Create your own modular system, for free.
If you’ve ever wanted to get into modular synthesis but don’t have the cash to start your own system, a new piece of free software could be the answer.
Automatonism is a new modular synthesizer made in the Pure Data programming language by PhD student Johan Eriksson. It has a basic interface, but sports an impressive 67 built-in modules that can be patched together to create wild sounds and sequences.
The interface looks a little overwhelming, but Eriksson has designed it to be as easy to understand as possible. It doesn’t need any prior knowledge of Pure Data to work, and mimics the signal flow of the popular Eurorack format. It also allows you to build and modify your own modules if you want to go deeper.
To make things easier for beginners, Erickson has created a series of “synth recipes” with presets to get you started and accompanying tutorial videos. They detail a simple subtractive synth, a “west coast” system and one explaining how to use a clock module to make rhythms.
Automatonism isn’t the only modular synth available in software, but unlike NI’s Reaktor 6, Erickson’s system is completely free and totally open source. It needs Pure Data to be installed to run, but that’s also free to download.
If you want to know what kind of music can be made with Automatonism, Erickson has a seven track album available at Bandcamp. Find the Automatonism software and a guide to installing and using it here.