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Work Harder Not Smarter?


I love the sound of real instruments. There is an obvious human quality about them that, even when creating music with them virtually, I'm always orchestrating and mixing as best as possible to bring out that humanity in my compositions.


Of course, a violin (except in rare occasions via exceptionally creative playing) will always sound like a violin. Sometimes you want that old-school, analog retro synth sound. Or maybe you just want to make something completely new, never heard by human ears before. After all, what's more human than that?


And so my journey down the rabbit hole of modular synthesis has begun. If you're not familiar, modular synthesis is kind of a DIY approach to making music with synthesizers. While a commercial product is going to have it's own character (even though the possibilities with that are still relatively infinite), a modular kit lets you set up each, well, module however you want. What you see above is a virtual modular synth kit based on Eurorack standards. Using virtual patch cables, I can send signals in whatever order I want to create unique soundscapes. I'm even able to run my orchestral libraries through here to twist and mangle those sounds into something alien (but hopefully equally entrancing, with enough fiddling).


I took this route because I want to better understand sound synthesis—being able to create that patch-cable breadcrumb trail helps me better understand exactly how the sound I'm hearing was made and which parameter I need to change to course correct until I find the sound I want.


It's a lot of work. It would be much easier to just find a preset in Massive or some other off-the-shelf synth and tweak a couple of things. But then it wouldn't really be mine. And I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a lot of fun.


I'm looking forward to when I feel comfortable incorporating some of these sounds into my future works.

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