Monday, August 6, 2020

Introduction to Modular Synthesis using VCV Rack

As part of the coursework for Teaching as Art, I'm presenting a hands-on workshop on how to use analog synthesizers. No hardware is necessary, just the excellent and open-source VCV Rack!

The workshop will be held from 2PM-3:30PM EDT on Friday, August 21, virtually. We'll be using Jitsi Meet which is like Zoom but requires no downloads or logins. Sign up here: Workshop signup form

screenshot of VCV rack

Maybe you've seen a modular music synthesizer with its alluring tangle of patchcords, and wondered: how does it work? What do all those knobs do, and how do I get started? This workshop is for you! Using the free and open source VCV Rack digital audio workstation, you will learn the principles of analog audio synthesis and how to create new sounds using voltage controlled oscillators, filters, and amplifiers. No hardware required, but once you understand the principles you will be ready to start using Eurorack or similar modular synthesizers, and a new sonic world will be at your fingertips!


Please download and install VCVRack from here: Please make sure you can run it and are hearing sound output (press the "Z" key to trigger a note). You may need to click on the "AUDIO-8" module and select your sound output.

This workshop is geared to the total beginner, but any experience with music, MIDI, and/or synthesizers will help.

Part I:

  1. Basics of voltage control and patching
  2. Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO)
  3. LFO -- "Rave Hoover"
  4. Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF)
  5. Envelope Generator ADSR
  6. Gate and trigger signals
  7. Mixer and Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA)

-- break --

Part II

  1. Noise sources
  2. Drum sounds 1: Kraftwerk noise snare
  3. Drum sounds 2: Syndrum / 808 kick
  4. Sequencers: clocks and triggers
  5. Drum Machine from sequenced sounds
Tagged: music



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