Live performance tips and tricks

Relatively new to the forum, apologies if there is an existing thread on similar topic!

I’ve never played a live gig, and should probably just ‘dive in’, but have been slowly building a system with ‘live versatile solo industrial slash improvisational generative good times’ as the central and very specific idea. My personal situation aside…

There being no ‘one way’ to do anything, particularly when it comes to modular, I put broad and general questions to you.

How do you go about creating a live ‘set’:

  • what are your favourite ways to transition between sections/movements?
  • how long do you feel any individual movement should be?
  • prepared patches vs live patching, thoughts, feelings?

Gear discussion welcome, if you’re all like “I just couldn’t play live without ____”; mostly interested in broad approaches (any suggestions of people’s work to check out, that would also be appreciated!).

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I have two modes in which I do modular stuff in front of others. One is with a DJ. I take his signal into the modular and use it as a source of audio which I mangle, loop, sample, effect and eventually spit back out into the mixer beside his signal. I also use envelope followers to turn the DJ audio into a CV source. In that mode I have several paths pre-patched and then do lots of live patching on top during the show.
The other mode I’ve only done a few times which is me playing live, solo. In that case I have about 98% pre-patched and rarely change things.
As for moving between sections, sometime I just fade between them, other times I ‘build down’ to less sounds of the outgoing section then ‘build up’ to more sounds of the incoming one. And I’ve also used sample loops or spoken work samples. One thing I have never done which would probably also work, is go to complete silence for a few seconds.


We approach it like 2 instruments, one doing drums and percussion, the other doing melody, bass and chords. We work out the vibe of the set beforehand and get loose complimentary sounds and arrangements that we modify live. So yeah, 2 modular synths becoming one. Like Captain Planet.


So you always work as a duo? Is your Squarks and All ep done this way?

Nah, the EP is just one take straight into Pro Tools whenever I come up with a patch I like. Me and @Hulbz perform as phonku bot/8ot and that’s when we do the double modular action. We have about 4 patches each and either mix between them, but more often add bits over the top to compliment the tracks.


I enjoy patching and unpatching quite a lot, finding new ways to use each module, so it’s very difficult for me to leave a patch in place for long… I am thinking moreso about patching as defining the functionality of a system rather than the sound or outcome. Clearly not all music made with any fixed architecture synth sounds the same, and turning one knob can change everything in a modular.
I’ve got a fairly small system, so can’t have that many separate patches at once, but saying that, it never ceases to amaze me how much you can eek out of any modular gear!

When you build down and back up between sections, what are you sequencing with? And how many voices do you have?

I’m not sure I can give a consistent answer to either of those questions!! :joy: Maybe that’s part of the problem…
Main sequencers are circuit monostation, sq1, uStep.
Have some clock division/multiplication/ burst gen, a bit of logic, as well as you know, “fuzzy logic” like VCA’s, math and Ladik J-math. Rhythmic sequencing mostly done with uStep, a bit of SQ-1, and some combination of that kind of stuff.
Melodic sequencing primarily with sq1 or monostation. Can get two (well three I guess but I don’t really use midi) simultaneous sequences out of monostation and two from sq1, but then can also mix/add/subtract combinations of those to have related complex patterns…quantisation disting3, but don’t always know if I trust my disting 100% !
Then there’s sample and hold and random, and the asr on the disting too…

I’m thinking to make better use of the monostation as a central ‘hub’, and to alternate on that between rhythmic and melodic. Since I can save patches and sequences on that, it’ll also help keep form and focus. It’s not modular but can also use that as a standalone voice/groovebox in transitions…feels a bit like cheating but I don’t know why i’m Imposing an obligation to make my life hard?

What’s a voice in the system depends on the day! Roughly speaking three VCOs, but i like FM so two are often occupied on one. Also use LFOs as kicks, ping filters and delays, and there’s always woggle tone and whatnot. I’m a mess… Am wanting to add a Manis iteritas so i’ve got a dedicated voice, and think I can get myself to keep a dedicated wave folded oscillator patched… though can also add wave folder to the fuzzy logic pile…:woman_facepalming: