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Top 10 Things to Know Before Launching into Eurorack



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As a bit of a preface, this series will focus on the Eurorack modular format; there are other formats that use patch-points. Eurorack is currently the most popular, by far. I’ll be using “Eurorack” and “modular” somewhat interchangeably, except where I specify that something is exclusively true for the Eurorack format, such as voltage specifications or physical measurements. You can assume that any module I mention in detail in this series is built according to (or compatible with) the Eurorack standard unless otherwise stated. Synthesizers like Jupiter 8, Minimoog, Minilogue, Prophet Rev2, Oberheim OB-6, that cannot have any parts replaced with a different part.

Take a look at the article Top Ten Terms to Learn Before Jumping into Eurorack part of the series.

Top 10 Things to Know Before Launching into Eurorack
Top 10 Things to Know Before Launching into Eurorack

If you make electronic music, you’ve likely stumbled across modular synthesizers. You’ve no doubt seen videos of blinking lights and rectangular panels connected by masses of cables, sometimes being deftly manipulated by hands reaching from off-screen, other times generating music without any human intervention at all. If you’ve felt a sense of wonder when watching these machines bleep and bloop, then you’ve tapped into the heart of the modular community. A constant sense of wonder, surprise, and discovery. Filling a rack with modules can be a deeply personal journey toward discovering your unique sound and style. Modular requires a lot of knowledge up-front and can seem overwhelming to a beginner.

Resources & Goals

There are many great videos and articles about how to jump into modular. I encourage you to seek out and enjoy. My goal for this series is to consolidate some of that knowledge. Alongside some context for what makes modular special beyond the mere sum of its parts. I don’t want everyone who reads this to feel like they need to get into modular in order to create a certain type of sound or music. Rather I hope that you’ll know by the end whether you want to get into modular. I want to enable you to start your Eurorack journey.

Let’s begin with some strengths of modular, and follow up with areas where a hardware synth might be more appropriate.

Top 10 of Things to Know

  1. Combining the best of Worlds
  2. Extended Choices new Synth Combinations
  3. Strong Routing Options
  4. Expressive and Colourful
  5. Synthesizes in an Amazing Way
  6. Modular is Expensive
  7. Modular outgrows your Eurorack Case
  8. Difficult to carry with you
  9. No Replacement for your Favorite Tool
  10. Not Polyphonic

Combining the best of Worlds

Modular allows you to swap out parts of your synth. If you’ve spent some time with hardware synths (like Jupiter 8). You’ve thought about how nice it would be to be able to use a component from a different synth, e.g. adding a Moog filter to a Juno, or adding the Minibrute’s Metalizer to a Kronos. Modular makes this not only possible but downright simple.

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Moog Matriarch

Extended Choices new Synth Combinations

If you buy a second filter, there’s nothing stopping you from using both filters in whatever way you see fit. This allows for combinations of parts that are rarely (if ever) seen in classical synths.  If you want to run four completely different filters in parallel signal chains, it’s just a matter of buying the parts and patching them together.

Strong Routing Options

Modular is all about routing! You can wire almost any output signal into an input jack, and your only limits are what jacks are on the front panel of a module. This combines well with the above point, because finding a module that has the inputs you need can be as simple as buying a module and finding a space for it in your case.

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Expressive and Colourful

Routing options and the abundance of unique modules makes it very easy to hone in on a tone and style that’s all your own. Even the same set of modules can be used in very different ways by different people, and there’s plenty of room for finding obscure modules in order to set your sound apart from the crowd.

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Synthesizes in an Amazing Way

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Émilie of Mutable Instruments mentioned on a podcast that she had no idea Marbles would be so popular as a melody generator until she saw Lightbath using it extensively in one of his videos. Lightbath is a popular ambient artist in the Eurorack scene. Marbles is a particular type of random generator that can, among other things, create loops of random values.

Holding a Feather | The Lightbath Zone – Eurorack Modular Synthesizer Masterclass

Additional examples might be using LFOs as audio-rate oscillators, slew circuits as a sort of filter or waveshaper, and so on. For many cases of this concept in action, I recommend checking out the back of the manual for the Make Noise Maths. Maths is a name you’ll see mentioned a lot in the Eurorack world. Maths can do many things, but for now, it’s just important to know that it is MUCH more than the sum of its parts.

Modular is Expensive

Modular is a hobby that allows for many small purchases, which can be overwhelming for both you and your budget if you’re not prepared. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get lots of interesting and useful sounds out of modular. It’s very easy to justify buying another module so that you can do the next cool thing you think up. It can be cheaper than buying another full synth to achieve one particular sound. You need to assure that you investment makes sense and pays off in your next projects.

Modular outgrows your Eurorack Case

Modules aren’t tied to keyboards. They are generally small enough that you can fit a good number of them into even a small case. Once a case is full, you might find yourself wanting another rack to expand the possibility space of your synth. Be prepared to sell modules you do not use or buy a second bigger case.

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Difficult to carry with you

This is more of a corollary to the above point. Cases designed for travel can be heavy and bulky. You don’t have to search long to find horror stories about taking modular cases through customs checks.

No Replacement for your Favorite Tool

Modular is a great tool for doing things that can’t be easily replicated with a classical synthesizer. That doesn’t mean that you can or should expect it to perform certain tasks that are more suited to a dedicated hardware device or computer. As an example, one of my favorite pieces of hardware is the Elektron Octatrack. It is wildly complex (and very powerful as a result). It would be impossible to fully replicate the Octatrack in a modular rack. Always remember that modular is a tool in the toolkit, NOT the be-all end-all of tools.

Not Polyphonic

This is related to the above point. It’s worth addressing: a modular setup will almost never be a practical replacement for a powerful polyphonic synth (e.g. Nord Lead, DSI Prophet Rev2, Moog One). Even if you manage to replicate that functionality, it will likely cost many tens of thousands of dollars at a minimum and be much harder to use for achieving the same sounds. Modular allows deep dives and in-depth tweaking. If you want the sounds and accessibility of a polysynth, your best bet is to just get a polysynth.

Next Steps

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider before you even get into choosing modules and learning how to use them. If you’re feeling excited, but also overwhelmed after going through those points, I’d recommend taking a look at Knobs’s “Why to Modular”; it’s a video series that serves as a gentle introduction to the general philosophy of modular, and is very light and friendly. (I also recommend watching his other videos, like the one he did on the Octatrack, because he makes some truly beautiful gear demos.)

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Ownership Battle in the Age of AI-Generated Music



Ownership Battle in the Age of AI Generated Music

The emergence of artificial intelligence in music production has ushered in a new era of innovation. However, it has also sparked debates over ownership rights. As AI-generated music becomes more common, concerns about who owns these creations are brought to light.

This article delves into the legal battles and ethical debates surrounding AI-generated music ownership.

Defining Ownership in AI-Generated Music

In a traditional sense, determining the owner of the copyrighted material is straightforward. However, with AI-generated content, the situation becomes more complex.

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Is the creator of the algorithm that generated the music the owner? Is it the person who trained the algorithm? Is it possible to claim ownership over something not directly created by human hands?

Grimes’s Controversial Tweet: A Case Study

Grimes’s tweet about allowing her voice to be used in AI-generated music exemplifies this issue. She said she would sell her digital soul for $10 million, granting an AI company permission to use her voice as they wished. The tweet sparked controversy, with some seeing it as selling out and others viewing it as a clever move.

Legal Battles and Intellectual Property

Ownership rights of AI-generated music are just starting to be tested in courts. In 2018, Sony won a landmark case against musician Kevin Parks Jr., who claimed he had created songs using Sony’s software without permission or compensation. The court ruled in favor of Sony since their software was used in creating Parks’ songs.

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This ruling raises questions about whether algorithms can be considered intellectual property or merely tools used by creators. If algorithms are deemed intellectual property, there may be issues surrounding their licensing for commercial use.

Record Labels and the Changing Dynamics

As record labels adapt to the rise of AI-generated content, they, too, must confront ownership rights issues. Record labels have historically owned much of the copyright associated with artists’ work; however, this dynamic may change as more artists turn to AI-generated music.

If an artist uses an AI program to create a piece of music, who owns the rights to that work? Is it the artist or the creator of the algorithm that generated it?

Implications for Streaming Platforms

The rise of AI-generated music also impacts streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. These platforms have already faced criticism for their low royalty payouts to artists, and if AI-generated content becomes more prevalent, this issue may only worsen.

Additionally, as record labels lose some control over ownership rights, they may push for higher payouts from these streaming services.

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Public Domain and AI-Generated Music

The implications of AI-generated music on the public domain are worth considering. AI algorithms often use existing music data to create new compositions, raising questions about whether AI-generated music should be considered part of the public domain or if new legal frameworks are needed to protect both original creators and AI developers.

When an AI algorithm generates music based on existing works, it can be difficult to determine if the resulting composition is a derivative work or an entirely new creation. If AI-generated music is considered part of the public domain, it may limit the rights of original creators whose work was used as input. On the other hand, if AI-generated music is granted copyright protection, it could potentially stifle creativity and limit access to cultural works.

Moral Rights and AI-Generated Music

The concept of moral rights is particularly relevant in the context of AI-generated music. Moral rights protect an artist’s right to be recognized as the creator of their work and to preserve the integrity of their creations. It is important to discuss how moral rights might apply to AI-generated music and the potential challenges that may arise.

In the case of AI-generated music, it can be difficult to determine who should be recognized as the creator: the original artist whose work was used as input, the developer of the AI algorithm, or both. Additionally, AI-generated music may inadvertently modify or distort the original work, potentially violating the moral rights of the original creator.

AI-Generated Music and Fair Use

The concept of fair use plays a significant role in the context of AI-generated music. Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows for the limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holder. It is important to discuss whether AI-generated music, which often relies on existing music data, can be considered fair use and the potential legal implications that may arise.

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When AI algorithms use existing music as input, they may be seen as transformative, creating new works based on the original material. However, the extent to which AI-generated music can be considered fair use is not yet clearly defined in the law, and it may vary depending on the degree of transformation and the potential market impact on the original work.

In conclusion, addressing the additional topics of public domain, moral rights, and fair use in AI-generated music contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the various legal and ethical issues surrounding this emerging technology. As AI-generated music becomes more prevalent, it is crucial for legal frameworks and industry practices to adapt in order to balance the rights of creators, AI developers, and the public interest.

The Future of Ownership Rights

In conclusion, ownership rights in the era of AI-generated music are uncertain at best. As more legal battles arise and ethical debates continue, it is clear that traditional copyright laws will need to adapt to keep up with technological advancements.

The struggle for ownership is just beginning, but it will undoubtedly shape the future of the music industry for years to come.

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Nurturing Human Creativity in the Age of AI



Nurturing Human Creativity in the Age of AI

As AI technology advances, it is essential that we find ways to nurture human creativity and ensure its essential role in music creation. This article explores strategies for fostering human ingenuity in the age of AI-generated music.

Maintaining the Human Touch

One approach to preserving human creativity is to view AI as a tool for artistic expression, rather than a replacement for it. Artists can use AI-generated music as a starting point for their compositions, layering their own unique ideas and experiences on top of the AI-generated foundation.

This approach allows musicians to maintain their creative voice while still taking advantage of the innovative capabilities of AI.

Nurturing Human Creativity in the Age of AI
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Encouraging Collaboration Between Humans and AI

Another approach is to encourage collaboration between human musicians and AI systems. By working together, artists can leverage AI-generated music’s strengths, such as the ability to process and analyze vast amounts of data, while also contributing their own creative ideas and emotions.

This collaborative approach can lead to the creation of entirely new musical genres and styles, as well as a deeper understanding of the relationship between humans and AI.

Investing in Music Education and Artistic Development

To ensure that human creativity remains a central component of music creation, it’s crucial to invest in music education and artistic development.

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By teaching future generations about the importance of creativity and providing them with the skills needed to navigate the evolving music landscape, we can help maintain the human touch in the age of AI-generated music.

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Creating Ethical Guidelines for AI-Generated Music

Finally, establishing ethical guidelines for the use of AI-generated music can help maintain a balance between the benefits of this technology and the importance of human creativity.

These guidelines could include regulations around ownership rights, compensation, and the appropriate use of AI-generated music in various contexts. By providing clear ethical standards, we can help ensure that AI-generated music is used responsibly and in ways that support human creativity.

Educating the Public About AI-generated Music

As AI-generated music becomes more prevalent, it is essential to educate the public about its implications, benefits, and challenges. Public awareness can help people make informed decisions about the music they consume and create a better understanding of the technology behind it. This includes discussing the various ethical considerations, ownership rights, and the impact on artists and the music industry as a whole.

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Educational programs, workshops, and online resources can be developed to inform the public about AI-generated music and its potential effects on the industry. By providing accessible information, people can better navigate the landscape of AI-generated music and develop informed opinions about its role in society.

Accessibility and Inclusivity in AI-generated Music

AI-generated music has the potential to make music creation more accessible and inclusive for people with disabilities or those who face other barriers to traditional music production. AI technology can provide alternative methods for composing, arranging, and producing music that may be more accessible to people with physical or cognitive limitations.

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For example, AI-generated music can provide an opportunity for people with limited mobility to create music through voice commands or other alternative input methods. This can empower individuals who may not have had the opportunity to participate in music creation in the past.

However, it is essential to address potential challenges in accessibility and inclusivity, such as ensuring that AI-generated music tools are designed to be user-friendly and cater to a wide range of users, regardless of their abilities.

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AI-generated Music in Film, TV, and Advertising

AI-generated music is not limited to the traditional music industry; it also has applications in other media, such as film scores, television soundtracks, and advertising campaigns. AI-generated music can provide an efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional composition methods for various media projects, especially for smaller productions with limited budgets.

By utilizing AI-generated music in these contexts, creators can access a vast library of music that can be tailored to their specific needs, such as matching the tone or mood of a film scene or creating a catchy jingle for an advertising campaign.

AI-generated Music for Therapeutic Purposes

AI-generated music has potential applications in therapeutic contexts, such as mental health treatment, relaxation, or pain management. By utilizing AI-generated music, therapists and healthcare professionals can develop personalized music interventions to meet the specific needs of their patients.

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For example, AI-generated music can be used to create customized relaxation playlists that cater to individual preferences and respond to the listener’s physiological signals, such as heart rate or breathing patterns. This personalized approach can potentially enhance the effectiveness of music-based interventions in promoting relaxation and reducing stress.

Future Developments and Trends in AI-generated Music

As technology continues to advance, AI-generated music is expected to become more sophisticated and versatile. Future developments may include the creation of new AI-driven instruments, more advanced algorithms capable of generating complex compositions, and the integration of AI-generated music into live performance settings.

These advancements may lead to new genres of music, innovative performance styles, and novel ways of engaging with music as both creators and listeners. However, it is important to continue addressing the ethical considerations, ownership rights, and potential impacts on artists and the music industry as these advancements unfold.

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In conclusion, while AI-generated music presents challenges for human creativity, it also offers new opportunities for artistic expression and innovation. By maintaining the human touch, encouraging collaboration between humans and AI, investing in music education, and establishing ethical guidelines, we can foster human creativity in the age of AI-generated music.

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Ultimately, it’s up to us as a society to find ways to embrace this technology while also ensuring that human creativity remains at the heart of music creation.

Amore comprehensive understanding of AI-generated music’s role in the broader cultural and societal context, as well as potential future directions for this technology. By considering these aspects, we can develop a well-rounded perspective on the impact of AI-generated music and its potential to shape the future of music creation and consumption.

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The Influence of Artificial Intelligence on The Creation of Music



The Influence of Artificial Intelligence on The Creation of Music

A New Era of Creativity and Expression

Music has always been a strong reflection of human innovation and emotions. Throughout history, our voices and musical instruments have played a crucial role in expressing our feelings, telling stories, and building relationships with others. As technology has advanced, our ways of creating music have also progressed.

Modern musicians now have access to various tools, enabling them to manipulate sound in unimaginable ways. Synthesizers can emulate virtually any sound, while digital audio workstations facilitate precise editing and manipulation of recorded tracks. And now, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) offers musicians even more possibilities for music creation.

AI Applications in the Music Industry

AI is being utilized in multiple ways within the music industry. One popular application is generating original compositions based on existing musical data sets. By analyzing millions of songs across genres and periods, AI algorithms can identify patterns and generate new melodies or chord progressions that fit within those patterns.

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Another application involves using AI to enhance existing performances or recordings. For instance, software like iZotope’s RX can isolate individual instrumental tracks from a mix and remove unwanted noise or artifacts without impacting the rest of the recording.

Unintended Consequences and Concerns

However, as with any emerging technology, unintended consequences arise from using AI in music creation. One worry is that AI-generated music might lack the emotional depth and nuance that human performance offers. While an algorithm can create technically proficient melodies or chord progressions, it may not capture the same sense of emotion or passion found in a live performance.

Another concern revolves around ownership rights of AI-generated music. If an algorithm generates an original composition based on data sets owned by multiple parties (such as record labels or streaming platforms), who has the rights to that composition? This question has already sparked legal battles between artists collaborating with AI algorithms and those claiming ownership over their contributions.

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Harnessing AI for Collaboration and Growth

Many musicians and industry professionals see AI as an opportunity for collaboration and growth. AI can be a creative assistant, inspiring artists, helping them overcome writer’s block, or even offering suggestions to improve their compositions. As AI technology continues to evolve, its ability to learn from and adapt to a musician’s style will improve, further enhancing the creative process.

AI in Music Education and Talent Discovery

AI also has the potential to revolutionize music education and talent discovery. With AI-powered music learning apps and platforms, students can receive personalized instruction based on their skill level and learning style. Furthermore, AI can analyze and identify undiscovered talent by evaluating their performances and predicting their potential for success.

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Addressing Ethical Considerations and Regulations

To ensure the responsible integration of AI into the music industry, it is essential to address ethical considerations and establish regulations. For instance, guidelines should be set to ensure that AI-generated compositions do not infringe on existing copyrights or that AI technology is not used maliciously to plagiarize or manipulate the work of others.

Additionally, as AI-generated music becomes more prevalent, it is crucial to develop clear standards for crediting the contributions of both human artists and AI algorithms to a given work. This will help to prevent legal disputes and foster a fair and transparent environment for all parties involved.

Ethical Considerations in AI-Generated Music

As AI-generated music becomes increasingly widespread, various ethical concerns emerge. Some of these concerns include the potential for AI-generated music to contribute to cultural appropriation, the dilution of traditional music styles, or the homogenization of music in general.

Cultural Appropriation

Cultural appropriation occurs when elements of one culture are adopted or used by members of another culture, often in a way that is disrespectful or exploitative.

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AI-generated music, which often relies on large datasets of existing music, might inadvertently incorporate elements of various cultures without giving proper credit or understanding the cultural context. This can result in the misrepresentation or trivialization of the original culture and may lead to further marginalization of underrepresented communities.

Dilution of Traditional Music Styles

AI-generated music algorithms are often designed to identify popular patterns and trends within the music they analyze.

As a result, the output may lean heavily toward mainstream or widely-accepted styles, which can dilute traditional or less-popular music styles. Over time, this may result in a decline in the diversity of music genres and a loss of unique cultural expressions and heritage.

Homogenization of Music

The widespread use of AI-generated music could also contribute to the homogenization of music, as algorithms tend to create compositions based on patterns and trends found in existing data. This may result in technically proficient music lacking the distinctiveness and creativity found in human-generated compositions.

As AI-generated music becomes more prevalent, there is a risk that the rich tapestry of diverse musical styles and influences may be reduced to a more uniform, less imaginative landscape.

In conclusion, while AI-generated music offers exciting opportunities for innovation and new forms of creativity, addressing and considering the ethical implications of its widespread use is crucial. It is essential to develop ways to preserve cultural diversity and respect the heritage of various music styles while embracing the potential of AI in music creation.

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Embracing the AI-Infused Future of Music

The increasing influence of AI in the music industry offers an exciting new frontier for creativity, collaboration, and innovation. By addressing the potential concerns and working together to create ethical guidelines and regulations, musicians, industry professionals, and AI developers can ensure that the integration of AI into the music landscape is both responsible and beneficial.

As we embrace this AI-infused future, we can look forward to new and innovative ways to create and enjoy music, while also remaining mindful of the potential pitfalls and challenges that come with any technological advancement. With the right approach, the future of music and AI has the potential to be a harmonious and groundbreaking partnership.

Despite these concerns, it’s undeniable that AI is revolutionizing the music industry in thrilling ways. It enables new forms of creativity and experimentation while also presenting unique challenges for artists and record labels alike. As we continue to navigate this new era of music creation, it will be fascinating to see how these unintended consequences evolve.

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