Archive for modular synthesizer

Von Doog – Initiation

Posted in guitar synthesizer, modular synthesizers, music, theremin, Von Doog with tags , , , on September 22, 2017 by pyraphonic

Von Doog‘s Initiation is a set of tracks from an ambient live performance on 2/3/2017 as part of the Statues And Attitudes show (created and curated by Jade Gordon and Megan Whitmarsh) at the Human Resources gallery in Los Angeles. The tracks were recorded directly from the mixer. Instruments are guitar synthesizer, modular synthesizer and theremin.


Von Doog’s contribution to the show was to provide sonic weather, auditory incense and empathic musical feedback. Choices and decisions regarding which devices to use and their settings were influenced by oracles and oblique strategy cards. Loops were created and embellished in real time. Recurring motifs recirculate within tracks and among different tracks. Some passages are answers to questions put forth by individuals chaperoned by resident translators.

Available now:




Google Play:



Clark S. Nova – Fire in the Belfry

Posted in Clark S. Nova, modular synthesizers, music, synthesizers with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2015 by pyraphonic

A gothic love tale describing the logistics of a vampire dating a ghost.


Clark S. Nova – Tissue Samples and The Hunter

Posted in Clark S. Nova, modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , , on March 2, 2014 by pyraphonic


Tissue Samples

Eurorack modular synthesizer and field recordings.
Field recordings:
Rocks in Death Valley, CA
Siamangs at the Los Angeles Zoo
Children in Sapa, Vietnam
Train in Vietnam (Hanoi to Lao Cai)
Frogs in Rio de Los Angeles State Park


The Hunter

Ucreate and modular synthesizer, caffeinated vocals, bass guitar, snare drum, Manetron MKII, Curtis, electric guitar and tambourine.

Clark S. Nova – Patch Things Up

Posted in Clark S. Nova, Guitars, modular synthesizers, music, synthesizers with tags , on November 17, 2013 by pyraphonic

A new track featuring modular synthesizer, Waldorf Q, Electric Guitar and voice.





The electric guitar is the infamous Flying V found in the shrubs from this post:

Noise Engineering Ataraxic Translatron

Posted in modular synthesizers, Noise Engineering, other people's work with tags , , , on May 27, 2013 by pyraphonic

I helped beta test and provide design feedback for the first Eurorack module from Noise Engineering called the Ataraxic Translatron.


More info here:

It is a linear feedback shift register oscillator that sounds a lot like the early home video game consoles since it uses the same techniques to create waveforms. I also did a demo video which is embedded below. Note that I made a mistake in stating that the pitch knob scales incoming CV. It actually offsets it.

Purchasing info can be found here:

Modular Modifications

Posted in DIY, modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , on February 2, 2013 by pyraphonic

Today I made a couple modifications to my main modular synthesizer system. I recently sold a module I wasn’t really using so I had some space to fill.


I have the 4MS Rotating Clock Divider, which I really like, and I decided I wanted to add the breakout expansion which is a panel with six switches that gives you more control options. There is also new software for this unit that you can buy on a chip and swap out in the RCD unit. To buy the wired up unit and upgrade chip as a set it would have cost me $95 plus California tax which would put me over $100. However, I saw on the 4MS site that you can get a kit for $50. But then I saw they also offer just the faceplate for $15 and the upgrade chip for $8 and I would only have to supply the switches and wiring. Shipping is just a couple bucks. I have switches here that I got at a surplus store for 50 cents apiece, as well as ribbon cable and a $1 connector, so I ended up making my expansion unit for under $30 plus about 30 minutes of work.

Here’s the RCD with the new chip swapped in.

photo 1

Here is the panel with the switches mounted and the ribbon cable and connector soldered to the switches.

photo 2

Next I just had to remove the jumpers and connect the panel. I realized today why jumpers are named as they are. It is because when you remove them they jump out of your hand, onto the ground and run to the nearest shadow.

photo 3

So far, so good – time to test it out.

photo 4

Success! Time to get clocking.

photo 5

The other modular mod today was to address a quirk on the Flame Tame Machine. The Tame Machine is a really elaborate voltage quantizer and beat looper. The quirk is that when the cv input goes above 5 volts the keynote value is affected and starts jumping all over the place. Likewise whenever the keynote input goes above 2 volts the patch value goes nuts. The work-around has been for people to attenuate their voltages before going into those jacks. I often send rows from Pressure Points modules and just try to keep the voltages low, but often accidentally cross into crazytown. I’d really rather not have to use up attenuators for these two inputs. I had thought that perhaps zener diodes of the appropriate value across those jacks would solve this issue but was not too keen on experimenting on a $400 module. Thankfully gimlay & jeannot on the MuffWiggler forum did the guinea pig work and posted their results. Thanks to them both! On to the mod…

photo 6

I ended up leaving more of the leads on the diodes than I needed to in case I ever want to remove them in addition to the fact that it was easier to solder that way with my helping hands alligator clamp holding the diodes in place.

photo 7

Another success! The Tame Machine has been tamed.

photo 8

Two projects without a hitch? I’m going to quit while I’m ahead today and just do some patching tonight.

NAMM 2013

Posted in modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2013 by pyraphonic

NAMM 2013 is here and despite an uncharacteristically rainy day here in Los Angeles, I headed down to the convention center.


Of course since this is my blog, this will not be a comprehensive summary of the NAMM convention, but rather just a view through my narrow lens of interest. In other words, I first hightailed it downstairs to Hall E where the dregs of the convention hock their wares. I hung out at the Analogue Haven booth most of the day but did make a couple disoriented loops through the whole convention. Come along, here’s what I saw…

The most surprising offering this year is the revival of the Buchla Music Easel or Electric Music Box as it is alternately known. I have lusted over this piece of ’70s gear for many years.


At $3995 it’s cheaper than a small Buchla 200e system (such as the Skylab which is about $15K). I’m not sure I can resist this. I sense an ebay purge coming up in my near future to fund a purchase of one of these.


Meanwhile, the Eurorack modular synthesizer world continues to explode. In an earlier post featuring my briefcase modular I mentioned my friend Stephen who helped me build my custom ribbon controller. He has been prototyping modules and has a couple modules on display at NAMM which will be available at Analogue Haven. His company is Noise Engineering and his first module, the Ataraxic Translatron is amazing. It is an oscillator that uses the same technology that made the Atari 2600 sounds (but is not slaved to the video clock!).


I’ll post more about this module soon. Here is Stephen showing as much enthusiasm as his programming allows.


Tiptop Audio had a bunch of new modules on display as well:

Digital Hits which uses CopperLan technology to communicate with the computer


Trigger Riot which looks like a trigger cousin of the Z8000 sequencer


and Circadian Rhythm which looks bonkers and awesome


Make Noise also had their new wares on display:

The RxMx (pronounced “Rix Mix”) is a strangely animated mixer design with a lot of stereo options. Tony is working with Grant Richter on this.


The MMG, which is like one channel of the QMMG but with more options.


And development continues on the waveguide oscillator known as “??????” or the “Mystery Module”


Also on display were flat black Rene sequencers and pressure points. Tony says this is how he originally wanted them to look but there was a mistake in the manufacture of the original runs, which were glossy. I think the flat black looks better.



4MS was showing some new stuff as well:



Here’s Dan from 4MS dialing in some alien signals


Pittsburgh Modular had their new housings on display:




Snazzy FX had some new goodies – I’m digging the newer faceplates:


And over at the Moog booth…Bernie Worrell!!


And the Anniversary Moog Voyager. I thought it was an odd choice to have my friend Stephen’s face printed on the gold faceplate, but hey, what do I know?


Analog water is warmer


Stylophone 2013! This is not your grandad’s stylo…this is pretty cool, actually. It comes with a stylus but you can use your fingers as well.


The union jack model:


And to wrap up, some odds & ends:

That insane bowed string keyboard that’s been making the rounds on the interwebs


I was digging this silverburst Hofner bass copy


A passionate conversation about shift registers (not kidding)


Hanging out with Tony of Make Noise and Tomio of Tiptop Audio


Rasta Tele, mon


Evil Knievel’s clarinet


And I can’t even tell you how many ukuleles I saw today. More than I thought existed in the universe. And only at NAMM would one witness this spectacle


Thank you Gur from Tiptop Audio for the pass! See you all next year!


ps – Special thanks to the woman dressed like Pocahontas who saved me from standing in the 2 hour long line outside and advised me to take my printout to the the Hilton basement to get my badge. They could have made that a little clearer with some sort of signage.

Modular Synth Briefcase With Custom Ribbon Controller

Posted in DIY, modular synthesizers, synthesizers with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2012 by pyraphonic

In an attempt to abate my lust for the impossible to find Buchla Music Easel* or the insanely expensive EMS Synthi, I’ve put together a modular synthesizer using a slim vintage Samsonite briefcase as the housing.

It sits nicely on a laptop stand, a keyboard stand or my lap.

The space above the modules holds the wall wart power supply, the cables, and a bag of adapters when packed up. I may eventually add small speakers up in each corner like the Synthi has. The handle makes a nice cable holder when in use.

I went with eurorack modules to compliment my other modular system. Tiptop Audio 84hp rails fit almost perfectly into the case; I just had to file the ends to fit the contours of the case better. So far it has a Flight of Harmony Choices joystick, a Make Noise DPO, a Make Noise Optomix, a Random Sequencer Turing Machine, a Noise Engineering Ataraxic Translatron (an amazing prototype module from a genius friend of mine I am beta testing – next to that is an empty board from a different prototype), a custom plate with a square wave LFO to run the Random Sequencer and a mono-to-stereo converter with attenuation for output, Tiptop Audio uZeus power and lastly a custom plate with a force sensing resistor and ribbon controller. It is a fun stand-alone unit but also compliments my main system nicely.

The ribbon plate was built with help from friends. I made a template of the layout and Stexe from Slithis made the support beams, cut the plate and made the holes for me in his fabrication laboratory.

The schematic was laid out by my electronics mentor and the same guy who created the Ataraxic Translatron in my case, Stephen McCaul. First I added wires to the sensors, jacks and pots on the plate.

Then I did all the rest of the circuit by gluing the chips to a plastic piece and adding the components like a little electronic sculpture.

Then I wired it all together and was amazed that it all worked on the first try.

The plate is laid out like this: the force sensor has a scalable CV output and a gate out with a threshold pot. The ribbon has a scalable CV output and the two red buttons add positive bias and the black add negative bias to the ribbon output, so they can be used to jump up in pitch or jump down in pitch. The bias buttons each have a trim pot on the board so they can be calibrated as desired. There is also a gate out from the ribbon with a pot for the threshold. The ribbon works best for me when scaled to two octaves. And with various buttons engaged I can go up an octave or down an octave, giving me a four octave range. I mainly use it with the ribbon output to the DPO 1v/oct input and the force sensor output to the Optomix cv input.

Here is a test flight of the ribbon controller as I get a feel for the ribbon and using the bias buttons:

Next time you see a guy with a briefcase it might not be what you think.

*Buchla expert Mark Verbos told me at a Trash Audio event that plenty of other Buchla modules can do what the each of the functions of the Music Easel does but even better, but that system in that case still has for me what Captain Beefheart called “cootie appeal”; it’s too cute to not want one.