Modular Synths, just one concept at a time

in Music3 months ago (edited)

am looking at building up my music “studio’ further in the future but what will it look like? What do I want to get out of it? What do I want to learn and discover?

I enjoy learning and then teaching other people both my old and new knowledge with some interesting responses along the way. Many old colleagues of mine know I like to learn, sometimes through trial and error. After all that’s what programming is all about, whether I’m writing JavaScript code or messing around with modular synths, which I’m delighted to say is the focus of this newsletter issue today.

I will talk more about the studio at the end, but first, I’ll talk you through how I built the patch in the video, plus some ideas for how it could be evolved.

What the Bernoulli?

The video above, you may have already watched it or perhaps you prefer to read the text first, video after; demonstrates how you can take a hi-hat pattern (rhythm) and create a tool to vary it.

So I fired up MiRack on the iPad which is based on the Eurorack modular systems you can physically build, you will have seen these in performances and concerts, if you are anything like me, an EDM geek!

The software (virtual) equivalent of the hardware is stupidly cheap at £12, whereas to build a physical version it can cost thousands! So it’s great that I can experiment freely in the virtual environment without worrying about spending a lot of money on real modules. I hope to buy the real thing though but the plan is to gain an understanding in software first, to establish which modules I’d buy and that I’ve got some template patches to use as reference points.

For the video; My aim was to create a closed hi-hat pattern with a bit of variation to it and I used a Bernoulli Gate for the task and ended up chaining 3 of them together.

Let’s zoom in on these, here is a picture of what they look like:


There are 3 above, each has an input, two outputs and a rotary dial. So what I’ve done here is to feed my sequencer’s output into the first Bernoulli and the dial has determined that output A will be more likely, not much, than the B output. These two outputs feed into the other two gates which in turn work in the same way.

All of the gates are connected to the four drum modules, so what happens is they all play in time but with each hit, the sound is randomised. So one moment we hear an 808 beat, then a 909 or we can play the same sound each time but with a different level output, yo provide a humanised velocity across all notes played.

The outcome being a more interesting hi-hat pattern. I demonstrate in the video how these parameters could be tweaked in a performance to create lots of interesting outcomes in the music but they could be programmed too. I shall get on to that in future newsletters.

We could of course take this concept even further by building up the system to include other sound generators, effects and a whole lot more. So we shall come back to this to share some more ideas.

Studio building

I want to keep it small because my office will double up as the studio, so most of the gear needs to be desktop sized. If needs be I would look at swapping my desk for something different, to accommodate a larger number of instruments plus my regular computer setup for work.

What do I have right now?

My MacBook Pro, this iPad from which I’m writing this newsletter and an old Yamaha Keyboard. I plan to sell the Yamaha and replace it with an Arturia Keystep Pro which right now will work with the iPad and Mac via a MIDI connection. Then I will start expanding from there with an Audio Interface, monitor speakers and my first piece of modular/semi-modular hardware but what will that be? That’s the question!

How will I fund it

I want Hive to be a part of this process and to even fund the new gear in part. So it will be a combination of my own Fiat and some HBD or something like that. Haven’t quite figured it out yet. I love the idea of a circular economy, ultimately self funded project, where the earnings from articles here on Hive are fed back into the creation of the content.

New music: Jean Michel Jarre

I read with great pleasure the other day that Jean Michel Jarre is releasing his latest album called Oxymore which is heavily inspired by the late composer andfellow Frenchmen, Pierre Henry and the musical concept he derived, Musique Concrete. The new single “Brutalism” is available now and the album will be out in October.

Jarre had begun recording some material with Pierre Henry just before Henry passed away, so as a result it never made it onto his “Electronica” album that was released around five years ago.

Jarre has recently used the material to develop the ideas further and Oxymore is the result. Here is the new track!


I love the old Jarre stuff. I've not seen him in concert, but I did go to see him being interviewed in London a few years back. I'll have to check out his new stuff.

I'd love to find time to play with all this electronic and emulated music stuff, but I find it hard to enough to spend enough time playing actual instruments.



I’ve photographed him in the past when I used to work for a London photography agency. It was a great gig and I then joined my friends in the audience to watch the rest, leaving my camera gear with security until we left the venue, Wembley Arena. Prior to that I’d seen him perform at the Docklands concert in the mid to late 80s not long after his legendary Houston show.

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Hi, it is interesting to see your work and the explanation you share here, however I am noticing that you uploaded the same video twice in less than 24 hours in the community, that way it is more difficult for you to cause more impact with your publications and it is not recommended to share the same video more than once.

It's the same video right? And in that case I would like to know what motivated you to post it twice.

I look forward to your answers!

It was a mistake on my part and what I shall do in the future is not share the video uploaded to 3speak to my blog but to embed in the full post; then share that. I totally get where you are coming from and that this isn’t the way to go about it.

Ok I understand, that can happen. It's good to know that you were already aware of that error, thanks for your prompt response. I am sorry if this has affected you, it has not been my intention to cause discomfort in you just that when this happens to a user of the community I have the responsibility to communicate with that person and talk about it, it is part of my job as a moderator.

Thanks for your understanding and keep up the good work.