“A touch screen is much better suited for dragging virtual cables between modules and for using knobs and other controls than a mouse…”… Read More ‘VCV Rack For iPad’ Coming With miRack
Get ready for some tablet patching. A developer has revealed a port of popular open source modular environment VCV Rack to the iPad.
Synth Anatomy gets the scoop on this one. New Zealand-based developer Vitaly Pronkin has been working on a project that promises to put the free rack synthesizer platform on the iOS app store soon.
The most encouraging thing here is probably seeing an easy interface for adding modules from VCV and third parties. That would open up an additional platform for developers’ modules.
Don’t get too excited too fast – this is best seen as a proof of concept, especially since it forks an earlier version (0.x rather than 1.0). But it could be a good indication of performance on Apple’s tablets, and might well be the basis for a more polished, finished project.
VCV Rack 1.0 is licensed under the GPLv3, which generally is not allowed on Apple’s App Store. (There are some loopholes, as we discovered when licensing the iOS port of Pure Data, libpd – but that has to do with the fact that Pd itself is under a more permissive license, and patches, for instance, are not compiled.)
Another way to go if this is what you want – try running Rack on a Surface or similar Windows tablet. That also allows greater compatibility with your usual audio tools than you get from iOS, and without Apple’s App Store restrictions.
I’m still happy with Rack on a PC, where it can take advantage of some unique performance enhancements, and instead externalizing control. (Playing live, I don’t really want to be re-patching at all, but that’s me…)
The other ports: https://github.com/mi-rack/Rack
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European synth-makers Erica Synths have unveiled several new products. There are two hardware modules: the Black Multi Eurorack module, and Cowbell module (“Because who doesn’t need more cowbell?”), and several free Erica Synth modules for VCV Rack.… Read More Erica Synths Releases Cowbell and Black Multi Eurorack Modules, VCV Rack Modules
Erica Synths has announced availability of two new Eurorack modules and several free Erica Synth modules for VCV Rack, enabling customers to patch and tweak in the virtual domain. The new Cowbell Eurorack module is an extended, modular version of the Yocto (808) cowbell. For increased sonic versatility, Erica Synths has added Tune and Decay […]
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Hardware or software? Yes. Modular synthesizers, of all things, are blurring the line between the two. The popular Vult line of software modules for VCV Rack is going hardware, just as Erica Synths offers its popular hardware in a free software form on the same platform.
VCV Rack has rapidly established itself as a platform for other modules in a way that nothing else has. The software modular is free, with a rich free ecosystem, with only useful add-ons (from the developer and third parties) costing money. It’s also strikingly approachable for developers as well as users.
But that’s in turn leading to some fascinating crossovers.
This week, developer Leonardo Laguna Ruiz announced that his Vult module, which existed only in VCV Rack virtually, is now up for preorders as actual hardware.
Vult Freak incorporates a bunch of different modules in one (thanks, code modeling):
- Tangents – Steiner-Parker filter containing three different variations.
- Lateralus – Ladder filter.
- Nurage – Low pass gate / Borg filter.
- Ferox – CMOS filter.
- Vortex – Russian fitler.
- Unstabile – Circuit bent State Variable filter.
- Stabile – State Variable filter.
- Rescomb – Resonant Comb filter.
- Vorg – MS-20 style filter
I’ve used a lot of these in my own musical experiments in Rack, and do they sound good? Yes, they do. (Unstabile and Vortex are particularly delicious for those of us who enjoy rich, manic distortion.)
€225 buys you this stuff as physical device – and frees you from having to mouse around and worry about crashes or running out of CPU, natch.
Maybe it’s the story behind the device that’s just as compelling – a few years developing a language, a couple of years experimenting in VCV Rack, then making the leap into hardware. There’s a bug that bites people who get into buying Eurorack, but there’s one for development, too.
I don’t doubt that some of the loyal users of the software will splurge for the hardware, too. And rather than blowing cash on something, then bolting it into a rack and hoping you can figure it out, the software-first model means many people who do buy Vult Freak will already know how to use it.
With that in mind, it’s also worth mention that Latvian titan of modular Erica Synths, with their expansive catalog, have made their first steps into providing software editions. Head to the Library on the VCV site, and you can grab a collection of Erica modules:
They’re free of charge; just click ‘+ Free’ and update Rack and you’ll get them. Erica are a long way from porting everything they make in hardware – this is a tiny fraction of the full lineup. But they’re a decent taste of what Erica hardware can do. The Black Wavetable VCO is a uniquely capable oscillator with bitcrush and tons of wave modulation options. Octasource is a unique modulation oscillator, and its interface works differently from others, meaning having it in software form is really fantastic. DRUMS is ridiculously compact as is everything in the fascinating Pico series, but it’s a natural for cramming into virtual rigs.
I’ll be curious to see if this attracts some new Erica customers. Erica aren’t the first to do this, either – Befaco, Mutable Instruments (as Audible Instruments), and Music Thing (as Stellare) all offer software renditions of their hardware. It’s not hard to imagine at some point that VCV Rack will have a “buy hardware” button on the software. Softube Modular has software ports, too, of some big brands – Mutable Instruments again, the mighty Doepfer, Buchla, 4ms, and Intellijel all have software modules available.
The big difference is business model: VCV Rack is tending more toward either inexpensive paid modules as software, or free software that serves as a demo/preview of hardware.
A minority of electronic musicians live in a place where they can easily just run to a shop and try gear out. But more than that, software promises to create a new communications link between musicians and creators, year-round. We’ll see if that gives Vult a boost in the crowded modular world.
Check out VCV Rack on all platforms:
And if you want a hand getting started, the legendary Jim Aikin has written a free e-book that explains what Rack is and how to use it, plus (the bit I liked most) gives a guide to the jungle of modules out there:
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It’s one of the first challenges with any modular – you get a wild banging groove, but then… you’re stuck with it. One new video tutorial suggests a way to arrange your modular with Ableton Live and free VCV Rack software.
Live’s real-time arrangement and triggering features have always been part of its appeal – something exploited by everyone from live electronic musicians to those triggering sounds for radio and theater. Here, it’s a great way to take your cabled modular concoctions and actually turn them into a song structure or live performance. But it may not be immediately obvious to beginners how to go about it.
The inspiring VCV Rack ideas comes to the rescue here. It’s been updated for the just-release VCV Rack 1.0.
Now the audio advice here is actually soon to become outdated – Bridge will go away later this year, and you’ll be able to run Rack as a plug-in. But you can actually skip that part if you want to go another route, and just let Rack control your audio interface and send MIDI from Ableton Live.
(You could also apply this on Linux easily, with Bitwig Studio in place of Live – think I’ll try that myself, in fact.)
But the basic idea here is, run MIDI from Live to Rack, and use clips and scenes to trigger changes. There are some clever ideas about how to map control via CV and MIDI, and then the really important step is adding a physical controller, so you can get your hands on the live performance and improvise.
Note that while this example uses VCV Rack, you could apply the same ideas to any modular with MIDI input – or even mix in a partial or complete hardware set with the same rig. And watching this I also imagine some other ideas for where to go; this is by definition an open-ended process. Have a look:
Have you got another way of working? We’d love to hear about it in comments.
By the way, if you’re at SONAR this week, I’ll be giving a workshop with VCV Rack on Friday. (You need a delegate pass / pre-registration. But of course I’ll share some of how it goes here on CDM soon.)
The post Learn how to arrange your modular tracks with VCV Rack, Ableton Live appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.
In his latest video, synthesist Omri Cohen explores the possibilities of MIDI mapping in VCV Rack – the free, open source modular synthesizer platform.… Read More MIDI Mapping In VCV Rack 1.0
In his latest video, synthesist Omri Cohen takes a look at polyphony in VCV Rack 1.0 – the free, open source multi-platform modular synthesizer.… Read More Polyphony In VCV Rack 1.0
Stellare Modular, known for the free official Turing machine port and Ableton Link modules has released Creative Suite, a commercial package of 9 modules. The modules were inspired by the ‘Steevio Method’ and brings all the modules you need to replicate this generative sequencing method. The package consists of 9 modules: Andromeda – Gate / […]
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Version 1.0.0 of the VCV Rack virtual modular synthesizer has been released. The update includes polyphonic cables, multithreading to engine, undo/redo history, module expander support and lots more. Changes in VCV Rack v1.1.0 Polyphony Use up to 16 voices with the full flexibility of modular patching. Cables automatically turn polyphonic when requested by MIDI modules, […]
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