# Totally new and bloody beginner... how can I get into the matter?

I understand what VCAs, VCOs, VCFs, and ADSRs are. I know about scopes.
What I don’t know is how I get into the matter. I have dire problems sequencing and synchronizing stuff. I don’t understand what you need attenuators, gates and I am partially sure about triggers.

How did you guys start or learn?:

• Right now I am mostly trying stuff out myself.
• Reading “PATCH & TWEAK”
• Watching YT videos for something I try to do in a song (rarely)

But it feels like I make no progress. I am too dense. Is this normal?
Am I stupid?

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Just try to follow for somebody building a patch from scratch. Here is my last one techno example, triggers, gates and attenuverters are included https://youtu.be/_HbIN7NYOkc

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No mention of LFO’s think of them as notes on a piano, notes you can not hear. They have a frequency, the same as sound it is just a lot slower than a VCO so your ear can’t pick it up.
Just like notes they can be mathematically in sync at certain frequencies if you are having sync issues then I’d have to guess you are not setting LFO’s to the correct frequency for the BPM of the song.

Works like this BPM = Hz * 60 so 2 hz = 120 BPM. Just like an octave would be double/half the frequency a faster or slower LFO would stay in sync if you divide or multiply by 2. If you want an LFO to be in sync over 8 bars 120 / 60 / 8 = 0.25hz supposing the tempo of the clock is 120bpm.

Attenuators just reduce the signal level.
Gates are just pulses that tell a signal to turn on or off, the shorter the pulse width less time the gate stays open.

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Check videos from Vcv rack Ideas, and Omri Cohen, and try to reproduce what they do, step by step, soon you’ll understand and be able to make your own style, and achieve what you want
Have fun with Vcv rack ! Don’t hesitate if you have questions

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Just plug things into other things. There’s a moment of surrender when you realise that you’re riding a bucking bronco not a show horse.

You have to develop a personal relationship with every module you use so that it represents a particular range of expressive possibilities.

Or just make shrieking sounds?

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I found the youtube videos from Greg at Modular Curiosity to be very helpful in talking slowly through building first patches and explaining how the different parameters interact.

Then when it starts making more sense, spend a day watching Omri Cohens patch build videos - he is truly awesome

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Well, it is absolutely normal if one tries to absorb and apply all the knowledge at once, without really understanding what one is doing (talking about myself).

Learning must be progressive, reading the page of a book (or watching a video) more than once if necessary, before moving on to the next…

But I understand that we live in a time when we want everything to be fast, otherwise, we will get bored and go to other things … losing the real opportunity to discover our own creativity (sadly, many young people today are lost to themselves and their own creativity because of this way of wanting things quickly, because if they do not get it quick, they think it’s not worth wasting time on them — REALLY SAD! ).

ABSOLUTELY NOT!! … It’s just that you’ll need a little more patience, the modular synthesis is not easy to master (a novice like you here) …

Although we can make some sounds very fast, it is not easy to create some Music (note the capital ‘M’) with it … If you watch/listen to some interviews with masters of modular synthesis, you will always hear them saying "I started doing something interesting after 1 or 2 years of learning and experimentation "

So I would recommend, apart from watching tutorials, that you watch/listen some interviews with those masters, where they talk about how they started with the modular synthesis (personally I’ve always found those interviews really inspiring, especially for those like me who are still taking off).

So let me share two of those interviews to start (one of them, quite recent, is not exactly an interview, but it’s just as inspiring as any other - in case you missed it).

As with everything …

Personally, I come from the field of programming, and I learned to program by reading a lot of code written by other programmers trying to understand its logic, and copying its code myself on my computer, of course making mistakes and correcting them, and learning from those mistakes.

Time for a rule of thumb: Think that if you really want to learn, you must forget COMPLETELY about copy/paste … or what is the same, about downloading/loading the patches of another in your VCV Rack — try always to patch them yourself by following the video or looking at a screenshot of the patch.

Yes, I know that sometimes it can be frustrating to copy (or patch) yourself, but I have always considered that the best way to learn is trial and error, no matter how many times you make mistakes, because the reward is evident when you see that you are capable to modify that code (patch), applying changes to your own needs/tastes.

So forget about stupidity, and think rather about the patience and reward that you can get from that patience … And above all forget about the rush, since as my grandmother used to tell me: “hurry is never good” … and it can make you miss the beauty of modular synthesis.

My 2 cents … hope this can be of help … Time to go to bed, good night!

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I was at the point you are at not so long ago… I think one of the stumbling blocks a lot of people run into is what can be plugged in where.

Add a bunch of fundamentals and core plugins and begin with something simple like a voice. Then see if you can use a simple sequencer to change the notes. Unless you want to throw yourself into the magical rabbit hole that is timing using complex clocking methods you’ll want to pick a favorite clock module… Mine is Clocked because it works well and has plenty of options.

Once you have a basic understanding of audio signal flow… and what you need to add to get things like an envelope or a filter over your sound you can hop into the sequencing and midi aspect of making music in Rack.

As far as inverters and attenuators go… I believe an example is that you have a cv output that has range. If you put an attenuator in the signal path you can define or place the range within a specific area. I believe inverters just reverse the cv. Attenuverters do both I believe.

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Welcome to the community, Merlin. Big +1 on @Olival_Clanaro’s recommendation of Omri Cohen’s videos. He has a playlist of videos for getting started with modular synthesis that you might find helpful: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLiECaNQx239s0Z1WmH5jQAcEZf3mLLHnX

I’d also echo @Josep in suggesting that you make a point of building the patches you hope to learn from by hand, rather than just d/l’ing them from patchstorage. As with coding, you’ll learn better by doing & mistakes are most definitely a part of the process.

If you’re more of a book learner, I got a lot out of Simon Cann’s Becoming a Synthesizer Wizard (https://noisesculpture.com/becoming-a-synthesizer-wizard/). It’s a pity VCV Rack wasn’t around when he wrote it, as the tools he used to explain synth concepts really pale in comparison. However, lots of those concepts are still applicable here.

Finally, I’d urge you to remember to have fun. There won’t be a test at the end and there’s nothing riding on your ability to “get it” by a certain point in time. I think this is very much one of those it’s-the-journey-not-the-destination situations.

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ja I totally agree! I’m watching video and learning VCV this way too. What’s a pity is to find the similar module which was used but not ported yet. I’ve been thinking if I should get a 0.6 version… and use that to learn first. Omri videos are great, even though when he introduces 1 module on his channel, he uses others as well, so all in all, it’s a gain. (no pun intended). Bascially all those guys giving tutorials online are great… there’s lots of information there!

When I was learning MaxMsp, I downloaded loads of patches to learn from…but for this, I guess I’ll start with tutorials then go wild twerking and twerking…

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It took me a while to get familiar with the jargon and the basic concepts of patching a modular synthesizer. I had a background in electronics from a very long time ago, it came in handy when I started learning the essential terminology, but as to the patching itself: I learned like most others here, by doing a lot of patching and by thinking about what each module was doing. I have hundreds of patches that are simply experiments with only a few modules, things I created solely for didactic purposes. To my mind, VCV Rack is a musical instrument, and musical instruments require patient practice.

Composition with a modular is a different matter entirely. Getting fun sounds from VCV Rack isn’t difficult. OTOH, it can be very difficult to evolve a patching style that does what you want it to do musically. And while there are some great books about modular synthesis there are not so many about music composition with a modular.

Btw, I hereby add my voice to the Omri Cohen praise chorus. Rack users - new and experienced alike - are fortunate to have such an engaging and informative instructor. I’ve spent many pleasant hours repeatedly starting and stopping his YouTube videos.

So, it takes some time to get into, but I’m happy to have added the basic skill set to my musical tool kit.

Good luck, and bear in mind that this community is very helpful. Ask away.

Best regards,

Dave Phillips

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Hi Merlin!
Oh man, you’re heading in a good direction full with voltage, patch cables, and weird sonic experiences Congrats!
The modular environment can be overwhelming, indeed when we have so many modules to choose from in VCV Rack. So I guess that tip number one will be (as I always say) DON’T install all of the free available modules. That said, there is also a catch in this because a good way to learn is by looking at what and how other people are doing it, and then it’s better if you use the same modules used by the other guy\gal.
You said that you use scopes, which is an excellent thing, and a great way to learn what’s going on. Another thing you can do, try having also an extra oscillator at hand, a “simple” one, and send the signals also to its pitch input (v/oct) because sometimes we can here changes better when they’re applied to pitch rather than to volume, cutoff, and so on.
You’re trying things for yourself, and this is great. I would recommend using the VCV modules first, and also the JW collection and Befaco. You will find everything that you need in there.
There is something I’m noticing in your post though that I would like to comment on… You say that you understand VCAs, but you don’t understand attenuators. Keep in mind that MOST VCAs will not amplify anything and they are called Voltage Controlled Amplifiers by mistake. All that they will do is attenuate and NOT amplify the signal. The only difference between a VCA and an attenuator is the voltage controlled part so the VCA is a Voltage Controlled Attenuator, which can be controlled with voltage, unlike a “normal” attenuator which you cannot control with voltage. Anyway, I divers…
Patch and Tweak is a great resource btw.
Don’t hesitate to ask in the forum\group, people are happy to help, but keep in mind that there is a chance that a question was already asked before so try searching for it first, but in general, the community is very supportive and helpful. And maybe we can start with something you mentioned, you say that you have issues with sequencing and syncing. What modules are you using for this? What would you like to achieve?

Have fun!

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Cheers, Olival!

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Thanks, Dave!

Cheers, dikTok! What modules are still missing?

Thanks, Drew!

Cheers!

Cheers

Frozen wastelands and southpole aren’t in V1 yet. I really like euclidian sequencers, so i’ve used topograph as an alternative so far

Here is Frozen https://vcvrack.com/plugins.html#froze
And I think Southpole will also come out soon…

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