- Created on Sunday, 12 June 2011 15:13
About four years ago I started to work on a new synthesizer. The idea was to build a virtual modular system much like the first modular system I ever used in 1986 – an old and hilariously out of tune Roland System 100M. I totally loved that thing. It stood in a room in my grammar school, and I spent hours and hours patching it up.
Over the last couple of years I built a little modular synth based on Doepfer‘s Eurorack modules. It has become a nice and inspiring hobby, but it‘s also quite expensive and for me (as a software user) really difficult to work with. I‘m used to being able to save patches, I‘m used to having multiple instances of my synth, and I‘m used to play chords. All these things are simply non-existant in an analogue modular system. On the other hand you have that tactile thing with the hands-on experience. Plugging cables, turning real knobs and all that is very rewarding compared to just pushing a mouse.
Nevertheless, I have always kept the idea of a software modular system in the back of my mind. Recently some other ideas somehow nicely aligned with that concept, and the Berlin Modular project experienced a massive boost in pace!
Of course the name "Berlin Modular" is meant to be reminiscent of the Berlin School of electronic music, and expecially of the bands and artists I listened to when I was a teenager. Those guys e.g. Tangerine Dream and Jean-Michel Jarre inspired me to make electronic music my hobby, and in the end they also inspired me to develop synthesizers. So what could be more obvious than dedicating a synth to their style?
The idea is easily explained: Imagine you have a modular system in a rackmount enclosure with a couple of oscillators, a couple of filters and envelopes. Now imagine you have three or four of these systems with different types of modules. That‘s the basic concept: Similar systems based on different modules. They are already nicely put together and ready to make some noise!
A while ago I demonstrated a prototype of the first system within Berlin Modular. I call it "Bazille", which is German for bacterium. It has become quite a crazy fellow! Bazille combines 4-oscillator FM-Synthesis and Phase Distortion with the depth and flexibility of modular patching...
So here's a demonstration of the first prototype of the first member of Berlin Modular: