Things to try... Strategies from others to shake up your modular workflow

We all get stuck, take this thread right here: Dealing with creative blocks; when things aren't working - #21 by quixot

I really adore Peter Schmidt and Brian Eno’s Oblique strategies. Oblique Strategies

This got me to thinking, What if we had a thread here, in the spirit of the GAS haiku thread, with some direct and specific simple things to try with your modular system that might shake up your workflow. I think these could double as interesting or quick tricks that have produced productive results for you.

Here’s some guidelines to start:
Try to keep it somewhat generic and apply across a broad range or type of modules which might apply to many folk’s systems.
Or keep it related to a specific module.

Here’s a few ideas to get the ball rolling…

  • Modulate a VCA with CV running through it
  • Use a LFO and inverse of that LFO to modulate 2 VCA’s to create stereo phase effect (for audio or CV!).
  • Use an envelope into Rings structure CV triggered in tandem with a strum trigger

try to patch a drum sound “from scratch”, i.e. with modules that aren’t purpose built for drums


simple tip for orchestration of multiple mono voices:
0)send a clock to your sequencer
1)create a sequence on your sequencer.
2)send pitch cv to vco1 and mult this cv to s&h1 sample in
3)send vco1 into vca1(or lpg1)
4)send gate from sequencer to trigger an envelope (i’ll call it eg1) that controls vca1 (alternatively send gate to ping lpg1).
5)send vco2 into vca2 (or lpg2)
6)send a division of master clock to trig in of s&h1. mult this divided clock to trigger eg2 to control vca2 (or directly ping lpg2)
7)send the cv out of s&h1 to 1v/oct in of vco2
8)repeat with other voices (s&h2, vco3,vca3 or lpg3) controlled by other divisions of master clock

this way you have multiple sequences correlated to master sequence that only pick individual notes from that sequence and hold them for longer durations.


Send gates into CV inputs for rhythmic modulations (I used to do this a lot when I had few modulation sources but did have a v1 Pam’s Workout)


Use only external sound sources.


try it without a clock


yes! love this. are we keeping them cryptic a la oblique strategies? here are a few that i keep in mind:

plug in something random

sequence with something else

reimagine the envelopes


I can usually spark some inspiration by picking out a module I don’t own and trying to replicate its behavior as close as possible with what I have in my rack. Even if I can’t match it exactly, it usually leads to something interesting and helps me get a better understanding of what the module I’m imitating is actually doing.

One of my favorites is Plaits particle noise mode. Take pink noise into a comparator, and mult the output to ping a resonant bandpass filter and to trigger a sample & hold. Put what you want into the sample input, and send the output to control the filter’s cutoff. It’s a very fun patch and you can explore what Plaits is doing but with direct control over each point of the system, or try things like filtering the noise before it hits the comparator, or putting a delay between the comparator and filter.


Self-patch your LFO before you send it out to anything else.


build complex level shapes with more than a simple envelope, imagine this shape as a composition of multiple elements, experiment ways to combine them together, to make them happen in discrete moments (dc coupled mixers, trigger delays,rectifiers…)


remove Maths from your rack


Ha, I can’t imagine! You first, Billy. (I know you have Stages too though…)

1 Like

Slow things down. / Speed things up.

Double it. / Halve it.

Try to achieve the same effect without module X. / Don’t use your 2 favorite modules in this patch.

Turn off audio for 10 minutes but continue patching.

See how different you can make it sound without changing any patch leads.

See how different you can make it sound only by re-patching (without touching any knobs/buttons).

Invite an outsider to make arbitrary changes to your patch.

Raise/lower everything by a semitone/third/fifth/seventh/octave.


currently working out a 3u with neither Maths nor Stages I’m wild


Here are some things I’ve found useful:

  • Turn it off and walk a way for a week, do something else entirely (I personally go more for like 6 months, but that might be too extreme for most).

  • When you finish for the day, unplug and reset everything. Repeat each successive day for an extended period.

  • Focus on one module to start, try to get something you like before adding anything else.


#1 is a superb technique

audio source as modulator


Visualise a patch in your mind, patch it in silence, turn volume up when done, see how you did.


I thought that this would make a great thread – blind patching, or whatever you’d call it. This has always been a great thing for me!

  1. Dry bath.

  2. The reign of Henry III.

  3. Sheep and cream.

  4. Ruined church.

  5. Receive messages standing upright.

  6. The place of judgment.

  7. Boil violently.

  8. Deposit your heart.

  9. Hot bath.

  10. Circular craters.