Future Music

Modular Monthly

We check out Sputnik Modular and their West Coast inspired modules


First let’s go over the idea of West vs. East Coast synthesis. East Coast synthesis is no doubt the most familiar approach, based around rich waveforms mixed into a filter for harmonic shaping before going into a VCA for amplitude control. West Coast synthesis, meanwhile, takes simple waveforms, often sines and/or triangles, and modulates those to create richer, often more abrasive timbres.

Exploring the Sputnik Modular range we’ll use the Dual Oscillator for tone generation, Quad Function Generator for modulation and the Quad VCF/VCA for frequency and amplitude modulation. Adding the CV Processor we can mix, amplify and offset signals to tweak our modulation further. With the dual oscillator we have the modulation buss (from the Buchla 259) that allows us to switch in modulation of the principal oscillator from the modulation oscillator for amplitude (similar to ring mod), frequency (clangorous or musical FM) or timbre (which is the wavefoldin­g and shaping section). You can modulate any combinatio­n of AM, FM and timbre at any time providing a mini nuclear power station of tones at our fingertips. The Quad Function Generator gives us all we need for envelopes, LFOs and a real modulating voltage spaghetti as you can patch it back into itself to create looping feedback systems. The Quad VCF/VCA module offers us filtering, amplitude modulation or both with the combo mode. Striking the combo mode provides gorgeous plucks as both the high frequencie­s and amplitude reduce into the distance.

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