Aria Salvatrice Modules: Psychopump & Future of the collection

Psychopump

Hello! Today I’m proud to announce my 22nd module, Psychopump - taking your beats straight to Hades. It is available from the VCV library.

The big idea of Psychopump is simple: send gates to any of its 8 channels, it outputs the corresponding CV preset.

Why you would want to use it is more complex: it doesn’t pair well with everything. It was initially created to conserve CPU when using PSI OP, a fun FM drum module capable of a wide range of sounds, and like many oscillators, too CPU-hungry to use one separate instance per drum sound.

But Psychopump is not just about saving CPU, and not only about percussion: it can do much more.

It can route your incoming gates to two different outputs, and make them longer or shorter, with mute and solo controls. The triggered presets can have a random offset applied to them on trigger, which can be used both for chaotic modulation, and for subdued analog-like variations concealing the machine gun sound of drum modules. 64 knobs is a lot, so you can use the Label buttons to give names to channels and output: those names will show up on the LCD.

There are also two sample and hold inputs per channel, which can also have a random offset applied, and a V/Oct input, which can be quantized to an arbitrary scale, as provided by my QQQQ module.

Finally, Psychopump can operate polyphonically! You can make it use only 3 rotating channels to conserve the voices of CPU-hungry plugins, or go fully polyphonic.

As usual, my module has a very detailed and beginner-friendly manual, that I encourage you to read.

Future of the collection

I think of my modules - especially the more esoteric ones, such as Arcane or Modulus Salomonis Regis - as an extension of my work as an artist. Those modules are meant to be challenging but inspiring to use, and to formalize in software ideas I had about aleatoric and procedural music.

When you add one of those modules to your rack, I wish to give you the experience of asking a session musician to do her thing, rather than creating an unopinionated tool.

In much the same way that Roger Linn, Don Buchla, Robert Moog, Serge Tcherepnin, and many more did, I put my name and signature on my humble little hacks. However, I feel that my work is much closer to that of Toshio Iwai, a musical installation artist best known for the Tenori-on, and the 2005 Nintendo DS musical interactive toy Electroplankton, it’s closer in spirit to the silly and grandiose creations by Look Mum No Computer. Even my more utilitarian modules try convey a sense of joy and playfulness, while also remaining concerned with practical concerns such as CPU usage, usability, accessibility to colorblind users, etc.

Since my first release in December 2019, it has been very rewarding to see my skills progress over the span of 21 modules and one album: learning C++ from scratch, learning more about synthesizer design and music theory, about project management and API design, about collaborating on Github, about refactoring away the technical debt in a growing codebase, about working with SVG files both in Inkscape and via direct text editing, about Vue.js frameworks (as part of my documentation), and about my own practice as an artist.

But by far, the most rewarding thing has been to see my friends use my instruments to record music, or to simply play with them. They’re a fun but rowdy bunch. Pretty much all of them are some variant of mid-20’s communist transgender bisexual furry multimedia artist gamer who vapes, and pretty much none of them feel inclined to participate in the official VCV communities. As for myself, I’m only half of those descriptors, so I probably fit in better.

A few hours ago, I added the following to the README of my plugin:

Aria Salvatrice is the name I go by as a person. Distributed forks of my code should not make my name part of their title. The VCV project, and software libraries that distribute my code, should not distribute a fork maintained by a different person under my name withouut my explicit permission. To do so would impersonate me.

Distributed forks of my code should mention I’m the original author, but shouldn’t use my name in a way that can be construed as implying my authorship of their fork, or my endorsement of their fork.

While the VCV project’s policy allows taking over inactive plugins in its library, including those that are named after their author, I am requesting for its ethics guidelines protecting the brand names of companies to be extended to my own name as a human. I am also requesting the same out of any other project distributing my software: it is a long-standing tradition of free open-source software that forks should go by a different name, if only to avoid user confusion.

If you are faithfully porting my code to a fork of VCV Rack, are compiling binaries for another platform, or are otherwise distributing my modules as I designed them, but need to apply trivial compatibility patches to make my software work on your platform, you should keep the name, and the signature. The deciding factor is whether you are distributing my software as I designed it. If you alter it, you should rebrand it.

The name of the individual modules in my collection does not have to be changed. Whether to keep the name of the modules the same, change them, or name them a variation of the original name, is left to the forker’s discrection.

Git forks of my code on sites such as github, created for example to experiment with my code, forks that are not directly distributed to end users but only seen by an audience of developers, are obviously not considered distributed forks, and are thus exempt from this request, as it is obvious to the intended audience that this is a fork, and no impersonation is intended.

As I said: in much the same way that Roger Linn, Don Buchla, Robert Moog, Serge Tcherepnin, and many more did, I put my name and signature on my humble little hacks.

Nobody would be allowed to release to the library a module implying the endorsement of Linn, Buchla, Moog, or Serge. Using their work is fair game, just not the name.

When I asked about whether my humble name and funny signature would be afforded the same protection, I expected to be immediately reassured that they would be. Instead, I faced condescension about my choice of license, and suggestions that if I do not explicitly forbid it, the VCV project absolutely reserves the right to give stewardship of my own name, by which I go by in every aspect of my life as an artist, to someone else, but that I am silly for thinking the VCV project would act without fairness.

I was told:

If you feel strongly about it, don’t rely on my “hypothetical policies” that don’t exist, just cover your own bases. I helped you write a statement to add to your license, so take it or leave it.

Well, honestly, 15 hours later, I still feel sick to my stomach about it.

It’s not just about this incident - it’s about a pattern of condescending, rude, legalistic interactions with the leadership of the VCV project. The rudeness and condescension I observed, I will remark, were almost never directed towards me, but nonetheless, they happened in public spaces, so I witnessed it.

Obviously, it is not practical to ask for the leadership to enforce its code of conduct on itself, unless the leadership is constituted of a sufficient amount of people.

Having to deal with this social environment is extremely draining. My hobby project should affect my well-being positively, not negatively. I was hoping to join the cool and quickly growing art scene my VCV-using friends seemed to embody. Instead I found myself joining the social environment of the Linux Kernel Mailing List. I’m not paid enough to deal with that kinda vibe.

“Take it or leave it”? In my life, whenever someone has dared to walk away from a toxic situation, I have always done it, on the spot. Sometimes, walking away entailed a great personal cost, but in the long run, I never regretted doing that. This time there is no personal cost: I had no unfinished modules in the oven, only ideas.

I have no shortages of artistic interests, and there are no shortages of scenes where an amateurish labor of love would be enthusiastically welcomed, so I have no reason to provide it to an organization that treats me like an easily replaced nuisance.

And I have no doubts I will be easily replaced, probably by someone who is much more experienced in C++ programming than me. My code works, it’s no masterpiece but it’s understandable and commented, and the rules about changing my brand are simple.

I am absolutely eager to resume my work where I’m suspending it today, should it be able to prosper in a friendlier, less commercial and bureaucratic, more inclusive and artistic social environment, whether the code is based on the VCV codebase and Eurorack metaphor, or something different.

The Arcane server is on autopilot: I will keep it running for as long as my Azure scripts continue to work. The code of the server is open-source, it’s very tiny coffeescript hack. The URL is of the server is hardcoded in the module, but trivial to change.

For my well-being, I will avoid logging in to the forums for a while, whether I’m considered persona non grata or not after my statement. VCV Rack will remain a tool in my musical arsenal, but much like my friends, I will operate it from a safe distance from the organization that develops it.

If you wish to contact me, you can use social media and discord messages if you have me on them, and otherwise, my e-mail: woof@aria.dog

I enjoyed my interactions with other developers and users this year, and it pains me greatly to make this decision. I hope to meet some of you again in whatever my next creative endeavor will be.

38 Likes

great and a thousand thanks for your modules,

your decision to leave the VCV community makes me very sad, I like your ideas and your dedication, your modules are very fine and unique.

The VCV community is imho mostly very friendly and supportive, I don’t like rude and empathy-less behavior at all. But I also think this does tell a lot about the one who uses this and nothing about the ones that have to face this. So I really would like to see more of your artistic stuff here.

But I respect your decision totally, and I wish you good luck for your personal and artistic future.

9 Likes

oh man, that’s really sad :pensive: so much dedication, so many nice modules. nice, to have different colors on the screen, not just the same old grey and black :slight_smile:

have a tea, walk the dog, take a nap, think about this decision again.

but you’re right, it’s a hobby, if it has no positive effect on you, maybe take a step backwards, hm… sad anyway.

2 Likes

Aria Salvatrice wrote: I am absolutely eager to resume my work where I’m suspending it today, should it be able to prosper in a friendlier, less commercial and bureaucratic, more inclusive and artistic social environment, whether the code is based on the VCV codebase and Eurorack metaphor, or something different.

Second this absolutely, there are no better words to describe the situation!

Aria Salvatrice wrote: I will operate it from a safe distance from the organization that develops it.

Doing this since several weeks now and its feels great!

Congratulation to your decision!

best wishes!

1 Like

Sad to see you go Aria - this community is much better with you in it.

Hopefully after some time has passed and the dust has settled you will reconsider…

But if not I wish you well.

1 Like

It’s been really cool to enjoy your activity here on the forum, Aria, and your art. The colorful UI, the funny puns, the transparency while sharing your design process and your smart thoughts. I’m very sorry to see you leaving but I respect -and totally understand- your choice.

A BIG THANK YOU :cat:

4 Likes

I much relate to your views about what your modules and module making in general means to you, and I think you were pretty clear at expressing what is what in your readme, even before the last addition.

So I feel puzzled about your conclusion, but evidently there’s more to it than just a question of licensing, so I’ll just say that there’s gonna be a large void here without your contributions, your enthusiasm and focus about going through with stuff was always inspiring to me!

5 Likes

Very sad news Aria, I followed the chat you had with the Vcv creator and also thought it was rude (although he has apologize and clarified he was referring to other thing). This soft is as good as the people who contributes to it and they should be the first ones to be respected and taken care. Modules like the ones you program are what make this platform special. Best of lucks and hope You return soon.

1 Like

Support and respect, I look forward to the music you’ll get done while not dealing with these kinds of drags on your energy and happiness, and I’m glad you’ll get to keep working with the instrument and your modules.

I only properly met Don Buchla once, and he was gleefully handing grilled oysters that he had made to me and Jessica Rylan and her partner. I had watched in the prior years as some of his best friends had to come together to help him get his name back from someone in australia that he had sold it to under bad advice, thinking he was retiring and it was time to let go, and his friends, who had advised against it, all kicked into gear to try to get it back. I think he succeeded just before he passed away and whoever has it now is using it properly to respect his work.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a few grilled oysters more before or since, and I’ll always remember the honest grin on his face as he pushed them at us, while knowing that they were apparently one of his favorite things and he definitely planned to have a few kept back for himself. That was a day to remember.

But the idea of putting your own name on your modules, yeah, your name belongs to you and there’s a long history of it in the short history of electronic music, and I think everybody absolutely should respect it. There’s very clear tradition of a name being a brand in electronic instruments, and I don’t see why it should be any different just because someone has the good graces to make their work software and free and open source.

Many people have a great misapprehension that there is real money to be made in making new instruments. Nothing could be further from the truth, for most of us it’s more like a religious calling, and we make great sacrifices to work in our preferred field and try to give people the best instruments to use that we can think of.

5 Likes

Not to mention the killer manual!

2 Likes

Thank you for the positive comments, discord & Twitter DMs, and e-mails, everyone.

If there’s one thing that is clear from my inbox, it’s that I’m far from the first developer to have left, considered leaving, or who continued to develop things for themselves but stopped sharing them. They are not characters as colorful as I can be, so their absence might not be felt, but they are all skilled people. I’m just the only one who’s made it public. I never plan to go pro at this stuff, so burnt bridges don’t concern me one bit.

Please do not mischaracterize my suspending my module collection as a simple dispute over brand names, or an emotional outburst in reaction to a misunderstanding about an ambiguous sentence. It would make me look unreasonable. This is about a pattern of abusive behavior over months that I have stopped to tolerate, and regret tolerating.

Please do not ask me to remain in the community because I make it nicer, when I can put that energy towards participation in communities where the participants do not all have to learn to cope with a leader who enforces the rules of civility on everyone but themselves. To tolerate this sort of behavior, I’d have to be on someone’s payroll, and even then, I’d be in touch with PR about trying to improve the environment.

Besides the fact you have no right to make me sacrifice my mental health for your benefit, to remain there acts as a vote of confidence this toxic behavior should be tolerated. The holes left in the shape of the people who gave up will remind the community of what it will regain should it fix itself, or should it pack up and leave.

The VCV project will still thrive on technical excellence alone once all the nice people and artists have been weeded out. I will thrive somewhere my contributions are valued by the leadership.

I have not disappeared, people I wanted to befriend and collab with are in my mail inbox and DMs. When the next cool thing comes along, be it a community fork or a new FOSS initiative, you won’t have to send me an invite, I’ll be the first to know about it, and I’ll be there on day one to give it a chance.

17 Likes

Dear Aria

Firstly, thanks for your wonderful plugin and all the work you’ve put into it. The creators like you are a big part of the success of VCV Rack.

Secondly, I’m sad to hear that you’re walking away and I hope it will just be temporarily, and that you will have a bit of time to step back and reflect.

I’m writing this in the spirit of taking a step back and reflecting as well. Some of it you or Andrew might not like, some of it you will hopefully like more. They’re just my thoughts.

As I see it the monster success of this whole thing is mainly down to the ecosystem that has formed up around Rack, in the same way that many other successful endeavours are due to their larger ecosystems with many components and moving parts, such as Linux, VSCode and many many others. The major components of the Rack ecosystem I think are: The VCV Rack software and infrastructure itself, all the developers of Rack plugins and their amazing creations, and then the users of Rack.

As with all ecosystems, indeed as with all societies in my thinking, there are inbuilt, inherent and unavoidable tensions between those parts, as well as great rewards when the ecosystem works well. The ecosystem only thrives when a good balance is struck between the needs and responsibilties of it’s different parts, and here I would like to observe, that although not perfect, a balance has been struck that has allowed a pretty amazing success of that Rack ecosystem, which would not have been possible in a badly managed project. That says to me, that in spite of shortcomings and annoyances the ecosystem on the whole is working pretty well.

In such an ecosystems the tensions mainly lie in the fact, that not everyone can have everything they like, just as they would like it, when they would like it. Things have to bend a bit towards each other. Compromises need to be struck. Both the Rack project, the plugin developers and the users, have both privileges and responsibilites that need to be observed for things to work well.

I actually agree with many of the things you mention about management and communication style. It’s regularly annoying and offputting, and I have said my f!cks. I put it down to a young person, who is extremely busy and with many reponsibilties, and as many other highly intelligent people are a bit on the spectrum. To be honest I don’t think there’s much to be done about that, it’s a personal growth thing. I would like to add though, that in my opinion we are nowhere near Linus Torvalds or Theo de Radt levels, and I simply don’t believe that the word toxic is applicable. I would defy anyone, to point to a wildly successful ecosystem, with a big project and many people, which on the whole is more friendly and welcoming than this one. I think we’re doing pretty well all considered.

In that vein I also think you have overreacted somewhat to Andrew’s words about forks, names and adopting abandoned plugins. The way I see it, you are pretty much asking for the same protections and considerations that e.g. the Fundamental and Grayscale plugins are, and as I hear it those concerns are met although the words ruffled you a bit. If anything remains it might be to hammer down a good policy of abandoned plugin adoption a bit more clearly, so everyone knows the lay of the land. But to me the intention is pretty clear and I really feel that you have nothing to worry about in that respect.

To sum up: I agree with some of the things that make you weary. At the same time I actually think Andrew has managed to strike all the very difficult balances of the ecosystem pretty well. I think you have overreacted a bit, and if you are able to step back a bit and reflect, you will find that your concerns are pretty much met.

What remains has to do with style and words and in this I think the biggest service you could do to yourself, everyone else, and Andrew, is to sit down and put in words, as politely and considered as you can, a personal message (not for public consumption) to Andrew, where you try and lay down the biggest improvements that you see that he could make, to the benefit of all. You might end up walking away for good or you might end up happily surprised at the great result. You won’t find out if you don’t try and you’re in a very good position to do that, right now, and I hope you will.

Honestly written with the best intentions, and no matter what I wish you the best of luck!

14 Likes

@Aria_Salvatrice, I respectfully do not know what you’re referring to. I’ve looked through every exchange we’ve had on all mediums/channels and found nothing but helpful, positive responses to your questions, which were almost always met with “Thanks!” I’ve never been even remotely “abusive” to you and can’t think of anything that I could have done to have that label applied to me.

I’m willing to make VCV Rack and its communities better for all users and developers if there is an issue. Unfortunately, I’m not able to improve myself if I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.

1 Like

I am more than willing to change myself to make the VCV communities a better place for users and developers, including @Aria_Salvatrice. Unfortunately, it seems that you are suggesting that I might need a bit of help pointing out my flaws. I am happy to read any specific requests, demands, and suggestions that anyone posts here.

I will of course not delete this thread. I hope this thread remains as a constructive discussion.

5 Likes

Hi Andrew, maybe this is part of the problem:

peoples emotions and the vibe and athmosphere of social communities is often not only dependend on these hard facts,

but too depends on empathic feelings and reading subtextes, and interpretation of peoples needs/feelings. But when someone tries to be empathic and caring and interprets other peoples needs it can happen that he makes mistakes (and this is the bad news).

Then it is helpfull to have an open mind and look for the common understanding and goals to solve the issues. And this applies to both sides.

4 Likes

Dear Andrew, I am not personally involved in this conversation about Aria, I hope it’s not misplaced to pop in, I don’t feel legitimate at all saying the following, we are not old childhood pals or anything, I don’t see why I would have any advice to give, but I feel like I see something obvious so I’ll just go for it…

You are indeed very professional, very responsive and involved in the community, more than any software maker I know, no doubt about that. There is not unanswered question I asked you, no matter stupid they were :smiley:

This said, you are interacting with a hobbyist community who is here for fun and will always value empathy over professionalism.

The tone employed by this community is generally that of the empathy. The contrast created by a professional tone (as respectable as it is) might be recieved as “cold” or offensive, even though the main intent had nothing of that.

I am sure everyone here can (or should) understand why you are professional in your exchanges; I do not see any other way to interact with 100.000 users. I am sure you can understand why a hobbyist whose involvement in Rack community is a healthy escape for his/her professional life will always value an empathic answer over a professional one.

Most certainly a more empathy centered answer would not allow you to be as much involved as you are, no-one can be empathetic with thousand of users… I don’t know the answer… maybe slightly re-adjusting the joystick between the involvement/professionalism/empathy CV outputs :blush:

16 Likes

Yeah, this is a big one. I don’t think it’s by any means intentional, but I’ve gotten this vibe from Andrew on multiple occasions.

Demands in this sentence even sort of gives me that vibe, like, “I’m doing everything fine already, but give me your demands so I can move past this” is how it reads to me.

Plus, the general vibe of how Rack treats open source in a ‘taking contributions cost me more time than it saves’ almost puts you in a place of acting superior by default, and while I actually mostly agree with that sentiment, I think that reserved nature put everything at a already not-great starting point. I don’t see an easy solution to that, but I think it is relevant.

I don’t want to turn this thread into a hit piece or have others blindly attack Andrew. I want everyone to be on the same page and getting along so we can have a strong, inclusive community. I mostly suspect that most of this is a result of what you said here:

But that said, there’s still some more compassion required, in the thread the following quote is from, it’s really obvious that Aria is distressed by the idea of her modules being re-distributed under her name after they’ve been modified by someone else, so regardless of any surrounding textual context the phrase

REALLY doesn’t sound good. There’s basically a complete lack of empathy there and it even made me cringe just to read it.

There’s no easy solutions here, communicating over text will always require some finesse and a way to convey emotions and understanding that is difficult. I’m especially sympathetic here as obviously Andrew is very busy with so many other things regrading Rack yet still takes the time to respond to so many individual concerns, yet, I don’t think that excuses the above ‘take it or leave it’ or the many other times things have come off as a bit condescending, harsh, or just ungrateful.

Thank you for all your work on Rack, Andrew. I know this community is greatful to you, but I do want you to see that there has been some issues here, and it sorta feels Linus Torvalds-y

10 Likes

I don’t want to pile on any negativity, but I feel compelled to speak up to ensure that Aria’s sentiment is not discarded as one person’s opinion. Without throwing stones, let’s just say that I’ve witnessed the same toxicity a few times.

5 Likes

Once again, I must thank everyone for their generous support. It’s meant so much to me to receive your good wishes after giving up on something that meant so much to me.

It would be very gauche for me to sign my own praises. Nonetheless, I feel I must start by posting a selection of people’s feedback about my work - some of it sent to me, some of it said about me that I noticed.

I played with it for a while and I can’t break it! Flawless work as always. This is exactly the module I’ve wanted for a while. Amazing work, Aria.


Your modules are the best-looking and best-documented, as well as some of the most interesting and uniquely useful, so this is a real drag. I consider you to be the most exciting (now former) developer on the platform. Sorry people can’t afford you common respect
Like honestly there isn’t another collection that I downloaded and loaded up in Rack that caused me to say “Holy shit this is brilliant” like I did when I saw ARCANE


[Translated from French] It’s not just your modules but also your patching style in your videos that taught me to stop paying so much attention to the intended purpose of signals and trying to always be deliberate and in full mental control.


It’s hard to believe that you’re new to VCV Rack. Again, I’m excited to see what you come up with next.


This reminded me how much I enjoy your wit, humor, & perspective. I’m very glad you’re a part of this community. Just wanted to let you know.


[Arcane is] def one of the most creative ideas i’ve seen in a while. also, if darius was hardware i’d buy it immediately
[…] your stuff is super rad - i still wanna build a thing around the series some day - and i am very much looking forward to whatever cool shit you make next :smiley:
[…] plz make hardware <3


You are such a great addition to the community here. I always enjoy reading your posts. Even when they aren’t about my stuff :wink:


i basically got into rack synth and vcv because of aria’s modules which are an amazing meeting between the spiritual and the digital. check out her website its so cool


This is so good. I think this has every feature I’ve ever wanted plus another 10 more I didn’t know I wanted! […] I’m more than willing to pay for modules of this quality on the library - but I donated using your link.


I’m sorry to hear about your decision to stop developing your modules. They are a great example of a unique and beautiful design, and of learning and applying a wide range of new technologies in quite a short time.

As gauche as the move might be, it’s important to make it very clear that I have earned respect, as a peer, in this community. It’s also good that male-identifying developers discussed their own issues in this thread.
It’s important for me that onlookers have the social proof that I have accrued a deserved positive reputation, so they can’t pattern match this affair as an entryist trans person trying to cause trouble in FOSS for personal benefit.

This social proof of my worth was also for my own sake: I had to fight off impostor syndrome the whole time I participated in the community. It was important to remind myself what I did had worth to cope with being treated like a nuisance by VCV. All this feedback was crucial to keep me going at this newly discovered synth-making hobby.

But the proof I am asked to provide, the proof I felt treated like an easily replaced nuisance the whole time, that proof is not forthcoming. Submitting evidence to be judged by a party you have a grief with is a waste of effort. The fact you’ve squandered my willingness to continue providing value to your platform, thought you would get away with it, and that some developers who witnessed the incident left in reaction to it, that should be more than sufficient a proof.

Maybe you think of me as lacking your skills, and thus an acceptable loss.
And sure, I don’t know DSP at all. Out of my 22 modules, 14 of which are unique if we ignore variants sharing code and the blank plate, none create audio signals. As I said, I had to fight off impostor syndrome at all times.

But you better believe that users do not deem me an impostor.
You better believe fellow developers never treated me as an inferior.

Inspiring workflow, musicality, digitally native UI putting live play without menu diving at the forefront, engaging beginner-friendly documentation: this is what I had to offer, and people were starting to get it.
Anyone who paid attention to my trajectory could see I was working my way up to more and more challenging problems. Starting from a simple small-form clone of an existing module, up to my latest release, exposing to the user almost 400 UI elements, in a simple layout they can learn how to make musical in less than 5 minutes.
I have no doubt I could learn this domain, were I inclined, but audio signals simply weren’t my immediate focus of interest, the way generative & semi-aleatoric sequencing was.

The value of VCV Rack entirely lies in its ecosystem of plugins, most of which are open-source. Goodwill from third-party developers is what makes the difference between success and failure. Wasn’t the biggest initial draw of VCV Rack that it offered most of Mutable Instruments?

I’ve never had a chance to be introduced to Émilie, the creator of those modules, but from seeing her participate online in various places, she strikes me as a nice person: when we get the chance to have a conversation, I have no doubt I would not have to prove myself deserving of being talked to as a peer. A much less dedicated or accomplished one, sure, but one nonetheless.

There’s makers of eurorack hardware, of real hardware of metal and diodes, that produce real oscillations at real audio rates sold for real money, the real deal unlike my embarrassing little C++ hacks, who already converse with me as a peer. Those creators, were you to approach them about porting their stuff to VCV, would start by thinking, “Gotta check with Aria first if the VCV guy changed since that time when she got depressed over stopping her softsynths”. Sure, they’re not big-time brands, but what’s the big-time threshold, at a scale of a tiny scene where even the most prestigious hardware brand in your library is a one woman operation?

Let me say more about goodwill.

What gave me the initial spark of goodwill to develop for VCV? The GPL. Your sending the costly signal that governance problems can be routed around if we don’t manage to fix them.

Before trying out VCV, I tried out Voltage Modular. You’ve seen their “Getting started” page for developers? It tells me that to have the privilege of distributing betas to people, I gotta first drop $100. The absurd audacity!
Just like that, they have guaranteed that I will never develop for them. Even if they were to waive the fee in the future. It’s very easy to lose goodwill, or to never earn it in the first place.

Ever heard of one Vitaly, who develops software of iOS and Mac OS, software we are not allowed to name due to an interpersonal conflict that has nothing to do with us?
When he approached me about developing on his platform, he made no mistake who was doing whom a favor by providing modules for his ecosystem. If he open-sources his code again and gets it to work on PC, I’d take the offer, I dunno if that’s on his agenda. It’s not difficult to earn goodwill either! A friendly mail was all it took.

Remember VeeSeeVSTRack? When asked about plans to port it to V1, the developer bsp2 said:

Andrew (the VCV developer) kindly asked me not to do that (and I agreed)

Do you still have enough goodwill to “kindly ask” people not to compete against your income streams?

Well, one thing is sure: you wouldn’t have the goodwill to ask me that today. You’re not my friend, you’re the representative of company that is gleeful about its prospects of screwing me over so long as it’s done in a lawyer-friendly way, talking of the company you respresent in a farcial royal we any chance you get.

It’s no surprise that in this thread, it’s only people like Lars, who do not develop modules, who choose to interpret my motivations from the flawed premise that I care at all about the VCV “project” or “community”. VCV ain’t a project, it’s a company. It isn’t an old-school GNU-style free software project with a BDFL making tough choices for the greater good, it’s a company with a Jobs link on its footer, a proprietary app store, no public dev branch, no outside contributors, an announced release held back for a year for commercial reasons, an upcoming proprietary toll gate monetizing our labor for professional users (that is, the VST version), and a representative with a gross sense of entitlement to our unpaid labor trying to “take it or leave it” his way out of addressing the concerns of the very people who might make it possible for him to eventually earn actual grown-up money from the DIY synth hobby.

My motivations are super simple: make cool art, cool friends, cool toys, cool collabs, cool live shows, and see cool stuff made with my cool stuff (I am eager to see my code forked to explore a different territory, I only ask them to use their own logo).
The motivations I do not have are: make money, make the VCV company money, make it easy for VCV to monetize my unpaid labor, make it easy for the VCV project to prevent forks.
I’m just indifferent by default to people earning money with my work, so long as it doesn’t conflict with my goals. If you manage to earn money from music using my modules, that rules, good for you, send me your bandcamp URL while you’re at it.

Let’s talk about the cool friends motivation: did you know I made friends who use VCV? None of them within the community spaces, mind. The community spaces is mostly male electrical engineers in their 50’s. Fine people, sure, but not my crowd. The forum is utilitarian, stuffy, bogged down in rules where “don’t be a jerk” would have sufficed, and inconducive to light conversation. Were it a physical space, people posting their music would be asked to turn down the volume.
I got to know more people in my inbox after posting this thread than in an entire year in this community.

Let’s also talk more about the “live shows” motivation. Do you know that I used to perform with a graphics tablet, similar to a Cintiq? Do you know it works TERRIBLY with VCV? Do you know that you have announced a year ago a feature that would solve my problem entirely? Do you know that the feature is literally just a few constants to expose as a user preference? Do you know that I use my own code fork to have access to this crucial feature that makes or breaks the feasibility of my performance technique? Do you realize that having experimental unsupported features small subsets of users really need is how forks gain enough traction to displace the original implementation? Do you even know what feature I’m referring to? Or is that just yet another annoying user who needs to stop whining, wasting your precious time, and use the github issues?

Let’s talk more about the money motivation. How much a plugin on the library even sells? As far as I can tell, as of now, a realistic number to expect for a quality offering is no more than 500 sales. That’s side-income, it’s never gonna be commensurate to the market value of the effort expended. You can’t cut anyone a real grown-up engineer paycheck. Focus first on being able to write a decent paycheck for yourself before acting like we’re eager to become your employees, and willing to act around you with the concomitant subordination.

Let’s talk about the “preventing forks” motivation: flat out, you’re the only person who benefits. As I said: I technically use a code fork already, and I benefit from doing that. I’m very eager to resume my collection on a fork that is led by a friendly person instead, and if that fork introduces features incompatible with VCV, I’d make use of them without any hesitation.
Two things make VCV difficult to fork: the trademark, and the library.
But neither is a serious obstacle. The trademarked content is mostly comprised SVG files in a very minimalistic style: those are trivial to remake in such a different style no “trade dress” argument can stick. A competitor has already done that. My own module collection has already removed all dependencies on non-free components.
And the library? 80% of the best stuff in it is already open-source, so there’s that. Commercial releases simply aren’t necessary for the health of a fork. And a more inclusive community would attract more diverse developers, so there would be an even wider offer, with more outsiders like me treating the instrument as a blank slate. And anyway, there’s technical methods to honor the letter but not the spirit of the license, if people want to sell commercial modules without paying you a tithe.
You can add more obstacles to forking in V2, but every obstacle you add entails a goodwill cost. People aren’t stupid, they can parse your legal game plan easily.

Chasing us out of your spaces does not make us go away and disperse. It makes us re-organize in social spaces you not part of. Remaining silent and waiting for people to forget about this issue does not make our own mail threads go silent.
I don’t have your math knowledge, but you bet I can code a plugin library web app, write documentation you’d never guess was in the author’s second language, do visual design in a more mainstream style than my modules, do solid UI code, etc. Whom have you pissed off enough they will contribute more of the necessary skills?

I was going, to prove my good faith in trying to explain the problem, to write a list of things that could be done to start rectifying the situation, but once again, I feel self-conscious about making recommendations about interpersonal communication as one of the few female-identifying people here. That’s despite the fact - it must be mentioned - that this community has consistently treated my gender identity as an absolute non-issue, with not a single incident of bigotry to mention.

So I will only focus on the best recommendation I can come up with: if asking me what the problem is was actually sincere, rather than a calculated rhetorical move to make me look unreasonable, it means you have no idea whom you have pissed off, nor why, and lots of people around you are ticking bombs you still have a chance to defuse.
Like me, they probably think it’s pointless to bring up their grievances until they are at their breaking point, or until a specific incident serves as a catalyst. This situation will recur with someone else if you carry on as before.
A good way to understand the problem would be to solicit anonymous feedback. I saw people use this site for this purpose a while ago, but there’s more good options: https://admonymous.co/
It will be unpleasant to read: had you attempted to treat me this way to my face, my reaction would have been a brutal life lesson about respect, rather than a slow, even-worded, professional reply regulated by a one-sided “code of conduct”. But people will probably also tell you the solutions.

15 Likes

I’ve got to say I see some of my own behavior in Andrew’s. Especially in my own private life, I still have a very hard time dealing with other people, I go straight into problem solving mode when I’m facing the stormy seas that are complex human emotions. The sheer number of relationships I’ve lost because of that would rival the amount of weight I’ve gained during the darkest time of my life where I’ve consumed more alcohol than oxygen.

But that’s not me making excuses, I try to put myself in Aria’s shoes in this one, and from what I’ve read of her posts in the past, she has put a considerable amount of effort into trying to make herself heard on the matter, so I can somehow relate in a roundabout way. I think what she’s done is admirable, I myself have exchanged with other developers about the frustration regarding leadership in this community, and I’m not even a developer, just a fool who wanted to bring some humor in the rigid world that was VCV when I first discovered it and got severely punished for challenging authority.

@Aria_Salvatrice, we’ve never talked but I just want to say thank you for your work, thank you for speaking out, and I wish you the best in your future endeavors. I won’t say “hope you’ll be back :((”, however I really hope our paths will cross someday in a more enlightened community. Salut.

8 Likes