Creating new sounds that don’t exist in the outside world is an unending dream which has continued since the birth of electronic musical instruments. This dream has evolved and expanded throughout the development of new and unique music production devices. The popularity of modular synthesizers around the world has generated new excitement and interest in the so-called "West Coast style" of synthesis that deviates from traditional synthesis norms. The compact body of this volca synth features eight modules and 50 patch points. While learning the basics of a modular synth, you can use popular features of the volca synthesizer line to control a unique and different flavor of analog sounds.
Eight Independent Modules
The volca modular is a semi-modular synthesizer consisting of independent analog synth modules, digital effects, and a sequencer. Each of the modules has been carefully selected for its stand-alone completeness. The modules are internally connected so that sound can be produced even before connecting the included pin cables, and the routing is shown by white lines on the panel. Module connections via a pin cable take priority over the internal connections, bypassing them. The SOURCE module consists of a triangle VCO carrier and a modulator. The complex overtones generated by FM modulation are sent through a wave folder circuit to add additional overtones, producing a distinctive sound. This module is important in determining the basic character of the sound of volca modular. Second is the FUNCTIONS module consisting of two function (envelope) generators. In addition to an ADH generator with attack, hold, and release, there's a Rise-Fall generator, also known as a slope generator, which not only applies time-varying change to the sound but also lets you patch the end trigger out back into the trigger in as a loop, making it usable as a VCO or LFO. There's also a signal generation module, a split module, low-pass gate, utility mixer, reverb effects and a sequencer module.
West Coast Style
Analog synthesizers in which a simple oscillator such as a saw wave or square wave is modified by a filter are referred to as "East Coast style" because of their origin from well-known American manufacturers. Synths of this style, as exemplified by the MS-20, have continued to evolve toward a goal of being used in many mainstream musical genres, thus being equipped with a keyboard for performance. Their sounds are notable for sharp filters and rich presence and can be heard in many well-known songs. Synthesizers of the "West Coast style" evolved in a uniquely different direction from such musical developments. Pursuing the freedom that is inherent to electronic musical instruments, these were based on oscillators such as FM modulation which generated numerous overtones, and used random and complex control signals and low-pass gate circuits to vary tonal character and volume, so that slight movement of a knob might dramatically transform the sound. While their potential was acknowledged, the resulting sound and its changes were difficult to predict, causing these synths to be used in a more experimental capacity. Starting from analog, and freely taking in all elements including FM and PCM, the volca series has also focused on this trend. And now, this distinctive "West Coast style" sound has been added to the KORG volca series.
Infinite Patching Possibilities
volca modular’s modules are connected via the included pin cables, allowing a diverse range of combinations. The unit's compact chassis provides 50 patch points. Inputs and outputs are color-coded for recognition at a glance, and the signals are also marked by symbols to indicate audio, control, gate or trigger. Normally, each signal is connected according to its use, but on the volca modular, signal levels are universally compatible between modules, allowing hidden possibilities to arise from patching that defies common sense. Twenty pin cables are included, and also included is a reference sheet explaining each patch point and providing basic examples of patching.
Sequence Sounds Into Music
While the volca modular is a semi-modular synth, it is equipped with a full-fledged 16-step sequencer providing a wide range of functions, letting you enjoy automatic performance even when used stand-alone. Using the 16 buttons familiar from the volca series, you can perform step input or use the buttons as a keyboard for real-time recording. The pattern chaining function plays back multiple sequence patterns in succession, allowing you to connect up to 16 sequences with up to 32, 64, or even 256 steps to create large-scale development. The motion sequence function records knob movements, letting you add time-varying change to the sound. You can create loops, or use this function live for strikingly original performances. Up to 16 sequence patterns and sounds can be saved in the unit. Also provided is an active step function which lets you play back while skipping the steps you specify. You can skip the latter half to produce a short loop, use an alternate time signature to create polyrhythms, and evolve sequence patterns in real time to create a dynamic performance.
With a sync jack that allows easy connection to a KORG groove machine, you can connect the volca modular to another volca series unit, a minilogue, monologue, or prologue, an electribe, or the SQ-1, and enjoy sessions with the sequencer synchronized to the playback. The CV IN jack for external control is a TRS mini stereo jack that lets you input two signals. The left channel can input a ±5V signal and the right channel can input a signal of 1V/oct (0–+6V) signal which is internally converted to pitch CV within the volca modular. Of course, each of these two signals can also be patched to control a module. Compact, size, battery operation, and built-in speaker mean that you can take this unit anywhere and enjoy playing at any time.
- Semi-modular analog synth design
- Eight independent analog synth modules
- 50 patch points, diverse range of combinations
- 16-step sequencer with automatable parameters
- Musically advanced scales, keys, and micro tuning
- Compact size, battery operation and built-in speaker
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