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Making Generative Music With Voltage Modular - Volume 1

Making Generative Music With Voltage Modular - Volume 1


Making Generative Music With Voltage Modular - Volume 1
incl. videos:
Making Generative Music With Voltage Modular - Volume 1

Without a lot of words about “how great” or “how important” this book is, here´s what it contents, followed by a copy of the first chapter.

Decide yourself!

Cheers and peace!



Chapter 0: Some Words About Generative Music And About This Book 006

Chapter 1: Pseudo Randomness And Its Advantages and Disadvantages 008

Chapter 1.1: Using LFOs To Generate Pseudo Randomness 009

Chapter 1.2: Special LFOs And Other Cycle Generating Modules 028

Chapter 1.2.1: R_ware´s “LFO-inator” 028

Chapter 1.2.2: R_ware´s “SplineCurve” 034

Chapter 1.2.3: Looping Envelopes 041

Chapter Mini Envelope VCA Plus by Andrew Macaulay 041

Chapter Super Envelope Generator (Cherry Audio) 050

Chapter AHR Generator (Adroit) 058

Chapter Playertron´s Membrane Function Generator 065

Chapter Benard´s Stochastic SR Envelope 075

Chapter Voltage Modular And the Music Of the Krell 079

Chapter Step 1 - Patching a Krell Engine 080

Chapter Step 2 – Adding Breakpoints And Modulations 083

Chapter Step 3 – The Role Of Sequencers In Krell Patches 091

Chapter Step 4 – A Cascade of Krell Engines 093

Chapter Step 5 – Modulating Minima And Maxima 095

Chapter Step 6 – Polyphonic Krell 099

Chapter 1.2.4: Sequencers 102

Chapter Stochastic CV Sequencers 108

Chapter Playertron´s Stochastic Note & CV Sequencer 114

Chapter Stochastic Trigger Sequencers 121

Chapter 1.2.5: Shift Registers 125

Chapter DMT´s Shift Register 131

Chapter Parrot Machine 132

Chapter Micro Feedback Shift Register

(Synthetic Future x R_Ware) 134

Chapter 1.2.6: Sequential Switches 138

Chapter CHASER by Borkman 146

Chapter 1.2.7: Gray Code Modules 150

Chapter 1.2.8: Samples And Recordings 156

Chapter 1.2.9: Euclidean Sequencers 159


INTERLUDE 1: Randomness, Probability, Stochastic 164


Chapter 2: Different Kinds Of “Real” Randomness 169

Chapter 2.1: Sample & Hold Modules 169

Chapter 2.1.a: Andrew Macaulay´s “Sample/Track And Hold” 172

Chapter 2.1.b: Micro¨Sample And Hold (Synthetic Future x R_Ware) 174

Chapter 2.1.1: Sample Sources for Sample & Hold Modules 175

Chapter Sampling From Regular Wave Shapes 176

Chapter Sampling from Audio 179

Chapter Sampling from Anything 182

Chapter 2.2: Turing Machines 184

Chapter 2.2.1: DMT´s “Turing Universe” 185

Chapter 2.2.2: Playertron´s Turing Algorithm Tape Splicer 191



INTERLUDE 2: Gates And Switches 203


Chapter 2.3: Probability Gates And Random Gates 210

Chapter 2.3.1: HetrickCV´s “Random Gates” 210

Chapter 2.3.2: “Stochastic Trigger Distributor” (Playertron) 212

Chapter 2.3.3: “scrambler” (sys.6 / planet.6) 213

Chapter 2.3.4: “Pulse Train” (Centripidity) 215

Chapter 2.3.5: Bernoulli Gates 227

Chapter 2.3.6: Probability Router 125 (Insomniac Music) 238

Chapter 2.3.7: Real World Triggers And Gates 230

Chapter Triggers And Gates From Field Recordings 230

Chapter Triggers And Gates From Observations 233

Chapter “The Rhythm Of a Day” 234


INTERLUDE 3: Nature´s Paradigm 236


Chapter 3: Modulation Targets And Trigger Targets 248

Chapter 3.1: Pitch 249

Chapter 3.2: Timbre 252

Chapter 3.3: Filters and Equalisers 260

Chapter 3.4: Wave Shapers And Wave Folders 263

Chapter 3.5: Additive Techniques (Partials And More) 271

Chapter 3.6: Voices 281

Chapter 3.7: Rhythm 284

Chapter 3.8: Effects 291

Chapter 3.9: Envelopes 295

Chapter 3.10: Quantizers 297

Chapter 3.11: Grains 299

Chapter 3.12: Sample Player 307

Chapter 3.13: Slew Processors / Limiters 311

Chapter 3.14: Comparators 313


Chapter 4: Compositional Aspects Of Generative Music 316

Chapter 4.1: Basic Compositional Decisions 316

Chapter 4.2: Basic Compositional Techniques 327

Chapter 4.2.1: Contrasting 327

Chapter 4.2.2: Repeating, Modifying And Inverting Relations 330

Chapter 4.2.3: Basic But Exclusively Generative Techniques 335

Chapter 4.3: Specific Compositional Techniques 339

Chapter 4.3.1: Pitch Dependency 339

Chapter 4.3.2: Rhythm 340

Chapter 4.3.3: Tension And Layers 345

Chapter 4.4: Certain Patch Techniques And Examples 347

Chapter 4.4.1: Switching Voices And Layer Parts Of the Patch 347

Chapter 4.4.2: Sculpture Randomness And Setting Borders 353

Chapter 4.4.3: Mixing Regular And Random Elements 356


Chapter 5: Building Blocks Of Generative Patching 363

Chapter 5.1: The Instrumentation Of Envelopes 363

Chapter 5.2: 5 Faces Of Randomness 370

Chapter 5.3: Random Harmonies 381

Chapter 5.3.1: Basic Random Arpeggio Set-Ups 381

Chapter 5.3.2: Certain Modules To Work With Harmonies 384


Chapter 6: Generative Principles In Nature And Society

And Their Musical Reproduction 391

Chapter 6.1: The Physicist´s Tunes 391

Chapter 6.1.1: Heisenberg´s General Pings 391

Chapter 6.1.2: Einstein´s Melody Of the Spheres 393

Chapter 6.1.3: de Broglie´s Electron Concert 393

Chapter 6.1.4: Heisenberg´s Cosmic Pings (plus a fun patch) 398

Chapter 6.1.5: Feynman´s Dance Of the Quarks 403

Chapter 6.2: The Biologist´s Tunes 407

Chapter 6.2.1: The Symphony Of Photosynthesis 407

Chapter 6.2.2: Enzymatic Choirs 410

Chapter 6.3: Society´s Tunes 414

Chapter 6.3.1: The Wailing Shopping Mall 414

Chapter 6.3.2: City Death Tune 417


Chapter 7: Modules Which Are Especially Useful

When Making Generative Music 421

Chapter 7.1: Quadrature VLFO by Cyberwerks Heavy Industries 421

Chapter 7.1.1: Functionality 421

Chapter 7.1.2: Applications 424

Chapter 7.2: “Feigen” by Vult 428

Chapter 7.2.1: Functionality 428

Chapter 7.2.2: Applications 430

Chapter 7.3: “Distributor” by Vulpus Labs 433

Chapter 7.3.1: Functionality 433

Chapter 7.3.2: Applications 434

Chapter 7.4: Jadwiga Single Pole Filter (Playertron) 437

Chapter 7.4.1: Functionality 437

Chapter 7.4.2: Applications 443


Chapter 8: The Bridge to Volume 2:

Certain Patch Ideas And Their Musical Meaning 447

Chapter 8.1: Competing Melodies And the Turn Of the Tide 447

Chapter 8.2: Stream Of Life 449

Chapter 8.3: Immanent Threat 451


Epilogue 453

Appendix A: Your Personal Advantages As a Buyer Of this Book 454

Appendix B: Contact And Social Media 455

Appendix C: Copyright 456


Some Words About Generative Music And About This Book

The very first that I want to say is “Thank you!”

Thank you, dear reader, for buying this book!

Thank you, dear Robert (Cherry Audio), for making this book possible at all!

Thank you, dear Chris (R_Ware), for helping me out with a whole bunch of modules!

Thank you, dear Chris (Playertron), for your wonderful cooperation regarding the topic of

Stochastic note & CV sequencers!

(all mentioned in “generatively random” order)


The second thing I have to say is:

This is not a cook book. You won´t find complete recipes for finished patches here. It´s more a book about the ingredients and how to use the kitchen tools – to stay in the picture. Well, at least chapter 6 comes a bit nearer to delivering some recipes.

This book is the first of a trilogy about making generative music with Voltage Modular, and this trilogy is laid out systematically and aims to be as complete as possible.

“Systematically” means: starting at the beginning with the ingredients and the kitchen tools.


And of course a third statement right at the beginning:

A lot, if not all, of the modules mentioned and discussed in this book deserve even more detailed and comprehensive treatise than are given on the following pages. This book is not a kind of encyclopedia of modules, nor am I aiming to substitute or complement the module help (well, sometimes I complement the module help indeed).

This book is about the “kitchen tools” of “cooking” generative music, and a lot of the modules that you are going to meet here offer also functions, which are not THAT important for setting up generative patches, and which I´m not going to focus on therefore.


I´ll try to produce as many videos as possible in the weeks (and months) after finishing this book. Videos which demonstrate and discuss the whole functionality of these modules, not focussing only on generative music. Just visit my website https://dev.rofilm-media.net from time to time. There you will find a “NEWS” block with links to these videos.


I´m not always showing the “smallest” patches nor the most direct way of patching to reach (only) the described goals. Quite a few patches could be more “compact”, more “compressed” (sometimes voices could share a module instead of having their “own” ones for example), but I´ve tried to make it as easy as possible to see and understand the structure.


I leave longer explanations of what generative music is (and what it isn´t) to Volume 2, where there are going to be the patches to demonstrate such rather theoretical thoughts, and where those of you, who like “cookbook recipes” find more material to serve their taste than in this volume 1.


But a few short statements shall be made even here.

Is generative music all random? No, it isn´t.

Is generative music always ambient? No, it isn´t.

Is generative music always “slow”? No, it isn´t.

Is generative music always/better unattended? No, it isn´t.

May there be something like e.g. “generative Acid? Yes, why not?!

Is it possible to “compose” generative music? Yes, it is. (even if not in the common

“classic” meaning)

Is generative music a musical genre, a style or a production method?

Well, here things get a bit more complicated – let´s leave that to the next volume of this



The following volumes (2 + 3) build on this book, assume knowledge of the topics discussed here and delve ever deeper into the subject matter.

But how can I describe the trilogy which this book is the first volume of?

Let me try:

All of my books shall be as practical as possible, and this trilogy is going to be even more practical than ever. But it´s a bit more thoughtful at the same time. To damp it down to a few basic statements I´d say that the trilogy answers the following 3 basic questions:


Question 1 (the technical aspect):

“How do I achieve things, how do I reach certain musical/sonic goals with Voltage Modular?”


Question 2: (a question of art):

“Why should I want to chieve these things, why should I want to reach this musical/sonic goal?”


Question 3 (an aspect of motivation):

“How do I have the most fun while producing my musical pieces with Voltage Modular?”


Some of you may know my e-book trilogy about making generative music, which I wrote during the last 3 years, and you may think Ohh, it´s a Voltage Modular version of this “old” trilogy!

But I you´d be wrong to think so. This book here as well as the whole trilogy is something completely new. Yes, there´s a bit of a similar structure, and, yes, some thoughts and here and there a paragraph are similar. But 90% are new. New patches, new explanations, new ways to implement typical sub-patches etc.


Enjoy your day!

Cheers and peace!



Rolf Kasten, Karlovy Vary (the Czech Republic), April 2024