Music, it is one of my deepest passions. Some of my earliest and favorite childhood memories were listening to Queen on vinyl. Like many, many people who love music I tried learning an instrument. First it was guitar, then bass, after several failed attempts I thought maybe I would never learn an instrument. Fortunately, I was wrong!
In a series of posts I would like to share my experiences of learning to play synth, modular synthesis, and the various resources for learning. This post will focus on how I discovered synthesis and the process of selecting my first module.
The realization that I could create music with modular synths was a long process. About nine months ago, I started listening to more and more electronic artist. I was really enjoying LCD Soundsystem, Chvrches, and Justice. The a-ha moment came while I was watching Chvrches in the Moog Sound Lab. As I watched the performance the synths were being played with calculation and precision, it was technical, and it really caught my attention. It was at that moment I knew I could learn to play an instrument.
My journey to find the right instrument involved tons of research. I spent hours watching videos, reading about synthesizers, learning the terminology, and talking with people in the community. I began by watching all the Moog Sound Lab videos. While watching the videos, my first observation was, that there are a variety of synthesizers. I decided a good first step would be to learn the differences between a few of the most common; eurorack modules, monophonic keyboard synths, and polyphonic keyboard synths.
In short, monophonic and polyphonic keyboard synths look more traditional, they are pre-packaged as keyboards with sound modulation interfaces and have tons of knobs and presets. They also tend to be rather expensive. In contrast, eurorack modules do not come pre-packaged with a keyboard and are usually built from many different modules. There are dozens of reputable companies that create all sorts of interesting modules, some of them are even local! I quickly realized that the loose architecture added a ton of flexibility, specifically the ability to start small. I decided to move forward with eurorack modules because of their flexibility and price.
After researching different modules and companies I selected the Moog Mother-32. The Mother includes the Moog ladder filter, which has an outstanding reputation within the community. Also, the Mother is semi-modular, it provides all the basic building blocks of a modular system including a patch bay, but it is pre-wired. This allowed me to start making sound immediately without additional patching or modules. It was like having a quick-start guide for modular synthesis.
I now have three modules and am in the process of purchasing a fourth. I am excited to talk in more detail about the Mother and other modules in another post. Thanks for reading!