Floater

You may not enjoy this type of thing, but I find it oddly relaxing. This is a fairly simple patch in VCV Rack. Three FM-type sine oscillators are playing a convoluted pattern in a subset of 19-note equal temperament. You’ll see the patch itself near the end of the video, but I blunked out the patch cords to make it look prettier.

There are lots of ways to make microtonal music, lots of FM-type sine oscillators, and lots of ways to do LFO modulation, all of which you’ll hear in this video. There are also lots of ways to do polyrhythms — but I suspect the Mog Network module, which is the mastermind in this brief piece, is the only device that can produce what we might call embedded poly-structures. The pattern of notes is not at all random, it’s entirely determinate, but the pattern is not easy to grasp by listening. You can sense it; but what is it?

The same patch could be used to make a conventional 12-note-per-octave piece, but I claim it would be a lot less interesting. The tuning here is exotic and perhaps unsettled, and that contributes to the musical effect.

This is an example of what I call wohnzimmermusik (living-room music). It’s meant to be heard in the home. Something of the sort might work in a small experimental music venue, but it’s the absolute antithesis of concert music. Possibly that’s a reflection of a new musical culture, and that may be a good thing. I enjoy playing concerts, but making music at home is more energizing creatively.

This entry was posted in microtonal, modular, music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Floater

  1. Nice one!

    I enjoyed reading the last few posts, as I ‘discovered’ synths at the beginning of the year. And man, that rabbit hole is deep! I’m curious what your take would be on the software modular Wren — fair warning, the UI takes some getting used to, but it has some cool ideas. It’s similar to the old Nord patch editor.

    • midiguru says:

      I hadn’t heard of it before. The UI has a kind of ’90s Windows vibe to it. I just glanced at the web page. Do you know, is it a one-person programming job, or are there other people contributing? The reason I ask is because VCV Rack has a really robust 3rd-party community adding modules, many of which are quite exotic. It wouldn’t be possible for one programmer to come anywhere close to that.

  2. Yep, it’s one guy. I don’t think it can compete with Rack for variety; however I see it as its own instrument with its particular feel and sound if that makes sense (and a few notable features of its own). That said it has been in development for 20 odd years so there’s something like 200+ modules, many of them quite unusual. See https://bluehell.nl/wren/modules.html

  3. By the way, since you were talking about soft synths I meant to ask if you still have/play your Eurorack these days? I’m on the fence about whether to start a small system of my own, since soft synths can do so much these days. Is it even worth it?

    • midiguru says:

      I donated my large eurorack system to Mills College a couple of years ago. (Nice tax writeoff.) And now Mills is shutting down, so I have no idea what will happen to their studio gear, but it’s not my problem. I realized I wasn’t using the thing, and that VCV Rack offered big advantages in several areas. You can store your patches, for starters. The cost is dramatically lower. And even if you’re using a module you paid for, you can instantiate it multiple times in a single patch. All you’re missing, really, are the knobs.

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