Tips for creating Funk Instruments in Rack; exploring non-generative patches

Hi Guys,

I seem to be on a different path then most Rackheads: I want to play my synths, instead of letting the clock & sequencers generate rhythms and melodies. VCV is mostly a modulation source in a hybrid setup and my small physical rack has some monosynths. I use rack to make my (basic but awesome) monosynth modules behave more like full fledged, expressive synthesizers (velocity sensitivity, additional VCO’s, pitch bend, glide, tremolo, stuff like that.) Also, I use various interfaces to play the patch; an Arturia keystep, a scratch controller + Syntablism patch, a Spring & Mic module + an Envelope Follower & comparator patch that strums like a guitar. Now all I need to do is learn to play it all :rofl:

I have 2 questions

1: Is anybody else using Rack more like a live instrument? If so, tell me something about your setup

2: Which tips do you guys have for creating funk instruments in Rack?

2 Likes

Never tried funk, but to answer your question number 1 :

I often plug in a midi controller and play instuments i make in VCV :slight_smile: at least 2 or 3 things on my Youtube are just a single VCV voice played on keyboard. So the setup couldn’t be more basic for me haha !

1 Like

I use to play my guitar, I have a zoom G1xfour, but I really like process the guitar with the awesomeness Vult modules.

I find complicated the workflow with rack sequencers , I use renoise as my main sequencer , I just bought the Polyend tracker but is not yet here

something funky: Vult Vortex + Befaco Slew , to my, sound exactly like the famous Electro harmonic Dr.Q , pure Funk

I’d go for something close to Moog or ARP architecture.

@Olival_Clanaro cool, thanks, enjoyed some of your vids!

@David will try the Vortex + Slew combo! I’ll try that on the spring string patch! I do sequence also, but then in Ableton. Just use Loopmidi to send Midi to VCV.

@SyBorg definitely! Both the Micron and Lil erebus can be a nice basis for a Moog style mono (the Erebus has a beautiful filter). I add a VCO from VCV as the third oscillator and a lot of extra modulation from VCV which adds up to Model D style mono. I’m gonna start looking at ARP style synths, haven’t tried those before!

So, keep m coming, those are some really nice tips!

2 Likes

Valley’s Interzone is very nice. If I had to guess I’d say it’s more inspired by the Roland SH-101 than any ARP synth but it’s worth a try. Great for 80s electro funk or 90s west coast g-funk :smiley:

STS Oddy is supposed to be an emulation of ARP Oddyssey. Beware though, whenever I tried using it Rack crashed at some point, and as far as I can tell the developer stopped updating it.

If you don’t mind paying, Mockba has a Minimoog emulation.

Of course, these are full synth voices, not building blocks you can add to your hardware -I mean you could use them like that too, but individual modules would probably give you more freedom.

1 Like

There’s a bit of a prevalence of the “generative dark ambient generative drone slowly turning knobs on clouds for 2 hours while looking at houseplants” scene around here, but lots of us are just content to do our own weird thing and not trying to please the local crowd.

One of the things that appealed to me in VCV is the ability to craft super expressive monosynths with the freedom no mod matrix could ever hope to offer, and was disappointed there doesn’t seem to be any interesting keyboardist showing off how they use VCV, consider being the first :smiley:

Personally, I treat VCV Rack almost entirely as a live instrument, to the point I almost never revisit old patches or use a template session, but simply keep on modifying the same rack forever (a perfectly safe practice, the saves are lightweight files that doen’t accumulate cruft over months). Anything I record is played live in a single improvised take. But what I’m doing is more on the generative end: I’m a mediocre keyboardist, and I do not feeel that my VCV performances are playing as much as they are conducting the rack.

1.: I have a Nektar Panorama P4 master keyboard, I use it to sequence songs but not to play complex melodies live. I added to it recently a Novation Launch Control XL. While it is sold as a mixer for Ableton Live, it is really just a generic MIDI controller with 24 knobs and 8 faders, ready to use off-label. But my most interesting piece of gear is probably the XP-Pen graphics tablet: a cheap but high quality alternative to Wacom’s. Here’s a performance from last year showing how I use the graphics tablet: a frustration I with that setup what that scrolling the rack was hard, so I created a module to scroll the rack via CV (a WIP version of it is shown in that previous video).

2.: Vactrols and low-pass gates gotta be one of the funkiest signature modular sounds. Vult, Nysthi and Skrylar got nice ones. Palette and Terrorform bundle theirs, and let you use their envelope to modulate stuff. We got a ton of great FM voices, if you’re not afraid of FM (it’s legit scary), there’s a reason FM Funk is an internet microgenre :smiley:

1 Like

Okay I lold a few times through your post. Seems like we’re coming in from the same angle… I’ve got a few vactrols around, hoping to come around building a few LPG’s soon.

I too am not a great keyboardist (and that’s generous). So maybe to expand a little: I am using synthesis to break up the various elements of playing an instruments into parts. With the strumming patch I can strum without having to think about the notes; these are sequenced separately from ableton and quantized. This let’s me focus on finding nice rhythms.

So; I’ve got a really cool electro-funk bass from an analog voice. I’ve got some strings and I can scratch to it. Will try out playing with LPG’s and ARP style synthesis.

Any tips on others types of (electro)funk style i struments to add into the mix (also, drums!)

1 Like

Oh and FM p-funkiness, yes! Will try.

Yes, you do see a lot of “generative” patches up here, and that’s probably what “most” people are doing with it. But there are a sizable number doing “conventional music” on VCV. There are a ton of really good filters, oscillators, and effects modules. It’s a little bewildering finding the “good” ones when you first start. For every 100 “good” VCOs there may be 200 “bad” ones. A good way for a lazy person to find the good ones is to look at an listen to a lot of posted videos. Even if the musical genre is not for you, you will tend to see that some modules are very popular and get used a lot. these modules are usually “good”. There are plenty of other good to great modules that don’t show up all the time, but starting with the popular ones won’t hurt. Personal plug - I have a lot of filters and VCOs that work very well for “conventional” use.

There are 100 good vco’s ? :open_mouth:

Well, probably not :wink: but it’s possible. There are a lot out there though! But, yeah, it sounds like an exaggeration on my part. Probably more accurate is “there are a quite a few good VCOs, but unfortunately there are at least as many bad ones”?

100 good vcos…

7 Likes

I love @Squinky.Labs Organ Three https://library.vcvrack.com/squinkylabs-plug1/squinkylabs-sines as a Hammond organ emulator in one module, having built several that use dozens of separate modules like @jay.goodman00 Hammond B3 emulation. Just plug in a keyboard and off you go.

3 Likes

My background is in arranging and orchestration, so as I’m learning my way around the thousands of modules and techniques my aim is probably to use Rack in conjunction with an external sequencer, or probably even to design and record sounds to be assembled later using a multitrack editor. I have nothing but respect for the folks doing 100% generative music - obviously it’s not simple or easy - but to me it’s not really how I compose, I don’t think. That could change, though

1 Like

I see what you did there!

I’d say the biggest thing is to think carefully about the architecture of the synths played by the artists who performed the music you’re trying to approach. I’d say the two biggies to consider are the Minimoog and Ob-X. Also think about compression and your effects chain. Also, consider what you do with your MIDI-CV output. You really want decent bend and modwheel effects. This is even a good thing to have around as a Stoermelder strip; you’ll keep picking this one up again and again as you make other leads and basses. Here’s an example of a bass I did following a Dr. Mix youtube video where he approached the synth bass from Imagination’s “Music and Lights.” I think that leans a bit more disco, but the sound is great for funk lines I think. (http://ix.io/2xMv) Lately, I’ve played around with running through the Mr.Donald Leslie emulation VST, and that make another nifty slightly thinner bass. This bass patch can be simplified without the phaser for a more punchy in-your-face bass. (http://ix.io/2xMx) A shot at Hancock’s Chameleon bass: (http://ix.io/2xMy) The key thing is that these are based on simple fixed architecture synths. I’d say the only thing that might get tricky is that you might want to dirty up the sound between stages with a bit of noise and distortion. I’ve not played with that a whole lot myself.

Those pastebins are vcv patch files. Fiddle as you see fit. I’m still working on my scriptable control surface mapping, so no real hardware knobbery for me quite yet.

Here’s a strip with my standard bend/mod configuration: http://ix.io/2xME

Thanks caowasteland, will try all those patches!

And yes, i have indeed created a strip for my basic funk bass utilities: mod wheel, pitch bend, aftertouch, glide, octave switch, velocity, I use it in every patch!

Yes, some hammond filth! Will try.

Same for me. I can watch those livestreams and vids for hours in pure wonder over the creativity and effectiveness of that way of working. It’s just not my approach, and it’s mostly tied to styles that i do not enjoy making

So, nothing negative about generative, just looking for interesting angles for non-generative approaches.