The Making of Pulse — Explorations

A lot of learning went into the making of Pulse. Firstly, this was my first venture into the world of virtual modular synthesis, an eye-opening experience for sure. And the learning curve is steep. For starters though, here's the music.



Track descriptions are here.

The making of Pulse -- VCV Rack PatchThe Virtual Hardware

I'm always open to a challenge. And this was just such a challenge. Well, it continues to be a challenge. Nevermind the acronyms, VCA, VCF VC0, EG, and CV to name a few. What's a gate, a trigger or an envelope? What does a sequencer do? Regardless, I plunged in.

It's all done on a computer which is what makes it interesting. The software emulates real-world hardware and it's free which means it's even more appealing. It's complicated. But it's fun!

So, this is how it works, essentially. Virtual representations of various (and there are lots of them) hardware components are connected together with virtual wires in different ways to produce sound. Without the wires, nothing would happen. But, that's just the beginning. Then, comes the really fun part, all the virtual knobs, sliders, and switches. The wires set up signal paths. It's all the tweaking that makes it musical. Well that and a few other goodies.

What really makes this album pulse?

And the short answer is "sequencers." Sequencers are modules that repeat patterns of notes. They perform at various speeds and can be wired to clocks to alter their timing. They can play very slow or very fast. One of the main characteristics though is that they repeat themselves. This is what gives Pulse its pulsing feel.

Some of the tracks on the album use a single sequencer. But others utilize two. Overtones, for example, has one very slow sequences and one that varies in speed but is generally faster. Changing the pitch of the sequenced notes is what makes the music evolve over time.

Lasting Impressions

This Album is just the beginning of a new adventure. I still like working with hardware but I find virtual synthesis to be very copasetic with my style of improvisation. I recorded each track on this album in a single pass. That's having fun! Bipolar Dimensions is all about making music. And it doesn't really matter how it's done.

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