(Puerta Estelar Andaluza)
Click on the play button below to listen to an mp3 recording of the kind of output this patch produces.
Click on the button below to download the .voltagepreset file.
Note that because the file includes sample data it is over 3 MB in size so will take longer to download than most presets.
Open the downloaded file to automatically launch Voltage Modular with the ready built patch shown below…
This patch starts automatically and runs in a continuous 8 bar loop with the grain parameters of the two Granular Synths being periodically randomized.
The patch as it stands has a distinctive Spanish feel due to the use of an Andalusian Cadence and the choice of acoustic quitar and string samples but you’ll find that by changing the chords and samples and by tweaking other settings you can easily produce radically different results.
Here’s a more abstract example of the kind of thing the patch can produce…
Although this is a relatively simple patch it’s great for exploring chord progressions as it’s easy to select different chord roots and types by clicking on the keyboards and buttons of the Chord Memory and Chord modules in the middle cabinet.
The Andalusian Cadence is a well established chord progression that is very evocative of Flamenco but found in many other genres too. It’s in a minor key but it borrows a non-diatonic V from major (something that’s actually very common as V is a such a useful chord – that’s why the Diatonic Triads module has a little graphical bridge between V and v).
Or using chord names in C minor…
If you play guitar you’ll probably be more comfortable seeing this as a transposition of Am-G-F-E.
The roman numeral notation used above is ambiguous if you don’t know that the triads (apart from the V) are diatonic in a harmonic minor scale so often you might see the following notation instead.
The image below might help make the theory clearer or it might just add to the confusion. Don’t worry about it if it all seems like gibberish.
The upper cabinet of the patch contains a mix of control and utility modules.
Going from left to right…
The DC Source module’s purpose is simply to provide a 5 volt signal that makes the Song Control module start automatically when the patch loads.
The Tempo module provides a sync signal for the Song Control module. It’s useful as Voltage Modular patches don’t remember the tempo.
The Progression module is a chord sequencer driven by the V/Bar output of the Song Part module. It is effectively a voltage controlled switch that selects one of its inputs and sends it to the CHORD OUT socket depending on which bar is playing. It is fed with S-Poly chord signals from the four Chord modules below.
The Clock Divider module is a dual clock divider that counts the number of triggers output by the Song Control’s BAR OUT socket. It’s set to randomize the parameters of the left-hand Granular Synth every 4 bars and the right-hand one every 8 bars.
The second DC Source module is used to set the basic pitch range of the two Granular Synth modules. It’s initially set up so that the right-hand synth runs an octave lower than the left but the randomization alters the pitch knob and pitch modulation so this is just a bias to help spread the voicings out a little.
You can tweak the two knobs to shift the voicings/inversions to create different effects. Note that both granular Synths are quantizing pitch to the same chord so everything automatically stays in tune no matter what.
The Skin module is used just for cosmetic purposes. Its SATURATION control is set at zero and its BRIGHTNESS at 20% in order to make the LSSP modules match the background color of the Granular Synth modules.
Finally the Note Watcher module is used as a visualization tool so that you can see the actual notes coming out of the Progression module and being fed in to the QUANTIZE sockets of the Granular Synths.
The middle cabinet contains all the modules that define the chord progression.
Here we have four Chord Memory / Chord module pairings. One pair for each chord in the progression.
The Chord Memory modules have only their BASS OUT sockets connected so are working in monophonic mode, Their function is simply to provide a 1 V/Octave signal representing the root of each chord. This 1 V/Octave signal is fed to the ROOT IN socket of the adjacent Chord modules.
Each Chord module creates an S-Poly chord signal that is fed via the Progression module to the QUANTIZE inputs of the Granular Synths. Things can become a little bit complicated due to pitch modulation and arpeggiation inside the Granular Synths but they end up adjusting the pitch af all the grains they produce to fit the current chord. So we end up with a very musical result based on the chord progression although with some fancy melodic and chordal variations.
The arrangement of root note and chord type input supported by this set up is just one of several possible configurations but it has the benefit of transparency and simplicity. You can very easily dial in a particular chord progression if you know the chord names and of course you can just experiment. Also it’s pretty easy to extend the number of chords or change the harmonic rhythm.
The lower cabinet is simply two Granular Synths.
Both modules receive the same S-Poly chord signal from the CHORD OUT socket of the Progression module. So although they have widely different pitch modulations they fit together coherently because all the grain pitches are quantized to the same chords.
Grain seeding rates are modulated and not coordinated between the two modules so there is a lot of chaotic rhythm but it holds together reasonably well because of the tight control of harmony and the fact that the random changes in parameters are synced so that the left-hand Granular Synth changes every four bars and the right-hand one every eight bars.