dedicated to modular synthesizer music
all tracks produced in realtime with modular synthesizers
computers used only for recording and mastering
track length: 404 seconds
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Small skiff ("undeep boat") modular
Big modular with 5 rows of 3U = 15U
3U is the standard height of Eurorack
5U also exists as a standard
Roland Juno106: a factory built digital controlled analog synthesizer with presets and midi
© Roland Corporation
Dieter Doepfer (founder of Doepfer) and Jan De Block (modular404) at Superbooth 2018 Berlin
A typical eurorack modular has a mix of different modules of several brands.
(never trust modulars without patchcables: there is no sound, and no interaction between the modules)
Software version of an iconic synthesizers
VCV Rack: open source software modular
Every modular is a unique combination of modules, and mutates over time.
Every patch (patch cables between modules and position of module controls) is unique.
A live performance is a continuous balance between making changes and staying in control, a state of mind that requires nowness, consciousness, and focus.
Modular404 is dedicated to modular tracks of 404 seconds
What is a modular synthesizer?
A modular synthesizer is a combination of modules. These modules can be connected together in nearly endless ways. You don’t buy a modular system at once, it is something that grows. Every modular synthesizer is different!
What is a factory built synthesizer?
a factory built synthesizer...
...has its own typical architecture and sound: the maker decides what is inside and also the order in which everything is connected (analog and/or digital): a distortion followed by a filter, a filter followed by an amplifier... You can tweak sounds by pushing buttons, moving sliders and dials, and store them in the memory for later use: very user-friendly and easily playable!
In a modular system, every module has its own function and behaviour, and most modules don’t do something useful on their own. There is a huge community of module makers and designers, usually small companies and individuals. The biggest contribution came from Dieter Deeper, the founding father of Deeper: he designed an affordable product line (still growing and updated) based on his “eurorack” standard. Instead of licensing this standard to individual companies, he gave it to the community: now, anybody could make his/her own modules and use them together with Doepfer modules. Since the beginning, the modular community understood the power of sharing: several makers openly publish their schematics or software, and offer affordable DIY versions of their modules. To get a good idea about the available modules, have a look on modulargrid.net, start putting your own modular system together online, and start dreaming away!
About software synthesizers
There is a huge community of software synthesizer makers, and the sound of many modeled software synthesizers can no longer be distinguished from the hardware version. Because of a different price range, this makes synthesizers even more popular! Also modular synthesizers come in software version.
At the same time there is also an expanding community of software modular synthesizers. Especially the open source platform VCV Rack offers amazing possibilities, including free software versions of real modules. Andrew Belt is doing in software what Dieter Deeper did with hardware: an open platform that attracts a lot of makers who are of offering their own modules, open source and mostly free. Your virtual modular can be any size, and you can save the whole set-up, and recall it a few weeks later. People are now creating hybrid systems where a number of patch cables from their modular system is connected to virtual modules on their computer.
Let's Get Physical
The Magic of Modular Synthesizers...
... is the physical contact with knobs, switches and cables, away from the computer, without “save as” functionality. While building a sound or set-up, it becomes like an organic lifeform where everything is connected with everything. Whereas traditional music compositions are built around notes that are played on instruments with known sounds, modular music is all about sound, and most modular music can not be described by notes on a sheet of paper. Ofter the notes are ever changing patters, often there is no keyboard… Turning one knob or changing a single cable changes everything, forever. And the only way to make new music is turn knobs and change cables. Not having the possibility to save a setup on a computer is exactly what makes modular synthesizers so different: it is all about being in the moment, with a sound that will never be the same again.
A modular artist is free to connect his unique collection of modules in a unique way. Learning a new module can take a lot of time, but the real thing is experimenting and discovering possibilities in combination with other modules. Keeping an overview of a modular system with 50 patch cables requires deep understanding, control, and concentration. And even then, just changing a single cable or turning one knob from position “6” to “6.3” may get you into a completely different universe. To prepare for a live gig, usually modular artists make most patch connections in the days before, and they experiment and rehearse knob movements to get interesting results. Other artists start a gig with nearly no cables patched. A live performance is a continuous balance between making changes and staying in control, a state of mind that requires nowness, consciousness, and concentration. Like insects are attracted to light, modular artists are attracted to new modules. Actually, modular artists keep changing their systems all the time, and there is a huge market of second hand modules. Some artists even design their own modules. Recently, modular artists are taking over the role of DJs at more and more occasions.
Modular404 wants to offer you a selection of great modular music, to make you enjoy sounds you’ve never heard before.