An aspect of synthesis that tends to get overlooked, at least in discussion, is the interface or control scheme with which you play your synthesized sound. There are so many ways to get an electronic instrument to respond to your gestures, and I’d love to hear some of the things people here have come up with. Control schemes that go deeper than the basics of adding a ribbon controller or a foot pedal, and turn your modular or other synth into something that feels like a brand new instrument.
Something I’ve been enjoying lately is using the pitch wheel on my Pro 2 to act like the lozenge of an Ondes Martenot (the bar you press to open its amplifier). Disconnecting its control from the pitch and rerouting it to the oscillator levels, you can pull it down to open the sound and let go to have it snap back to 0, but with a bit of natural sounding decay as the wheel travels. Keeping the main VCA open and turning up some delay lets the notes ring out in an even more natural sounding way.
Splitting the behavior of the synth like this, controlling amplitude with one hand and pitch with the other, really makes it feel like a completely different instrument and opens up a lot of expressive control that I just didn’t have before.
Another thing I’ve been interested in is patching together a velocity-based amplitude control. So a VCA controller that increases the amplitude of your sound the faster you sweep your controller. I haven’t yet been able to get it working right since I don’t have a proper analog shift register (gotten close using the D0 since it can behave similarly), but I asked about how to do it on MW several months ago and got a great suggestion from a user who goes by “authorless”. In case anyone wants to try it out for themselves:
I don’t know of one, but you could patch something up with an analog shift register (or two sample and holds and a trigger delay), a min/max, and an inverting mixer.
Whatever voltage you are wanting to measure would go into the ASR, two outputs would go into the min/max, max would go into the mixer at full level, min would go into the mixer at full lever, but inverted. In other words, you are subtracting the smaller of the two voltages from the larger giving you a voltage proportional to rate of change. You would have to mess with the clock rate feeding the ASR to get it suited to your playing style. You also might want to smooth the output voltages with a slew. You may also want to boost the output voltages. Faster clocks would make you able to track faster changing voltages, but they’d give you smaller output voltages, slower clocks would give you less resolution to detect quickly changing values, but give you larger output voltages.