A Systematic Introduction To Making Generative Music With Modular Synths
Chapter 0: About This Course And Some Words About
What Generative Music Is 6
Chapter 1: Real Randomness vs. Complex Cycles (and the combination of both) 10
Chapter 1.1: LFOs 10
Chapter 1.2: Other Devices Generating Regular Cycles 59
Chapter 1.2.1: Looping Envelopes 59
Chapter 1.2.2: Sequencers 64
Chapter 1.2.3: Shift Registers With Feedback 65
Chapter 1.2.4: Sequential Switches 70
Chapter 1.2.5: The Turing Machine – Part 1 74
Chapter 1.2.6: Samples and Recordings 77
Chapter 1.3: Randomness, Probability and Stochastic 79
Chapter 1.3.1: Some Basic Definitions 79
Chapter 1.3.2: Sample & Hold 84
Chapter 1.3.3: A Short Glimpse at the Turing Machine And at Shift Registers Again 92
Chapter 1.3.4: Perfect Pseudo Randomness: Gray Code Modules 93
Chapter 1.3.5: Imperfect Pseudo Randomness: Euclidean Sequencers 99
Chapter 1.3.6: Random Trigger (Percussion) Sequencers with Different Amounts of Randomness 102
Chapter 1.3.7: Stochastic Sequencers 105
Chapter 1.3.8: Probability Gates (Random Clocked Gates) 108
Chapter 1.3.9: Bernoulli Gates 110
Chapter 2: What to Modulate And to Trigger 115
Chapter 2.1: Pitch 116
Chapter 2.2: Timbre 125
Chapter 2.2.1: Filter 125
Chapter 2.2.2: Shapers 127
Chapter 2.2.3: Partials (additive) 130
Chapter 2.2.4: FM/PM 131
Chapter 2.3: Voices 134
Chapter 2.4: Rhythm 137
Chapter 2.5: Effects 147
Chapter 2.6: Envelopes 149
Chapter 2.7: Quantizers 153
Chapter 2.8: Grains 155
Chapter 2.9: Sample (Player) 159
Chapter 2.10: Slew Limiter 160
Chapter 2.11: Comparators 161
Chapter 2:12: Pitch Shifter 163
Chapter 3: Compositional Aspects of Generative Music 165
Chapter 3.1: General Thoughts, Strategies And
Basic Compositional Decisions 166
Chapter 3.2: Basic Compositional Techniques 177
Chapter 3.2.1: Contrasting 178
Chapter 3.2.2: Repeating, Modifying and Inverting Relations 180
Chapter 3.2.3: Basic but Exclusively Generative Techniques 183
Chapter 3.3: Specific Compositional Techniques 190
Chapter 3.3.1: Pitch Dependency 190
Chapter 3.3.2: Rhythm 192
Chapter 3.3.3: Tension and Layers 195
Chapter 3.4: Certain Patch Techniques And Examples 197
Chapter 3.4.1: Switching Voices and Larger Parts of the Patch 197
Chapter 3.4.2: Sculpture Randomness and Setting Borders 200
Chapter 3.4.3: Jumping between certain BPM and Inverting Pitch Lines 200
Chapter 3.4.4: Mixing Stable and Random Elements 205
Chapter 4: Some Building Blocks of Generative Patching 207
Chapter 4.1: The Instrumentation of Envelopes 207
Chapter 4.2: 5 Faces of Randomness 217
Chapter 4.3: Random Harmonies 227
Chapter 5: Certain Modules with Generative Potential 233
Chapter 5.1: The Turing Machine 235
Chapter 5.2: Befaco´s “Rampage” 241
Chapter 5.3: Instruo “Céis” 247
Chapter 5.4: Mutable Instruments “Stages” 250
Chapter 5.5: Mutable Instruments “Grids” 255
Chapter 5.6: Intruo “tágh” 259
Chapter 5.7: Mutable Instruments “Marbles” 262
Chapter 5.8: Instruo “harmonàig” 276
Chapter 5.9: 4ms “Spectral Multiband Resonator” 285
Chapter 5.10: Mutable Instruments “Clouds” 290
Appendix A: Feedback Graphs (only 1 LFO) 299
Appendix B: Note Frequencies 316
Appendix C: “Rampage” Block Diagram 319
Appendix D: Your Personal Advantage 320
Appendix E: Copyright 322
Appendix F: Contact and Social Media 323
About This Course And Some
Words About What
Generative Music Is
Do you know this?
You see and hear somebody doing something
interesting, something beautiful, something
you would like to do too.
It´s not what you had expected it to be, it´s not
how you had expected it to be.
So you fiddle with your equipment.
You come upon something nice –
You come upon something –
But you feel:
there´s still something missing.
OK – it´s fun most of the times, but it could be
more than that.
It should be more than that.
You want to get better.
But how? How to start getting better?
Where to start?
Do you know this?
You need a system.
The matter you have been working on needs a
You need it.
We all need it.
Here it is:
A systematic introduction to making generative music with modular synthesisers.
The term “Generative Music” is a quite new one, and the musician, composer and sound designer Brian Eno is said to have alerted a broader audience to this term.
Generative music is that kind of music, which is created – normally played - by any kind of analogue or digital machinery, while permanently changing in rhythm or pitch or timbre or number of voices etc.
The producing – playing – machine may be a computer, a modular synthesiser or any other kind of gear, which is able to produce audible events and able to accept and follow certain rules or algorithms.
In modular synthesis these “rules” are our patches, and these patches are what this book is about.
“Permanently changing” is movement, and every moving system needs a motor, an engine that drives it, that keeps the system going on moving. In the following chapter 1 I´m going to talk about the different kinds of engines, which keep our modular generative music system going.
And don´t worry: You´ll be able to reproduce everything, that is described in this book. You´ll be able to reproduce every single example and every single sonic experiment, which you´re going to meet on these pages. You can do so using hardware (if you have got the money to buy all the modules, which appear in this book), or software. You can even use the freeware “VCV Rack” to follow me here in a very practical way. All my examples are made with VCV rack to make it not only easy, but also inexpensive to follow this course. But I´ve always tried not to get too specific into VCV, so that you´ll be able to find corresponding modules in Voltage Modular, or even in Softube´s Modular and other software modular synth systems.
Let´s go for it then.