about 10 minutes, but it was a noise show so my set length was more than appropriate.

I only used one voice, but the setup allowed for enough flexibility to keep it interesting and Rings (the voice) has enough tweakability and tonal variation to keep things interesting.

My setup was PNW, o_C, Rings, Clouds, and Maths. I pretty much used random LFOs through attenuverters and the logic section of Maths through o_C’s quantizer. I used Clouds parasite mode for delay and looping, with triggers and modulation from PNW.

I can’t wait until I get my 6u together so I can perform with a more controlled system, but my first modular set felt really nice.


Hey all,

I performed on the radio here in Austin, Texas on the 8th of July and used this thread and all your suggestions and tips as heavy reference points for my set and I wanted to share it with you all!

If you have any questions about my setup or prep or whatever ask away! Enjoy.


Hey Bassik,

Are the London events still going on? I’d love to check it out



Next one is 14th of October.
Still not advertising as on the 30th of September we will be in Lisbon.
Anyway we have a surprise for London.

All next events will be in surround.

Stay tuned!!


Cool I’m around that day too


I’ve been performing live modular stuff for the last 5 years or so, typically with a friend playing a variety of elektron gear (with a diversion into playing a lot more guitar while we had a live drummer). Over the years I’ve tried a lot of different configurations depending on the setting/vibe we are going for at the particular show, typically focused around developing voices and effects routing/sample & vocal processing. Playing in the duo setting allows me to focus on drones and textures while my accomplice occupies the rhythmic realm. We’ve documented most of our shows and compiled them into the playlist below (I have another one or two I need to upload…) including the one where we opened for @madeofoak a little while back.


Nice! I could definitely work with that kind of structure. It seems a lot less intimidating than performing solo, and I’m really liking the results.


Few images from my “Manure & Poetry Nr.2” performance last week:


Here’s a pre-gig shot in Bangkok last Sunday supporting City (of Halcyon Veil label)

Here’s a Facebook livestream of the event - it’s not the best audio but gives you an idea - I start from 1 hr 33 mins -> 2 hr 25 mins
Interestingly Gary Hall (4ms DLD) attended as he lives in Thailand also.

For anyone in Japan, I’ll be playing the Tokyo Festival of Modular on the 17th Nov


really into the poster


Would love to know if someone has experience building a live rig with a sidechain bus, and what that might look like.

When producing electronic and dance music, nearly every production I’ve worked on includes a big bus of keys / bass / synth / reverb and a grouped kick + snare slamming the sidechain to punch through whatever is in that bus.

How is this accomplished live, with let’s say 2-4 channels of modular audio, 1-2 MIDI devices, and a stereo drum machine?

What output actually goes to the venue? Do you bring the drum machine’s sound into the modular realm and use a compressor there, or conversely, send a mix of all the modular sounds into some box that is effectively a compressor pedal with sidechain? Are there any mixers designed with this in mind? What’s the smallest mixer (or two) where this becomes easy?


There are quite a few ways to approach this in the modular realm: a compressor module or pedal can work, but you could have more control with a VCA, controlled by an envelope follower, or a negative envelope


I think something like the WMD Mscl compressor is an efficient way to achieve that without spending too much space or money.


I’ve done this using a VCA and Maths. Mult the gate used for the kick or snare, use the second gate to trigger channel one or four of Maths with the attenuverter fully counter-clockwise, adjust rise and fall to taste and patch the output to the CV in of the VCA.


I’m not sure its covered here yet… what do you use for monitoring when performing modular live?
As with all live performance (generally) I find being able to hear myself properly is the single greatest challenge and find that most of my performances that haven’t gone well have had sound issues that have distracted me or worse. (Not blaming tools here, I know I should perform well regardless but that is another challenge). I have had headphones handy for sections where I’m mixing noise or feedback or where it could get nasty for the audience if not done subtly but got asked if I was cueing things up. I’m also reluctant with headphones because of the DJ connotations. Venue or organiser monitors often aren’t great, aren’t stereo and aren’t placed well, or all of the above. I’ve thought of in ears but would like to know what people have found from practice