Part of the beauty of software modular is the ability to share ideas. Hey, you know what’s really great is if you hook this into… Here are just those kinds of tips and tricks, and you can try them right now – free.
You can do this entirely with free modules, running inside the free VCV Rack environment. (Then pay to support VCV and other module developers by buying add-ons.)
This comes to us from none other than Jeremy Wentworth, who as the developer behind the JW-Modules series has become a pillar of the VCV Rack world. Jeremy’s self-described bio: “I am obsessed with sound, music, and modular synthesis,” he says. “I have been into modular synthesis for over 10 years and VCV Rack for almost 3 years.”
Now you get to know a little of what he knows. And even though open-ended code or patching environments give you arguably unlimited possibilities, maybe it’s having to do this with existing modules that makes a lot of the fun. A patch in VCV Rack is really a set of blocks of different ideas and idiosyncratic personalities, down to how the modules look.
You’ll notice a common set of ingredients in Jeremy’s patches – his own Clock and patterns modules are uniquely suited to the task of sequencing your patches.
Just be prepared, as once you hook this up, you may get lost in playing around with making some music. Oh – right, wait, that’s the entire idea. So let’s get going.
How to install the modules you need
All of the essential modules are free (and many open-source, like Jeremy’s). Some paid modules adding some extra icing, or updated/improved versions of the free modules (as indicated).
You can now install via the new search/browse feature of VCV Rack’s Library. It’s vastly improved – now it’s quick work to search by module name, brand, license, etc. Links are included by maker.
Click subscribe to the series of modules. Then install them by choosing Library > Update All in VCV Rack.
A magic combo for generative melody
So here are a few modules I created. I think mixing Patterns with GridSeq is a magic combination. The Patterns module is generating interesting… um, patterns and sending them to GridSeq. GridSeq ends up moving in interesting directions and wrapping around but it all seems to sound nice still. On a side note, I don’t know music theory so I created my sequencers with quantizers built-in.
Another magic melodic combo
Here I am focusing on Patterns and NoteSeq. Then I am modulating the lowest note so you get more variation and a bigger range of notes.
Sidechain / ducking
JW-Modules: Clock, Grid Seq, Full Scope [right click for display options]
MindMeld: MixMaster Jr [you need this free mixer set]
Bogaudio: FM-OP, FLIPFLOP, DADSR(H)
Blamsoft: XFX Reverb
Autodafe: DrumKit – Drums – Snare
Here I am starting off with a bigger reverb-y type sound then applying an inverted envelope to get the sidechain/ducking effect.
[Ed.: now you know how to do this, you could take this one in a lot of different directions… Note that the thing that makes this especially easy is that INV inverted output from the Bogaudio envelope generator.]
DIY snare sound
I have had a few requests to show how I make a snare with Trummor 2 so I made a video on how to make a snare with Trummor 2 🙂
Here I am mainly focusing on the snare and modulating [Vult] Rescomb 2. I would obviously add more to this like make some reverb and some more variations and modulation. A nice addition would be to change out the clock with the Clocked module and add swing.
S.A.M. voice synth as sound source
I like to think of a voice as any sound source and any volume modulation like an envelope. It’s fun to use S.A.M. because different letters/words make unique sounds. So I trigger the random on S.A.M. and the envelope at the same time to get a short percussive sound. It can also be fun to modulate that decay.
Putting effects before Envelopes
JW-Modules: Clock, Patterns
Bogaudio: FM-OP, LLFO
Unfiltered Audio: Volume 1 – Pitch Delay [$25, paid]
VCV: SUM [included by default in Rack]
VULT: Spank, Rescomb 2 (available in both paid and free versions)
I don’t normally put effects before envelopes but when I do it’s fun! I love adding effects to the voice before the envelopes to gain more control of long tails that can be annoying in a mix. I like things to have a certain length and be done and out of the way. Also, they modify the voice in interesting ways. I may add the traditional things like reverbs and delays after that but only the right amounts.
More of Jeremy’s favorite patches
Jeremy has plenty more patches. It’s a fascinating combination of technology and composition — between invention (his own modules), employing others’ creations, and musical improvisation.
He’s made a playlist of his faves for still more inspiration. And as above, you can also use this to discover new modules and how to connect and use them.
And find Jeremy in … so many places. All his social links: