Posts Tagged With: Eurorack

Digital Scale

  • Note: So you, the Reader, won’t be frustrated after reading this, what I discovered (below) didn’t work. I’m simply explaining the details of what I went through, in order to find an “alternative”, hopefully “better”, Music Scale… but I didn’t.
I had been thinking about Alternative Tunings for Music for several weeks. I even did a lot of research to see if any of the current Eurorack, Modular Synthesizer Modules would allow me to actually pick my own “Frequencies”.
  • There are lots of Oscillators and Sequencers, which allow you to “manually” set their “Frequencies” but getting them to produce those same exact Frequencies every time, is not something I found while doing my research.
  • Yes, there are Modules called: “Quantizers”, which will align every Pitch, Voltage and MIDI Note, coming into it, to the closest “Note” in its Scale. However, in “my” research, “most” force you into selecting from a list of Pitches which aren’t broken down smaller than quarter-tones.
  • I only discovered 2 Quantizers which allow you to select your own Frequencies but they seemed to be a bit difficult to program. One is the “Disting Mk4” ($189), by “Expert Sleepers”, and the other is the “µTune” ($299), by “Tubbutec”.
Several weeks ago, I was thinking about the “A equals 440Hz” (Cycles-Per-Second, Frequency) and that some say “A” should really be set to 432-Hz.
As I was looking at those numbers, I noticed that they are “8” numbers apart from each other. Since I used to do some very basic programming, a few decades ago, my mind instantly thought there might be something to that relationship…
  • Since “Society” has been lied to in so many different aspects of this “Reality”, what if those “liars” knew the core Frequency for Music should be “448Hz” and, in order to mislead everyone, moved the number “down” 8 Cycles-Per-Second (making it “432”), to throw us off track, instead of “up” 8 Cycles where it should be (making it “448”)?
From there, I did something “thinking” and some “math” and settled on the number “32”. Computers are based on multiples of “2”, which are “zeros” and “ones”. Home computers in the early 80s had 8-bit Processors, which is a multiple of “2”. I settled on “32” because “2”, “4”, “8” and “16” Cycles were too close to each other for my note-building exercise. 32 seemed to be the smallest number of Cycles-Per-Second which the Human ear could distinguish a difference in Pitch AND it would take-up an entire Music Keyboard, just to have at least 2 “Octaves”.
I left “A” at 448, as a starting point. I then “added” 32, to find higher Notes or “subtracted” 32, to find lower Notes. This gave me these Frequencies:
  • 128, 160, 192, 224, 256, 288, 320, 352, 384, 416, 448, 480, 512
Since I couldn’t find any “easy-to-use” Synthesizer Modules, which would allow me to enter the “Frequencies” I wanted, I did some testing. A few days ago, I used “Audacity” (audio manipulation software) to produce those 13-Tones. I was going to load them into Apple’s “GarageBand” software, in order to move them around and stretch them, just to see if this new “Scale” would sound good… or not.
That quickly became a bit complicated so I stopped.
Today, Sylvia reminded me that our Korg Krome Keyboard offers Tunings and Scale creation. So I checked the Manual and turned it ON. It was a bit tricky and did take me a few hours but I was able to set those Frequencies.
  • The “tricky” part was that I had to use “Audacity” to play each Pitch in a loop, while I found the closest “key” on the Keyboard to that particular Pitch. Then I adjusted its “Semitone” setting until they sounded the same.
  • When I was done, that “Scale” was spread across 2, standard Octaves on the Keyboard and used both the “black” and “white” keys but not all of them were next to each other.
  • I marked them with small pieces of Post-It Notes, so I could see which “physical” keys were part of that “Scale”. I even recorded a low-to-high “run” of Notes into the Krome, in order to hear it played back smoothly at different Tempos.
  • I then tested this “Scale’s” Chord capability. It was difficult listening to the “run” of Notes, because they weren’t too pleasing, but the Chord possibilities were even worse. I found 3, maybe 4 combinations of Notes which sounded “ok” together.
So, other than “I just wasn’t happy with what I was hearing”, I began to wonder… “why”? Is it because those are simply Frequencies which work against each other or is it that my brain is programmed to identify certain sound combinations as “good” and others as “bad”?
Here’s the link to the “Disting Mk4”:
Here’s the link to the “µTune”:
Here’s the link to the “Audacity” software:
In doing my 1st calculations, I took used the “Note-to-Frequency” Chart on this page:
I then plugged those numbers into the Frequency-Semitone calculator on this page:
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New Modules

Today, Sylvia and I received 2 new Modules for the Eurorack Synthesizer we’re creating.

  • A couple of months ago, we purchased the 1st piece… the Case.
  • Our 1st Module was the “Double Helix Oscillator” by Pittsburgh Modular.
  • A few weeks ago, we bought the “qMI 2” a “MIDI-to-Control Voltage converter”. Made by Vermona Modular.

After a lot of research, planning our budget, saving our money and talking it over, last Thursday, Sylvia and I bought 2 new Modules:


Granted, we eat fried potatoes for supper every night and a can of soup for Lunch, when we go to work, but I have no idea how we managed to “save” and “pay for” those items. I’m not really that good at this type of money-juggling. I have enough trouble remembering to deduct each day’s purchases from our Checkbook. “Sylvia” is the financial Wizard in OUR family! I do my best to continually stay tuned-in to her energies and to act-on any suggestions she provides.

As for the timing of this purchase… THAT was also interesting… We bought these from “Detroit Modular” (see links above), which is located in Michigan. We ordered them Thursday morning and the expected delivery was “by Monday”. (It was shipped through the Post Office.) Up until Friday night, their Tracking information showed that our package was still traveling through the various States, on its way to us, here, in North Carolina. When I checked their Tracking information this morning, Saturday, it showed that it was to be delivered “today”!

We used the website “Modular Grid“, in order to learn about some of the Modules available and to create this Synthesizer using their free software.

  • It’s a great website. You can search for Modules by “Manufacturer’s Name”, “Function” (Oscillator, Envelope Generator, etc.) and can see which Modules have been released recently and which are the most popular. You can also build your own “on-screen” Synthesizer. Their software will keep track of how much money the total System will cost AND whether or not the Modules you selected will actually fit inside the Case you used.

​This is a picture of our “Modular Grid” Synthesizer. It shows which Modules we currently have and where I placed them. (Of course, they can always be moved. If needed.)

Although we currently have 4 Modules, we don’t enough Synthesizer elements to make a complete sound.

  • If you’re building your own “Modular” Synthesizer, and don’t know which “types” of Modules to buy, look at the classic “analog” Synths of the past. Two of the easiest ones to use, to follow the signal flow (sound) from start to finish, are the “Mini Moog” and the “ARP 2600”.
  • There are no locked-in-concrete rules with this but “basically”, you start with a sound source, such as an “Oscillator” So you’ll need a “VCO” (Voltage Controlled Oscillator). (“Voltage Controlled” simply means its Pitch can be changed by a frequency which is produced by one of your Modules. Putting a parameter under “Voltage Control” will not only make changes faster than you can “manually” change them, but it also means “random” and / or “very fast patterned” changes can be produced.)
  • Next, the Oscillator’s sound get filtered. So you’ll need a “VCF” (Voltage Controlled Filter”).
  • From there, the sound moves to a “VCA” (Voltage Controlled Amplifier”), then to a Mixer and finally, out to Speakers, a recording system, headphones, etc.
  • Also, because you’ll be using a “Voltage Controlled” Filter and Amplifier, you’ll want a Module which is designed to control them and this would be the “Envelope Generator”. Just as we use our mouth, tongue, breath and Voice Box, to “form” and “speak” words, an Envelope Generator produces Stages of voltages which control the opening and closing of the parameters of the VCF and VCA. (Of course, with Modular Synthesizers, almost any Module can be used to change the parameters of almost any other.)

Right now, Sylvia and I have an Oscillator, Envelope Generator, a “MIDI-to-CV” converter (so we can play notes in this “Analog” Synth using our “Digital” keyboard) and a Multiple.

  • The “Warna II” is a “Multiple”, Mixer and Inverter.

To complete the “building blocks”, we still need a VCA and VCF.

What I can tell about these Modules, especially the new ones is…

In just testing the Envelope Generator, I had to use the Multiple several times. At one point, I used 3 of its sections and 10 of its 15 Patch-Points. More than once, today, I told Sylvia: “It’s a good thing we bought this Multiple.”

It wasn’t just “a multiple”. We did a lot of research, watched a few videos and read several pages of descriptions before deciding on this particular Module. It has:

  • two, 1-in-4-out Multiples,
  • one, 4-in-1-out Mixer,
  • and the two Multiples can be switched, to convert the incoming signal to its opposite polarity.
  • Plus, all of the Inputs on this Module are “DC” coupled. This means it will accept “Audio” sound sources AND “Control Voltages”.

As for the “Envelope Generator”…
I’ve been wanting us to have a “delayed Gate” feature in a Synthesizer for quite a while. We may still purchase a Module which only provides that feature but this A-143-2 Module not only has FOUR Envelope Generators, each can be Triggered (activate) separately from the others or Triggered when any of the others has completed its cycle.

I was able to create a 4-stage, one-after-the-other Envelope today. I was also able to create a looping waveshape. Sort of like a customized LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator).

Anyway, so far, we’re finding that both Modules were well worth the money.

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“Lifeforms Foundation Evo” made by Pittsburgh Modular

modular
For March, Sylvia and I have selected a very powerful Modular Synthesizer, for this month’s “Review” and “Drawing”, on our crowd-funding page.

For details on this very capable, musical tool, visit its product page:
pittsburghmodular.com/news/2017/1/11/introducing-the-lifeforms-foundation-4-and-lifeforms-foundation-evo

For more information on this crowd-funding project, please visit our Patreon page:
www.patreon.com/infinity_band

To hear our album, “Perfectionately Yours” for free, visit our BandCamp page:
infinity4.bandcamp.com/releases

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