To Patch Or Not To Patch

I’ve been noticing people’s Eurorack-Patching habits for quite some time. Some people leave the Patch Cables connected when they’re finished working with that piece of gear. Others remove the Patch Cables and “Patch Fresh” the next time they use that Synthesizer.

I guess I’m more in the 2nd camp… No matter how complex a Patch is, I’ll remove all of the Patch Cables when I’m finished using that Synth for the night. However, I will leave them in, if I need to make a “paper notation” of that Patch — which Ports were connected to which other Ports, Knob, Slider and Switch settings, etc. Once I’ve drawn this out on a Patch Chart, I’ll go ahead and remove all the Cables.

I’ve always done it this way. It probably comes from taking private Synthesizer lessons on a Modular Moog System back in the 70’s. Although I had an ARP 2600 at home, I used the University’s Studio Moog, to work out any Patch ideas I may have learned that day. However, that Moog was in a standard “Practice Room”. This means ALL of the students taking “private” or “class” lessons on Synthesizers had access to that room. There was a monthly schedule posted on the outside of that door and each student was given so many hours per week to use that room. We would simply write our name in any slot that wasn’t already taken… as long as we didn’t exceed our allotted time for that week. So all Patch Cables had to be removed from the Synthesizer and placed back onto the Patch Stand.

The Pros and Cons of this approach
First, the Pros… Because I was learning what each Module was designed for, I could easily Patch and adjust the most predominant Module of the Sound I wanted to move from my mind to that Synthesizer. Usually, this meant starting with the Oscillator or Filter. If I had a Rhythm idea, I would go right to the Moog’s Sequencer. From these starting points, I would have to think about what my Sound needed and which Modules could perform that function. Of course, there was a LOT of trial and error.

Now the Cons… Let’s say you’re using your own Modular Synthesizer. Removing all of those Patch Cables may make it much more difficult to achieve “all” or “part” of that great Sound you discovered the day before. Especially when you’re starting out with even a small Modular System, it can be very frustrating to spend many, many hours creating a great Sound, only to stare at a blank set of Modules the next day. Even if you leave the Knobs, Sliders and Switches in the exact same position, you may never achieve that same great Sound. Not that the Patch Cables will change anything on their own. It’s just that we might think the Sound needs just a bit more of this Knob and a little less of that one.

Unless your Modules are “digital”, containing a simple computer you adjust with its Knobs, Sliders and Switches, getting a multi-Module Patch to sound the same every time is a task for Magicians. Sometimes “modulation signals” (Control Voltages) can modify other “modulation signals”.

  • For example: Connect a slow-moving (low-frequency) Sign Wave to the “Control Voltage Input” of a Filter’s “Cutoff” and then connect another low-frequency Sign Wave to the first one. This causes the first Sign Wave to move slower and then faster and then slower, repeatedly. In turn, this produces a Filter “WOW” Sound which is irregular.

As you can see, both Sign Waves must be set to the proper speed, in order to get the same “double-wobble” the next day.

Helpful Tips
All is not lost, however. Some “digital” Modules can store their own settings. There are also “paper” Patch Charts. This is what I learned to use… and still use them. These days, you can also take a photo of all the Modules. However, if you’ve used a lot of Patch Cables, you may not clearly see every Knob, Slider and Switch setting.

Another tip is to use color-coded Patch Cables.

The image below is a Roland System 500 Eurorack System. As you can see, the black & red appearance may look really cool but this is not a Patch “I” would want to troubleshoot… or even adjust. Yes, you know where all your Oscillators and Filters are located but it’s the “interaction” between every Patched Module that makes it difficult to keep clear in your mind.

Modular with all red cables 2

Some people use specific Cable colors for specific Patch connections:

Colored Patch Cables 2

Although this is a good method, deep in mind that you may have LOTS of Modulation connections, many Pitch connections, tons of Gates, etc.

My approach is to simply grab a different color each time I reach for a Patch Cable. Yes, this could mean that you’d be looking at something like this…

Modular with colored patch cables

…but following different colored Patch Cables is much easier than working with all Cables of the “same” color.

These are just “my” thoughts on this. Of course, “your” mileage may vary.

I found the above image here:

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Learning What Synthesizers Can Do

I’m sure there are LOTS of “free” and “pay” websites where you can learn what “Synthesizers” are and how to use them. The following two links are websites that I recently found.

This first web page allows you to learn about Synthesizers by interacting with some of their main components. Sure, this “interaction” is simply on a computer screen and not turning Knobs, flipping Switches or moving Sliders like you would in a typical “Hardware” Synth… and it’s not the same as interacting with an on-screen “Soft Synth”. However, the confusing aspects of Synthesizers is removed, allowing you to focus on the one, two or more parameters you’re learning about.

If you’re new to Synthesizers, going through these pages can help you gain an understanding of how they create and modify various sounds. Most of what you are changing on each page is explained. However, see if you actually “understand” the difference between a “Pitch” and a “Filter” change… a Low Frequency Oscillator (LFO) controlling a sound and an Envelope Generator controlling a sound, etc.

Don’t take this too seriously, though. Synthesizers are a lot of fun to experiment with.

This next web page builds on “what Synthesizers can do” and shows how they can be used to modify sound created with other Instruments, such as Guitar, Violin and Saxophone. The three short videos on the following page provide examples of this.


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A Music Technique Of Alessandro Cortini

On the following web page, there is a very short article and a 10-minute video. The information presented is from Keyboardist for Nine Inch Nails, Alessandro Cortini. He explains a music production technique he sometimes uses, which involves an old, 4-Track Cassette Recorder.

In an Age where the goal, sometimes, is for Manufacturers to create the most pure-sounding Musical Instruments… and even adopt Digital technologies to accomplish this, it’s refreshing to see someone “think outside the box” — even if this means using old, not-so-perfect gadgets to accomplish this.

Partially dirtying, or even destroying, a sound (a Musical “Voice”) CAN work in an entire Song. Most of the time, however, this can be used as a “Spice”, here and there, throughout a Song, to give the Listener added surprises.

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A Tiny Overview Of Synthesizer History

This first link will take you to a very short article titled: “The Women Who Pioneered Electronic Music“.

This second link is to a 1-hour video which contains a couple of interviews of Electronic Music Pioneers. One of them is Walter Carlos. This was recorded before the above article, which interview the same person, this time going by the name “Walter” Carlos.

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Some Thoughts On Electronic Drums

Around 2006, Sylvia bought me a “Roland TD-6” Electronic Drumset for my Birthday. It came with all “rubber” Pads. Later, we bought a “Roland PD-85” 2-zone, Drum Pad. So I could have at least one “Mesh” Pad and use it for my Snare Drum. This setup has been very durable and the more than 1,400 sounds in the Drum Module are interesting to explore. Other than “Pitch”, “Stereo Field Placement” (Panning) and one or two other options, this Module doesn’t offer any real drum-sound modifications.

In the last several months, I’ve been thinking about buying a “Yamaha 700-series” Electronic Drumset and merging it into what I current have. While slowly saving-up money for this, I thought Yamaha would have released a newer series. Maybe an “800” series. (Yes, Yamaha does have a “900 series” but it contains technology which is even older than their “700” series… and seems to be even more difficult to use.)

The white Yamaha Pads ARE “rubber” but they have created a unique, firm “foam-type” of rubber which seems to have a bit more rebound when playing them and seem a bit quieter than standard “rubber” Pads.

While waiting for Yamaha to do “something” new in the world of Electronic Drums, a few other companies have released more advanced products…

About 24-months ago, Pearl Drums (hardware) partnered with Steven Slate Drums (software) and released a $2,200 “Mimic Pro” Drum Module, with a 7-inch touch screen.

There’s also a new Electronic Drum company that’s about to release its products for the first time. The company is called: “Gewa Music”. They’re based in Germany. (I think the company name is pronounced: GAY-vuh)

Their Drum Module is called: “G9” and has a 10-inch, touch screen! This Module does not use a “Cable Snake”. Instead, it uses 1/4” (quarter-inch) jacks to connect the Drum Pads.

  • Although a “Cable Snake” can keep the many cables under better control, than several individual wires, it also means you’ll be limited on exactly “where” you can place all of your Drum Pads.

For the Shells of their Drums, they have partnered with DW (Drum Workshop). So the Drum Shells, Hardware and Electronics should be high-quality.

With that said, I’m one of those Drummers who would rather have shallower Drum Shells, so I can place more of them in my Drumset. This will also make the Drums take up less space when they’re being transported. Plus, Acoustic Drum Shells are easier to scratch, when storing and transporting, than Electronic Drum Pads.

So, as long as the Gewa G9 Module is sold separately, and is not outrageously expensive, this is what I’m currently thinking of doing (which could change, of course):

  • Purchase the “Gewa G9” Module. (Price unknown as of this writing because it hasn’t been released yet.)
  • Purchase the “ATV EXS-3” Electronic Drumset ($1,799) and “maybe” sell the included “ATV D3” Drum Module. (I’ve heard that the “ATV” company was formed by former “Roland” employees. So they “should” have some knowledge in this area.)

Here’s the link to the Gewa website:

Here’s the link to the ATV website:

Here’s the link to the “ATV EXS-3” Drumset on the Kraft Music website:

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A Different Type Of Sound Generator?

At SuperBooth 2019, there was a company called: “E-RM”, showing off a new type of Sound Generator called the “Polygogo”. The company refers to this technology as a “polygonal synthesis method”.

Although the graphics generated on its small screen are nice to watch, for us Musicians, it’s all about the “Sound”. In the beginning of that video, and throughout it, the Inventor of the Polygogo plays some really different sounds. Yes, most of them can be generated with a “Complete Voice” Synthesizer or several Modules from a Modular Synth but they would take a lot of tweaking. The Polygogo, on the other hand, generates these types of sounds effortlessly.

Is it a revolutionary device? Probably not. Is this a “must have” component of your music gear setup? Maybe.

I’m simply presenting this information here, to let others know about this.

As of this writing, I could not find a price or release date for this product.

Here’s the link to some information and a 40-minute video which explains this new sound generator:

Here’s the link to the Polygogo product page:


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Today’s Music & Two Alternative Controllers

I recently watched a “Talk” by an “Alternative Controller” pioneer, Roger Linn. Maker of the “Linnstrument”.

Here’s the link to the “Linnstrument” product page:

Here’s the link to the Talk:

Lippold Haken, another Alternative Controller pioneer, was in the audience and contributes some very helpful insights into today’s music, the world of electronic music controllers, etc.

One facet that I hadn’t notice before was something stated by Roger Linn. Basically, he’s noticed that today’s music, especially “Electronic Music”, has “ignored” or “remove” the “Instrumental” — the Soloing Instrument from those Songs.

There are two videos on the above web page and I found both to be interesting. These were held at “ContinuuCon 2019”, which took place at the end of May 2019, at Asheville, North Carolina.

The following 45-minute Talk is by Lippold Haken and is also from ContinuuCon 2019 (I haven’t watched this one yet but it promises to be very insightful):

Even if you’re not into “Alternative Controllers”, it can be helpful to keep your mind open to what exists within today’s music world. Then, if you’re working on a Modular System, or even a Complete Voice Synthesizer, if you can’t get the “expressiveness” out of your mind and into your Instrument, you may remember these Controllers and how they bridge the worlds of “mind” and “machine”… and this may help you approach that sound a bit differently.

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John Bonham’s “Ramble On”

Yesterday, I was practicing my Drums with some Streaming music. At one point, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On”  started playing. Being a “child of the 70s”, I’ve been a big fan of Led Zeppelin’s music since their first album.

Although I’ve always wondered what that light “tapping” sound is, on the beginning of “Ramble On”, I never through to explore it… until yesterday.

To “me”, John Bonham was obviously playing a “Remo Practice Pad” but, when I did some research online, to verify this, I found a LOT of conflicting information. On this Forum Thread, there are comments of him playing:

  • His Drum Throne,
  • A Guitar Case,
  • A Microphone,
  • An Acoustic Guitar, etc.

Here’s that link:

I’ve never “owned” a Remo Practice Pad but I still remember what they sound like. Especially when they’ve aged and are a bit worn. So I searched for a video that had the same sound that is in my head. Here is the link to the closest “Remo Practice Pad” sound that I could find:

He plays it best from the “0” to the “8-second” mark. So it’s not much… but if you listen to the actual Song (link below) and then compare that to the tapping in this video, to “me” THIS is what John Bonham is playing on “Ramble On”.

Here’s the link to the Song “Ramble On”:

To “me”, this also makes sense because John would have “probably” had a Remo Practice Pad with him when they recorded this Song.

If John Bonham is, instead, playing his “Drum Throne”, then he’d have to have an extra one because he quickly goes back-and-forth between “that tapping sound” and playing his entire Drumset. This would have been very awkward to do in the Studio and, especially on Stage, when playing this Song live.

So listen to the different items I’ve presented above and make-up your own mind. Remember, although I’m a “Synthesist”, “Drums” are my main instrument. I think it was my “Synthesist’s ear” that made me question this sound in the first place. So for those of you who are Synthesists (“Sound Designers”), put your own ear to the test. The downside, of course, is… it seems that no one knows “for sure” WHAT John Bonham actually played on that Song.

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Helpful Articles On Learning About Synthesizers

I just wanted to pass along a few more resources which provide helpful information on “what” Synthesizers are and “how” the various components can be used.

Before I do that, I want to mention something I haven’t heard anyone talk about… “Patch Cables” and, specifically, “how many” Patch Cables should you buy?

There is no mathematical formula to this question. However, the rule-of-thumb would be “more is better”. My very loose guideline for “how many” to buy would be:

  • 5-Cables for your first Module
  • Then 2 Cables for each Module you purchase after that.

Again, this is not a locked-in-stone way of approaching this.

Yes, you can count the “Patch Points” (Cable-connection “holes” / “sockets”) on each Module, and buy THAT MANY Cables, but that doesn’t really work. In most cases, buying that many Cables would simply give you a LOT more Cables than your Synthesizer would ever be able to use.

  • For example, Sylvia and I have the “A-143-2 Quad ADSR” by Doeper. It contains 24-Patch Points (jacks) — 8 “Input” Points and 16 “Output” Points. If you purchased 24-Patch Cables you’d have way more Cables than this Module can possibly use. (Remember, a “Patch Cable” contains 2-Jacks [connectors] — one on each end.) With 24-Patch Cables, you’d have 48-Jacks. If you only purchased “8” Cables, to cover the number of “Inputs”, there may be times when you’d want 4 or more Cables to create a more complex Patch.
  • Here’s the link for more information about this Doepfer Module:

Right now, we have 61-Patch Cables… BUT, combined, our 3 Synthesizers (ARP 2600, Behringer Neutron and a partially completed Eurorack Synth) contain 280-Patch Points. So, of course, we still have “Patch Cables” on our “buy more Eurorack items” list.

  • We’ve been buying the “LMNTL” brand Cables.
  • Here’s the link:
  • (Sylvia and I aren’t associated with “Perfect Circuit” or “LMNTL” in any way. I’ve only linked to the Perfect Circuit website because that’s the only place we’ve been able to find these Cables.)

Patch Cable Length
In a previous Post, I included a link to a “helpful tips” video by Robin Vincent.
Here’s that link:

One of the things he learned, when performing Live with his Eurorack Synthesizer, is that he used short Cables whenever possible. The downside to this, he discovered, was that these Cables not only blocked the Modules they crossed (which they always do) but their tightness made it difficult for him to easily get his fingers through to the Knobs and Switches.

Instead, it may sometimes be a good idea to use longer Cables and have them droop down and away from most of the Modules you’ll be using in that Patch.

Patch Cable Colors
When I took Synthesizer Lessons in the 70s, Patch Cables were only available in “gray”. (That’s all “I” saw, anyway.) Today, there are LOTS of colors to choose from and there are 2 types of Synthesists, regarding which colors to buy:

  • Some people use only 1-color, because it looks good when you’re Patching, or
  • Use multiple colors because it’s much easier to trace the signal-flow in your Patch.

This really comes down to “personal preference”. For “us”, even though Sylvia loves “Purple”, we do our best to select as many different colors for each Patch as we can.

When using a single color for an entire Patch, it can be continually frustrating, when you have to keep following and re-finding where each Cable goes, just to tweak something “quickly”.

  • Our “partial” Eurorack Synthesizer currently contains 10-Modules. Even so, any Patch we create could easily use 10-to 20 or more Patch Cables… and if we connect that Patch to an external Synth, like our ARP 2600 or Behringer Neutron, we’ll use several MORE Cables.

It’s “sometimes” possible to use one color for “Modulation” (Envelopes, LFOs, etc.) and another color for “Audio”. Let’s say “Red” for Modulation and “Green” for Audio. However, there are 2 problems with this approach:

  • Even with “2” colors of Patch Cables, it’s still going to be VERY difficult to “quickly” locate the Module, and the “Knob” on that Module, that you’ll need to turn in order to change the sound the way you want. (For example: Should you be changing an “LFO” or the “Envelope”?)
  • Let’s say you’ve connect a Red “Modulation” Cable from an LFO to a Multiple — so it can be split to more than 1 destination. You then connect another Red Cable to an Oscillator, in order to Modulate its Frequency — giving it a moving “wow” affect. Then you change your mind and decide to use another Oscillator’s audio output to Modulate that 1st Oscillator — now giving it a distorted sound. Under your “Red-Green guidelines”, you’ll have to remove those Red Cables and replace them with Green ones, when you could have simply moved 1-end of 1-Cable to the Oscillator’s audio output.

Synthesizer Resources
Here are a few articles and videos where you can find a lot of helpful information on understanding Synthesizers (in no particular order):

​This article is titled: “What are CV, Gate and Triggers, and how do they relate to semi-modular synthesis?

The following article is titled: “Synth Terminology And Basics for Beginners“. It covers:

  • Subtractive Synthesis
  • The “Oscillator”
  • Analog versus Digital versus Hybrids
  • Filters and Cutoff
  • Envelopes
  • Modulation
  • FM Synthesis

​Here’s the link to that article:

Here’s the link to a Robin Vincent video titled: “Molten Modular 15 – Discovering oscillators with the Make Noise STO“.

Here’s another good video by Robin Vincent. This one’s titled: “Molten Modular 24 – Discovering Envelopes featuring TINRS Edgecutter“.

Here’s Robin Vincent’s main YouTube Channel:

Modular Grid: The best place to go for “all things Eurorack related”.

Of course there are LOTS of other sources of information online. Even with all the information and links I’ve provided here, there are still a few facets of Synthesizers which were not mentioned in the above articles and videos, such as:

  • Granular Synthesis,
  • Wavetables,
  • Formants,
  • Karplus Strong,
  • Sequencers,
  • Logic Modules, etc.

I simply listed them, in case you’d like to explore these subjects further on your own.

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ARP Synthesizers

It looks as though Synthesizer pioneer, Alan R. Pearlman, “crossed-over” on January 5th 2019.

Although more people, especially non-Musicians, will have heard of “Moog” Synthesizers, Mr. Pearlman founded the “ARP Instruments, Inc.” in 1969 and contributed quite a bit to the Music industry. This is what his daughter Posted, regarding his crossing:

​My father passed away today after a long illness.

At 93, too weak to speak he still managed to play the piano this morning, later passing away peacefully in the afternoon. He was a great man and contributed much to the world of music you all know today.

Hopefully I can find something more eloquent to say, but I am too sad for words right now.

Here’s the link to the Synthtopia website, where I first learned of his crossing:

Here’s a link to a short, video interview with Mr. Pearlman, from 2006:

Electronic Synthesizers helped shape Music, in every genre, since they were first invented. According to this Wikipedia article, that would be 1876:


The minimoog Synthesizer

Most Synthesizers have a very unique or slightly different sound. The “Moog sound” is probably the most recognizable — especially for those of us who first began listening to Music in the ’60s and ’70s. During those early years, the biggest companies, still known today are:

  • Moog,
  • ARP,
  • Oberheim and
  • Sequential Circuits (Later named “Dave Smith Instruments” or simply “DSI”)

Of all the Synthesizers, up to about the 1980s, the original “minimoog Model D” was the most popular. Although I’m a “Drummer”, while I was still in High School, I bought a very basic “Korg” Synthesizer. (I don’t remember its name.) Hearing more and more about this “minimoog” thing, in the early ’70s, I saved-up and bought one from a local Music Store ($1,495). The sounds were rich and the various combinations of sonic textures were easy to pull out of it. It was an amazing experience.


The ARP 2600 and its included Keyboard


Then I heard about something called an “ARP 2600”. After seeing some images and reading several articles on it, I knew I had to buy one. This thing was a monster! It had features none of the Moog Synthesizers, at that time, offered (especially on their “non-Modular” Synthesizers, like the minimoog):

  • Ring Modulation,
  • Sample & Hold,
  • Spring Reverb,
  • 3 “complete” (audio / LFO) Oscillators,
  • a “Lag” circuit,
  • an “Electronic Switch”,
  • a “Multiple”,
  • Patch Points,
  • an “Envelope Follower”,
  • and more!

Many, many Musicians have used ARP Synthesizers in their Music… and, even though the ARP company hasn’t existed for decades, many Musicians continue to use those Synthesizers in their Music. Here’s a link to the song “Frankenstein” by Edgar Winter. You can see him play the ARP 2600 in this video:

Here’s a page where you can see the different variations of the ARP 2600 over the years:

Although ARP released several different Synthesizers over the years, my ARP 2600 could not only imitate most of their sounds but also added a bit more… that is, until I heard about the “ARP 2500”!


The ARP 2500 Synthesizer

In its day, I really wanted an ARP 2500 but Sylvia and I could never afford one. It was a big powerhouse of its time.

Here’s the link to an “ARP 2500” web page, which explains some of its capabilities:

​Jimmy Page, of Progressive Rock band “Led Zeppelin”, has (or had) an ARP 2500. Pete Townshend, of the Rock Band “The Who”, also used an ARP 2500. You can hear that instrument’s “Sequencer” Module on their song: “Baba O’Riley”. It’s right at the beginning. Here’s a link where you can hear that song:

Here’s the Wikipedia page for “ARP Instruments, Inc.”:

Probably the most popular “ARP” Synthesizer was the “Odyssey”.

My notes here don’t do enough to explain the impact Mr. Pearlman and his instruments have had on me, Sylvia and this entire world. Thank you Mr. Pearlman!

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