Modular Synthesizers Workshop


This hands-on workshop is a practical introduction to modular sound synthesis and electronic sound creation using VCV Rack. Learn to create a ‘patch’ to produce electronic sound and leave with the tools for limitless sound creation.

Previously the preserve of wealthy and patient music makers tangled up with wires in giant blinking boxes, the joy of creating sounds on a modular synth is now available inside your laptop via the free virtual modular synthesizer VCV Rack. Whether you are an experienced sound creator or curious music fan, modular synthesis with VCV Rack offers virtually limitless audio creation tools and sonic experimentation.

Workshop Logistics

Date: Sunday, November 17, 2019

Cost: $120

Experience Level: Beginner to intermediate. Previous experience working with music and sound creation tools is helpful but not necessary.

Bring a PC/Mac or Linux Laptop and headphones compatible with your Laptop.
Install VCV Rack prior to arriving to workshop. Download here.

Workshop Outline

We'll cover a range of topics including:
• Brief history of modular synthesis, terms and techniques with A/V materials and short demonstration on physical hardware.
• Introduction to VCV Rack virtual modular, module browser, connecting to your laptop’s audio output.
• Making your first sounds by building a basic VCO VCF VCA patch in VCV Rack.
• Expanding the sonic possibilities of a basic patch with Gates, Envelopes, LFO, Sequencers, and other specialized modules.
• Understanding building block modules: VCO, VCA, VCF, LFO, Scope, Audio Interface
• Saving and recalling and sharing your patches. Resources for further synthesis and VCV Rack learning.
• Sharing our sounds together on our laptops and instructor’s hardware synths.

About Technologies

VCV Rack is a free open-source virtual modular synthesizer that runs on Mac, Windows and Linux. Multiple modules can be connected to synthesize a sound. By default the software contains several VCOs, LFOs, mixers, and other standard synthesizer modules, however more can be added as plugins through the VCV Rack website.


Ryan Smith

A long time touring musician with the band Caribou, Ryan also produces futuristic techno music under the moniker Taraval, makes modular ambient music in the live electronic duo Bathing, and has a long running collaboration with Jeremy Greenspan of the Junior Boys, both producing experimental electronic music and running the label Geej. He produced a collaborative performance of a 1973 graphics score by avant-garde composer Frank McCarty called Tactus Tempus, a controlled improvisational process for 9 audio visual performers live at Gray Area. He is an expert level user of Ableton and Max For Live, VCV Rack (virtual modular synthesis environment), numerous hardware instruments and an accomplished guitar player.

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