Modulating the Modulators

Hi all!

After a brief moment in modular I quickly stopped that some time ago. Not for me. Many reasons of which one import reason was the expense and my urge to buy a million modules. But the modulation possibilities, in sculpting movement in sounds (or sequences), still speaks to me.

Still a lot to learn about modulations in sound sculpting, but I always have loved the idea of patches where you turn one knob and a bunch of things change in the sound. Curious how this could be applied within Elektron gear. One thing that I’ve read left and right is that things get interesting when you start modulating modulators.

What’s your favorite tricks for complexer modulations, Especcially when multiple lfos come into play? Ideally applicable to Elektron synthesis boxes with multiple lfos, like A4 or Digitone. Which lfos do you modulate with other lfos? Etc:) Or creative uses of the envelopes, etc.

A classic would be using one lfo (waveform etc. depends on what you want to achieve) to modulate the depth of the lfo that modulates whatever parameter you have set up.

Lfo speed can also be interesting to modulate with another lfo or envelope.

A4/AK lets you retrig filter envelope and env 2 and both lfos per step, so there’s lots to experiment.


“Where you turn one knob and a bunch of things change in the sound” — that’s usually going to be accomplished through “multing” your control signals to multiple destinations, and on Elektron synths that can be done with the assignable macros (e.g., the performance macros on A4, or the mod wheel / velocity / breath controller macros on A4 and Digitone). For example, assign a performance macro on the A4 to control LFO frequency and modulation depth on a couple of different tracks, and then modulate the MIDI CC message that A4 recognizes for external control of the performance macro (see “Performance CC” in the manual) using something like Digitone/Digitakt/Octatrack (where it’s easy to parameter lock CC values or modulate CC values with LFOs).

You can also do this with MIDI loopback on a Digitone.


Awesome, gonna try this. Also trying the same with velocity mod in the Rytm. Just realized that with the lfos and envelopes having two destinations in the A4, modulating then also already modulates two things.

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Perfect, looking for some classics definitely to get me started

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The A4 can do lots of cool modulations with the 2 LFOs, right now I have a bassy lead patch where the LFO1 is modulating the env depth of the Filter 1 slowly (x1, around 20 speed) while LFO2 is faster (x16, 32 speed) modulating slightly the depth of LFO1 dest A (the one modulating the filter). I also have ENV2 modulating OSC2 level (29 attack/31 decay, 34 sus/28 release).

These LFOs settings + having the 1st filter quite closed with 40-50 env depth + 2nd filter in HP mode with a large env depth, some resonance and overdrive and a negative tracking of F1 creates a pretty good effect.

Here is a recording I did in 5 minutes with this lead/bass patch, forget about the mixing, haha (the kick + sub is WAY louder than I expected), but I thought I got a pretty cool effect out of just LFOs and ENV2.

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Also a classic is using a random lfo to modulate the depth of another lfo (or modulation sources in general) - good for introducing just a little random on certain parameters.

On the A4/AK this random lfo can also modulate the depth of the pulse with/waveshape modulation, vibrato depth and level, filter and s&h of the noise generator etc. Try stuff like that on pad sounds/soundscape-like patches, drones etc.

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