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Understanding Modular


Ideas thread… (please no arguments or condescension)

Ideally I’d like this to be a discussion with examples like
to give ideas that may not spring to mind for non seasoned veterans.

I’m hoping this question might encourage some responses that might inspire new ideas about how to use modules in different ways.

We all know voltage is voltage whether its CV or audio right? It’s all about frequency and slope of rise and fall in the modular world (an assumption for me).

I saw a thread earlier elsewhere that asked for patch ideas for mannequins Mangrove (my favorite oscillator right now) and a patch idea put a question out there for me that I’ve never thought of regarding FM modulation until now.
The patch idea was put the square wave output of the mangrove into a clock divider then put that into the FM input of the mangrove.
Great idea I thought but it got me thinking. Is the FM input of oscillator looking for a waveform or a clock for the frequency?

I first saw my 4ms RCD as just a ‘tick divider’. But when I feed my rotating clock divider an audio rate square from my mangrove is it outputting squares or pulses (not just ticks! The RCD has a few options that can get confusing)? I’m not looking for details on how the RCD outputs clocks. The main issue is does the mangroves FM input care? Is it looking for waveforms or clock triggers? Feed a saw wave into a clock divider and it might work as a clock trigger but you will not get saw waves out right?

[REPEAT] Ideally I’d like this to be a discussion with examples like
to give idea that may not spring to mind in ‘normal’ use.

Sometimes the responses in these kind of threads are “why don’t you just listen {without anything but an audio example} and learn” type shit, but I prefer the “try doing this and listening and learning” type ideas.

Please… No LFO makes the volume go up and down responses. :wink:


Welcome to the modular world.
" Is the FM input of oscillator looking for a waveform or a clock for the frequency?"
The FM input is looking for a voltage. Considering that the clock signal itself is a pulse waveform and not a tick (whatever that means). You can observe this fact by using an oscillator Square/pulse to clock various clockable modules in your setup. The FM input can be fed a clock or any other waveform. A lower voltage will produce low frequencies and a higher one will increase the frequency. If you feed the oscillator a clock/pulse the frequency will go from low instantaneously (virtually) to high as opposed to a sine/tri waveform which will gradually slide the frequency up and down.

As for patch ideas:
Look up the krell patch. It is a cool starting point that will get your gears turning.
One sound that I like to bathe in is getting an oscillator between 40-100Hz and sending the pulse output to a filter. Modulate the duty cycle at audio rates at a ratio harmonious with the pulse oscillation. Apply audio rate modulation to the filter cutoff frequency and play with the ratios there too. Try a little resonance on the filter. Nice low drone. Yummy


Great idea Cashman!

If you feed any audio rate signal into a clock divider it will output square waves. This can be useful for creating subharmonic tones, so you can use your RCD or a Plog to generate octaves below your input source.

Regarding Ticks, these are also sometimes called Trigs. Basically this is just a very short gate. Both of these are simply on/off or high/low voltages and if they repeat fast enough (more than 20x/sec) they become square or pulse waves that you can hear.

I made an example of an Intellijel Krell patch a while back if you want to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRdLrPOwOSM
Oh, and I think I demonstrate sub octaves in the Plog video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6Bg-4lpVsA


At the time of my original post I don’t have my modular in front of me and I’d had a few beers so maybe by the post was a little long winded. Initially I was wondering if it made much difference it the FM input was fed triggers or gates (pulses or squares) I suppose I badly worded it. I was caught up in what kind of pulses the RCD was outputting (and clock dividers in general) with regard to what you fed in.


Yeah I love Krell patches. I do variants all the time based on the examples on the Make Noise website. I find the video of the classic Buchla one linked to in the above Intellijel version way to hard to follow as he calls all the modules by the number name and not the function.


Download and Enjoy



Gates are square waves, but generally unipolar (but not always). When you start changing the duty cycle from 50% a square wave becomes a pulse wave. If you take this to an extreme and the pulse is only on for milliseconds then you have a trigger. If you have an oscilloscope you can really see this.

All of this matters when you start combining waves using things like Or modules. There is a good description in the Trigger Riot manual.

The cool thing with modular is everything is voltage and you can plug most outs to ins. Yes you have to be a little careful about voltage levels, but to be honest (and don’t kill me for saying this) - I haven’t had an issue. Especially with well manufactured modules like Intellijel, Make Noise etc.

The FM in is just another way of modulating the pitch of the oscillator, they are often set up to do it differently than the pitch cv in, (ie doesn’t track 1V/oct, might have Lin or Exp response). But you are just messing with the frequency.

And so yes. You can do fun things like use the RCD to create sub octaves (/12), or something like Patch Chord as a clock divider/ multiplier.

I would recommend something like Mordax Data, seeing the voltages really helps!


I couldn’t download it from the link in the forum, but I found it posted here: http://www.tips.modularparts.net/book-bad-ideas-v2-pdf/

Thanks for sharing this, I’m looking forward to checking it out! Maybe I’ll find some techniques to try in some future videos…