Bringing it together with the basics

You can never have enough VCA’s. Oddly enough, I was once told I probably had too many VCA’s. What can I say, we live in a *land of confusion, but try not to let that disturb you too much. Anyhow, there’s more than a mere tacit recognition of the value of utilities in this maxim of ours. It’s quite common to become enamored with the latest oscillator, or filter, or effect, or random source. But the boring old utilities are not to be ignored.

I’ve been playing about with my Make Noise STO a bit lately, and i decided to throw some sample and hold at the shape CV to add some excitement. Yay for S&H (great little tool). But I quickly noticed that negative voltages weren’t doing anything. The input seems only to respond from about zero to five volts. But we can fix that! Utilities to the rescue. Blinds is one of my favorites. So, I patched my sample source through a channel of Blinds, I offset it and attenuated it until it’s full range went from 0v to +5v, instead of -5v to +5v. So now my S&H modulation is always doing something to the sound, instead of half the range being in a dead spot (so to speak). Yay for utilities!

That said, after listening for a bit, it was evident that having the S&H take a new sample with every single gate from the sequencer was a bit more modulation than I really wanted. It was sort of overpowering the sequence. But I didn’t want to dial back the modulation at this point. I liked having the full range of the knob. So it was time to bust out the clock divider. I ran the sequencer’s clock through the divider and took the /8 output and put it into the S&H trigger input. Now the STO’s shape is only being modulated once each half of the sequence (16step). Now we had something groovy going! I topped it off by throwing Branches between the clock divider and the S&H for a bit more variety, and that got us really groovin’. The utilities make the patch as much as the oscillators and filters and all the other goodies do.

Attenuation, offset, sample and hold, clock division… sexy? Yeah, actually, they kinda are. And when you realize what basic utilities can do for your patch you’ll see it too!


*Land of Confusion



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Honorable Mentions
Make Noise STO
Doepfer A-148
Mutable Instruments Blinds