Welcoming - a first modular "piece"?


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Welcoming is the name I've given to this piece of music that I played at the beginning of my Brixton Radio show last night.

I feel like this might be the first fully modular piece of music that I have performed.

Although I have played/broadcasted and recorded well over 100 hours of unique music all with the modular synth, it's all been primarily improvised.

This piece uses improvisation too... but there is a difference. I've planned it significantly more than I usually do, and I have written the major features and changes down on a piece of musical score (if you look carefully you can see I'm referring to it now and again to my left).

Scoring a modular piece of music

Now this piece would still be different every time I perform it as there is still a high degree of improvisation involved. But it:

  • Has a set tempo, sample bank and set of saved sequences
  • Has a written 'score'.
  • It has a start and a definite finish! (normally my modular sets are continuous for the whole show - with each part gradually morphing into the next.)
  • Has a name and a specific reason to exist and has been planned around that reason.

On this last point - I have written the piece to be the music to kick off the gig I am playing on Saturday, hence the name "Welcoming".

The intention is that a very basic loop will be playing whilst the audience arrives. This loop consists of:

  1. The very interesting but sparse big boomy bass note. (this is sequenced, but there are random elements programmed so it's not completely uniform)
  2. The chopped up voices that feature quite a bit in the piece, but starting out sparse and with loads of reverb to give an echo wash (also with some randomness so there is an organic feel).

I can leave this loop playing whilst people arrive without having to interact with the modular. Then when it is time for the performamce to start I will take up position at the modular synth and embark on the piece with that as a starting point and then proceed using my 'score' as a guideline to the major features.

The piece can of course be quite variable in length. This performance is around 15 minutes, but for the gig I'm doing on Saturday I'm planning for it to last around 10 minutes.

Evolving the piece and repeatability

I will be further refining the piece every time I play it too - but I think there are many elements which are now fixed in place in my mind (and the score!)

The observant may also notice that I'm only using the left half of my modular 'wall'. This is because I will be taking 2 of my 4 cases to the gig so I have created the patch using the top left and bottom left cases.

I've also designed this patch to still be useable if I were to only take one case to a gig (the bottom left one). In that case there would be fewer options but with some very careful planning and patching over the last week I am in a place where I can do the core of the performance using just one case, but fairly easily bring in the second one (the top left one) to augment that performance and bring additional options.
(essentially there is the practical consideration - one case can fit in a special backpack I have so can easily take it on public transport to small gigs and electronic music open mics. But for other gigs I might want to take the car so I can take a bigger setup.

This is the first time I have tried to write down a 'score' for my modular music so that's a work in progress. But when I've tried a few different things in this way I will share what I'm writing down - maybe it could be helpful to other electronic musicians?

Have a great day Hive - and let me know what you think of "Welcoming"!

Check out my original electronic music via:
❤️ Thank you! ❤️

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